by Laura Savage
It’s that time of year again when families are preparing students for another school year and searching for resources to help their young people succeed. For Black families in San Francisco, the struggle may be compounded with rising housing costs, hostile relations with law enforcement and the harsh reality of implicit bias in public schools across the city. To mitigate these obstacles for Black families, local agencies and organizations are coming together to show support for the San Francisco Black community.
For some, there are the stresses of society and education intersecting at critical points in young people’s lives. Friday, Sept. 17, 2016, the annual Black Family Day takes place at San Francisco’s Mission High School. The organizations hosting the event “represent a combination of those that we hold accountable for serving our Black families and those community-based organizations that have years of service and experience in supporting Black families,” says Landon Dickey, special assistant to the superintendent in San Francisco Unified School District.
Those accountable include San Francisco Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Unified School District, the Alliance of Black School Educators, 100% College Prep, Mo’ Magic and AfroSolo.
The goal of Black Family Day is to connect Black families to much needed resources and to capitalize on the leadership skills already present by giving them the skills needed to navigate public and private systems on behalf of their families. The day includes “a Southern buffet brunch, community resource fair for students K-12, a Family Advocacy Summit for parent and school site leaders, and a series of workshops in the afternoon,” added Dickey.
Dr. Mary Bacon, consultant to the SFUSD hired to work with Black families around a number of issues, added “workshops will be provided that can inform families about important information to assist them in negotiating the educational system and how to establish effective relationships with educators [and other families].”
The hope is to counter the current narrative that San Francisco isn’t a city for Black families. The numbers are dwindling – partly due to excessive housing costs dislocating low-income residents and partly due to Black residents perceiving they are unwelcome.
“Families will get connected to key allies within the city that wants to see them thrive,” says Dickey. “They will receive important information regarding academic expectations for their children and how to best advocate for their children within SFUSD.”
This is a good opportunity for Black families to see the extent of the support they have in San Francisco. “It is essential that the community continue to sponsor events that provide opportunities for African American families to participate in activities where they are not in the minority,” said Bacon “and where they can provide mutual support for one another.”
Topics covered in workshops for all ages include navigating and understanding Special Education, understanding new “social emotional report cards” in SFUSD; Black male development and engaging with the police, and cradle-to-career college readiness skills, to name a few. In addition, a raffle giveaway will take place for participating families with a chance to win Warriors tickets or a computer tablet. Shuttle buses to Mission High School are available at spots around the city.
If families or community members want more information, monthly workshops and events will take place throughout the year. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Laura Savage is a member of the Black Family Resource Network and will be giving a workshop on “Navigating Special Education” in SFUSD. Laura can be reached at email@example.com.