Celebrate Black History Month in Ventura with this local figure


Alivia Baker

Remember and celebrate the faces that changed history this month in Black History Month article by writer Carmen Quinn.

Carmen Quinn, Writer

“Think global, act local.” A saying that might not come to mind as much when dealing with movements like Black Lives Matter (BLM). However it’s relevant when it comes to creating effective change. In February 2022, as Black History Month begins, let’s look at some local Black activists in Ventura County, what they think of Black History and what they want people to learn from it.

“Every single thing Black should be celebrated.” says Program manager for Diversity Collective and BLM Executive Director of Ventura County Ken Barrows when asked how Black History Month should be celebrated. He went further into detail by explaining he believed that White people asking Black people about racism was wrong. “Don’t ask me [about racism], ask yourself. Too often people ask the victim to define the power structure that is used against them.” 

Barrows wants Black History Month to primarily focus on education about racism. “Everything they [white people] have is Black.” Barrows says and gave examples from religion, to humans themselves who came from Africa. He wants to administer truth through education. 

Barrows believes “It [racism] exists in the context of when we [people of color]  get together for town halls and otherwise.” He elaborated on this saying that marginalized people get together to fight this racial hierarchy. 

He also believes that LGBTQ+ people of color are often not given the credit they deserve, such as Marsha P. Johnson who started the stonewall riots. While gay white cis men are at the center of discussion for the LGBTQ+ community.

As someone who was born in Central America Barrows believes certain aspects of the Latino community to be discriminatory to Black people especially colorism, discrimination based on ones skin tone. “Colorism is an issue in all communities including the Latino community.” He gave an example of the Belizean Flag “If you look at the flag you see colorism represented.” He stated that even though the flag represents unification it still is colorism because Belizean non black people felt the need to differentiate. However it’s something every culture has towards other groups he believes. 

White people must own the implicit racism in them towards people of color. “There’s nothing wrong with telling the truth, now you’re able to tell the truth.” 

Barrows believes Ventura, like all places, is racist. “When I was working and walking around the county I knew Ventura was racist. I had six tickets from Simi Valley,” said Barrows. Especially in Simi Valley where there is a prominent population of police he believes racism to be prevalent. The majority of people of color in Ventura County live in Oxnard while more wealthy White people live in Simi Valley, Ojai or Thousand Oaks. 

Barrows said that the bias is apparent in the system when Black people make up so little of Ventura’s population, but are getting arrested and pulled over the most. “The problem is that certain White people lack the backbone to stand up to another White person.” 

He has been in a variety of activism based programs. “The community needs to be able to let people enjoy their life.” He believes that racism isn’t in it for the“long game” but is determined to continue fighting.

What do you think?