• EastCountyNorthStar

When They Go Low, We Go High…

Updated: Nov 3

In the Spring of 2020, The world paused. Humanity was exposed to virus we could not see and society was exposed to a reality that African Americans have seen for years. That reality is racism, which is a virus that has plagued the American landscape since its founding. While dealing with the new reality of this virus, new voices emerged. One of them was Tamisha Torres-Walker, an Antioch immigrant who moved to the city seeking a better life for her family. Torres-Walker became an outspoken advocate for the overlooked and the oppressed. She later became a champion for the working class, promoting policies that assisted common people. Torres-Walker had the audacity to hope and decided to run in the Summer of 2020 for the Antioch city Council. To the surprise of many, she won the race that November defeating more conventional establishment candidates. She went on to reduce gun violence, securing 1.8 million from the state towards reduction measures. She fought for police accountability and worked to equip police with body cameras while creating a mobile mental health crisis team. She voted for new rent control laws that would help reduce chronic homelessness. She also secured $300,000 to keep youth out of gangs while developing local job training programs that attract more businesses to Antioch. She also sought to make the Sycamore community safer by leading peace walks and bringing job opportunities to some of the most marginalized residents. However, most of the residents of Antioch would not know this because they are more caught up in the caricatures created by local right wing newspapers. These local papers give red meat stories to their conservative bases while attempting to manipulate other residents with TMZ style sensationalism.

No one feeds of this fabrication more than former AUSD school board member Diane Gibson-Gray. Her campaign for the Antioch City-Council in the Fall of 2022 is fueled on fear, falsehood and fictional characterizations of racial stereotypes. Her campaign slogan: “Enough is Enough” is a dog whistle call for people to respond in anxiety with no policy for real action. She wants to cause widespread panic in the absence of a true plan. The subliminal call is to “Make Antioch Great Again” and this strategy demonizes otherness and those seen as ‘outsiders’. These are TRUMP 101 tactics, they are divisive and will set the city back decades.

Residents of Antioch must ask themselves: When is the last time you have seen Diane Gibson-Gray out among the people? When is the last time she walked down a city street in district one? Talked to an actual homeless person or knocked on your door and asked for your vote? When is the last time she has visited the Sycamore district? Yet she is seeking to represent residents on the city council from which she no rapport. In the meantime over the last several weeks, Councilwoman Walker has knocked on hundreds of doors. She has taken time to have personal conversations with common working class people. She relates to our struggles because she is one of us. Concurrently, Gibson-Gray has made herself invisible in person but visible online. Her keyboard campaign has stirred up local bigotry, and implicit biases. She has become so caught up in trying to revive the past that she unfortunately has become a prisoner of it.

Gibson-Gray’s ‘Election October Surprise’ was to take out her digital shovel and dig up a Torres-Walker video from two years ago. Instead of speaking about her community activism in the last two years (which is almost non-existent), she decided to castigate her opponent’s character by airing re-runs. While this may give her a few likes on-line, it has cemented her as an extremist in-person. Gibson-Gray ducks debates face to face then chooses to throw digital darts instead. Is this who we want representing Antioch moving forward? Someone who has rooted their entire campaign on ad hominem attacks and divisiveness?

In the Fall 2020, Diane Gibson-Gray who served on the Antioch School Board for 12 years lost her race to Antonio Hernandez. Hernandez was an exciting fresh face newcomer with innovative ideas and a message of unity. His message resonated with Area 1 voters as he soundly defeated her by nearly 10% points. Hernandez was victorious because ‘as she went low, he went high’. Later In Gibson-Gray’s farewell speech as an AUSD trustee she stressed these words to the listening audience: “I AM NOT A RACIST”. However, before and since that statement her actions indicate that her beliefs do not always match her behavior.

I think we would all agree, Antioch deserves better. Better schools, better programs, better parks, better policing, and better policies. This is why we must re-elect Council woman Tamisha Torres-Walker because as others continue to go low, she just keeps going HIGHER!!

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