Category Archives: community

Friday Night Lights, Warriors Casting Shadows: McClymonds Beats Bradshaw Christian 71-14

Bradshaw Christian

McClymonds vs. Bradshaw Christian: First quarter score. August 29th, 2014.

Photo and story by Anthony Beron

The deep contrast produced by the lightning-white field lights illuminating McClymonds’ football stadium and the jet-black shadows of the wizened  football coaches from Bradshaw Christian reflected the disparity between the monstrous offensive and defensive Mack Warriors and broken and dysfunctional Bradshaw “Pride”.

It was also the first game for Mack’s new quarterback, Kevin Davidson — another import but this time not from another Oakland high school or an African-American family that had moved to suburbia.

The new quarterback is Caucasian at a school that is 86% African-American and prides itself on combining sports and tutoring through SPAAT (Student Program for Athletic and Academic Transitioning) to propel students to better colleges.

“We try to get the athletes geared up for college so they can succeed in academics and not just sports,” said Ilalo Kalika, a training specialist at SPAAT.

“He [Davidson] came here and we just accepted him. He has a good attitude during practice and has a steady head,” said Taivion Foster, who also had 11 tackles and five assists against Bradshaw Christian.

Lavance Warren of McClymonds rushed for nearly 200 yards and contributed to Mack’s 1,487 total number of all-purpose (passing and rushing) yards. Bradshaw Christian only had 335.

Davidson, a junior, and running back Lavance Warren, a senior, played with intense focus and mechanical efficiency- shooting down the field in a couple of plays during each possession- and racked up a majority of Mack’s 71 points. Over 230 yards, resulting in the other chunk of the final score, were gained by short, bullet-like passes and returned fumbles.

McClymonds High’s offensive and defensive styles showed an equilibrium between jukes and chugs as they used their youthful style to avoid congested Bradshaw scrambles, and insurmountable mass to effectively wall-off the banana yellow goal posts and lime green endzones the Pride barely touched throughout game-time. Keawe Efhan, the running back and weapon-of-choice for Bradshaw’s offense, suffered from endless crushing and decisive hits performed by Mack, all of which sapped his gusto quick into the first quarter.

During the second half after a few effervescent pep-talks, Bradshaw still kept a stale offense. Kicker Dani Lawson of the Pride only scored two field goals throughout the game, tacking on two points to the ultimate score of 14.

For McClymonds the only anticlimactic event of the night was when Anthony White, number 12, attempted his only field goal, but fell short because of a poor snap.

The Warriors historically have had faulty kicking teams. Last season, only a handful of field goal attempts were made in total. None were successful. During the 2013 California Interscholastic Federation playoffs for northern Californian high school football teams, McClymonds lost to Central Catholic, in part due to not having an adequate kicking squad. No field goals were scored by Mack, yet several were made by Central Catholic. McClymonds lost that game, 17-14.

“We could improve our kicking,” said Decarlos Anderson, Mack football coach. “But it’s all good as long as we score enough points. The main reason (for) why we lack kickers is because McClymonds hasn’t had a soccer team in years, but other schools do. They can just pull kickers. We can’t.”

With the addition of the Advanced Sports class, taught by Anderson, many athletes take almost an hour-and-a-half out of their routine class schedule to lift weights.

“It’s a contributing factor, but we’ll see how it works later on since we’re only in the beginning of the year,” said Anderson in reference to Advanced Sports.

Mack senior, Rahquille Menefee- a 250-plus pound offensive guard and defensive end- grinned about weight training. “It gives me the greater advantage so then I can overpower everybody in my face. It gives me a mental edge, too.”

“This year’s new quarterback, Kevin (Davidson), who is also a transfer student, outsizes any Mack quarterback from the past three years,” said Anderson. “The Warriors are something stronger, something a little bit new, but with just as much talent.”

A taste of Oaxaca in West Oakland

oaxacamural&owners

photos by Danenicole Williams

by Janaya Andrews

Just around the corner from McClymonds High school stands one of the most intricate, colorful and bold murals in West Oakland with corn husks, a wizzened farm worker, white doves and artisan cloths– the exterior of Tamales la Oaxaquena, a new Mexican restaurant which opened last month.

The food inside is as exquisite as the art outside, and as subtle and bold.

Tamales la Oaxaquena is the real thing, with genuine Oaxacan moles. It’s a great addition to restaurants in West Oakland, with more variety than the food trucks, as good as they are, and a personal touch in everything from cooking fresh tamales to the serving cold lemonade by its mother-daughter owner-chefs, Rosa Oliva (an ex-seamstress who learned to make mole at the age of 8)  and her daughter, Carolina Santos.

Competing with the corner store (and its equally stunning mural), which offers fried chicken, corn dogs and french fries,  this new Mexican restaurant hasn’t captured its share of local traffic.

For now, the traffic coming from McClymonds is minimal. Shamorra Washington, 16, said “I guess like everyone else at Mack,  I go to the places I know, that are already on my radar.”

But Tamales la Oaxaquena attracts local residents and workers, especially vegetarians.  At lunchtime, regular customers, Monica and Kelly, savored their tamales.

Monica said that her favorite food is the vegetarian tamale, made with corn husks with guacamole and banana leaves, but she likes the banana leaf because it’s more healthy and she became an vegetarian in middle school to avoid fats and unhealthy foods.

Kelly preferred the super burrito, chimichangas made by first toasting the shell and then melting the cheese, with mole, a special Oaxacan sauce with chocolate and hot chiles (the restaurant’s specialties are the smoky mole negro and a cinammon mole rojo).

Dropping in to grab a bite, Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge said she prefers the mole without chocolate.

Owner Carolina Santos said the signature dish remains the tamale. “It depends on  whom we are serving: some whites mostly wants tamales and some Blacks prefer burritos.”

Part of the challenge is to satisfy both, using traditional spices and chiles as well as almonds and spicy dried peppers (guajillo, negro and arbol). These are the spices used by the indigenous people near Oaxaca, the Zapotec and Mixtec, with roots going back thosands of years.

The result is a flavorful meal, “juicy but always sweet and never beat.”

 

 

 

 

Ask Naya: “carry-along” factor: dreams should include friends

Image

Dear Naya

There’s this dream I have been thinking about: I was going to  travel the world.

When I  told my friends, they told me that’s impossible for me to even do, that I should give up.

What should I do?

Confused

Dear Confused

I see what the problem is: your friends are only saying that to you because they will miss you if you leave.

Maybe their dreams were crushed when they were your age but age doesn’t have to do with dreams, you aspire and continue to aspire to fulfill  that dream, now there’s a lifelong dream.

Dear Naya

I have a friend who is trying to  travel to different places without me and doesn”t understand  that I want to come.

Can you try to change my friend’s mind before my friend is gone?

We’ve been friends for so long and I  don’t want to lose a best friend suddenly in the 11th grade.

Worried

Dear Worried

If you want to stay friends with her, you have to let her follow her dream and I know you will be crushed if she told you to pursuing living your own dreams. You  have a friend who obviously needs your comforting. She’s open enough to be honest. She shared her feelings because she realized that if she didn’t, it would affect your special bond.

Keep pursuing your dreams.  I  know she’s got your back no matter what  happens.

*Dreams are meant to last: without them, we wouldn’t make it in the world.

Speaking Up: what youth centers in West Oakland should provide

by J’Mya Gray-Martinez

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Chip Johnson blamed problems with youth centers (two open and a third about to open)  in West Oakland on lack of  staff and programs.

Journalism 1 decided to pitch in, providing insight into what should be included in local youth centers and what also needs reform.

“We should have more programs at school instead of at youth centers, because it’s easier for students to get their SAT prep,  help on their homework or class work right here.” (Abbas Hassan)

“More music, dancing, singing, college. Students are bored after school. So they need something to do. If you have these programs then the kids won’t need to do drugs or harmful things like that.” (Jaden Nixon, who transferred out of McClymonds)

“I’m happy with the programs that Oakland has to offer me. I can go to the YMCA on weekends and the Boys & Girls Club on weekdays. They have sports for you to play and they’re very safe. The programs are kind of healthy but you can get good exercise. It keeps the violence away. (Parrish Kendricks)

“Healthy living programs. Not just with eating but when it comes to relationships, violence, and interactions. I want to see programs that will affect the youth like scared straight programs. Also, I want to see more people kids can trust and rely on. Lastly, I want to see more jobs like YEP or Youth Uprising.” (Kaya LaForte)

“I would like to see fun programs. Also educational programs that will help us in the long run. For example, a program that teaches you useful things like how to write a resume, fill out a college application and things like that. I would really like to see tutoring programs also.” (Hailey King)

“We need more fine Arts and Educational Programs because there are a lot of talented kids I know around Oakland that don’t get a chance to show their true talents, and then they get caught up in gangs, drugs, and violence.” (J’Mya Gray-Martinez)

 In Oakland,  I believe we need to provide more programs during school hours so students are forced to go. (Quaylin Wesley)

There are a lot of kids in Oakland with great potential, but usually don’t get a chance to because they get caught up with things they shouldn’t be doing. Having more community programs in Oakland would help most of us be able to express ourselves in different ways.

Eating in class: will we concentrate more?

eatinginclass opinion piece

by Anthony Beron

Some of us come to school hungry, usually because we got up late. It affects our whole day. We can’t concentrate, daydream instead of eating crunchy Doritos or sweet mandarins. So why not let us eat in class?

At McClymonds, students can’t eat in class, said assistant principal Clayton McKinney. His reasons: possible ant or rat infestation; distraction in the classroom.

“Food makes a cleanliness and rodent issue, and it’s distracting for the students. However, we’ve been pretty lenient in the past,” he said. But McKinney acknowledged, “Students should have between four and six meals a day.”

Not so in math teacher Mark Rizkallah’s class. Although Rizkallah could eat in class in his high school in Riverside, California, he supports school rules that prohibit eating in class.He doesn’t eat himself and believes that it distracts from learning. “It’s about who has authority,” he said.

Students disagree with all the reasons for prohibiting food in class. Some teachers eat in class. Students need to eat more frequently and have fewer breaks.

“The food becomes a distraction only when all you’re focused on is trying to sneak a snack,” said Brandon Aninipot, a junior.

In San Francisco, nine high schools and two middle schools have a program called Grab N Go, breakfasts conveniently packaged in bags with all of the components of the meal so students can grab a meal quickly from the cafeteria line or from carts on school grounds. These breakfasts can be eaten in class.

“The Grab N Go Breakfast is one of the best things we offer our students at school,” Mission Principal Eric Guthertz  told The San Francisco Chronicle. “To know that even in the morning rush all of our students can grab a bag, head to class, and have a full belly to begin the day, is powerful.  It is a joy to stand in the hallway greeting each student by saying, “good morning, grab your breakfast and have a great day!”

Food helps teenagers because it strengthens memory, energy levels, and concentration.  Research shows that the brain obtains energy from glucose and that fatty acids strengthen synapses, which are related to memory.  Antioxidants reduce stress by destroying extra oxygen in the body’s cells.  Amino acids — found in protein-rich foods — help concentration and alertness, as well as mood, sleep, and memory.

Because food helps regulate stress, strengthens memory, and provides energy, students should be have the opportunity to eat during the school day more often than just lunchtime.  How can someone succeed in school without remembering what happened in yesterday’s class?

Why “Licks” was powerful: it’s based on a true story

eImage

by Janaya Andrews

It was no ordinary Friday afternoon at McClymonds, as 25 students and community members talked to the Berkeley director who filmed the award-winning “Licks.”  He was with two of the actors, who both grew up in the Lower Bottoms.

The event was organized by Alternatives in Action and featured a panel on “manhood.”

“The movie shifted between humor and sadness and anger,” said freshman Dazhane Labat, who attended the event. “It had moments of redemption; like when the baby is brought to a family to save him from his drug-addicted mother.”

The movie hit home. It actually shows us  teenagers how  life is  in  Oakland and how  things work out; with the realistic scenes of places you know, and dialogue that rings true, you recognize how the  hood works.

The movie follows guy named “D”, as he moves back  to his hometown Oakland where he was charged with robbing a store and wielding a gun.

The most compelling scenes centered on personal relationships. At home with his girlfriend, she told him,”Promise me you wont hit up no more places. His response: baby, look i’m with you now and  she  expresses her doubts and warns him not to bring back his stolen merchandise.”

In his oustside life, friends become more prominent, asking him, “Are  you ready to go make hit this lick.” He answers, “Yea, man let’s go to their approval, “alright that’s my boy.”

Minutes later, they drove to a meat market and went in the store with a black masks on.  Then they  told  the  store clerk to  get on  the  floor;  they held his  head down  on  the  counter making  sure he couldn’t get  a  good  look  at  their faces.

“Licks” touched us all, because of the real hard times we face and the choices we make: the film shows, with  great compassion, that thugs have problems with money and only rob because they are trying to get money for their families.

For Jonathan Singer-Vine, a 24-year-old writer and director who was born  and  raised in Berkeley, California, “Licks” is  his  first feature film. It opened in Oakland’s Parkway Theater in November and won several awards.

He said the film was aimed at 16-year-olds because they will understand how and why the movie was made and its real message.

What Queen Latifah means to us

Queen Latifah

by Selena Williams

She’s big and bossy. And what we like most about her is how she knows how to relate to people — with her touch, her eyes, her music.

To all of us in West Oakland, she’s more than glitter, she’s real.

She speaks her mind. For instance, she supports gays and lesbians, and rode in a pride parade. In her hometown in New Jersey, she offers scholarships to minority students in honor of her brother who died in a motorcycle accident.

“She is like a song that never gets old, like Oprah,” said Janaya Andrews, a sophomore at McClymonds.

She’s been around a long time. Queen Latifah burst onto the scene in 1989, one of three hip-hop artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in an acting category.

From her rap origins, she evolved into an actress, jazz singer and icon of classic good taste, without ever losing her edge. “I’m not that into trends,” she says, for starters. “I do my thing.”

Unlike Wendy Williams and Oprah, she adds comedy and originality to her show.

She’s also a plus-size spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She represents her own line of cosmetics for women of color with CoverGirl Queen Collection.  Latifah changed the game, becoming a role model  for Black girls in West Oakland.

For those of us who don’t look like Britney Spears or Madonna, Latifah was the artist to follow and relate to.  Black women were no longer  eye-candy in hip-hop or rap videos: they took control of the mic.  Few artists have had a bigger impact on West Oakland youth.

Now Queen Latifah returns to daytime television with a new talk show.

Co-produced by the hip Will Smith, through his production company Overbrook Entertainment, it features the  usual celebrity interviews, hot topics and pop culture tropes and top tier musical acts.

For me, Queen Latifah is an idol who shows me that you can be famous as a musician and successful as a businesswoman.