Op-Ed: How Is Everyone So Woke But Still Disbelieving Women?

The San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce rebranded itself the Silicon Valley Organization (SVO) almost four years ago for whatever reasons they claim, but many folks believe it was also to drop the immediate negative response folks have to “Chamber of Commerce” and their long, racist histories throughout America.

Essentially, the Chamber of Commerce has primarily been a group that represents the interests of landowners who tend to be wealthy, white and conservative—while the people they employ, by and large, are not.

Recently, the SVO/Chamber of Commerce has created yet another sh*tstorm over another racist ad that nobody wants to take responsibility for.

We all know, there’s usually a chain of command, a person that oversees and approves the ad before it goes live, but there’s probably some low-level lackey at some ad firm that’s gonna be pressed into taking the fall for this so that nobody “important” has their reputation tarnished for more than an election cycle.

SVO/Chamber of Commerce VP Madison Nguyen is receiving credit for her handling of the situation, launching an investigation into this whodunnit, but those with any political acuity know Madison’s just hoping to use this as a springboard for a run in the next cycle.

Anyone who’s still cogent will remember the amount of money the California Apartment Association (CAA)/chamber/charter schools spent trying to ram Madison into the state Assembly instead of Ash Kalra was an ungodly sum.

If memory serves me right, they spent over half a million dollars to ensure their chosen one triumphed over the people’s choice.

This seems oddly familiar. … I guess Jake Tonkel is the new Ash Kalra?

Groups like Catholic Charities, PACT, The Health Trust, United Way Bay Area and Silicon Valley at Home are all receiving praise for being the first to leave the SVO/Chamber’s PAC, but I’ve gotta ask, what took them so long? Why now? Why not when the PAC sent out mailers that darkened the skin of Sergio Jimenez? Or the same racial tactic on flyers against Sylvia Arenas this year? What makes them so woke now?

Specifically, I’m wondering about the wokeness of Catholic Charities and PACT—two groups that frequently speak out on social justice issues and testify often at city council in favor of rent control, low income housing, homeless issues, and so on.

And while they’re there speaking out in support of these issues, they’re paying dues to the SVO/Chamber, the biggest opponent of the same issues.

There’s no morality in that, there’s no praise in ceasing what was effectively paying Democratic lip service and Republican dues.

As for PACT, I feel the need to remind people AGAIN that this is just another chapter in their history of questionable choices. They’ve applied for and accepted a grant from the Walton foundation, they’ve shilled for charter schools but are now opposed to them, they talk about police reform but are really just there to host meetings that go nowhere but make it look good for the cops and elected officials.

And let us not forget when they gave an award to CAIR’s Executive Director (and internationally recognized expert ) Zahra Billoo, then took it away because people freaked out a Muslim was getting it, then gave it back to her later after a huge outcry.

PACT’s moral compass is broken.

Speaking of broken moral compasses, Magdalena Carrassco was at the NAACP rally calling out the racism of the SVO/Chamber and the CAA. I asked her how she could be here calling out racism and not also call out sexism, continuing her support for SCCOE Board of Education candidate Joseph DiSalvo who’d been censured by his own colleagues for being overly aggressive with them and staff. She explained that she was loyal, he’d supported her and trotted out the bullshit defense that he wasn’t allowed to defend himself during the independent investigation that found him guilty of gender discrimination. Both times he was interviewed he had his lawyer with him. But I digress. 

When I said I had personally seen him harass coworkers when I was at meetings, she said she doesn’t believe anything unless she sees it with her own eyes—even if her own staff reports it to her. As a former social worker, she knows how hard it is for survivors to come forward and now that women have come forward, she’s saying she doesn’t believe them. As a school trustee DiSalvo is supposed to uphold Title lX for our students and how is he supposed to uphold those values for our students when he can't even uphold those values himself—especially when  Title lX is under attack at the federal level. 

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) also remains a steadfast supporter of Mr. Misogyny, which seems to run in stark contrast to something she said during the Trump impeachment “It’s not just whatever you think, we are the product of our history, and we should be creatures of our law …” The Board of Education followed the law, conducted an outside investigation in which DiSalvo had his lawyer present, the women’s claims were substantiated, the board voted to censure him.

So why does Zoe “think” something different now, why is she refusing to be a “creature of our law?” Does she no longer “believe women?”

Because it’s 2020 and there’s always another “OMG you won’t believe what just happened now!” moment lurking around the corner, Shay Franco-Clausen had to jump into the mix and support a candidate that only exists in the ether (much like Shay’s rumored mayoral campaign).

Shay’s thrown her support behind Lucia Garcia, another candidate in the Board of Education race. But Lucia hasn’t raised any money, hasn’t filed with the FPPC, has no online presence other than Instagram (with a following that’s mostly out of state) and seems to have illegal lawn signs. Perhaps Lucia is just there to be a spoiler and split the Latina vote between her and Ketzal Gomez?

That in itself would be effectively racist ... again.

So here we are, it’s almost election day 2020, but you’d never know that between the refusals to believe women and all the incidents of racism. I’d like to think we’re on the path to change, but unless we all keep track of all the players in the game, and hold them all accountable at every turn, this will continue to happen over and over again.

The change is not up to them, they’ll get away with as much chicanery as possible, it’s their nature. The change is up to us.

Vote, stay engaged, even when it’s frustrating as f*ck, speak out—loudly, hold everyone accountable, get your friends involved, and repeat.

Shaunn Cartwright is an activist, housing rights advocate and co-founder of South Bay Tenants Union. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the no nonsense political analysis and criticism, something all too rare in the mainstream culture of local politics. That culture tends toward tabloid gossip and interpersonal allegiances and rivalries, rather than firmly grounding discourse in the lived conditions of residents. There is never enough time, space or energy to intelligently discuss policy and power and their fallout, but no end to the resources given to endless tittle-tattle and hearsay about the personal traits and inclinations of this or that politician, this or that candidate, this or that tech CEO.

    Especially useful is focusing a critical eye on politicians–especially Democrats who are the power around here–and so-called community-based organizations who purport to stand for justice and the interests of working people but who prove time and again, especially in times of stress and crisis, that they stand with power and wealth first and foremost. Thanks again.

  2. I still can’t believe that nonprofits pay dues to anyone for any reason. It all seems ridiculous. [email protected] wants you to join to become a “houser” with them. Or SPUR wants you to pay to attend one of their silly meetings to talk about densification and its importance.

    Listen folks, these nonprofits don’t deserve your money. Give your money to actual charities that feed, house, clothe, and provide for the sick, orphans, poor elderly, etc. Forget donating to these nonprofits that just clutter up the politics and spend money attending each others parties.

  3. > rather than firmly grounding discourse in the lived conditions of residents.

    Pure, textbook postmodernism/Critical Theory. Reading it right off of the teleprompter.

    Postmodernism/Critical Theory rejects The Enlightenment.

    They’re AGAINST reason, science, and free will; they’re FOR power! power! power!

  4. > Especially useful is focusing a critical eye on politicians–especially Democrats who are the power around here . . .

    Power! power! power!

    > that they stand with power and wealth first and foremost.

    Power! power! power!

    They are OBSESSED with POWER!

  5. “So here we are, it’s almost election day 2020, but you’d never know that between the refusals to believe women and all the incidents of racism.” — Shaunn Cartwright

    How to avoid the horrors of self-assessment: Dedicate your every hour to seeing injustice, your every calorie of energy to fretting over it, and your every breath to boring others with your findings.

  6. >As a former social worker, she knows how hard it is for survivors to come forward and now that women have come forward, she’s saying she doesn’t believe them.

    Calling people survivors for having been questioned by an elected official acting in their public role is the epitome of melodrama, and in my opinion it is disrespectful to those who have survived actual trauma and abuse. It is gross how you are so comfortable with name-calling (“Mr. Misogyny”) but you don’t see any point in justifying your attacks by actually describing the behavior from Mr. diSalvo you see as “sexist” and “misogynistic,” other than to vaguely describe him as “overly aggressive.”