Tag Archives: racism

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.

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!

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.”

Mack Earns Home-Field Advantage But Has To Play At Its Rival’s Gym

OPINION PIECE

by Anthony Beron

The victory dance should have taken place HERE last Thursday. The championship game should have been in the McClymonds gym.

Yes, the McClymonds Lady Warriors made history by winning the Oakland Athletic League for the first time in 38 years. And the boys team, the Warriors won and were undefeated in the OAL.

So what is the pay-off for their hard work and higher seeding in the CIF playoffs: WE HAVE TO PLAY AT OAKLAND TECH, our rival school, instead of playing in our OWN GYM.

And the school is abuzz with that sad reality. “If I had an option,” said boys’ basketball coach Brandon Brooks, “I’d definitely have our team play here because of our strong, enthusiastic fan base.” He thought it was moved to Oakland Tech because of the smaller size of our gym.

Colleen  Piper, Spanish teacher, called the move to have McClymonds play at its rival’s gym “unfair” and “uncool.”

Teacher Relonda McGhee, who favored playing at Laney College, where the Silver Bowl was played, said that “Playing at Tech is risky, because it’s our rival.”

Most students agreed. “We should play here, on our home field,  because we are the champions,” said Danny Sola, a senior.

But some expressed caution. “Playing here can be dangerous,” said Luckie Lovette, a junior. “In the past, the fans have caused a lot of problems.”

While McClymonds students mentioned the unfairness of the situation, the athletes just practiced for the game.

“As long as we have a court and a hoop,” said Lady Warrior Romanalyn Inocencio, “I’m cool.”

Changes at Mack: More AP Classes, Fewer Suspensions, New Teachers

by Romanalyn Inocencio

Iakiriyya Karimusha,17,  slouches from the weight of her backpack draped on her right shoulder while dragging behind her a gym bag with her basketball gear.

A senior, Karimusha is taking advantage of the AP classes recently offered at McClymonds.  She’s taking AP English, Chemistry, and American Government while taking UC Berkeley’s Calculus class online.  Despite playing on the school’s varsity basketball team as a guard, she has managed to retain a 4.18 GPA.

“Nothing at McClymonds has been challenging to me,” says Karimusha. “But this year, I feel prepared for college, and competitive with the smart kids at Bishop O’Dowd and Berkeley High. I’m in the race now.”

Welcome to the new Mack. McClymonds is trying to change its focus, its approach to discipline and its curriculum. This year, the school has pushed to increase the student body, from 235 to 289, and has recruited 10 new staffers (including three teachers with Teach For America), added six new AP courses and reduced the number of suspensions from 32 last year to 5, relying on restorative justice.

“The biggest change is the focus on the culture, making material relevant, increasing rigor through STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and literature, and focusing on relationships,” says Dinora Castro, the school’s new assistant principal, who is implementing restorative justice at McClymonds.

Even school security officer Donald Mann sees the positive changes at Mack. Teachers are staying late and helping students. “The new teachers are very enthused and hard workers,” he says.

Take Ronald Delaney, one of the three new teachers from Teach For America who joined the Mack staff  at the beginning of the school year to teach AP American Government, one of six new advanced placement classes offered at McClymonds after years of offering only AP English taught by Dr. LuPaulette Taylor.

Delaney spends extra hours helping to tutor students and wants to “convince them that learning is fun.”

Delaney, born and raised in Long Beach attended community college and transfered to UCLA to obtain his degree in anthropology.

“I’m going to put more responsibility on students,” Delaney said about the challenge of teaching an AP class which had never been offered at the school.

Teaching a new class is not the only problem faced by Delaney.  He has to assimilate to the culture established at McClymonds.

“I have something I have to offer and I care about them,” Delaney said.

Delaney based his class “rules” on the school’s new core beliefs: respect, rigor, resilience, and relationships to tackle the “school to prison” pipeline at the Oakland School Unified District.

Last year, 20 percent of Oakland’s African American male students were suspended. African Americans are three and a half times more likely to be suspended, followed by Latinos. African Americans make up 39 percent of the student population in Oakland schools, yet represent 63 percent of the suspensions, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“Half a million dollars were lost because of suspensions,” Castro said.

Why Oakland Shouldn’t Impose A Youth Curfew

 

 

by Romanalyn Inocencio

It’s late at night.  I’m stumbling to the bus stop after an exhausting basketball practice with my fellow Lady Warriors.  My feet ache, arms pulsate, and hunger sets in, making my guts screech.  I need to eat.  If I catch the bus on time, I might make it to Taco Bell before it closes. But will I be able to make it back home?

The public relations stunt supported by Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan would make THAT impossible.  And that’s why the youth curfew introduced last year (but not yet approved) would be a bad idea.

I don’t think the police will punish teenagers who live in the Oakland hills–I don’t even think they will stop them. They will only stop teens in areas like West, East, and even North Oakland.  Due to the stereotype of being black or brown–any color actually–and being after hours, that person is automatically viewed as a criminal.  But not the puny, sheltered white kid from the hills coming home from playing the violin with the Oakland Youth Orchestra.  He’s safe from being searched or stopped.

What if I, a varsity basketball player with a 3.5GPA,  ready to graduate,  have a late game and I need to walk home? Is the police going to arrest me for coming from a game? They might, when they see me walking down the street with a bag strapped across my shoulders and baggy shorts.

If the purpose of this curfew is to reduce crime rates among youth, then adults should be targeted as well.  Adults are the master minds in all these situations when they supply teenagers with weapons and often with dope.

We don’t have enough police to patrol teenagers in case of a curfew and who will keep the center (where they are held) open all night?  I don’t think Oakland has enough money for that, and if we do, then it should be used for something that won’t criminalize innocent teens who make their way home after hours.

The curfew will corral teens and cage them inside their homes.  Besides it’s not like criminals would follow the law and stay indoors after hours and become respectable citizens.  They will  just become more sneaky and move their business indoors.

I think police should focus on making sure that teens are not skipping class during the day and making sure they are where they need to be. Day time is not much different from the night.  Fights, shootings, and murders (many of the 100-plus in Oakland) occur during daylight. Let’s focus on keeping our schools safe, first.