Following the death of George Floyd last May, Jermain Pipkins set out to establish a collective sense of community for Black Santa Clarita Valley residents.
Pipkins’ efforts led to the founding of Black Santa Clarita Valley, or BlackSCV, in June 2020.
Alongside his leadership team – Pilar Scott-Walker and Ronald Smothers – Pipkins’ mission with BlackSCV is to undergo “the culture of care,” which covers social justice, educational equity and assisting people of color in need.
“A large piece is word of mouth,” Smothers said about the group’s exposure and support. “It’s us being comfortable enough with being able to speak with one another and acknowledge each other’s presence. It’s verbal outreach of going around and talking to them and giving them our card and explaining what we are doing in the community.”
The group’s Facebook page, “Black/African Americans in Santa Clarita Valley” currently has over 900 active members.
Since last summer, the group has hosted Black Market Vendor Expos in Santa Clarita in hopes to uplift Black businesses during the pandemic. They plan to host four Black Market Vendor Expos each year. The group also hosted community service events during the holidays in which they donated 200 turkeys and gifts to children of families in need, along with sending gifts to local nurses who were working during the heights of the pandemic.
Scott-Walker explained their community service was completed through donations and support they received during the Black Market Vendor Expo. But along with working alongside everyday people, the group is also focused on the advocacy component of its mission, including interaction with law enforcement.
On March 30, a “use of force” investigation was opened after two Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies were seen on camera allegedly fighting a man alleged of theft. Pipkins explained the group has developed a social justice team, currently partnering with Mayor Bill Miranda and the local Sheriff’s department to ensure training is adequate.
“Our social justice committee has been phenomenal in helping with all of the different situations we’ve encountered [for] over almost a year,” Scott- Walker said. “They have taken over and are doing what they can to let the Black people in our community know they have it handled.”
Scott-Walker emphasized the need for a platform like BlackSCV to spread awareness about police brutality committed against people of color because, while it makes the headlines, it’s also happening in Santa Clarita’s own backyard.
Pipkins, Smothers and Scott Walker plan on continuing to grow the organization and address the issues they feel is plaguing Black residents in Santa Clarita.
They are also looking forward to planning a BlackSCV “family reunion” in collaboration with the organization’s Black Market Vendor Expo, offering visitors entertainment as well as a sense of togetherness. BlackSCV will also be holding workshops for gun and safety training, along with events meant to entertain members and their families. No dates have been chosen but Pipkins said that information will soon be available.
If residents are interested in becoming involved with BlackSCV, the organization welcomes new members to its Facebook group. To learn more about BlackSCV and upcoming events, head over to the organization’s Instagram page.