Category Archives: stereotype

Ask Naya: time to heal those secret scars

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Dear Naya,

My friends are ignoring me. Nobody wants to  acknowledge the pain that I carry.

Will I get over this feeling of being deeply misunderstood?

Deeply Hurt

Dear Deeply Hurt

There are kids out there who need comfort and help, these kids are “the hurt ones,” the ones that you see with  their faces down  on  the  desk  or who come to  school late so  that people won’t ask “What’s wrong?”

There’s a reason  why they give no  answer, because they know we’ll forget about it since we  are all too busy paying attention to ourselves (and taking selfies).

I understand their scars: what I mean by scars are not cutting yourself, but living with hurt feelings that are never spoken or acknowledged. Most people turn away from those feelings. The “hurt ones” are invisible to the crowd, or are seen as weird or creepy.

I tell you everyone has scars, so don’t hide away from us,  get to know us. “Scars are meant to be heard, not meant to be kept”

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.

Mack students react to racial profiling data in Oakland

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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

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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.”

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Twin wins: Mack shows its muscle in both OAL championship games

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by Khristan Antoine

Considered the underdog, the Lady Warriors charged into the OAL championship game yesterday at Laney College and totally dominated an undefeated Skyline, winning the game with ease 57-21.

“They underestimated us, and our hard work paid off,” said Charlisse Flemming, a senior, about the win.

Later that evening, the No 1 seeded Warriors, undefeated in the OAL,  beat the Fremont Tigers 64-52. After struggling at the start, the Warriors pulled ahead and never looked back.

“The challenging part was beating them on the boards,” said MVP Deion Ellis, a senior. “I was able to help with low post points and to get my teammates involved.”

The Lady Warriors won their second OAL title, led by MVP 6-foot-3 junior Daisy Powell. The McClymonds girls powered into the game, with lay ups by Powell and successful free throws by Angela Lee, a senior. At the end of the first quarter, Gabby Gaines, a senior, shot two 3-pointers with ease, giving McClymonds a huge 20-8 lead, shocking Skyline.

After that, it was more of the same pattern, with Skyline unable to keep up with the pace, often missing shots , as the crowd chanted “M-V-P” when Powell led the charge and Gaines hit another 3-pointer. At halftime, it was 37-10.

Although McClymonds did accumulate fouls, that did not stop their assault, as Lee and Powell combined to up the lead and by the end of the third quarter, the die was cast with a score of 45-11.

The last quarter was by far Skyline’s best, as they eked out 10 points to McClymonds 12 points on layups by Gaines and Flemming, a Lee 3-pointer and successful free throws by Powell.

The boys’ team took control of the game in the second quarter. “We just played as a team and we played hard,” said senior Tyrone Spivey.

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!

Another sport for Mack: wrestling

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photo by Kaya LaForte

by Kaya LaForte

Rolling around on the floor, Jayshaun Thomas shoots into his partner with a drop step causing him to topple like a domino. He tries a wizzer (hook arm) and later a duck-under.

All new moves for freshman Thomas and for McClymonds’ six other new wrestlers, which they learned this fall from Coach Lewis Saucer, the school’s first wrestling coach in three years. The team has its first meet Thursday at 4 pm at home.

Its sole competitor within the Oakland Athletic League is Skyline, a large hills school with 2,100 students and a roster of 15 experienced wrestlers.

“We’re a young team, in early development, hoping to bring it back,” says Saucer.

Wrestling is making a comeback at McClymonds. Despite being void of a wrestling team for at least the last three years, this new bunch of players is ready to roll. There are several girls on the team.

The winnowing practices waned the eagerness of new recruits, says Ringo Buffin, 9th grader. Worn out, aged, and dingy mats barely soften the pins.  The humid aerobics room fills with sweat and sometimes frustration, says Thomas. “Coach Lewis demands nothing less than the best,” he says.

“So far, practice is going good,” Hosea Wade, 9th grader says.

“To be a wrestler means you gotta be strong and willing to work,” Jasmine Labat, 9th grader, claims.

More former football players are being recruited; one new recruit, Willie Rhodes, a 10th grader, on the other hand, competes for mixed martial arts team in Stockton.

“It’ll give me extra ground game,” said the 10th grader.

YOLO event: gummie bears as roofies warn of party dangers

YOLOphoto

by Nicole Funes

Mock party. Juice instead of scotch. Gummie bears surreptitiously dropped into drinks, like roofies (rohyphnol, a “date rape” drug that renders victims unconscious)

Another creative YOLO event.

About two dozen students participated in the mock party Wednesday after school, organized by Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities (YOLO).

“The kids wanted to do a party and everything we do has to have a message so we decide to do a (mock tale) party to talk about the negative effects on drugs and alcohol at a party,” said youth organizer  Kharyshi Wiginton.

“This event was a success because many people came and they were all engaged,” she added.

Take Erin Nicholson, a senior and YOLO leader. She was sipping a cup of juice and when she set it on the table, someone slipped a gummy bear in her cup. She noticed only when she got to the bottom of her drink. “The lesson was that students don’t have to go to parties to get turned up and there are other ways to have fun,” she said.

The activity was the second in a series to counter violence in West Oakland. In October, several students marched to DeFremery Park to Life is Living Festival with signs  to promote peace.

“We also planned this event to encourage people to break the cycle of drugs violence and dysfunction,” added Wiginton.

FLY takes off at McClymonds: boys to men

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.

What clowning taught me about life

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by Nicole Funes

To be a clown is to create a fantasy, make children giggle, and take risks.

It also means falling on your bottom, again and again. Like the first time I was in 3rd grade and riding high on stilts, but stopped a second to catch my breath and tumbled backwards onto my butt. You see, like in life, you have to keep moving on stilts.

In life and as a clown, I’m a good juggler. I juggle oranges on weekends and homework on weeknights.

When I first saw my sister balance on a tight-wire while wearing a pink tutu with a red nose, I decided I had follow the family tradition of being in the circus.

However, to actually be in the circus and perform in shows, clown trainees have to be qualified in at least one trick or specialty, whether it be juggling, uni-cycling, acrobatics or globe – a painted ball of clay on which you have to jump.

After training for seven months, I knew how to do most of the tricks but couldn’t get qualified to perform them because I would get nervous.  Despite this, I decided to stay with the circus and overcome my stage fright. Soon I successfully qualified in juggling, acrobatics, and stilts.

After two years, my time in the circus came to a curtain.  By sixth grade, I was too old to perform  since they have an age limit but was invited to participate in summer shows and mentor incoming trainees.

At the end of the summer program we had four big shows in one day at the Alice Arts Center.

 People never see the blood (yes, when you fall hard!) , sweat ,and tears.  They just see your performance. You honk your nose, take your bow and disappear.