When Donald Trump referred to Omarosa as a dog, he meant "Black Bitch."

180810-Lach-Swin-omarosa-trump-hero_l9hool.jpeg

Omarosa Manigault-Newman's support of and allegiance to Donald Trump has been problematic for the black community for some time now. During his campaign, she not only stood by him while he made disparaging remarks about our forever president and the entirety of the black community, but she doubled down saying we would all bow down to him once he won the presidency. Subsequently, we revoked her invitation to all future cookouts and accepted the fact that she was nestled soundly in the sunken place.

Her tenure in the White House was tokenized and ceremonial at best. She invited HBCU's and black pastors to the White House for discussions and meetings that ended with no real actionable policy coming out of them. So, when she was fired, none of us shed a tear. And we may have smirked a little bit at reports that she was literally dragged from the White House kicking and screaming.

Little did we and Trump's White House know that Omarosa left with a cups filled with tea. Omarosa recorded White House Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her and other conversations and meetings that took place during Trump’s candidacy and while being in the White House. In an interview with Trevor Noah, she claims she made the recordings knowing no one would believe her claims in the book she is now promoting. As of earlier this week, she is set to speak to Robert Mueller and is willing to turn over recordings she made while in the White House despite Trump's attempts to silence her. Per the norm, Trump took to Twitter to bash Omarosa.

On the one hand, I am appalled at the fact that Donald Trump, as the sitting President of the United States would call a woman, a black woman, a dog. More so, I am deeply offended knowing what he meant. But after her behavior and support of Donald Trump in spite of his racist and bigoted behavior, I can't say that I feel bad for her because, like the old folks always said, "You lay down with a dog, you get licked in the mouth, or you get up with fleas."  In other words, she knew what she was getting herself into. As a community, we can be offended by the way Omarosa is treated while holding her accountable for her support of a racist, bigoted, sexist, xenophobic presidential candidate and eventual sitting president.

Reckless Leader

Unknown-1.jpeg

As Trump and his administration seek to erase any trace of President Obama's accomplishments, the United States Department of Education is working to roll back civil rights guidance for educational institutions. But, as we have seen throughout his presidency, the reckless actions of Trump and his administration have been met with resistance.

More than 70 leading educators, teachers unions, non-profits, charter operators and educational institutions sent a letter to the United States Department of Education and Justice Department urging them to leave Obama-era civil rights guidance in place. The letter specifically urged the departments to maintain the focus on racial disparities in discipline focused on the disproportionality of suspension rates for students of color.

“It is unacceptable that students of color, students with disabilities, and students who identify as LGBTQ experience harsher discipline than their peers. Exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions and expulsions, are linked to students failing in school, to students not finishing school … and often to a lifetime connected to a life-altering juvenile and adult justice system.”

Although opponents say it oversteps the authority of the President and creates chaos, the Obama-era guidance on school discipline encouraged the use of restorative justice practice and urged schools to go away from punitive approaches. The Federal Commission on School Safety, established by the Trump administration following the Parkland shooting, believes discouraging suspension hinders the ability of schools to maintain discipline and order.

However, those who signed on to the letter agree the guidance was an effort to reduce students being funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline.

“The letter is partly about imploring the federal government to do their job in upholding students’ civil rights, but it is also a public declaration about our values as an education community,” said, Cami Anderson, founder of the Discipline Revolution Project. “We can and must do more to replace antiquated, harsh, ineffective, and biased discipline practices with student support systems that allow teachers to move away from these practices and toward alternative approaches to suspensions that help students thrive.”

As schools have reduced their reliance on suspension as a means to correct inappropriate student behavior, black students still face significant disproportionality with suspensions rates. According to the US Department of Education, black boys account for 25% of public students suspended at least once although they only make up 8 percent of the public school population. These alarming statistics make it all the more vital that we safeguard the rights of our students. It is a good start, but I think we can do better than 70 educators and various groups demanding the Departments of Education and Justice do their job to protect our students from harmful and discriminatory practices in education.

LeBron James' "I Promise" School Opens in Akron

DjPXTjFXgAEq_Rq.0.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James opened his "I Promise" school in Akron, Ohio on Monday with an event full of excitement and fanfare.

Partnering with Akron Public Schools, the I Promise school selected some of the most underperforming students in Akron. These students are at least one to two years behind their grade level in school.

The I Promise school is unlike the schools we have seen before. The school year and school day will run longer than the norm and the curriculum is accelerated in an effort to bring kids up to grade level. The school also aims to address factors outside of school that contributes to their struggles in the classroom with trauma informed and restorative justice practices.

Parents of I Promise school students will have access to job placement services, a food bank, and adult education courses to obtain their GED.

One other unique feature of this school is all students received a bike and helmet on their first day of school. LeBron James emphasized this benefit touting his own upbringing and the fact that his bike was what allowed him to escape the more dangerous parts of his neighborhood as well as giving him the opportunity to get out and explore.

In addition to these benefits, the I Promise school is tuition-free, and so are the uniforms, transportation within 2 miles, as well as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Additionally, upon graduation, students are guaranteed admission and tuition to the University of Akron.

A few months ago, Laura Ingraham, Fox News talking head, told LeBron James to shut up and stick to basketball. Suggesting that matters outside of his sport are beyond his scope of influence and expertise. James immediately rebuffed Ingraham suggesting his platform is bigger than basketball and he wanted to and intended to use his influence to better his community. There could be no better rebuttal than this one of a kind school opening in his hometown.

James used his lived experiences to determine the design and benefits of this school for its students. He believes he might not have this school opening if he did not have the struggles he had growing up. In addition to his pledged $48 million to send 1000 Akron kids to school, James has asserted his dominance in securing the educational future of Akron kids at a greater level than the public school system in Akron.

Sports superstars come and go. There will always be debates around who was the greatest of all time, but Lebron James may have just secured the crown for his off-the-court contributions. One's educational legacy can never be erased. Instead, it will be passed on from generation to generation. Those families that benefit from this school will go on to benefit other lives in some way, thereby ensuring his legacy outside of basketball is not up for debate.

My Experience At The 109th NAACP Convention

IMG_9951.JPG

By Shamaya Bowen

As part of my fellowship with the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, I was able to attend my first NAACP Convention.This year, the 109th Annual NAACP Convention was held in San Antonio, TX and the theme was “Defeat Hate: VOTE.”

After I arrived at the convention center, I turned to my fellow intern, Kalee, and said “Doesn’t it kinda feel like we’re just at a big family reunion?” She laughed and nodded her head in agreement. While it was a joke initially, with each day of the convention, this was proven to be more true. There was a level of comfort and familiarity with each person I met. The unspoken bond created out of wanting the best for our communities, filled every interaction. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to as many people as I did that week. As draining as it may sound, it wasn’t.

Each day of the convention fostered engagement between attendees about civic duty, civil rights and the overall advancement of people of color. Through various panels, the NAACP invited members and non-members alike to discuss police brutality, job opportunities, mental health, media representation and a wealth of other topics. While I didn’t get to attend much due to having to work behind the scenes, I thoroughly enjoyed the few panels I was able to attend. My favorite being the Youth and College Public Mass Meeting. Moderated by Van Lathan, the panelists discussed the role of being a young activist against various forms of oppression specifically, police brutality. Of all the panels I attended, this was the largest attended. To see so many young people confident in their opinions and roles as activists, challenging the methods and ideologies of those thought to be wiser due to their age, the only word that comes to mind to describe it is: ENERGIZING.

30CD4F50-2867-4B22-B775-95AD409B3680.jpeg

And I’d use that word to describe my entire experience at the convention. At the end of each day, no matter how physically or mentally tired I was from working, I felt energized and ready to be more active in my community and in life in general. The convention instilled a confidence and self assuredness that we, as people of color, sometimes lose. But luckily, we have moments where we congregate together to remind one another of the power we hold both collectively and individually. That was my takeaway from the convention and I can’t wait to reunite with my NAACP family next year.

Motor City, here we come!   

California Grads Not Ready for University?

img.jpg

Fewer than half of the graduates in the state of California aren't able to meet the minimum requirements of California Public universities. This has sparked attention on the issue and the development of ways to tackle the issue.

“This is the latest in an endless series of wake-up calls to Sacramento, where inertia continues to prevent our public schools from meaningfully improving.” 

Read more here

Dr. Ref Rodriguez Resigns, Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy

ref-rodriguez-resignweb072318_1_0.jpg.png

Dr. Ref Rodriguez submitted his immediate resignation to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges.

In a statement on Twitter, Rodriguez said, "It has been the honor of my life to serve the communities of Board District 5 as their LA Unified board member. I have spent my adult life working to improve educational conditions for students who come from neighborhoods like the one where I grew up, with parents who worked hard like mine did for me. This work will continue, I will just pursue that work from a different position."

Rodriguez had been under investigation since 2015 when a complaint was filed alleging he had laundered money in order to boost campaign funds. The subsequent investigation led to multiple felony charges, to which Rodriguez contested.

Rodriguez admitted to taking part in a ploy to conceal the source of his early campaign donations in a school board race that was called the most expensive in history with the aid of his cousin Elizabeth Melendrez.  Both agreed to pay a joint fine of $100,000 as a part of their plea deals.

Along with his cousin, Rodriguez devised a plan to fund his campaign with his own money from being the head of a charter and later reimburse them with Rodriguez's money. In late December 2014, family, friends, and low-wage charter school employees made donations to his campaign. The contributions ranged from $775 to $1,100. In total, half of his reported $51,001 on his first campaign filing was laundered money.

As he learned in an ethics training, Rodriguez could have contributed to his campaign openly. Contributing to his own campaign was legal, but disguising the source of funds is not. The Ethics Commission said Rodriguez's actions "were deliberate, and Rodriguez knowingly received and made use of laundered funds during the election and his actions reflected an intent to conceal, deceive and mislead."

The intent behind the money laundering efforts was to give the impression of community support to attract wealthy charter school donors, who raised millions on behalf of his campaign. Though the issue did not become public until two years later, a whistleblower complaint was filed in March 2015. Rodriguez was ultimately elected to the LAUSD Board of Education in June of 2015 and elected President by a slim majority a couple years later.

When charges were announced, Rodriguez stepped down from his presidency after which current Board President, Monica Garcia took over. Although Rodriguez's plea deal was not contingent upon his resignation, it was welcomed by his former colleagues on the school board.

With the plea deal, Rodriguez and his cousin both avoid jail time and receive 60 days community service and 3 years probation. However, Rodriguez still faces an investigation by the US Attorney's office into conflict of interest allegations related to  $285,000 in payments authorized from Partnerships to Uplift Communities, or PUC Schools. Although the payments were made to a non-profit under Rodriguez's control, his attorney denies any wrongdoing.

In a statement, Board President Monica Garcia said, "While we would like to ensure no break in representation for District 5 by appointing a temporary voting representative as soon as possible, we would like to call a special election to fill the vacancy as soon as we can. A board majority will have to agree to a plan."

Since Rodriguez was the swing vote in a slim majority, replacing him by appointee could be nearly impossible and could decide the fate of LAUSD charter school expansion, which is ardently opposed by LAUSD's teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and traditional public school supporters.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl was not sad to see Rodriguez go, saying "Every vote he made on the school board was not in the interests of students or parents of LAUSD. He carried out the wishes of the wealthy elite, including the CEO of Netflix and the billionaire-backed California Charter Schools Association." UTLA is urging the LAUSD board to call a special election to fill the vacant seat.

Kelly Gonez, LAUSD board member praised Rodriguez's decision to resign while praising the work he did to "uplift and empower his constituents, the kids, and families of board district 5.” On what happens next, Gonez would go on to say, "There will be of course question about what happens next, and those questions will be answered in due time. In the meantime, I hope we can work to restore the public's trust in the process, and each rededicate ourselves to strengthening public education for all kids in Los Angeles."

Trump and Putin- A Tale of Collusion and Treason

91661-trump2bputin2bpuppet8.jpg

col·lu·sion

kəˈlo͞oZHən/

noun

secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.

By now, you have probably shared in the collective outrage following Trump's meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. We can add that to the laundry list of things that Trump has done or said that should disqualify him from being President of the United States.

Much to Trump's detriment, the Mueller investigation has resulted in dozens of indictments, arrests, and guilty pleas. At this point, it is almost certain and undeniable that Trump and Russia colluded to win the 2016 election indirectly or directly. As the investigation continues, Trump's own legal counsel anticipates Trump being squarely in the special prosecutors cross-hairs at some point.

A day after the FBI charged 12 Russians with hostile acts against the US relating to hacking DNC and Hillary Clinton email servers, Trump and Putin met in Helsinki. Following their meeting, they held a joint press conference where both heads of states were pressed on Russian meddling in the US presidential election. Breaking with the US intelligence community, Trump would not say that Russia was responsible for hacking the Clinton and DNC email servers though he was asked.

As more details emerged about the indictments, it turns out that Russian hacking attempts began the same day Trump urged them to, saying, "Russia, if you're listening I hope you can find the 30,000 emails that are missing..."

A presidential candidate urging a hostile foreign power to hack another political party or presidential candidate and them actually doing so is, in my opinion,  one of the most glaring forms of collusion done in plain sight. Further, a President siding with a hostile foreign power is treason and casts doubt on the men and women of our intelligence community and damages the very fibers of our country.

It is a slap in the face to the men and women in our military services who keep our country safe from threats both domestic and abroad. These are the people that are responsible for the capture and delivery of swift justice to Osama Bin Laden, who was the mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy that Americans who lived through those events vowed never to forget. They undertake countless other acts that we may never know about to keep us all safe and they should be respected for the consummate and non-partisan professionals they are.

To add insult to injury, the spineless Republicans in Congress went to Twitter to express their outrage, but when it came to taking action against Trump, none of them voted in favor of a resolution denouncing Trump siding with Putin over US Intelligence Agencies. Their outrage is convenient, not patriotic or substantial. If they wanted to do something, anything to prevent Trump from harming our country in word or deed, they could. In comparison, Presidents Nixon and Clinton faced impeachment for less.

So why won't the GOP act to stop Trump? It's simple, its a game of smoke and mirrors. The GOP leaders in the House and Senate rely on Trump's distractions to detract from the harmful legislation they are hoping to pass while their days in power are numbered. But when will enough be enough? When will Congress do what they took an oath to do?

While giving in to cynicism is tempting, we cannot lose hope and let up in our resistance. Nelson Mandela would have been 100 years old this week. He is the best example of persistence in pursuit of justice for his country. Though imprisoned for 27 years, he would not be deterred in his quests to unify his country and end apartheid in South Africa. We cannot be shaken in our resolve to resist this sham of a presidency.

The fact of the matter is, by definition of the word alone, Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential. Even if he can't spell the word, he is complicit in the act. The indictments of his campaign staff are his to bear as well. We deserve better.

I stand with Maxine Waters

1f0d71fbecc84b5fbf16a1e1acfd1c64.jpg

I stand with Maxine Waters. Auntie Maxine has been in the news for speaking out against Trump since he announced his candidacy. Since he was sworn in as president, she made it clear that she would be his adversary every step of the way. Recently, Maxine Waters suggested that kicking Trump staffers out of restaurants is the least we could do to people who support racist policies from a racist president.

As expected, Trump supporters lashed out with protests and death threats after Trump suggested Maxine Waters ought to watch her back. Even a prosecutor questioned why she hadn't been shot yet for being so outspoken. While Sarah Huckabee Sanders received a secret service detail for being asked to leave a restaurant, Maxine Waters has to pay for her own security after death threats flood her congressional offices.

It is time to make it extremely uncomfortable and unpopular to practice racism, bigotry, xenophobia or any other kind of hateful or harmful behavior.

The approach that people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer take is outdated and the reason why people like Trump, his enablers, and supports feel emboldened to continue harming people with their destructive beliefs. They have been able to operate unchecked and unimpeded because too many people are silent.

We have to speak truth to power in these cases where hate is on display. Hate is bold. Racism is bold. Xenophobia is bold. Discrimination is bold.  And, so too, should be our resistance.

So I agree with Maxine Waters, every instance you encounter destructive, divisive, and hateful speech and behavior. There should not be a place on earth where anyone should be comfortable being hateful, racist, bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic, etc.

I am in no way advocating for violence but being racist today should be difficult. It should not be something anyone is able to do proudly. No one should stand idly by while anyone is attacked on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation or country of origin.

High Anxiety For Immigrant Teachers

change_Migrant_Summer_School.JPG.jpg

Migrant teachers throughout the country are concerned about the visa programs through which they are teaching.  With more zero-tolerance enforcement coming forward, many teachers fear that they will have to move to their home countries again and leave teaching jobs in the US.

“We’ve always known it’s a possibility, but if the program were to end I’d be very sad, both for myself and my colleagues.”

Read more here

Kylie Jenner- "Ready Made Wealth"

Kylie-Cosmetics-Valor-Mercado.jpg

Kylie Jenner's wealth was not self-made; it was ready-made. Last week, Forbes lauded Kylie Jenner for being on the verge of becoming the youngest self-made billionaire. With a net-worth of about 900 million dollars, she is just shy of being a billionaire. After the article was released, a campaign was started to get Kylie to billion-dollar net worth. But much of Puerto Rico is still without power, Flint Michigan still has poison for water, teachers still have to buy their own classroom supplies on meager salaries, and the homeless population continues to grow. If people are looking for something to throw their money at, I can compile an endless list of worthy causes that don't involve making the rich richer.

Let's be clear; Kylie Jenner was born into extreme wealth and never knew a life close to poverty. She had access to millions of dollars, property, and assets before she was 18 years old. She is not business savvy and should not be applauded for her business acumen. The Kardashian-Jenner family makes money by merely stamping their names on products and showing up to events and for their reality tv show; Kylie's "success" is derived from the same.

To call Kylie self-made is an insult to individuals who started businesses in garages or the trunks of their cars, sunk their life savings into their first businesses, or who quit their job to open a store of their own. They risked it all on their dreams and worked to see them through to fruition without the head start of being born into a prominent family. They should be applauded and celebrated.

Calling Kylie Jenner a self-made millionaire is like buying a cake from a bakery and passing off as the cake you made from scratch. Having young people look up to her as if she is the blueprint for success is harmful at best. We need to highlight more stories about people who built wealth from nothing but their blood sweat and tears. Let's highlight how those people encountered failure and disappointment and succeeded after facing every obstacle imaginable. Our young people need to have the playbook for how to succeed when the odds are stacked against them. In the meantime, we need to continue to fight to make sure we end income inequality, make education more affordable and accessible, and make sure we all have equal access to capital to start up businesses. Doing so will produce more millionaires and billionaires who are genuinely self-made.

"Existing While Black"

I just watched a video of Sunny Hostin, host of ABC's The View, as she recanted an incident that took place July 4th as she and her family were vacationing in Sag Harbor, NY. She and her family were targeted by about 30 white people who hurled racial slurs at them and damaged property. As they left, they said, "This is our holiday!"

Hostin and her family were clearly shaken by the incident, but called the police to report the incident. In the video, she describes how the encounter ruined the whole weekend for one of her friends. I can relate because even seeing videos like this one or the countless others we see surfacing on social media of black people having the police called on them for existing or people of color being attacked or harassed by Trump supporters, racists, and bigots. Seeing these incidents changes the way you move through the world and it's hurtful.

We have seen white people call the police on black people for doing nothing more than existing and going about their daily lives. These situations have resulted in trauma that affects how black people conduct themselves in public. I know this is true for me.

I was on vacation last weekend in a predominantly white town, and I could not stop looking over my shoulder and trying to be aware of my behavior. Whenever I passed a white person on the street, I made sure I smiled, hoping I would seem less intimidating. In grocery stores and gas stations, I was more polite than usual. I did my best to blend in, if at all possible, even while driving. But feeling out of place felt more pronounced as I took a walk around the neighborhood and came across a staunch Trump supporter's home.

As a 6 foot tall, 240-ish pound black man, I know I must seem monstrous to people who have fears and insecurities about black men. As I watched videos of a black woman being confronted for swimming at her community's pool, a black couple having the police called on them at Subway, a little black girl having the cops called on her for selling water, a black man having the police called on him for grilling in the park, I believe I could have the police called on me for doing just about anything.

Everywhere I went last weekend my eyes were searching for another black person so I would not feel like I was the only one. When in a sea of unfamiliar faces in some place far from home, not seeing anyone you can relate to and not feeling safe feels like drowning.

But I am reminded that, while my black skin is problematic for some people, I should wear it as a badge of honor. So, too, should all people of color in a time where some white people are afraid, they will be outnumbered. If we weren't something to be revered, they would not be fearful of our rise to power and prominence as we take our rightful places at the table and in seats of power. A few years ago, I learned to embrace the idea of being the first or only one. I am proud of my blackness, and I refuse to move timidly because of someone else's insecurities.

How to Deal with Uninvolved Parents

parents.PNG

By  Andrew Pillow

If you are a teacher, then chances are you have dealt with many different types of parents. There are many actions parents take that teachers find annoying. You have the parents that never think their kids do anything wrong. You have the helicopter parents that are over-involved. By far, the most difficult parents to deal with are the ones from which you hear nothing at all.

Uninvolved parents are the bane of many teachers’ existence. It’s hard enough to reach children as it is. It gets significantly harder if you can’t reach their parents.  Parents who don’t answer calls or show up to conferences leave a bad taste in the mouths of teachers, but dealing with parents is part of the job. So how exactly do you effectively deal with uninvolved parents?

1.       Don’t assume it’s because they don’t care

Often time teachers make the mistake of assuming parents that are uninvolved don’t care or are uninterested. There are some parents who don’t care, but most want to see their children do well in school, even if they don’t show it the way teachers feel like they should.

2.       Examine the barriers stopping them

There could be any number of reasons parents are “uninvolved.”  They may not have a working phone to answer your calls. They may not have adequate transportation to attend school functions. They may work multiple jobs or the night shift which makes them unavailable at normal times.

Some of these obstacles, such as needing a phone, are actually quite fixable, but schools and teachers have to examine the barriers preventing parents from participating to remedy the situation.

3.       Be more flexible

Sometimes a school’s systems and methods are too rigid to accommodate parents with unusual circumstances and conferences are a good example.

Can you really hold it against a parent if they can’t take off of work in the middle of the day to show up at a parent-teacher conference? Why not allow the conference to be scheduled at a different time more conducive to their schedule? Do meetings have to take place at the school? If parents don’t have transportation, doesn’t it make sense for the teachers and admin to visit them?

These are the kind of actions schools need to think about if they really want to include uninvolved parents.

4.       Leverage other people

Sometimes that parent that doesn’t answer your calls has a great relationship with a teacher from last year or another class. What did that teacher do that you didn’t?

The father who doesn’t show up to a parent-teacher conference may occasionally show up to basketball games and has a good relationship with the coach. Why not ask the coach to pass on a message to the father?

Trying to get your disinterested parent to show up for literacy night, but can’t reach them? What about asking the parent that goes to the same church to relay the invite?

Unfortunately, varying degrees of parent involvement is simply part of being a teacher, but schools need to make sure they have exhausted all options before they declare a parent “uninvolved.”

Decision 3.0- Fatherhood Takes Lebron James West

483750178.jpg.0.jpg

The basketball world was rocked Sunday night when Lebron James decided to take his talents west, agreeing to a four-year 154 million dollar contract with the Lakers. His decision was met with mixed reactions from Cleveland Cavaliers fans upset their homegrown hero was leaving once again, to Laker fans who are still mourning the end of Kobe's career, this is a win.  While some think this move tarnishes his legacy, I think it cements the type of legacy LeBron James wants to leave.

If you look at the root of this decision, one thing is clear. LeBron wanted to put his family in the best position to succeed. As a parent, there are sacrifices you make for your family or children that may not be the best or most popular move for your career or image, but setting your family up for success is an easy decision to make even with the resulting fallout. LeBron is a father first; basketball is secondary. When he left Miami to go home to Cleveland, his children were at the center of his decision; this time is no different.

It is widely known that LeBron and his wife Savannah were in LA last year at this time touring schools for their oldest son, Lebron James, Jr., who wants to play basketball at a top tier high school to pursue a professional basketball career like his father. So, why wouldn't he give his son the opportunity to do so? To top it off, you have a chance to play for the greatest franchise in all of sports and restore the Lakers brand back to greatness. As a father, if I had to move to Alaska because my daughter would have the best opportunity to succeed, I'd be packing my winter coat right now.

You could say that LeBron James is the Barack Obama of basketball; as a polarizing figure, you either love him or you hate him, but history will concede the point they were game-changers and deserve to be considered among the best in their fields. You hated LeBron for what he did to your team as an opposing player, but you have to love him for what he will do for your team and city.

With LeBron James, Los Angeles not only gets the best basketball player today and one of the greatest of all time, but also a great father, role model, and philanthropist. His 16-year career has been free of scandals on or off the court. LeBron is much bigger than basketball, and the city of angels and champions alike is rightfully buzzing. Most importantly, as a father, you have to respect his decision to give his children the opportunity to thrive. I look forward to what the next phase of his career does for my beloved Lakers and Los Angeles.

I Graduated ... Now What?

By Shamaya Bowen

As I gear up for my last full year of university, I felt the need to settle my mind and accept that the overwhelming mix of feelings I had toward my future were normal. To do so, I spoke with four of my friends from the class of 2018 about this new chapter of their lives. They were gracious enough to let me know what excites them about this newfound freedom as well as what scares them. Additionally, they offered a bit of advice to current college and high school students.

FullSizeRender-4.jpg

Name: Faizah Sesay

School: University of California, Riverside

Degree: Business Economics & Psychology

Intended Job: Marketing/Human Resources


What worries you about this next chapter of your life?

Paying off my student loans, and figuring out what exactly I want to do for my career


What excites you about this next chapter of your life?

Being out of school, and being able to figure life out in an unstructured setting.

What have you done to make yourself more marketable in the job market?

Internships and Working in a psychology lab

What was the best piece of advice you were given about this new chapter of your life and who gave it to you?

To enjoy life after graduation and to take as much time as I need to figure out what that next step is going to be-- my lab supervisor Seth

What advice do you have for current college and high school students?

That it’s okay to not have everything figured out, and to have fun.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Name: Danielle Spooner

School:  University of Hartford

Degree:  Bachelors of Science

Major: Health Science/Physical Therapy

Intended Job:  Physical Therapist

What worries you about this next chapter of your life?

I am worried about not getting into grad school. When I do, I may struggle throughout my three years in the program. I am also worried that student loans are going to pile up and interest is going to increase before I have a chance to pay them back.

What excites you about this next chapter of your life?

I am excited about getting a job, getting accepted into a good PT program, and becoming an adult overall.

What have you done to make yourself more marketable in the job market?

During my summer breaks, I interned at various PT clinics. During the school year, I volunteered as a mobility volunteer and interned as a PT intern at a transitional school.

What was the best piece of advice you were given about this new chapter of your life and who gave it to you?

Make sure that your break is not too long- Everyone

What advice do you have for current college and high school students?

Advice I would give to current college and high school students would be to have fun while they are in college. It’s okay to take a break and figure out what you want to do/study, and yes college is difficult and you may want to quit, but you can make it.  

FullSizeRender-3.jpg

Name: Dominique Spooner

School: University of Hartford

Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice

Intended Job: Lawyer

What worries you about this next chapter of your life?

My biggest worry about the next chapter of my life is not finding a job I would actually like. Another worry is that when I start to pursue my career I would hate it. However one of my biggest fears is letting my parents down after all of their hard work.

What excites you about this next chapter of your life?

Being able to support my family, going above and beyond and breaking down barriers that are placed to stop women from going further.

What have you done to make yourself more marketable in the job market?

I participated in internships outside of my major - more communication classes, internships as well as political internships. I’m more marketable because I have an understanding of both the communication world as well as the criminal justice world. It also makes it easier to express my thoughts.

What was the best piece of advice you were given about this new chapter of your life and who gave it to you?

Do not just get a job. Find a job within your field so it can help you figure out what you want in the future.

What advice do you have for current college and high school students?

Make a checklist of what want from your school. There are schools that allow you to do your bachelor’s and master’s at the same time. I wish I knew that when I went to school.

FullSizeRender-1.jpg

Name: Alicia Jones

School: California State University, Long Beach

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Film and Electronic Arts

Intended Job: Film Producer

What worries you about this next chapter of your life?

My biggest worry is not knowing what could happen or where my future lies. I worry that It will take a long time for me to get where I want to be and I will just be unhappy with the journey.

What excites you about this next chapter of your life?

I’m excited for the freedom. I’m free to make my own choices and ultimately decide my future

What have you done to make yourself more marketable in the job market?

I created a LinkedIn, I created an infographic similar to a resume in a class and also posted it on my LinkedIn, and I also list all of the qualities/qualifications that I possess even if it doesn’t seem like it would pertain to the jobs I’m looking for because you honestly never know what employers are looking for.

What was the best piece of advice you were given about this new chapter of your life and who gave it to you?

My boyfriend’s aunt told me to consolidate my loans so I don’t incur too much interest over the years. I had no idea that consolidation even existed so that advice forced me to research more about my loans and the best ways to pay them off.

What advice do you have for current college and high school students?

Stay organized and network!!! Make yourself vulnerable. College is supposed to be fun but don’t forget the reason why you’re getting that degree. Have a healthy balance of studying and partying. If your friends never want to study or never want you to study then maybe it’s time for new friends.

It’s safe to say that no matter your school, your major, or intended career, we all have the same fears and anxieties. As we graduate and find ourselves in uncharted waters, it’s important to remember that we aren’t alone in what we’re feeling. Furthermore, it’s important that we don’t allow those fears to hold us back. To the class of 2018, as well as those who are still on their journey towards graduation, I hope you too are comforted by the experiences and advice of my friends. I also encourage you to speak to those around you. Whether it be friends, parents, or mentors, many have been in your shoes and I’m sure they’d be happy to alleviate some of your fears or offer some words of encouragement.

 

Permit Patty

17049128_G.jpg

Dear White People,

Stop calling police on people of color, 911 is for emergencies, not your insecurities.

There should be a law that cites people who call police on people who are not committing a crime the same way people are charged with filing a false police report. When police have to respond to these incidents resources are taken away from actual emergencies. Even people who don't feel like these incidents are racially motivated, even though they obviously are, should be concerned that resources are being wasted on these non-emergencies.

White people who call the police on people of color and make them uncomfortable have to know that they are putting people's lives in danger.

This weekend, police were called on a little black girl who was selling cold water outside her apartment building without a permit; this, coming after "Barbeque Becky" called police on black men barbequing in a public park and after countless of times police were called on black people for existing in public spaces.

Now, "Permit Patty" thought it was a good idea to torment a little girl and her mother for selling water without a permit in an incident she says was a joke. What kind of person calls the police on a little girl for selling water? How is she endangering the public? And why couldn't she just go on about her business?

These types of interactions infuriate me and each time begs the question yet again, “What is permissible for black people to do in public spaces and not have the police called on them?” Either way, I would advocate for legislation that penalizes people for calling the police when there is no crime or imminent threat to public safety.

 

Undocumented Immigrants and Slaves: A Connection Through U.S. History

pittimmigration-1200x781.jpg

By Erica Copeland

The recent surge in separations of undocumented parents from their children is ominously reminiscent of the systematic break up of families during this country’s slavery era.

From the 1600s to 1863 when slavery was legalized and then abolished, Africans who forcibly migrated to this country, were often torn apart from their relatives at the whims of their slave owners.

The practice was quite commonplace in the U.S. South. On the plantation, slave mothers and fathers lived in fear each day that, one day, the slave master would find it more economical or expedient to sell off one of their children for profit. For the Southern slave owners, the transaction of buying and selling slaves without regard to their family ties was simply a matter of convenience or doing “good business.”

But the practice wreaked havoc on the social ties between black Americans then and the ripples of that era has left a legacy where Blacks must live with large gaps of knowledge in their family ancestry and lineage. Gaps in culture exist as well since much of African culture was oral. When families separate, parents and grandparents cannot pass down traditions and memories of the past.

Sadly, the connection between family separations during slavery and the forced separations that are happening today is not one that African Americans, or those of other races who are more than second or third generation immigrants, will easily draw.

Those whose grandparents or great-great grandparents were U.S. born, do not necessarily extend the idea of separating families during slavery to the forced separations of contemporary immigrant families that are occurring under the policies of the Trump administration and current session of Congress.

They may see these two phenomena as polar opposites rather than as fraternal twins. Although the social, political, and economic circumstances surrounding both issues are different, at a basic human rights level, the same principle applies.

The United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights has various articles that are being violated through the practice of immigrant family separations. Article 6 guarantees the “Right to be Recognized as a Person” and Article 3, the “Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security.”

No rocket scientist has to figure out the harm in tearing families apart. This practice has long-lasting negative effects that create a legacy of trauma, resentment, and disempowerment within that family and the community in which they lived.

For those of us who have remained indifferent bystanders and observed the events on the news from the sidelines, now is the time where we must choose a side. Choosing to stay silent is a choice to affirm the current administration’s actions.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “Silence is the approval that allows dark deeds to exist in the world.”

So if this issue bothers you at all, do something about it. Your action does not have to be a grand show of support at a rally or protest. It can simply be signing a petition online.

For example, politicians like Representative Karen Bass of California’s 37th Congressional district has an online petition to sign to pressure those in the President’s administration to change the current policy of deportation.

Decide on which side you stand. Will you support human rights or continue to allow this country to repeat its dark history once again?

 

I’m Sorry America, But Until Further Notice, This Is TOTALLY Us

IMG_0524-e1529518167673.jpg

By Justin Cohen

When protestors and activists gathered around the country last Thursday, to protest the Trump administration’s depraved policy of separating children from their families, the mood was raw.

At the rally I attended in Brooklyn, the sentiment of the crowd ranged from disbelief to hopelessness to outrage. I have been to more protests than I can remember, including many in the months since the election of 2016. The mood was different last week. The strident calls for concrete political action were replaced by something more like, “Are you kidding me, you fucking maniacs?”

It appears that, for many otherwise ambivalent Americans, the imprisonment of children in cages is the proverbial bridge too far, a sign that a reckless administration had finally crossed the line.

And if the crowd at the Brooklyn event was any indication, a large portion of enraged are white folks, most of whom would self-identify as progressive or liberal. Glancing at the various protest signs, it’s possible to glean some important information about what motivates people to show up in solidarity with people who do not look like them. Amidst a variety of creative forms of resistance, I kept seeing one message, over and over, and it’s a plea that requires interrogation:

IMG_0518.jpg

“This Is Not Us.”

But what if it is?

For many Americans, particularly those who are neither white nor privileged, last week’s news was just another piece of evidence that the Trump administration is hell bent on imposing its narrow, nationalistic,racist definition of what it means to be an American. All in the process of reminding us that, until further notice:

“This IS, and Has Always Been, Us.”

If I’m the first person to share this information to you, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad, yet old, news. The definition of who get to be a human in America has always expanded and contracted, but that definition has always hinged on both defining whiteness, and manipulating the family structures of non-white people.

Consider the most obvious example, the enslavement of people of African descent. Maintaining chattel slavery as a system of racial and economic oppression depended on breaking up and systematically dismantling Black family structure in America. This tendency did not disappear after abolition, as White America’s commitment to obliterating the Black family seems to have intensified in the subsequent generations. The hyper-incarceration of Black adults, not to mention the under-education of black children, deliberately weakens families. In the meantime, conservative thinkers have erected an entire fantasy world, wherein the “failings” of the Black family structure are attributed to “cultural” phenomena, and not to the enforcement of white supremacy.

Screenshot-2018-06-19-15.07.43.png

Similar family-destroying tactics were used by the United States government in the 19th century to perpetuate the oppression of Native American people. There is a direct lineage from the American Indian boarding schools, where children were kidnapped to separate them from their native cultures, to the contemporary practice of imprisoning migrant children.

And let’s not forget, just two generations ago the American government held more than 100,000 people from Japanese families in internment camps, out of pure racial hostility at a time of global conflict. During the same period, the United States government refused entry to Jewish refugees, who were fleeing imminent death at the hands of the Nazi regime.

In each of these cases, the overt destruction of families was justified on the basis of protecting American identity. The inescapable fact is that this method of defining identity is bound to both the idea of Whiteness, and who counts as “White” at any given time. Given the Trump administration’s public flirtations with white supremacy, it is devastating, but not surprising, to see our contemporary leaders fall into a similar pattern of conflating American identity with white supremacy.

Screenshot-2018-06-19-15.08.10.png

It’s hard to know what to do in the face of state-sponsored family destruction. Protest seems inadequate. Civil disobedience comes in many forms, and the more assertive versions of such seem more enticing than ever. While the Trump administration may not be engaging in overt ethnic cleansing, it’s not hyperbolic to say that their current playbook bears shocking resemblances to those of genocidal regimes. How Americans react – both on the streets and in the polling place – will be critical to preventing the horrors from metastasizing.

Until the next shoe drops, there are many actions that folks can take. Protest, organize, petition, march, and most importantly, vote.

Before we do all of those things though, we should retire the idea that “This is Not Us.”

This IS us.

It has always been us.

And until we stop it, it will always be us.

 

Lynwood Unified Teacher of the Year

image1.jpg

Biomedical Sciences teacher Deena Smith, a 20-year instructor at Lynwood High School, is as dynamic as her curriculum in the classroom where she always seems to draw a crowd of current and past students who gather to analyze fake murder scenes or observe a dissection of an animal.
 
For Smith’s ability to continually inspire her learners and grow the school’s medical career technical education (CTE) program, she was named Lynwood Unified 2018-19 Teacher of the Year. 
 
“When she teaches she really engages and applies things that make it fun,” Lynwood High junior Andy Medina said. “She really stands out – that’s why we have so many students pursuing medicine.”
 
Smith’s students explore a range of careers in biomedical sciences as they learn in the context of real-world, hands-on activities, projects, and problems. After completing the four-year CTE medical program at Lynwood high, students receive certification to work as medical assistants who have the ability to administer blood and electrocardiogram tests.
 
Smith proudly shares that some of her graduating students this year will attend the likes of Stanford and Boston University. She has helped guide the school’s CTE medical program which began in 2000 with just nine students. This year, the program has 140 students.
 
“I love my job and I’d never want to do anything else,” Smith said. “Getting the chance to work with these brilliant kids is such a privilege. I try to connect with them, not as a student-teacher, but as a colleague. That helps us build a relationship.”
 
For her exceptional work, Smith was honored at a District Board of Education meeting, where she was cheered wildly by colleagues and students in May. A representative from Schools First Federal Credit Union attended the meeting and presented all 19 Teacher of the Year nominees with gift cards.
 
“Deena Smith is a ray of light that illuminates the curriculum for our students,” Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “She is able to challenge her classrooms and inspire them to grasp difficult concepts in practical ways.”