Category Archives: Racism

Too many murders of youth in West Oakland: McClymonds grieving again

 

macksmackdarvelhousebetter

Willie Gilbert lived in this house in West Oakland— his cousin, also a teen, was shot to death just a year ago.

 

opinion piece by Lee Benson

Students at McClymonds are once again grieving — this time for Willie Gilbert, a former student who liked to shoot hoops and was one of a handful of teens to own a car. Gilbert, who will be buried Friday, died from gunshot wounds 10 days ago at Highland Hospital, with police still trying to determine exactly where the shooting took place.

This is the second murder in 2014 of a student who attended McClymonds. In March, sophomore Denzel Jones was fatally shot in front of the Boys’ and Girls’Club on Market Street,

“It’s a shock because i just seen him not too long ago,” said senior Luckie Lovette. “He was one of the first people I met here, he was a funny dude, he would rap with me and stuff. He was a cool dude. He was a good friend of mine for some years and I’m going to miss him.”

The news of his death spread quickly on Facebook and Instagram. It hit students even harder because of the cumulative effect of the murders of friends in Oakland — including the fatal shooting of a young teenage mother by her brother.

Gilbert was a popular figure. “I knew Willie since middle school,” said Deshawn Nelson, a senior. “It’s just sad to see something like that happen and it’s a shame that he’s gone so soon. He deserved to live life just like the rest of us and someone took his life away from him.”

Lionel Hamilton, a senior at Mack, said, “I was devastated when I heard the news, I didn’t want to believe it but I saw the news and everybody was posting it on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve known him since we were little, he was like a brother to me. I was just with him the other day but it hurts me to know that I will never see him again.”

This shocked me as well. I was asleep when a friend called me with the news early Monday morning. It’s sad because I’ve known him since my freshman year; he was always a goofy person and fun to be around. It’s sad to know that I’m never going to see another one of my friends again.

These situations make you wonder who is going to be next. The entire class of 2014 is dealing with their grieving differently. Some are just letting their emotions show because they can’t help it while others just sit there and try to hold it in. The truth is that we are all hurting from the situation, especially because nobody expected it but you have to allow everyone to grieve in their own way.

“No one expected this at all,” said Lovette. “I guess what they say is true: if you look to your left and look to your right, some of ya’ll ain’t gonna make it. It feels like half my class is already gone.”

 

Mack students react to racial profiling data in Oakland

racial profiling

by Luckie Lovette

McClymonds students were angered but not surprised to learn that nearly 60 percent of police stops in Oakland during 2013 were directed at African Americans.

“I feel that we shouldn’t be targeted just because the police believe that African Americans contribute to a high rate of crime, and police shouldn’t suspect us of a crime just because of our skin color,” said Selena Williams, a senior.

According to the data released by the Oakland police, Blacks are stopped and searched by Oakland police at a rate of 62 percent while they make up just 28 percent of the city’s population. The report also shows that although Blacks were more likely to be stopped, they were no more likely than any other racial group to be found with illegal drugs or weapons.

The data also show that Oakland police are more likely to arrest Blacks on suspicion of felony charges during a stop.

“To be honest, it’s pretty sad,” said Kendall Page, a senior. “They make fun of us; basically everyone is laughing at us because of the racial profiling problem.”

The report, which presents stop-and-search figures from last April through December, was ordered as part of the negotiated settlement of a civil rights lawsuit over a decade ago, which stemmed from the Riders scandal that alleged police brutality and other forms of misconduct.

“I feel it’s really racist that they are targeting black people,” said Taivion Foster, a sophomore.

Oakland Interim Police Chief Sean Went said in a letter that the figures in the report are reflective of “the situation in many U.S. cities and speaks to the need for systemic changes throughout our communities.”

“We are committed to working toward an Oakland that ensures equal opportunities, protections and successes for all,” he wrote.

John Burris, one of the civil rights attorneys who worked on the Riders case, in which  four Oakland police officers were randomly beating and detaining  Blacks in Oakland in early 2000, told reporters yesterday that he was not surprised by the findings.

“It’s disappointing, but we’ve always suspected this to be true,” he said.

“I’m hopeful the data will get analyzed in such a way that we can find out whether there’s implicit bias in law enforcement,” Burris said.

The report said that Hispanics were stopped and searched by Oakland police at a rate of 17 percent, whites at 12 percent, Asians at 6 percent.

Former McClymonds student Frenswa Raynor, 16 and African American,  was shot in the face last year by a veteran police officer  in downtown Oakland because he was thought to have been armed, but was later found out to be unarmed and innocent. Burris represented him.

“Griots” project comes to McClymonds

mcclymondsgriots

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.”

griotphoto3

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!

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.”