Portola Valley is kicking off a series of virtual town hall meetings on racial equity and policing with an author talk this week.
On Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 6:30 p.m., the town and Portola Valley Library will host a lecture on implicit bias with Jennifer Eberhardt, a psychology professor at Stanford University, based on her book "Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do." There will be a brief Q&A at the end, according to the town. The event will be live and will not be recorded.
To register for the author talk, visit tinyurl.com/bias-talk. To place a copy of the book on hold for curbside pickup, visit the San Mateo County libraries catalog at tinyurl.com/biased-book. To purchase a copy of the book for shipment to your home — proceeds will support Florey's Books in Pacifica and the Foundation for San Mateo County Libraries — visit investinsmcl.org/biased-book-event.
While the upcoming discussions are geared toward residents, anyone can join and participate.
Three additional meetings have been planned, although dates have not yet been confirmed.
"Policing in the Sheriff's Office, Post-George Floyd," is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 19. Panelists will include Sheriff Carlos Bolanos; Sheriff's Office Capt. Christina Corpus; District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe; the Rev. Lorrie Carter Owens, president of the San Mateo County chapter of the NAACP; Kevin Allen, an attorney with the San Mateo County Private Defender's Office and organizer of a Black Lives Matter demonstration at local courts; and Dez Frazier, a Menlo College student and an organizer of the Redwood City Black Lives Matter protest. It will be moderated by Henrietta Burroughs, founder of the East Palo Alto Center for Community Media.
"BLM: No More Happy Talk," will feature retired Superior Court Judge and former Palo Alto City Councilwoman Ladoris Cordell, Jackson State University professor Robby Luckett and Chris Bridges with the Equal Justice Society, according to the town. A date for the event has not yet been determined.
"Residential Segregation in Southern San Mateo County," tentatively set for early 2021, will delve into "barriers to homeownership that generations of people of color have had to deal with," Portola Valley Councilman John Richards said at a meeting last month. He said the panel may include people who were previously affected by banned practices like redlining or blockbusting.
Portola Valley began efforts to engage the community in discussions on racial equality and police reform following the killing of George Floyd in May. The council created a Race and Equity Subcommittee, which includes Richards and Vice Mayor Maryann Derwin, that has initiated efforts to engage with residents and the Sheriff's Office about these issues as well as answer questions from council members and residents on topics such as interactions between deputies and people they pull over. Town Manager Jeremy Dennis has also reached out to city managers to start a dialogue between the five towns and cities that contract with the Sheriff's Office.