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This is part of an ongoing series, “Learning while Black: The fight for equity in San Francisco schools,” being broadcast on KALW’s Crosscurrents. African American students across the country are much more likely than any other student group to be placed in special education, and that’s true at San Francisco Unified too. The district’s troubled history has plenty to teach us about what is and isn’t working for Black students with special needs today.
Whether you ask a parent, a teacher or even a college student like me, creating a better world for kids is the top priority. If that’s the case, then why aren’t Pro-Kid values reflected in California’s public policy? A recent study ranked California 36th out of 50 states in children’s wellbeing. Being pro-kid means more than just not being anti-kid, it means embracing the idea that children need to be supported across all sectors to live a safe, happy and healthy childhood. Yet in the state of California, the metrics for crucial indicators of child well-being are far lower than they should be, especially when broken down by race.
UC Berkeley’s New Media might be new, but the racism is old. “Our-Race Bias” (ORB) happens thousands of times a day in America, but it is not podcast or uploaded to digital media. The Starbucks coffee house racism incident is the tip of the iceberg in universities across the country. But as one passes through the classrooms in UC Berkeley’s New Media and Media Studies, he rarely sees any African American students in the classrooms, to say nothing of Black faculty.
The ACLU of Northern California sent a letter to the superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District urging him to reconsider a ban on Black Lives Matter signs and stickers. The ban violates the California constitution by placing unlawful restrictions on student speech and conduct, as well as the First Amendment. “Black Lives Matter stickers and signs are protected speech and censorship of them is illegal,” said ACLU of Northern California staff attorney Abré Conner.
Afrikan Black Coalition Political Director Yoel Haile states: “This victory is historic and momentous. Divesting $25 million is a good step towards shutting down private prisons by starving them of capital. This is a clear example of Black Power and what we can achieve when we work in unity. This victory belongs to the masses of our people languishing behind America’s mass incarceration regime.”
As I go about my travels up and down Third Street, especially frustrated over the Black corridor scene – lack of thriving Black businesses, people hanging on the streets, while other areas of the strip of avenues – Dogpatch, etc., are thriving! WHEN will change happen??? Where are Black investors? So much building going on in Bayview Hunters Point – the NEW FRONTIER AND LAST BASTION FOR BLACK FOLKS!
The fight to save City College is taking place on two levels. We’re winning one but losing the other. Many elected and appointed city and state leaders have taken action to preserve City College as an accredited, accessible, community-friendly institution that serves all of San Francisco. But on another level, the fight to save City College has taken a terrible toll. Enrollment has dropped from 100,000 students in 2008 to 65,000 this year. The fight to save City College is also the fight to save San Francisco as a truly diverse city, not just a gentrified and overwhelmingly white enclave.
The UC Berkeley Black Student Union has demanded institutional changes to address the conditions of Black students. “Black people have been oppressed at this university since its creation,” declared BSU member Alana Banks. “The fact that we have to come up with demands for support ... is a testament to our condition. Regardless, I believe that we will win; and they believe that we will win too.”
Parents and Children of African Descent (PCAD), which advocates for equity and results in education, and other organizations sponsored a march and rally on Malcolm X Day, which is a school holiday in Berkeley, in support of accountable results by BUSD to close the achievement gap between Black students and their peers. “I have had zero Black teachers,” says ninth grader Nya Sandeford. “If you definitely believe that something needs to be changed, then fight for it. Don’t just sit back and let things happen.”
A team of parents and supporting organizations announced today that they will march and rally on Malcolm X Day, May 19, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to support equity initiatives in public schools and protest unfair disciplinary actions and a culture of low expectations for Black children. The team is also pressing school districts to target the needs of Black students with new state funding pursuant to a Local Control and Accountability Plan.
Today, for the first time, the United States Departments of Education and Justice jointly released guidance that outlines civil rights obligations regarding school discipline that schools and districts throughout the country must follow affirming that “racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.” The guidance was included in a resource package with guiding principles and a resource guide from the Department of Education.
Protests and raised fists have come to life to San Jose State University. For those who have not heard, three white students at San Jose State University have been charged with hate crimes – and a fourth has been suspended – after their African-American roommate was subjected to a series of racist torments that have shocked the entire community.
As many of you know from experience, or have read before in these pages, the last decade has cut a deadly swath through Black prosperity and the viability of Black businesses in San Francisco. This is coupled with the flight of many of our neighbors, family members and friends out of the City. Yet we hang on, still determined to “make a way out of no way.” We remain, our children remain, and if we work hard enough, diligently enough, we can turn things around so that the next generation has a fighting chance.
For many in the African American community, especially those who are between poverty and middle class, autism is unfamiliar. We aren’t quite sure what kind of delay that means in our children. Does it mean they are dumb? Does it mean they won’t talk ever in life? Will they be sitting in the corner for decades, fascinated by the shiny object on the ceiling? Will they have friends of their own? Will they be independent?
Refa-1 is a revolutionary graffiti artist who made history in the Bay Area about 18 years ago by creating a commissioned Malcolm X mural at San Francisco State with anti-zionist messages. Refa-1 has been making a name for himself curating the Aerosoul shows over the years. Don’t miss the closing reception to AeroSoul3, Friday, Feb. 22, at the African-American Art and Culture Complex.
There are a lot of people out there who are concerned about how you spend your money. Embrace this glorious month of February and our incomparably rich history that extends back God knows where and support the future Gabby Douglases and Colin Kaepernicks and George Washington Carvers of the world by buying Black.
To make KPFA's powerful signal work for us, the Black community is putting its faith in Adam Hudson, who is running for KPFA Local Station Board in an election that ends next week – ballots must be received at KPFA by midnight Thursday, Oct. 15. Call the Bay View at (415) 671-0789 if you need more info. Be sure to vote!
We often tell our children, "I want you to do better than I did. I want you to make a difference and I want you to be more financially sustained than I am." My name is Betty McGee and I earned a doctorate in business administration in 2004. The journey for me was five years of hard work, sacrifice and to some degree doubt around my ability to complete the work.