Based in Santa Barbara, California, Just Communities Central Coast (JCCC) was established in 2001 as the National Conference for Community and Justice of California’s Central Coast. In 2006 it was a founding member of the National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC), and a year later it adopted its current name (JCCC).
“Consciously work[ing] with people from a diverse cross-section of the community along the lines of race, income, gender, sexual orientation, age, and religious affiliation,” JCCC seeks to “advance social justice” by “offer[ing] cultural competency training to organizational leaders, education seminars for the general public, leadership training institutes for students and teachers, and customized consultation to local agencies for diversity and organizational change initiatives.” Its clients consist chiefly of “people and organizations in the education, health care, non-profit, government, and business sectors.”
JCCC’s work is founded upon the premise that most white and affluent Americans harbor, in their hearts, a large measure of “implicit bias” against nonwhites and poor people. As JCCC executive director Jarrod Schwartz puts it: “From the time we are born, we are absorbing information and misinformation about the world around us and the people who live in that world. Implicit bias shows that even good, well-meaning people who genuinely believe in fairness and equity and who want to do good in this world absorb stereotypes about various groups of people. This information resides in our brains and has the potential to impact our beliefs and behavior in ways that often contradict our values and beliefs, and which can harm those around us, even those we care about. It’s like living near a factory that spews out pollution all day, every day. Eventually, we breathe it in and it gets into our system. It’s not our fault that happens, but, for our long-term health, we need to do something about it. The same is true of implicit bias. We live in a society where we are constantly absorbing messages from the world around us, and over time, this ‘pollution’ gets into our system. It’s not our fault, but we do need to do something about it.”
For the 2018-19 academic year, JCCC negotiated a $250,000 contract with school authorities in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. This enabled the District to incorporate many JCCC teachings and lesson plans into its public-school curriculum. Foremost among these lessons, as spelled out in JCCC’s teacher training manual, is the notion that America today is a manifestly immoral, cruel country wherein white people routinely oppress “people of color,” men oppress women, Christians oppress non-Christians, heterosexuals oppress LGBTQ people, “traditionally gendered people” oppress “trangender and genderqueer people,” the wealthy oppress the poor, and “abled” people oppress “people living with disabilities.”
Additional JCCC lessons included in the manual teach that:
- white people “have historically held positions of dominance, privilege, and social power in Western society”; have engaged in “collusion” by “working together … consciously or unconsciously” to ensure the “denial of access, resources and opportunities” for nonwhites; have engaged in “systemic harmful treatment directed towards … people of color”; and have been endowed by American society with a large measure of “privilege” – i.e., “unearned access to resources that enhance one’s chances of getting what one needs … in order to lead a safe, fulfilling, productive life”;
- “oppression” is “a system that benefits … ‘privileged’ white groups and disadvantages … ‘target groups’ [or] people of color”;
- “racism” is “a system of oppression based on race that privileges white people and targets people of color”;
- “classism” is “a system of oppression based on socio-economic class that privilege[s] (white) people who are wealthy and target[s] people (of color) who are poor or working class”;
- “classism” also “refers to the economic system that creates excessive inequality and causes basic human needs to go unmet”; and
- because white people are “members of privilege groups,” they invariably develop a sense of “internalized superiority” which causes them “to look at themselves … and society through a distorted lens such that the structural privileges they enjoy and the cultural practices and values of their group are represented as … and [are] believed to be normal and universal.”
“There is no such thing as ‘passively dismantling oppression,’ adds the JCCC training manual. “We are either actively working to end oppression or colluding with it, allowing it to continue.”
According to its IRS filings, JCCC in 2016 had gross revenues of $629,479 and employed eight staffers along with forty-three volunteers.
Among JCCC’s leading funders are the Surdna Foundation ($329,000 from 2012-18), the Santa Barbara Foundation ($820,697 from 2010-18), the McCune Foundation ($340,588 from 2011-18), and the James S. Bower Foundation ($240,000 from 2015-18).
One of JCCC’s major programs is its Institute for Equity in Education. Additional JCCC initiatives include a Youth Leadership Program that helps young people identify and address “key community issues” which affect them; a Safe Schools Program designed to help K-12 educators, administrators, staff, and high-school students better understand “the root causes of sex & gender-based harassment, bullying, and violence” against LGBT youth; a Language Justice Initiative which promotes the creation of “inclusive multilingual spaces where all languages are valued equally”; a Community Leadership Institute (CLI) which hosts dialogues, interactive activities, and work groups that explore “issues related to racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other injustices that affect our lives and communities”; and CAN DO (Change Agent Network for Dismantling Oppression), a youth-run, year-round follow-up and networking program for CLI graduates.
Further Reading: Just Communities Training Manual (Scribd.com); “Crude Anti-White, Anti-Male, Anti-Christian Communists Indoctrinate California K-12 Students” (by Matthew Vadum, 10-23-2018); “About Us” (Just-Communities.org); JCCC website sections on Youth Leadership Development, Safe Schools Program, Language Justice Initiative, Community Leadership Institute, and CAN DO.