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It is with deep regret that I write about the tragic death of Arnulfo T. Garcia, a friend, colleague and former editor of the San Quentin News. My heart goes out to his family, especially his 17-year-old daughter. I can only imagine how she must feel having waited her entire life to reunite with her father only to lose him again. Arnulfo T. Garcia and his sister Yolanda Louise Hernandez were killed in a car accident in Hollister, California. I am most concerned with the fact that a daughter lost her father, a family lost two members in one accident, and we lost a valuable member of our community.
My life began in the Jim Crow South, in Houston, Texas. I remember the segregated world I was born into … the separate water fountains, the back of the bus, the going around to the back door of Mr. Fontnoe’s grocery store to buy milk for my mother and grandmother. I recall the segregated section of the movie theaters – and the long, seemingly endless net partitioning the giant sandy beaches, separating the “Colored” folks from the “Whites.” Can you imagine that it once was a reality, a segregated beach!
Aug. 19 at 11:00 a.m., courageous and loving folks in San Jose, Calif., joined with sister marches and rallies throughout the country in support of prisoners’ human rights and amending the 13th. Their courage is found in the rejection of an institution so prevalent and insidious that any criticism can bring a mountain of ridicule and judgment. It is an institution shielded by a centuries old narrative that tells people, “They are not like us,” and consequently, “they” are undeserving of our humanity.
I have chosen to use a piece of poetry as my editorial for this month. I had not written poetry in years but was inspired after reading an article written in the Bay View by Chinyere Egu, listening to the music of Grand Opus, and spending the weekend with my daughter and grandchildren. Spoken word, whether it came in the form of old Negro spirituals or old school hip-hop, has always inspired our people to move beyond the limitations of our current situation.
On April 19-20, Bay Area community members and groups representing a wide range of stakeholders, including students with criminal records and their families, higher education program administrators, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and other elected officials, local employers Checkr and Uber, workforce development professionals, and social service agencies will gather to discuss barriers to education and employment for students with records and learn about opportunities for record clearing, advocacy, empowerment and coalition building.