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School Buzz: “Let Success Be Your Noise,” says Carl Edwards

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An athlete is not the only person that stands out on campus. It is the brains over the brawn that can pay your life forward, because intelligence will never stop being beautiful.Carl Neal Edwards III is a Berkeley native who has graduated high school with a 3.0 grade point average and was accepted to three colleges. But all of this was not done on his own.

For three years, Edwards has volunteered with the Berkeley Youth Alternatives community center during the summer as well as the school year. He has helped many children by assisting them with their academics and their personal lives.

“I felt I made change in my community by giving younger kids a role model to look up to. The way I felt I did that is by being a young African American male that is going to college,” said Edwards.

Going to college as an African American can be very difficult. Not because of the difficult schoolwork that has to be done, but maybe the community that you come from is the difficult part. School is not a factor if you are trying to survive in the streets of negativity, because it’s not viewed as a positive investment. Think about it, what have you heard about school that is a positive factor?

School can keep African American men and women off the streets. It can allow you to create a long-lasting friendship and learn from other students. School can broaden your horizon through experiences and knowledge.

“My accomplishments can be passed on by having a lot more African American men and women to graduate high school, and go to college,” said Edwards.

Focusing on yourself will allow you to erase the negativity in your environment and change your community with positivity. Going to college will allow those around you to physically see the possibilities of going to college. There is a way that you can reach your dreams and actually accomplish them. Carl Edwards is reaching for his dream to become a sports analyst for ESPN.

“I personally feel like my path is a reality, because all it will take is hard work, and I am willing to put in the work to have success in my life,” he said. It is within him to stay on track. “Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.”

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Bay Area

Among Less-Educated Young Workers, Women and Black Men Are Paid Far Less

According to Byeongdon Oh, a postdoctoral researcher in the campus’ Social Sciences D-Lab, the pay disparity between Asian and white men on one side and Black men on the other may actually be worse than the data suggest. A disproportionate number of young men who did not go to college are Black. A disproportionate number of young Black men have been incarcerated, he explained, and incarcerated men were not tracked in the survey data.

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A new study co-authored at UC Berkeley finds that women of all races, as well as Black men, who have not attended college are paid dramatically less than Asian American and white men at similar education levels. (Photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture)
A new study co-authored at UC Berkeley finds that women of all races, as well as Black men, who have not attended college are paid dramatically less than Asian American and white men at similar education levels. (Photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture)

By Edward Lempinen | UC Berkeley News

Less-educated U.S. workers often face a lifetime of financial challenges, but some among them are more disadvantaged than others: Young Asian and white men without college education are paid more — sometimes far more — than both Black men and women of all racial groups, according to a new study co-authored at UC Berkeley.

The study led by Byeongdon Oh, a postdoctoral researcher in the campus’ Social Sciences D-Lab, found that young Black men with no college education earn barely half of what their Asian American and white counterparts make. Latinx, Asian and Black women lag even further.

“Earnings are an important factor to study because they’re related to other outcomes, like health, engagement with the criminal justice system and family development,” Oh said. “So, we focus on the non-college population at an early age. They are already disadvantaged economically — they have very low earnings. If there’s a sizable racial or ethnic earnings disparity in this population, there may be severe consequences.”

The study, “Inequality among the Disadvantaged? Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Earnings among Young Men and Women without a College Education,” was released Dec. 21, 2022, in the journal Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, published by the American Sociological Association. It provides the first detailed look at the earnings of young adults with no college experience as their working lives take shape.

In recent years, about one-third of young Americans have stopped their education after high school. That projects to roughly 1 million less-educated young people every year entering a job market that increasingly requires advanced education and training to earn even a middle-class salary. LatinX and Black people are over-represented in this group.

To understand their experience, Oh and colleagues Daniel Mackin Freeman and Dara Shifrer from Portland State University studied data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, tracing racial and ethnic earnings disparities among men and women who had never attended college. In 2016, they were in their early 20s.

“Striking” was the word the authors used to describe the earnings gaps revealed in the core data:

  • Young Asian American men with no college education earned an average of $24,837 in 2016, followed by white men at $22,056 and Latinx men at $17,984. Young Black men averaged just $12,573 — barely half the wages earned by Asian Americans and whites.
  • A similar, but less severe, disparity was evident among young women with no college experience. White women on average earned $14,766, followed by Latinx women at $12,465, Asian American women at $10,935 and Black women at $10,871.
  • The gap between these women and men was vast, with young Black women on average earning only 44 cents for every dollar earned by Asian American men with similar levels of education.

Exploring the impact of race and gender discrimination

How to explain these racial and gender gaps in earning?

Oh said the data did not allow the researchers to determine the causes. They did find, however, that a range of possible factors — from family background and home location to high school grades and criminal records — rarely account for the earnings gaps.

But, he explained, racial discrimination in the workforce cannot be ruled out as the cause.

Oh suggested that complex social and economic factors may sort people of color into lower-paying job sectors, but the estimated earnings gaps among groups of people in the same occupation are still dramatic. These earning disparities, he said, may reflect employer bias against women and Black men.

The findings “suggest that, like their more educated counterparts, young non-college-educated women may face pernicious earnings discrimination in the labor market, regardless of their race/ethnicity,” the authors wrote.

They added: “The results may indicate that employers devalue the work of young Black men without a college education to a greater degree than they do the work of white, Latinx, and Asian men without a college education.”

According to Oh, the pay disparity between Asian and white men on one side and Black men on the other may actually be worse than the data suggest. A disproportionate number of young men who did not go to college are Black. A disproportionate number of young Black men have been incarcerated, he explained, and incarcerated men were not tracked in the survey data.

“And so, our findings on the earnings gap are conservative — it may be larger,” he said.

The new study opens up a range of new questions for Oh and other researchers. Understanding the experience of the young workers would require more targeted surveys and in-person interviews. Those would allow the researchers to understand whether discrimination is to blame, and if so, how it works, Oh said.

“I hope the contribution of our research is to make people ask why we have these striking earnings gaps,” he said. “Then, rather than wasting time blaming workers’ choices or attitudes, we might get further by identifying discriminatory labor market processes.”

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Activism

For New UC Berkeley Chief Yogananda Pittman, Building Trust Is Key to Modern Police Work

Now, after helping to guide the force through a time of crisis and rapid change, Pittman will become chief of the UC Berkeley Police Department. Starting Feb. 1, she will lead an ambitious initiative, begun under retiring Chief Margo Bennett, to broadly modernize campus police operations and strengthen sometimes strained community relations.

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Yogananda Pittman, the incoming chief of the UC Berkeley Police, says she will respect the community’s diversity and listen to many voices as the department works to improve campus security. (Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small).
Yogananda Pittman, the incoming chief of the UC Berkeley Police, says she will respect the community’s diversity and listen to many voices as the department works to improve campus security. (Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small).

In the hours after the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol, veteran police leader Yogananda Pittman faced a profoundly difficult choice: She was offered the position of interim chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, a post for which she’d been preparing for nearly two decades, but it would mean taking charge of a department that was reeling and certain to face intense scrutiny and pressure to reform.

Some, sensing a no-win assignment, would have declined it. Pittman, however, said yes, not so much out of ambition as out of a belief that leaders must lead — and seize the opportunity for reform — even in chaotic conditions. Two days after the insurrection, she became the first Black woman to lead the Capitol Police.

Now, after helping to guide the force through a time of crisis and rapid change, Pittman will become chief of the UC Berkeley Police Department. Starting Feb. 1, she will lead an ambitious initiative, begun under retiring Chief Margo Bennett, to broadly modernize campus police operations and strengthen sometimes strained community relations.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our community, and I am confident that Yogananda Pittman has all of the skills, qualities, and experience necessary to excel as our next police chief at UC Berkeley,” said Chancellor Carol Christ. “Chief Pittman’s remarkable record of achievement and her steadfast commitment to reform and social justice make her perfectly suited for this essential leadership role on the Berkeley campus.”

Pittman will direct a police force of about 140 officers, community safety officers and staff, with an annual budget of $15 million. In recent years, the campus police department has struggled with reduced budgets, depleted ranks, and rising crime.

Like other urban police agencies nationwide, Berkeley’s at times seems caught between competing pressures from advocates — including students and parents — who want a stronger police presence on campus, and those who would abolish the department and use the funds for social welfare programs.

For Pittman, that’s a new landscape. But in an interview, she said that her experience in policing, leadership, and diplomacy have prepared her to build essential bridges. Respect for diversity and inclusion will be crucial, she said. So will be listening.

“In the first 100 days after I arrive,” Pittman said, “I want to have a campaign of meetings with all of the entities that have a vested interest in safety and security on campus. Once I understand what everyone’s concerns are, then we’ll be able to come up with ways to address those concerns.

“To achieve change, it helps to have leaders who have deep professional experience, but who also know the perspective of people who have been on the receiving end of unfortunate encounters with law enforcement.”

A commitment to social justice leads to a career in police work

Pittman’s path to law enforcement and her rise to its highest ranks have been shaped by unexpected choices and extraordinary challenges.

She grew up in Cambridge, Maryland, a Chesapeake Bay community not far from Washington, D.C. In the 18th century, the town was a center of the slave trade; two centuries later, in the 1960s, it was a national flashpoint for the modern civil rights movement.

Her adoptive parents died when they were young, and she was raised by her aunt, the Rev. Enez Stafford-Grubb, a minister at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge and a prominent civil rights organizer.

Education, service, justice — these were core values in Pittman’s family. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1999 from Morgan State University, a historically Black research university in Baltimore.

But then came the decision that, from the outside, might seem surprising: To be an agent for social change, Pittman reasoned, she could be more effective working within an institution, rather than challenging it from the outside.

As a police officer for 20 years, she maintained that approach through a series of historic crises that have reordered the American political and social landscape.

She was sworn in to active duty on the Capitol Police force just a few hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York City and Wash., D.C. In the ensuing years came the presidential inaugurations of Barack Obama and then Donald Trump, a seeming epidemic of police violence against Black people, and the insurrection against U.S. democracy on Jan. 6, 2021.

A quiet, persistent struggle against the forces of racism and sexism

As Pittman rose through the ranks, taking promotions with more responsibility and more influence, it seemed that race and gender were constant themes — not just in the national landscape, but in her own career, and in her family.

“When I came onto the Capitol Police force,” she recalled, “there were zero persons of color in leadership and definitely not any women — zero, none.”

“It was not easy. As I continued to get promoted, I was oftentimes the only woman and always the only person of color in the room. And more often than not, people let me know that I wasn’t welcome, that I wasn’t part of the team. They questioned my capabilities.”

“But coming from my hometown, from my parents, and from Morgan State University, your mind is trained to believe just the opposite: ‘I am just as good, if not better, than anybody in this room.’”

At the same time, she experienced the crisis in American policing through her two sons, young Black men who today are ages 22 and 17.

“Even in 2022,” she said, “I’ve had to have the talk with them about what not to do when you engage with police. I’m a police chief, and I have all this knowledge about law enforcement tactics, and I’m still fearful of what happens if they get pulled over. I can only imagine what the average mother feels when her son goes out the door.”

And so, even as she pursued her day-to-day work, she had a parallel goal: to help lead the way toward a more diverse, more inclusive Capitol Police culture.

“This was not just some statement, or to check a box,” Pittman explained. “We really worked to make the culture different, because the men and women of the organization deserve it.”

The terror of Jan. 6: Capitol Police ‘saved democracy that day’

So many of these deep social conflicts were present — but dangerously unresolved — in the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021. That was the date that Congress had set for certifying Joe Biden’s election as president, and it was to be a crucial test for American democracy.

Pittman said the Capitol Police had substantial evidence that extremists could pose a violent threat to the certification, and to the safety of lawmakers. Then-Chief Steven Sund repeatedly asked the sergeants-at-arms for the House and the Senate to use their power to declare an emergency and to put the National Guard on standby, but they refused.

And then, on Jan. 6, an estimated 30,000 protesters marched to the Capitol, where the Capitol Police had 1,200 officers on duty. Some 2,500 rioters breached the building. Vastly outnumbered, the officers, along with reinforcements from other departments, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with extremists for over five hours.

In retrospect, Pittman sees their efforts as heroic.

“I could not be more proud of the men and women of U.S. Capitol Police,” she said. “The votes to certify the election were counted. We achieved the transfer of power. It was not pretty, but because our officers stood, our democracy didn’t fall.”

“They saved democracy that day.”

After the insurrection, a reckoning

In the immediate aftermath, there was a brutal accounting: Within hours after the battle, two officers were dead. Over 100 others were injured. The Capitol building sustained damage approaching $3 million.

Sund resigned the next day. The sergeants-at-arms of the House and Senate soon followed.

On Jan. 8, Pittman became the first Black person and the first woman to lead the Capitol Police — and while that might have been a cause for celebration, she quickly became the focus of blame and recrimination.

At first, that seemed a distraction. There was work to be done: consoling the families of deceased colleagues, connecting with the injured cops, and restoring order and morale in the department. Biden’s inauguration was just days away, and the police had to be ready.

But as time passed, she came to understand what was driving the criticism. Not that she agreed — she saw the insurrection and the Capitol Police response as the confluence of many forces, across many institutions, converging over time toward a systemic breakdown. No single person or department was to blame.

But as the department’s former head of intelligence, and now its chief, she had to take responsibility.

“As a leader,” she said, “the more you can embrace your mistakes, own them, take full accountability for them, that’s the only way you’re going to get past them. You open yourself up to learn better ways. And that’s what we did.

In the ensuing months, the deeper toll of Jan. 6 became clear. Four officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 took their own lives. Others suffered post-riot psychological trauma.

During her time as acting chief, Pittman guided an intensive reform campaign. New tactics, training and equipment were put in place to make sure that department personnel were prepared for future crises, while new programs and services aimed to support a traumatized workforce.

In July 2021, a new permanent chief was named, and Pittman returned to the rank of assistant chief. Last week, after 21 years on the job, she announced her retirement from the Capitol Police, effective early in 2023.

“D.C. has changed,” she said. “Our democracy is being challenged in ways that we never expected or never imagined…I don’t ever run from a challenge, but I know I’ve left the department I served in a much better space than we were prior to Jan. 6.”

At Berkeley, ‘we can … really show the world what’s possible’

Last summer in downtown Cambridge, an artist completed a brightly colored outdoor mural featuring 12 pioneering women from surrounding Dorchester County. Among them are Harriet Tubman, the iconic antislavery activist; Donna Wolf Mother Abbott, the first woman chief of the Nause Waiwash tribe; and Bea Arthur, an actor on stage and screen. And in the lower left corner? Yogananda Pittman, smiling in her blue watch cap and uniform.

Her place in the mural reflects the place of honor she holds in her hometown and in much of the Wash., D.C., area. She hadn’t foreseen the day that she would leave, but when Berkeley reached out to discuss the coming vacancy on its police force, she was intrigued.

Through her sons, Pittman has an affinity for young adults. She’s drawn to academic culture. She has a master’s degree in public administration, and she’s working on the final chapters of her Ph.D. thesis in that field, focused on gender diversity in law enforcement. She’s inspired to see that at UC Berkeley, racism is seen as a public health issue.

Of course, in ways both superficial and profound, the U.S. Capitol in Washington is a long way from the Berkeley campus. One features the nation’s highest-ranking elected officials and visiting dignitaries; the other, extraordinary scholars and young people who are just beginning to find their way in life.

But Pittman and university officials are focused on the points these geographies hold in common. Both are sprawling campuses with diverse communities numbering in the tens of thousands. While the Berkeley police department is far smaller than the Capitol’s, both must manage a range of threats to safety and security.

“The environment for policing on large, urban campuses is challenging,” said Marc Fisher, Berkeley’s vice chancellor for administration. “This is a nationwide phenomenon, and Berkeley is not immune. But in Chief Pittman, we have a leader of incredible personal and professional experience. She has confronted extraordinary challenges and achieved results, both in policing and community-building.

“We are very fortunate to have her join the UC Berkeley Police Department.”

Pittman will arrive as a leader in managing a multi-year campus security reform program, initiated in 2020, to improve emergency management, mental health crisis response and security technology, and to strengthen relations with diverse communities.

She has experience in all of those areas. She’s already met with campus officers during a recent visit to their headquarters in the basement of Sproul Hall. She said she “connected with them immediately.”

Beyond that, though, she’s not offering specific plans or bold pronouncements. Instead, she said, her early days in office will be for listening, learning, understanding — and building trust and legitimacy. It’s a topic that she’s spoken about recently to groups in Canada and Germany.

To those debating the need for protection from crime versus a greater commitment to social services, Pittman answers that both are needed. The goal is building consensus for a balanced approach.

“There does not have to be an either-or in terms of policing and much-needed mental health services, services for the unhoused or drug and rehabilitation services,” she said.

“I’m confident that when we work together, we will find that balance to accommodate the needs of everyone.”

“I hope we can take the lessons we’ve learned and really show the world what’s possible.”

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Advice

A Sampling of Dining Out Options for Thanksgiving Soul Food Around California

While many people enjoy preparing and eating that turkey dinner at home, some people prefer to outsource their feast. For those folks, here’s a small sampling of some soul food restaurants around the state that will be open on or around Thanksgiving.

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Minnie Bell’s sign and a pan of their typical fare: Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese. Facebook image and photo.
Minnie Bell’s sign and a pan of their typical fare: Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese. Facebook image and photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and with that comes greens, beans, candied yams, turkey (roasted and deep-fried), dressing, mac n’ cheese, sweet potato pie and all the other soul food “fixins” that make the holiday meal arguably the tastiest meal of the year for many African Americans. We can choose from a diverse menu of food options that we prepare at home, or we can try to enjoy those options dining out.

The city of Inglewood, for example, is hosting a drive-thru turkey giveaway on Nov. 23 with special guest Snoop Dogg.

The event will go from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is located at Hollywood Park. The goal is to serve 2,500 Inglewood residents with free turkeys provided by Don Lee Farms.

While many people enjoy preparing and eating that turkey dinner at home, some people prefer to outsource their feast.

For those folks, here’s a small sampling of some soul food restaurants around the state that will be open on or around Thanksgiving.

Minnie Bell’s (Emeryville)

Minnie Bell’s — a soul food truck in Emeryville up north — may not be open Thanksgiving Day, it will be open on the 23rd for those who want to celebrate a little early.

Founded by Fernay McPherson in 2013, “Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement” is born out of legacy.

“Fernay learned to cook from her great aunt Minnie and late grandmother Lillie Bell,” the website reads. “Fernay’s family arrived in San Francisco during the Great Migration as part of the relocation of more than 6 million African Americans from the rural South to cities in the North and West.”

Minnie Bell’s is located in the Emeryville Public Market at 5959 Shellmound St.

StreetCar (San Diego)

On Nov. 24, they will be hosting a Thanksgiving feast event.

“Bring your friends and family on Thanksgiving Day for a celebratory feast,” their flyer reads.

The event is located at 4002 30th St. and will go from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Founded by Ron Suel and RaVae Smith in 2014, StreetCar specializes in southern cuisine and features an all-day brunch menu.

“You will find classic southern dishes and Louisiana favorites,” their website reads.

ComfortLA (Los Angeles)

In Downtown Los Angeles, ComfortLA is an option for those who want to eat out this holiday as it’s open on Thanksgiving Day.

Located on 1110 E. 7th St., ComfortLA was once a pop-up restaurant founded by Jeremy McBryde and Mark E. Walker.

ComfortLA focuses on taking a clean approach to their menu, sporting a variety of all-natural soul food options.

“We use locally sourced, fresh and organic ingredients and healthier cooking methods to create top-notch, Southern cuisine including ‘Cousin Kina’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese,’ ‘Clean Mean Greens’ and our signature ‘Organic Not Your Average Fried Chicken’ with ‘That Sauce,’” it reads on their website.

They also have an Inglewood location, though that restaurant is not open on Thanksgiving.

Hotville Chicken (Los Angeles)

The last establishment on this list is Hotville Chicken in Los Angeles.

This restaurant is not open the day of Thanksgiving, but patrons can order ahead of time and pick their food up on the 24th.

Hotville, then known as the BBQ Hot Chicken Shack, was founded by Thornton Prince in 1936 in a segregated part of town.

Thornton’s great-great niece Kim Prince now runs the family business.

Their website boasts about how spicy their chicken is, as Thornton’s original recipe focused heavily on a fiery flavor.

“If you’ve never heard about Nashville-style hot chicken, it’s certainly time to get familiar,” it reads.

Prince’s focus is on community, as Thornton’s original chicken recipe “brought people together” even in a divided town.

Hotville is located at 4070 Marlton Ave.

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