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Tahoe representatives learn about diversity on L.A. field trip

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A horde of South Shore officials toured the Museum of Tolerance at Los Angeles last week and many returned inspired to put more energy into diversity programs.

South Lake Tahoe’s population is around 24,000. Latinos account for about 30 percent of that number; Filipinos make up about 1 percent; the rest is almost entirely Anglo-American.

Lake Tahoe Community College coordinated the two-day trip, which included a tour of the museum, talks with victims of intolerance and classroom sessions in which the “tools of tolerance” were taught.

Mayor Brooke Laine said she believes it was the first time 27 education, city, county and law enforcement officials from South Shore attended such training as a group.

“It was a fabulous experience,” she said. “It inspired a lot of renewed energy. These are issues that need to be dealt with today not tomorrow.”

Guy Lease, president at LTCC, plans to contact everyone who went on the trip to meet again and flesh out specific ideas and concerns related to South Lake Tahoe. Affordable housing and better access to education are key issues, he said.

“I think we had a chance to share what some concerns of the community are,” he said. “We sort of set the table but didn’t eat dinner. The challenge is to come back and work on these issues. It’s falling on my shoulders to pull the group back together again.”

Gabriela Inigo, director of the Latino Affairs Commission, said the experience was “wonderful.” She said the city has been very supportive of the commission but now, especially since the trip, she realizes how important it is that all institutions recognize racism and help put a stop to it.

“Even though we have laws in place I think sometimes they are not implemented,” she said. “Words can be so powerful. That’s how things start.”

Dr. Terrence Roberts, a high school student at Little Rock, Ark., during its desegregation in 1957, spoke to the South Shore group over dinner while they were in Los Angeles.

“That was 1957, only 12 years after we discovered how the Jews were treated in Auschwitz,” Lease said. “Here we are doing virtually the same thing to African-Americans, blaming them for the ills of society and not allowing them to go to school, not allowing them to ride buses.”

The Museum of Tolerance at Los Angeles opened in 1993 and is an arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization. Wiesenthal survived the Nazi death camps of World War II and tracked Nazis after the war in an effort to bring them to justice. The center was named after him because of his work.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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