Category Archives: protest

Why we’re late to school — long commute, need more sleep

lateness

opinion piece

by Nicole Funes

Daily agony: my alarm rings, as I stumble out of bed at 5 a.m. way before the blue jays start to squawk. Shower, dress, quick juice and race five blocks to the bus stop. That run downhill gets my heat beating.

It’s now 6:45 and if I’m lucky I’m on the first of two buses that cross Oakland from East (south) to West (others have to transfer twice). It’s an hour and 20 minute ride and I have to be lucky — the buses have to be on schedule and follow their route without “incident” for me to make it to school on time.

There are a handful of us loyal to the West: we were displaced by gentrification but we identify with West Oakland and its community spirit and “family-like” feel.

Nevertheless, school administrators greet us with curt remarks “Late again?” and stony stares, as though we stopped at the corner store for a chat or overslept.

Anywhere between 12 to 40 students arrive late to school every day, said Will Blackwell, who teaches manhood at McClymonds. Tardiness can affect grades, other teachers said.

It’s clear that we need more sleep and less stress about the commute.

Just look at the newest study: a study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement showed that later start times for high school students are better. The three-year study involved 9,000 students at eight high schools in three states.

Earlier studies in Minneapolis showed that later start times (and more sleep)produced higher graduation rates.

Even McClymonds students recognize that sleep deprivation affects their school work.

“I’m tired and irritated in the morning,” said Kaya LaForte, a freshman at McClymonds, who is an A student but feels she could do more if she were not so tired.

Part of her problem is the long commute. “It can take an hour or more. The bus driver could be making a lot of stops. Some people might have to take 2 more buses, and BART, then have to walk sometime and then might not make it,” she said.

Like others, she often skips breakfast.

She feels targeted when she comes in late. The response to the bus saga at school: “That’s not an acceptable excuse. You need to leave 5 minutes earlier.”

Sleep affects performance, the study showed. More sleep, researchers found,  improves grades and standardized test results.

“We did find that there was statistically significant improvement in their grades in English, math, social studies and science, all the core academic areas,” said Kayla Wahlstrom, director of the University of Minnesota Center and the study’s author. “And we found improvements on standardized tests, like the ACT test.”

The study showed that schools with start times at 7:30 a.m. had just 34 percent of students who reported getting eight or more hours of sleep, while schools with  start times of 8:55 a.m. had 66 percent of students getting eight or more hours of sleep.

Wahlstrom also said coaches told her that the athletes were more able to remember plays and could perform better physically with more sleep.

“It’s easier to get up in the morning when you get enough sleep,” said Anthony Beron, a sophomore who played JV football and is a long distance runner. “When you’re rested, you can run faster, longer and compete harder.”

Serving up stereotypes

Would quinoa salad (with white bread) represent white people?

Opinion piece

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!

What China Taught Me: Discipline, Roots, Openness

KhristanChinapagodaphotos 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.

Pass the Peace: Why I Embrace Non-Violence

Shamarray Ross, incoming freshman at McClymonds, gathers peace pledges in preparation od Saturday's event

Shamarray Ross, incoming freshman at McClymonds, gathers peace pledges in preparation of Saturday’s event

by Jonae Scott

I have experienced violence and force first-hand in West Oakland, a community in which my roots run deep. I’ve been shot (two years ago during a peaceful vigil for an older friend who was gunned down) and in April, my parents were arrested, and then released, during the raid of the Acorn housing project.

It was traumatic to have federal agents burst into my apartment with guns, assault rifles and flash bang grenades, handcuff my parents and brother, and throw my family’s possessions around.

Because of these experiences, I need to be involved, even to lead any activity to bring peace to West Oakland. The “Pass the Peace” event this Saturday will mark the first time I take action myself. It was time.

It’s important for youth to let their voices be heard. Take Shamarray Ross, a freshman at McClymonds. She says, “It’s time for youth to make it better. Nobody else is.”

And she’s right.

We are making peace pledges at the event at McClymonds this Saturday from 12:30pm to 4:30pm. Sponsored by the Alliance Recycling, the event is called “the Spirit of West Oakland” because we want everyone in the community to join us.

Like my peers, I was distressed to read The San Francisco Chronicle story, that noted that since 2002, the number of African-American men killed on the streets of Oakland nearly matched the number who graduated from public high schools ready to attend a state university.

So distressed that I’m taking action. I demand an end to gun violence in my community.

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

trayvonrally

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.”

Bloody month of June: too much violence in Oakland

The crazed man who has yet to be found is seen standing over one of his victims as he continues to fire off shots before turning on the young man below him.

by Jacob Miles

opinion piece

No teenager can feel safe in Oakland nowadays.

Just a few days after McClymonds dropout and homicide victim Darvel McGillberry was buried, violence erupted again in Oakland. Another teen was killed: 17-year-old David Manson Jr. in front of a store in  East Oakland during the daytime.

A second shooting occurred at a sideshow frequented by high school students.

A third incident — a triple shooting– took place outside a downtown nightclub which McClymonds students have frequented.

“In front of a store, at a sideshow, in front of a nightclub, no place is safe,” said Desire Combs, a senior at McClymonds.   “I think this is ridiculous: we should be able to feel safe everywhere in  our own city,” she said.

That’s not the case in Oakland, where the violence is on the rise. In just one weekend, one person was killed, 11 wounded in seven separate shootings capped by the triple shooting outside a downtown nightclub, police  said.

That incident took place in heavily patrolled, gang-neutral, downtown area, when a gunman opened fire on a group of people outside The Shadow nightclub at 13th and Webster. Two women and a security guard suffered non-life threatening wounds and the gunman remained at large, police said.

Lee Benson, a junior at McClymonds, said that he’s been to The Shadow a few times and always had a premonition that something bad might happen in that area. “A lot of the wrong people end up there,” he added.

This week, teens left flowers, candles and  you’ll-be-missed cards at the 9100 block on International Boulevard, where David Manson Jr. was killed about 1:45 p.m. Sunday. He was Oakland’s 43rd homicide victim this year.

Students at McClymonds who live in East Oakland knew Manson, who attended Oakland High School in June 2011.

“David was cool and it’s real sad how they shot him like that in daylight; he didn’t do nothing to nobody,” said Monte Smith, a junior.

What has been the police response? A vow to crack down on sideshows. What about community outreach, more activities for youths, such as new libraries and also community recreational places to hang out at.

Unless politicians and police develop a real plan, this is the start of a very bloody summer.