Tag Archives: family

Why Mack Students Should Care about LGBT

macksmackLGBTby Janaya Andrews

Sometimes justice trumps love. Take Valentine’s Day. I spent it lobbying in Sacramento for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I was one of seven McClymonds students who joined 3,000 students in Sacramento  in a forum about LGBT rights at the 65th Model Legislature and Court of California YMCA Youth and Government.

While in Sacramento, I wrote a bill to promote acceptance of gays, bisexuals, the transgendered, and lesbians. I felt that it was time to support the LGBT, not only because I am standing up for what’s right, but also for truth and justice.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to be what they were born with,” said Shamorra Washington, a freshman. “It’s not like it’s a switch that people could simply flip to change their whole being.  Why should they?”

Our group focused on notable LGBT people from President James Buchanan (our 15th president who was gay but closeted) and  Laura Jane Grace, born Thomas James Gabel, lead singer of punk band Against Me! (transgender who has since switched genders and married).

In my group, we had a guest speaker come talk about her experiences, and she shared a personal story with us about feeling out of sorts. It was in college that that she realized she was transgender. Her upbringing in an accepting family made her less afraid of coming out.

A 2012 survey by the Human Rights Campaign of 10,000 LGBT youth aged 13-17 found that while almost all (91 percent) of LGBT teens are out to their close friends, fewer are out in school (61 percent) and out to their families (56 percent).

Those who were out at school and out to their families reported higher levels of happiness than those who weren’t.

“We are all human, so why treat each other with less respect,” said Washington.  “If you want to be seen and heard, you have to set your feelings free.

As Dorothy Parker so eloquently said, “Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.”  She forgot to add it is natural.

And Jean Genet said, “I like the word gay, though I think of myself as queer. I believe the strength in my work comes from that perspective -my being an outsider”.

And I have internalized what these two famous writers said: nobody should be afraid of being gay, just be who you are and love it. Now is the time to act to support LGBT youth.

Mack lures transfer students — with sports and community

Breannie Robinson Aronisha Smith, 16 College Ready

by Anastasia Walton

Most transfer to McClymonds for sports, but others yearn for community, after feeling lost in the shuffle of students on bigger campuses like O’High, Tech or Skyline.

Some even come from afar: Vallejo, Manteca, or even San Francisco.

Jenero Rodriguez, sophomore, wakes up at 7:30  am,  gathers his backpack and books and heads for the door.  If he catches the 8:10 am bus from North Oakland he might make it on time for Spanish class.

Rodriguez is starting a new school year at a new campus with new faces, 33 of them (out of 265 students). After wearing a Bulldogs uniform for one year, he proudly dons a Warriors orange and black jersey.

According to the Oakland Unified School District’s student assignment office; there were twelve 9th graders, eleven 10th graders, three 11th graders, and seven 12th graders who transferred to Mack this current school year.

Like Rodriguez, Louis White, junior, 16, switched from Tech to McClymonds and to Mack’s Silver Bowl winning football team.

“The teachers at Mack really care.  They take the time to help you and make sure you get the material, unlike the teachers at my school [Tech],” stated White.

Who are these new faces you might ask? Well it was a question I was asking myself as well. I wanted to know whether the transition was easy and how they adjusted. The main difference, students said, was the encouragement from staff to prepare for college.

Jermaine McCann, an 11th grader said “The staff really pushes you and talks about college, where at my other school, they barely even brought up college.”  “Mack is  one big family,” he added.

Students who leave McClymonds are usually looking for more AP classes and more extracurricular activities, says Rolanda McGhee, Care Manager.

Fitting in at McClymonds may be easier than integrating elsewhere. Principal Kevin Taylor  said, “Students at Mack are very friendly and open so it isn’t hard for new students to settle in. As for the staff, I don’t really think they mind helping to teach a new mind.”

My Life in and out of Mack

by Victoria Valenzuela

My life as a LATINA in a African American high school is not the easiest, but it’s not that bad. I grew up in the streets of San Bernardino  County, and I moved to Oakland, California when I was nine because my mom wanted a change for us. My older sister’s Dad used to beat her.

I started at McClymonds high school in West Oakland, where I am one of the two Latinas in the school .

Everyone thinks I am Mexican but I’m mixed: Puerto Rican , Sicilian and Mexican. Most of my life I grew up around mostly Mexican Americans, so starting here is a big change for me. I have a history class and they don’t talk about my culture at all, but mainly about African Americans like Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King.

I started at La Raza Studies after school program at Fremont high school on the east side of Oakland in order to learn more about my culture.

I loved learning more about my history — how we worked for our freedom and the threats of deportation and hard labor — but I also got into many fights and had been jumped several times for being a Surena, dressed in blue in a rival area.

In a sense, coming to Mack has taken me out of the gang scene that divides Latinos in Oakland.

They told my mom that I brought gang affiliation to the school. They told us that it’s not tolerated here and they threatened me with possible expulsion.

Affiliation is different than membership. To become a member, a girl has two choices: they can get passed around until they are done with them , or they can get jumped in by the leaders of the gang through a fight.

I started with the Surenos because my parents were both gang members. My mom raised herself and used to fight a lot. She is my role model, my inspiration because of  her struggles and kindness to others. My Dad is in prison in Tehachapi for armed robbery and drug dealing.

My Mom doesn’t approve of my “blue” and took away my Cortez (Nike shoes that represent the hood I’m from), my blue belt, my blue rosary, my blue rag, grey and white dickies. She even took the blue laces off my black Converse.