34 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com FACE TO FACE Lyndon Tarver is ready for business all the time. He wears a suit Monday-Thursday and again on Sunday for church. And he readily offers up a pen as a reporter fumbles searching for one. “Always be ready, that way you don’t have to get ready,” he says. Tarver has always been ready to take on the next challenge. Two months after graduating from high school in Texas, he joined the Army. He served in various posts before landing in Germany for 17 years, when he got orders to relocate to the Presidio of Monterey in 2007. (In soldier, civilian and contractor capacities, he’s been working for the Army for 41 years. He’s currently a civilian.) He joined the local chapter of the NAACP six years ago, and in January began a two-year term as president. He’s getting involved in local government, representing the NAACP at city council and school board meetings—he sees issues like water and housing supply as issues of race. “We want our share,” he says. “The prices of homes here are artificially inflated because of water. You are keeping certain demographics out of this area.” Weekly: What did you think when you first arrived in Monterey? Tarver: The day before I left Germany, I was scraping ice off my windshield. A tear rolled down my eye and I said, “It’s time to go to sunny California.” Then when I arrived in January 2007, it was colder here. It grew on me; I think I like it here now. Besides the weather, take me back to your first impressions. Monday morning I went in [to work]. The whole room went quiet. I was the only Black man. Then they said, “We thought you’d be taller.” I said, “Well I am 6-1.” Before that, had you experienced other blatant racism? The first time I experienced racism I was stationed in Hawaii. A couple of folks senior to me used the word “boy.” That was shocking to me; I was a soldier. What inspired you to get involved with civil rights? I’ve been to Desert Storm. I believe in American values, but not everyone does. I want to make sure we all have equal footing and an equal voice. There’s no difference based on your beliefs, the color of your skin, or sexual orientation—you still have the rights of an American citizen. People always say, “You’re Black, so you must be a Democrat.” Well, actually I’m not, but I’m not a Republican either. I do believe in America. This whole cliche of “Make America Great Again”—what does it mean? I love America, I am American and I think America can be better. Sometimes I have to convince myself this is 2023 and not 1953. Donald Trump and his MAGA movement have emboldened racist forces. But there’s also been a growing push for progress. Is it working? When you say Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that sounds good, but are we actually doing anything? I think some local cities are progressive and doing well. For instance, a great city is Soledad; the mayor is a dynamo. But one example: I attended a school board meeting a couple of months ago. They started raving about how good they are that they have 30 minutes of diversity training. It’s a knee-jerk reaction—“we did this and this”—but the problem still exists. That brings us to the big question. How do we overcome racism? How do you know when you’re seeing change? Action. I don’t care about what you say, but it’s what you do. Anyone can nod their head like a bobble-head, but it’s actions that count. Are things getting better or worse locally? It’s a stalemate. In some areas, we’re getting better and in some areas, declining. You work a full-time job and serve in a volunteer leadership role. What do you do to relax? I like sports. At my age , it’s more to watch now; I used to play back in the day. I like college sports; I view professional sports, especially basketball, as entertainment, not basketball. I also like going out and getting the pulse of the community: What can the NAACP do for you, how can we help you? How can we make this community a better community today than it was yesterday? Incremental change is what we need to make this a more perfect union. We don’t need a 180. Kyarra Harris contributed to this report. Forward Thinker As president of NAACP’s Monterey County branch, Lyndon Tarver is seeking real change. By Sara Rubin “One of my philosophies at NAACP is to be accountable and transparent, as well as to retain, reclaim and recruit,” says Lyndon Tarver, who lives in Marina. He also serves as vice commander of VFW Post 8679. DANIEL DREIFUSS Adopt a Chi Head to our website to fill out an adoption questionnaire for one of our Chis. 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