Category Archives: President Obama

Why the second amendment offers me no protection

2ndopinion piece

by Nicole Funes

Just a year ago, a 16-year-old African American teen from Stockton lay on the ground, shot , just a few steps from my house. It took hours for an ambulance to come — shocking even for neighbors immune to the violence in West Oakland. Would this happen in Montclair or Rockridge?

More than 21 children have been shot and killed in Oakland since 2011, all of them in the poorer neighborhoods, according to the San Jose Mercury-News.

Just last week, riding on the bus, I witnessed a 16-year-old Oakland High student get into a fight with a girl, who wouldn’t refused to move backpack from the seat. “I get mad too fast. I got anger management problems,” he yelled at the girl, who refused to budge. “I’ll shoot everyone on the bus,” he said, clicking his gun.

By the next stop, I was off the bus. As were seven other passengers. “Smart move,” an older woman told me after I exited the bus.

But this is my reality. The threat of violence haunts me. Every bus ride feels like a risky adventure, during which I’m far more alert than during my school’s fire drill.

The dangers of gun use make me question the validity of the Second Amendment. How does it protect me to have guns of all sorts readily available in Oakland?

My peers are divided on the issue of gun control. “I feel good about guns, if they’re registered,” said Tyrone Spivey, a senior at McClymonds. “If someone comes into my house, even if my gun’s unregistered, “Pop, Pop.” It’s going down.”

“It ‘s too much black on black violence,” said Travon Godfrey, a 10th grader at McClymonds.  “Too many kids are finding it easy to get guns and taking {other}teens’ lives.”

Am I Next? Mack students react to verdict and “Fruitvale Station”

ImageInterviews and Photo Luckie Lovette


By Anthony Beron

 “I don’t trust the police and we don’t need them on our streets,” said McClymonds High School senior Garland Rabon after watching the screening of Fruitvale Station.

His mood — distrust, disappointment, anger — also reflected his reaction to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, 17, a young black man in a hoodie just “walking while Black” like so many students at McClymonds.

The movie also hit home because much of it takes place along several BART stations, just a few miles from school, where so many students of color hop on a train  across the Bay Area.

Fruitvale Station, a dramatic film focused on Oscar Grant’s last days before his 2009 shooting death, premiered last week, coinciding with the Zimmerman verdict: it struck the audience so hard that men and women alike cried in the Grand Lake Theater’s lobby.

At the screening I attended, there were violent shouting and people weeping in the audience, followed by sudden laughter at the tender scene in which Grant kisses his daughter goodbye as she trots off to daycare, then another wave of extreme disgust when Grant was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital.

Between the syncopation of the music, real-life video recorded at the scene, and Michael Jordan’s fine performance, showing the vulnerability, warmth and brashness of Oscar Grant, the film got the message through clearly: his death was a consequence not of his own flaws, but of racial profiling.

It could have been any African-American young man. With that awareness, “Am I Next?” became the slogan that replaced “We Are All Trayvon.”

The audience remained focused even as the film alternated between urging irony and beating vacillation.

Many felt it accurately portrayed Oscar Grant, African-American youth, American racism, and especially police brutality in Oakland, as there was a strong emphasis on the crudeness of BART police in Fruitvale Station during the shooting of Oscar Grant.

“People will be more aware of racism,” said Jeremy Namkung, a McClymonds High School PE teacher.  He continued, “Small changes will be made in a long period of time.”

Johannes Mehserle, Oscar Grant’s killer, appeared sinewy and lorded over the entire Fruitvale BART station, where he repeatedly Jiu Jitsu-flipped bystanders and friends of Oscar Grant who were merely in his way, emulating the gestures of an almost a spazzed-out, reckless Robocop vigilante.

That power felt palpable to the audience.

“I have mixed feelings on cops: they are necessary but they have too much power and abuse it,” said Namkung, who also said he feels safe on BART.

In the movie, Mehserle was one of several first-responders who were alerted of a fight on a BART train.

Grant and several of his companions were a part of the fight between him and a white supremacist, ex-con he knew from prison.  At that point, the clarity of the film’s audio and screen resolution began fading in and out, effectively illustrating the chaotic milieu that ensconced Grant, who only wanted to enjoy time with his friends and family.

Him and his friends were later removed from their train car, where they were called racial slurs and handcuffed by BART personnel.  Grant, who was apparently trying to calm his friends, was kicked down and shot by Mehserle on BART grounds.  His train was directed to continue towards Pittsburg, without having any witnesses taken off.

In the theater lobby, the Zimmerman verdict strained the atmosphere as people in the Grand Lake Theater’s foyer reacted with rage and tears. “I can’t believe this,” one woman sobbed.  The reaction — emotional, angry but not surprised — echoed the same acrimony that people felt after the Mehserle verdict.

Shortly after the premier of Fruitvale Station, West Oakland students joined a bicycle ride for peace. At Lake Merritt, they held a silent vigil for Trayvon Martin. And this weekend, they marched with signs that expressed everyone’s fear: “Am I Next?

“It needs to be peace,” replied Christopher Lockett, a Mack freshman.  “People need to stop killing each other for gun play.”

School’s out, but Mack students still angry over Trayvon Martin


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.”

Will Mack’s 18-year-olds vote?



Alphonso Jackson, 19, cares about issues and “prays for Obama” but is not registered to vote. He’s leaving McClymonds to finish his high school studies at Dewey.

Carlos Valladares, 18, a senior at McClymonds, registered at his church in June, but is not sure he will vote. “Even if I vote, there won’t be big change,” but he is exploring issues in American Government class.

by Khristan Antoine

There are 21 potential voters at McClymonds High School. The big question is: how many will actually vote on Nov. 6?

Carlos Valladares, 18, a senior at McClymonds, registered at his church in June, but is not sure he will vote. “Even if I vote, there won’t be big change,” but he is exploring issues in his American Government class at McClymonds.

Is Valladares typical or is Dominick Williams, a 2012 McClymonds graduate, who did not register to vote because “the policies they (both presidential candidates) support won’t benefit me.”

Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are appealing to the young. Here at McClymonds, Mamas for Obama plans to come to school to persuade students to vote for Obama.

According to exit polls, 66 percent of young Americans voted for candidate Barack Obama in 2008, and 78 percent of young voters (ages 18 to 29) had said they would likely vote for him in that election. What happened to the 12 percent?

Will 2012 be different? We do know that the media say that there might be an “enthusiasm gap” this year. With rising unemployment, lack of jobs, and a struggling economy, will youth give President Barack Obama the same energy and enthusiasm it did four years ago?

Luisah Teish of Mamas for Obama hopes so. She plans to pass out literature to students at McClymonds and bring someone from the organization to talk about Obama’s accomplishments, health care for all, student loans, and economic stimulus.

“If youth stands up, I can sit my old ass down,” she said.

When asked why youths don’t register to vote, Teish said, “Often their parents aren’t registered, so they’re not properly informed by adults with whom they interact. ”

Carlos Valladares, 18, a senior, says that the fact that his father feels so strongly about voting has influenced him. That’s why he registered

Only 58 percent of registered young voters said that they were definitely likely to vote in this election, which is a drop of 20 percent in just four years. And conservative pollsters claim that Mitt Romney has 42 percent of the youth votes.

Both candidates want to capture the youth vote. Kal Penn (a Hindu actor who works for Obama and played Kumar in the movie Harold and Kumar) has been campaigning for Obama on college campuses; Republicans are talking about jobs for the young.

Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, likes to point out that youths have no jobs and have to move back with their parents. “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms…and wondering when they can move out and get going with life,” he said.

Currently 42 percent of 18 to 19 year old voters identify as conservative, according to John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.

“My momma went to Mack,” brings rappers to school.

by Bonita Tindle

Nobody was shot on Wednesday. Except in the lyrics.

About 45 people were there. I walked in to the auditorium and saw  that only the first three rows were filled for what was billed as a rap concert. Even for a small school, that is bad.

Of course, that didn’t stop the few students who were there from dancing. Energy levels ran high as a string of performers hit the stage. The crowd interacted as one act sang: “If you love life, say ACTION!”

Students screamed as the feature act, Erk tha Jerk, was introduced on stage. The music cut off.  Erk tha Jerk, in the middle of his performance, sat down on the stage, then mumbled, “Ya’ll not havin’ fun.” He asked students to gather closer and they did, right around him.

As they recognized his lyrics, students went wild. Singing along and dancing. This lasted about 2 minutes until the show ended.

Before the show, I interviewed students about Erk tha jerk. Guess what they said! Students had no idea who Erk tha Jerk was! Sadly, the only reason some students came was because a friend forced them or that they were bored. This is no surprise. Students not showing up for a performance — whether it’s Erk tha Jerk or President Obama — is typically Mack.

Mack students apply for Obama to speak at graduation

by Pamela Tapia

“Obama at graduation!”

That cry rang through the hallway. Enthusiasm. Excitement, Hope.

“That’s what we need to keep us motivated as young Black men,” said Josh Walters, a senior at McClymonds.

Last Friday, McClymonds students worked hard on deadline to submit their official application to the White House to have President Barack Obama speak at the graduation for the class  of 2011 on June 16.

Students were literally speechless and astonished when a group of students announced that they had applied for President Obama to speak at graduation.

There is no official count, but at least 464 other high schools across the nation have applied. No other Oakland high school is believed to have applied.

The essays included a section on how teachers prepare you in academics, why your school deserves to win and how McClymonds prepares students for college and careers.

Students focused on their involvement in the community, which is predominantly Black and low-income, especially its advocacy for environmental justice. The school was featured in Newsweek Magazine and recently won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency. Senior Terranisha Nathaniel won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations in 2010 and McClymonds sent its top debater to nationals last year.

In the essays, students also mentioned the school’s consistently winning basketball and football teams. It noted that it is the only high school in the country with two living Presidential Medal of Freedom winners, Bill Russell and Frank Robinson.

“We don’t have the same funding as other schools in the district because of our small size,” the students wrote. “Yet we are the movers and shakers.”

Miami Dade College in Florida has already announced that it will host President Obama as one of their 2011 graduation speakers. Miami Dade’s press release about snagging the nation’s top official doesn’t tell how they did it, but states it is the largest higher education facility in the U.S., with more than 180 countries represented in their student body