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California Black Clergy, Political Leaders Condemn Racism in Ukraine

CBC members Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations; Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY-05); Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations; and Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett (VI-At Large) signed the letter, which was sent on March 4.

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Congressmembers condemn treatment of people of African and Asian descent trying to escape Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From l-r: Rep. Barbara Lee; Rep. Joyce Beatty; Rep. Gregory W. Meeks and Rep. Karen Bass.
Congressmembers condemn treatment of people of African and Asian descent trying to escape Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From l-r: Rep. Barbara Lee; Rep. Joyce Beatty; Rep. Gregory W. Meeks and Rep. Karen Bass.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

“There were many persons of color living in the Ukraine, enjoying, working and going to school. The Russian invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, made a major change,” read a letter shared with parishioners and friends of St. Paul African Methodist Church in San Bernardino via e-mail.

“For those persons of color, an additional crisis has emerged, the added burden of racism. As these people flee to the bordering countries, they are being met with open hostility,” the letter continued.

The Rev. Steven Shepard, pastor of St. Paul’s, forwarded the letter, which called on AME Church members around the globe to support a student from the Ivory Coast who was seeking asylum in Ukraine until the war broke out. Shepard encouraged church members to stand with “our African brothers and sisters” and to condemn the racism in Ukraine.

The young woman had to wait for nearly 24 hours in frigid weather, hungry and cold, before crossing the Ukrainian-Polish border.

The letter Shepard shared was among hundreds of thousands, perhaps more, of videos, letters, memes, photos and other media sent around the world highlighting racism in Ukraine on two fronts.

First, the way Ukrainian citizens were treating people from Africa, the Caribbean and other people of African descent as people clamored to board trains and buses escaping the advancing Russian military.

“We write with concern regarding the treatment of people of African and Asian descent who are trying to flee Ukraine,” members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) wrote to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, asking for her to push back on the discriminatory incidents being reported.

CBC members Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations; Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY-05); Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations; and Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett (VI-At Large) signed the letter, which was sent on March 4.

“Thank you for clarifying that the borders of the European Union are open to everyone fleeing the war in Ukraine,” the lawmakers continued. “Nonetheless, numerous press and social media reports indicate that many Black families, immigrants from the African diaspora and other people of color are subject to discriminatory or inhumane treatment as they seek to flee Ukraine for the safety of other European countries.”

“We applaud that you have publicly rejected discriminatory treatment of refugees,” they continued. “We ask for more information about how European Union institutions and its member states are working to implement equitable and humane policies and procedures towards refugees. We further ask that a representative of the Commission brief us on the progress of these efforts.”

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said the racist actions of Ukrainian citizens violated international treaties.

“All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under U.N. convention and the color of their passport or their skin should make no difference,” he said.

African leaders, commentators, civil rights leaders, public figures and mass media personalities also spoke out against racist coverage of the war in the media as well.

“This isn’t a place, with all due respect like Iraq or Afghanistan. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen,” said CBS News Correspondent Charlie D’Agata, reporting from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

D’Agata, who has since apologized for that comment, has been widely criticized for his bias.

Comedian Trevor Noah also reacted to D’Agata’s comments. “Here’s the thing. Beyond the racism. You do realize, until recently, fighting crazy wars was Europe’s thing. That is all of European history. They even had something called ‘the Hundred Years War,’” he said.

“I don’t know about you, but I was shocked to see how many reporters around the world, by the way, seem to think it’s more of a tragedy when white people have to flee their countries,” Noah said.

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Oakland Post: Week of May 15 – 21, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 15 – 21, 2024

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Oakland Post: Week of May 8 – 14, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 8 – 14, 2024

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S.F. Black Leaders Rally to Protest, Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Racial Slurs Against Black Students in SF Public School System

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored. 

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Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.
Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.

By Carla Thomas

San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church hosted a rally and meeting Sunday to discuss hatred toward African American students of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, along with leadership from local civil rights groups, the city’s faith-based community and Black community leadership convened at the church.

“There has been an epidemic of racial slurs and mistreatment of Black children in our public schools in the city,” said Brown. “This will not be tolerated.”

According to civil rights advocate Mattie Scott, students from elementary to high school have reported an extraordinary amount of racial slurs directed at them.

“There is a surge of overt racism in the schools, and our children should not be subjected to this,” said Scott. “Students are in school to learn, develop, and grow, not be hated on,” said Scott. “The parents of the children feel they have not received the support necessary to protect their children.”

Attendees were briefed last Friday in a meeting with SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne.

SFUSD states that their policies protect children and they are not at liberty to publicly discuss the issues to protect the children’s privacy.

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored.

Some parents said they have removed their students from school while other parents and community leaders called on the removal of the SFUSD superintendent, the firing of certain school principals and the need for more supportive school board members.

Community advocates discussed boycotting the schools and creating Freedom Schools led by Black leaders and educators, reassuring parents that their child’s wellbeing and education are the highest priority and youth are not to be disrupted by racism or policies that don’t support them.

Virginia Marshall, chair of the San Francisco NAACP’s education committee, offered encouragement to the parents and students in attendance while also announcing an upcoming May 14 school board meeting to demand accountability over their mistreatment.

“I’m urging anyone that cares about our students to pack the May 14 school board meeting,” said Marshall.

This resource was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library via California Black Media as part of the Stop the Hate Program. The program is supported by partnership with California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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