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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

MUST READ ‘Person of color tax’ is a reality for BIPOC Sacramento area school board members

‘Person of color tax’ is a reality for BIPOC Sacramento area school board members

Zima Creason says she felt compelled to run for the San Juan Unified school district’s board when her son fell prey to racism in elementary school. 

“The messages were terrible, calling [my son] the N-word and telling him to kill himself. No kid should have to go through that,” Creason said. 

Today, she’s president of the board, and the first Black woman to serve in the role. “You need people with the lived experience to be able to say policy and practice needs to work different for our community,” she said.

She took her seat on the dais optimistic about holding a leadership position in the same district she attended. But, shortly after winning the seat, Creason was confronted with a potential recall, and became the target of racism.

“I knew the job wouldn't be easy, but it got really personal and really nasty,” she said.

For decades, school boards nationally and locally have suffered from inadequate racial and ethnic representation. As part of our series on Sacramento County’s school boards, a CapRadio and The Sacramento Observer analysis confirms that school boards in the region have an overrepresentation of white board members respective to their student populations. 

And in communities where representation across race and ethnicity is increasing, trustees of color say that serving on a school board is a taxing job, riddled with identity politics and financial hardships, which may discourage them from pursuing re-election.