Plus Letters to the Good Times Editor…
Thoughts on Mardi
Exploring Racial Issues
Where were you when it happened? At 5:04 p.m. Oct. 17, 1989 I was sitting at my desk in an old brick building on the corner of Market Street and Second in San Francisco. When Loma hit, everybody in the PR office I was working in scrambled to the doorways and held on for dear life. You could hear the guts of the building buckle from the jolt. It was as if the Gods picked up the structure and shook it—and shook it really well—like a ketchup bottle. Fifteen seconds later, shocked and filled with apprehension, we looked around for signs of what to do next. I’ll never forget the vibe when I stepped out onto Market Street. There had been a mass exodus with hundreds of people walking from their offices and nothing but … dead silence. Tragedy has a way of doing that to you, for a while anyway. I recall heading to Santa Cruz some weeks later, about the time the tents had been erected for many of the downtown businesses affected by the quake. I was struck with how valiant the spirit of Santa Cruz was back then.
The truth is, most of us can recall exactly where we were at the time of the Loma Prieta Earthquake. This week, 20 years after Loma, GT looks back at the events that so significantly shaped the decades to follow. Beginning on page14, we showcase some of the haunting images that left an indelible imprint in our hearts and minds. We also look ahead. In a series of interviews with visionaries of the day (page 18), we inquire about their visions of the future 20 years from now. (Log onto goodtimessantacruz.com for additional videos.) In between, there’s plenty more to absorb. Bruce Bratton tackles the highly contested destruction of the Cooper House (page 6). GT writer at large, Bruce Willey, recalls what unfolded for him on that day (page 8) and columnist Tom Honig questions the state of downtown Santa Cruz today (page 9). In the meantime, are we prepared for the next big quake? News Editor Elizabeth Limbach tackles that subject on page 10. Take note of the Downtown Association’s big celebration atop the Rittenhouse Building on Oct. 17, too (page 32) and visit our website for online exclusives (see page 3).
There’s plenty more, so dive in and ponder how one singular event seemed to so powerfully unite a community.
Greg Archer, Editor
Letters to Good Times Editor
Thoughts on Mardi
I just read the Oct. 8 article in GT by Tom Honig on Mardi Wormhoudt and wanted to offer my sympathies and share a personal story. I found it eerily coincidental that here, 20 years to the month after the Loma Prieta Earthquake disaster in which Mardi played a key role in helping this town recover, I learn that she is suffering from melanoma.
I know intimately how devastating this disease can be–my wife fatally succumbed to this most virulent form of cancer 20 years ago. So that is why I come to feel a certain “connection” to Mardi and her situation, and that is why I write this short note of deep sympathy, understanding and gratitude.
Thank you, Mardi, for all you have given of yourself for many years to this fair city; I hope that my thoughts have given something back to you in return.
Exploring Racial Issues
In response to Tom Honig’s guest column (10/1) on race, I am a bi-racial person who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s in Ohio. I have not experienced a difference between how bigots treat bi-racial people and how they treat blacks. Remember the “one drop” rule? I do. Honig is correct in his assessment of the current generation, but only to a degree. I teach at San Jose State. My classes are diverse. My department is not. I am the only black person there and that is in jeopardy with budget cuts. While it is true that many of my students cannot relate to the racial turmoil of the ’60s, I have had black students, and students of other races, in my classes write about racism directed at them.
I know that racism in not limited to any geographic area. I’ve experienced it here in Santa Cruz. Actually, the greatest threat to racial equality today is white liberalism, especially in academia. That’s right. White liberalism. Educated people don’t like to think that they are ignorant about anything. Hence, they avoid discussions about racism. Avoidance behaviors fueled by collective guilt perpetuate racism. Diversity is a buzz word at universities, not an actual policy. In addition, race and wealth come with the privilege of blindness. Many of the same people who decry racists, have never initiated a dialogue about race with any person of color. I can count on one hand the number of white people who have ever asked to talk about race with me. Honig is correct about that. The Great Debate has never taken place and Reconstruction was a joke. While a new generation can give us hope about the future, they cannot change the past. Racism is part of the fabric of America, as much as opportunity and diversity are. It is our legacy. The best we can do is participate in little reconciliations—that is the relationships with people not like us, who can teach us that our universe is not the only one. This, our young people can do.