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.
Posted in changes, community, community activism, discrimination, Education, fads, high school newspaper, hiphop, history, jobs, journalism, leadership, School News, Sexism, stereotype, success, Trends, writing, Youth
Tagged black role models, black women, businesswomen, Cover Girl, Curvation, daytime tv, Jenny Craig, New Jersey, Overbook Entertainment, The Queen Latifah Show, Trends, Wendy Williams, west Oakland, Will Smith
by Jaden Nixon
The “Griots” project made a powerful impact at McClymonds.
“It gave us insight into how Oakland teens think,” said Kaya LaForte, a freshman who saw the exhibit late last month.
“The Griots of Oakland” is the name of a book and an oral history project by five young black men who collected stories of growing up Black in Oakland in interviews with 100 Black men aged 6 to 24. ‘Griots’ is a West-African word that means storyteller.
“It should be made for the whole school and all of Oakland to see,” said Joseph Sanford, a senior. “It makes me remember about the ‘hood, and what people don’t know about living in a different community and what we do to make it out.”
The project was launched by African American Male Achievement (AAMA), which works to empower young black males, and Alameda Health Care Services Agency created a project to allow young African American males to share their personal experiences. They worked with Story for All to recruit five young men from the ages of 14 to 18 to collect stories.
The young men were taught African American and Oakland history, as well as videography, by the non-profit.
With video cameras and 30 interview questions, the young men hit the streets, interviewed teens at school and captured on video the voices and thoughts of over 100 African American males from the ages of 6 to 24.
Interview questions ranged from “What did you eat for breakfast?” to “What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland?” The answers were sometimes alarming. While nearly 79 percent of boys under 13 said that it was good to be a young black male, 83 percent of those over 13 said that it was hard.
The exhibit at McClymonds included photos, quotes and video clips from the interviews. A book was also published.
However, for some, it is just a reminder of the ordinary. “I’ve seen people get shot. When I see this, I don’t feel anything new,” said McClymonds sophomore Billy Giddens. ” I just go on to the next day.”
Posted in changes, community, discrimination, dysfunctional families, East Oakland, Education, food, history, jobs, leadership, nutrition, Oakland High, Oakland Tech, Racism, resilience, School News, stereotype, stress, success, violence, West Oakland, Youth
Tagged African American history, Alameda Health Care Services Agency, frican American Male Achievement, griots, McClymonds, Oakland oral history, Story for All, videography
Would quinoa salad (with white bread) represent white people?
by Nicole Funes
How ignorant of a Catholic girls’ school to honor Black culture by reducing us to fried chicken and watermelon on their menu?
I found it insulting that just 18 miles from West Oakland, in the diverse Bay Area, a group of suburban school girls at Carondelet in Concord decided what to do for Black History Month without looking up a single thing about Black History on the Internet. They just talked about FOOD in the cafeteria. And resorted to STEREOTYPES!!!!
And don’t they have an adviser? Are there no adults involved in menu selection, let alone education?
I think that those white people were being racist and they didn’t even know what Black History month was about. Their attitude is just too…cavalier.
For instance, if we were in their shoes and had a month to celebrate white history month (as though anyone would REDUCE white history to ONE month of the year) and we said, “Oh, to honor white people this month, we’re going to have salad, white bread, olives, and lemonade for lunch. We should put it on our lunch menu!”
And our principal wouldn’t even notice or say anything about it and, then we would go on TV and make fun of their culture like how they do, thinking we barely know their culture or what food they eat, just because it says “white” in front of “history month”, we only have to GUESS what they eat. And then we would have an assembly because peoples’ feelings got hurt, so we just had to apologize: nothing more. As though, you could just take back words that had inflicted pain.
You would justify your action by claiming ignorance: oh, we just put something to eat this day because we had an assumption that white people eat this food because we might have friends who are white and now we think we are part of the clique!
Posted in changes, Children, community, community activism, Culture Keepers, East Oakland, Education, gentrification, history, Justice, opinion, protest, Racism, school decor, School News, school spirit, stereotype, West Oakland, Youth
Tagged Black history month, black opinion, Carondelet, catholic school, Concord, fried chicken, ignorance, Quinoa, racism, stereotypes, watermelon, white bread, white people
by Janaya Andrews
A boy calls a girl a b**ch after arguing about rumors going around school. He grabs his backpack and knocks over a desk in frustration. Before the teacher can stop him and calm him down, the boy is down the hall fuming in anger, swearing at the walls.
The newest guys-only club at McClymonds — First Love Yourself or FLY — addresses such issues of disrespect toward women, confidence and responsibility in a more social atmosphere than the Manhood class for 9th graders, says Lovell Ruffin Jr. , case manager at Alternatives in Action.
The brainchild of Jareem Gunter, community programs manager, the program was launched to help male students talk about these issues, bond and develop self-respect. So far, about a dozen male students, mostly freshmen, are attending.
“I need a person I can look up to,” said Hosea Wade, a 9th grader.
The reasons for joining FLY range from a desire to bond with other guys outside of sports teams to a need for a safe place to ask questions and get information.
“Some of the guys don’t know how to tie a tie,” said Gunther. “Others need to respect girls or women.” The current trend — to disrespect women — began 10 years ago and is reflected in rap music and culture, he said.
Some of the freshmen realize that it’s time to confront sexism. “I want to be in the men group to be more mature than I am now,” said freshman Desmond Crump. “I want to be more polite towards girls, my parents and any other adults I talk to,” said freshman Quentin Garrett.
So far, the focus has been social. But the three adult leaders have written a pledge they hope to teach club members: to honor themselves, to hurt no one, to build community.
Posted in Academic success, after school, campaign, community, community activism, Culture Keepers, Education, high school newspaper, hiphop, history, journalism, leadership, rap, reading, relationships, School News, school spirit, Sexism, single sex class, stereotype, violence, writing, Youth
Tagged Alternatives in Action, community, disrespect, First Love Yourself, FLY, honor, manhood, pledge, sexism, women
by Janaya Andrews
What’s the deal with Jordan shoes: these sneakers are taking over the world and people will do anything to get them, even if it means selling them for money to get a new pair or stealing them when there are other shoes. Lots of other shoes.
You mostly see these shoes more than you see other shoes on people’s feet.
Why this obsession? There are sneakerheads and people are flipping AirJordans and Foamposites at Sneaker Conventions. You must be kidding? Sneaker conventions?
I guess if they don’t have their designer sneakers, then they don’t feel like they belong. Sad state of affairs, when your friends judge you on the brand of sneakers you wear.
Even sadder that people get shot waiting on line to buy those $1,500 Paranorman Foamposites or $185 AirJordan V Bel Airs. In Wilmington, Delaware and in Las Vegas, guys camped out to wait for their release, only to be shot.
It doesn’t make you original, only an OG. You are just following in someone’s footsteps just because you want to be popular or just fit in.
Teens say that they buy Jordans because “they look nice and they’re popular,” in the words of freshman Quaylin Wesley. “They’re expensive and the main topic to talk about in school,” he added.
In West Oakland (and East), they add status. “It says something about how brave you are, how much clout you have, how much nerve you have,”says Yale sociologist Elijah Anderson about the street value of shoes.
But much of the real value is to Nike, and other big brands profiting from the sales of these shoes, turning athletic shoe market into a $21 billion a year industry. New sneakers may sell for up to $270 for a pair, all because Michael Jordan and other basketball stars put their name and logo on the shoes.
Just DON’T do it. Just be you .
Posted in Basketball, Commentary, cost, fads, fashion, history, hype, opinion, popularity, School News, shooting, sports, stereotype, violence, West Oakland, Youth
Tagged AirJordan, Elijah Anderson, Nike, Paranorman Foamposites, sneakerhead
More studious? Freshman Alaydrianna Jones hunkers down in the library.
Photo By Jasmine Moody
by Anastasia Walton
They’re not the targets of balloons full of honey and feathers. Instead, praise is heaped on them. So far.
The new freshman class at McClymonds is larger than last year’s, more committed to academics (and sports) and punctual, according to teachers and administrators.
“For freshmen, they have a great habit of being on time, but what I need to see is more focus and less immaturity,” said PE teacher Jeremy Namkung.
There are 90 freshman at McClymonds this year, 10 more freshman than last year, says principal Tinisha Hamberlin. A small group of 25 freshman who had to attend summer school at McClymonds as eighth graders got an early feel for the “School of Champions.”
The reasons for enrolling at McClymonds range from family tradition to excellence in sports. Although McClymonds has a stronger STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, it was not an apparent factor for students in choosing McClymonds, says Katherine Hall, STEM teacher.
“I chose to come to Mack because it’s close to home and it has the best sports records,” said Rayshawn Lawrence, who attended Westlake Middle School and plans to play football as a Warrior.
For some, tradition goes back several generations. “So far I like Mack, it is not as bad as people try to make it seem,” said Tonisha Smith, who attended Westlake Middle School last year, “I came to Mack because my grandmother came here.”
For others it was a matter of logistics, mainly commuting. “I had no choice in whether or not I was attending Mack or not. My mom made me come here since it was close to home, but so far I really love all my new teachers and the new friends I have made here, ” said Tatyana Jones.
Freshmen enthusiasm has spread to those who work with them. Head of security Donald Mann said that he has to talk to 85% of the freshman class about adjusting to the demands of high school. He says this is not unusual because freshman are used to their middle school’s immature ways. He labeled this class “one of the best freshman classes I’ve seen in 15 years.”
Posted in Academic success, Alumni, changes, College, Education, history, leadership, School News, school spirit, STEM, teachers, Trends, work, Youth
Tagged freshman, Mack family, Mack House, Mack sports, McClymonds, spotts, STEM, summer school
photos by Khristan Antoine
by Khristan Antoine
Extreme is the word that sums up my experience of China: extreme numbers of people, vast expanses, cluttered skylines, extreme smog.
I had never traveled outside the US, not even to Canada or Mexico. I didn’t even own a suitcase. Then I was selected as one of 13 African -American students from the East Bay to travel to the world’s mightiest country, without a clue about language, culture, or history.
On a trip organized by East Oakland Youth Development Center and China-U.S. Study Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), three McClymonds students, Umiika Rose, Brandon Vonderwerth and I experienced China in all its complexity.
We travelled with photographer Nicka Smith and EOYDC director Regina Jackson as part of a movement to bring more African American students to China.
There was more study than tourism. Every morning, we had lectures by professors and college students on culture, history, traditions, and economics. The day we landed, we checked into the hotel, took a shower, got dressed for a greeting dinner. We were welcomed with a dinner with varied foods and Peking duck. They prepared welcome signs, greeted us with smiles and an introduction; the Chinese delegates gave brief speeches and we all broke into conversation (through our translators) and ate.
Our first day set the tone and pace of our stay: we went to Beijing foreign studies to attend our first lecture (we had 8 lectures and three Mandarin classes.
The most memorable moments were when we could explore the city, as tourists. We walked through Tiananmen square and the forbidden city. I enjoyed walking up the Great Wall (I wouldn’t say it was easy at all as it was a challenge climbing the uneven stairs and walking up the steep hills).
As we toured, the reaction of people in the street was to stop, stare, and snap.
The biggest surprise for me was seeing the same deep divide between the rich and the poor in China that we know all too well in the United States.
Posted in Academic success, after school, business, campaign, College, community, Education, history, journalism, Mayor Jean Quan, Newspaper Articles, Oakland City Council, opinion, protest, School News, walls, West Oakland, writing, Youth
Tagged China, CUSEF, East Oakland Youth Development Center, McClymonds, Regina Jackson, Think China 2013, US Study Exchange Foundation, west Oakland
McClymonds students (left to right Jacob Miles, Lee Benson and Anthony Beron) take part in National Hoodie Day in support of Trayvon Martin.
by Anthony Beron
School’s out, but McClymonds students are closely following the Trayvon Martin trial, now in jury selection.
Several students, including juniors Jacob Miles and Lee Benson, took part in a National Hoodie Day, in support of the 17-year-old Florida high school who was murdered after buying Skittles and Arizona iced tea inside a gated complex in Sanford, Florida.
“I feel that what the man (George Zimmerman) did was out of pocket and the court should give him (Trayvon Martin) justice at least,” says Jacob Miles, a junior.
Zimmerman argued that he was in imminent danger of being attacked by Martin, who was at the time unarmed and pleading for his life, according to CNN.
“I’m angry. After all, this is just another example of how Black and Latino youth are targeted because of their skin color,” said Rafael (who would not give his last name), a Hispanic male in his 20’s from East Oakland, who was the apparent organizer of the rally. Rafael added, “We need a revolution!”
“I think George Zimmerman should serve a long sentence in jail, because he killed an innocent person. It was racial profiling: he just killed Trayvon since he was an African-American male, wearing a hoodie, just walking around,” argued Kardel Howard, a sophomore.
Zimmerman claimed to have been attacked by Martin before shooting him, and later took photos of himself with a broken nose and several cuts and bruises. The slug of the fatal round Zimmerman fired at Martin was lodged in the teen’s left chest before paramedics arrived and attempted CPR on him. Martin was later pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.
Zimmerman’s defense team allegedly tried to form a jury with the least number of minorities as possible. They denied the allegating: “Absolutely not, but if there isn’t a black juror, that doesn’t mean anything either. It just means that we chose the best people based on their answers to their questions,” according to the New York Daily News.
“I feel like it’s not fair to choose people that are not minorities who can’t relate as much to Martin,” said Howard. “With more minority jurors, they can relate to racism and oppression better; it should be more balanced.”
Posted in 100 block initiative, after school, changes, Children, community, community activism, Culture Keepers, Debate, Education, ethnicity, Guns, high school newspaper, hiphop, history, hype, Jesus, journalism, Justice, Obamacare, opinion, poetry, Police, President Obama, protest, Racism, rap, reading, relationships, restorative justice, rigor, rivalry, sagging, School News, shooting, small schools, speakers, sports, stress, Technology, Texting, Twitter, violence, voting, walls, West Oakland, work, writing, YOLO, Youth
Tagged CNN Justice, court, CPR, death, exposing the system, Florida, gated complex, George Zimmerman, jury, McClymond opinion, minorities, National Hoodie Day, nude people, racism, Sanford, shooting, Trayvon Martin
by Jacob Miles
They use the word “notorious” to describe the projects near McClymonds, where many of us live.
It’s more gang-controlled than police-patrolled, but it’s home.
This week, when police targeted a gang operating out of Acorn, there was a mixture of relief and hatred. People are always mixed about Oakland police.
A massive raid, in which about 300 law enforcement officers took part, resulted in the arrest of five suspects on gun and drug charges, Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters last week.
Oakland police Lt. Tony Jones said 150 FBI agents, 120 Oakland police officers and several dozen officers from San Leandro, Hayward and Antioch served 16 narcotics and weapons warrants.
Jones said officers were hoping to arrest more suspects and seize more military-style weapons but some of the people they were looking for at the Acorn complex, which is between Seventh and 10th streets near Adeline Street, saw officers coming and were able to get away.
This is not unusual. The perps can see the police coming just like in New Jack City. From the 9th floor, you can see the police and alert your posse to fan out through the walk-throughs and passageways.
“They have more control inside the projects because they’re in a secure area as opposed to other hoods being on the corner in the open,” said Walter Nathaniel, a freshman and also a Acorn resident.
The gang was involved in many shootings and other acts of violence, both in West Oakland near its turf and across town in East Oakland.
“People in the hood don’t care about police and they still do what they want to do. It won’t stop anyone from getting their money or violence to end,” said Anton Smith, 17, an Acorn resident who goes to school in San Leandro.
“The investigations will continue and more arrests are coming,” Jones vowed.
Posted in 100 block initiative, Commentary, East Oakland, fads, Gangs, gentrification, Guns, high school newspaper, history, journalism, Justice, Newspaper Articles, opinion, Police, protest, Racism, resilience, restorative justice, rivalry, School News, shooting, Trends, violence, walls, West Oakland, Youth
Tagged Acorn, gangs, raid, violence, weapons, west Oakland