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This Week Marks the 25th Anniversary of California’s Ban on Affirmative Action

“California’s statewide ban on affirmative action has had lasting, devastating impacts on our K-12 and higher education system. Students, families, and educators of color have always found themselves shut out from opportunity, from a lack of additional funding to decreased college access,” said Natalie Wheatfall-Lum, Director of P-16 Education Policy at Ed Trust West.

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Ed Trust West reports that more than half of California’s K-12 schools do not have a single Black teacher. And even though children of color make up 77% of all K-12 students in the state, only 35% of teachers are people of color.
Ed Trust West reports that more than half of California’s K-12 schools do not have a single Black teacher. And even though children of color make up 77% of all K-12 students in the state, only 35% of teachers are people of color.

By California Black Media News Staff

Since California banned affirmative action 25 years ago, experts say data shows significant drops in the numbers of Blacks and other minorities attending universities and securing government contracts in the state.

In education, for example, Ed Trust West, an Oakland-based nonprofit and research organization focused on equity, says the repealing of affirmative action in California has negatively impacted African Americans both at public schools and colleges across the state.

“California’s statewide ban on affirmative action has had lasting, devastating impacts on our K-12 and higher education system. Students, families, and educators of color have always found themselves shut out from opportunity, from a lack of additional funding to decreased college access,” said Natalie Wheatfall-Lum, Director of P-16 Education Policy at Ed Trust West.

According to Ed Trust West, the numbers of Black and Latino students enrolling at California State Universities, has not “kept pace” with the racial makeup of high school graduating seniors.

Ed Trust West reports that more than half of California’s K-12 schools do not have a single Black teacher. And even though children of color make up 77% of all K-12 students in the state, only 35% of teachers are people of color.

“Unfortunately, solutions focused on socioeconomic status alone have proven insufficient to close those gaps. Instead, to combat the systemic racism and structural inequality facing Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native students, we must address the unique challenges and needs of each student group directly,” said Wheatfall-Lum continued.

“Nonetheless, plenty of powerful strategies to advance racial justice are still perfectly legal; without affirmative action, it’s even more important that school districts and higher education institutions leverage any and all at their disposal,” she said.

Barbara Lee

Infrastructure Bill Will Expand Internet Access, Boost Transit, Rep. Barbara Lee Says

“For decades, underinvestment in our physical and social infrastructure has widened the economic gap, put communities at risk, and exacerbated racial and economic inequality,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “And it’s not just a lack of investment. Too often, the infrastructure that we built created more inequality. This infrastructure law now advances equality, equity, and environmental justice unlike any law we have ever seen before.”

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Rep. Barbara Lee with Meg-Anne Pryor, apprenticeship coordinator for Operating Engineers Local 3. Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee’s Press office.
Rep. Barbara Lee with Meg-Anne Pryor, apprenticeship coordinator for Operating Engineers Local 3. Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee’s Press office.

By Post Staff

At a joint press conference on Wednesday, Bay Area Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Nancy Pelosi touted the impact the recently passed infrastructure bill will have on the Bay Area.

“For decades, underinvestment in our physical and social infrastructure has widened the economic gap, put communities at risk, and exacerbated racial and economic inequality,” Lee said. “And it’s not just a lack of investment. Too often, the infrastructure that we built created more inequality. This infrastructure law now advances equality, equity, and environmental justice unlike any law we have ever seen before.”

In regard to environmental justice, Lee points out that billions of dollars will be dedicated to building low-to-no emissions buses and expanding access to EV charging network. “These are critical investments for communities in my district that have suffered from higher levels of air pollution and childhood asthma rates,” she said.

The law will also provide internet access to low-income families across the state. “During the pandemic, we have seen that internet access is an equity issue for kids in East Oakland and other parts of my district, and we need to close that gap,” Lee said.

Besides their individual districts, the Congresswomen pointed out how much California as a whole will benefit from billions in investment to improve highways and bridges, public transportation, and water infrastructure.

“Also, it will help to protect communities like Oakland and Berkeley from another devastating wildfire like the one we experienced 30 years ago,” Lee said. “We are now moving full speed ahead to pass the rest of President Biden’s economic agenda through the Senate to significantly cut the costs of childcare, reduce childhood poverty, address the climate crisis, increase affordable housing, and make other meaningful investments in the quality of life of our families.”

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Art

Poet Laureates Provides Poetry That Heals the Soul

The City of Richmond’s 2021– 2023 Poet Laureate, David Flores was joined by fellow poet laureates including Eevelyn Mitchell of El Cerrito, Jeremy Snyder of Vallejo, Ayodele Nzinga of Oakland and Tongo Eisen-Martin of San Francisco to celebrate Flores’ installation. Each poet shared some of their work with the audience. A laureate is a person who has been honored for achieving distinction in a particular field.

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The poet laureates are not connected as a group but are part of a community that supports each other with our craft.
The poet laureates are not connected as a group but are part of a community that supports each other with our craft.

By Clifford L. Williams

Poetry is a universal language…it’s the song of the heart that feeds the soul.

That was the message shared by five poet laureates from the Bay Area last week at a gathering to introduce the City of Richmond’s 2021– 2023 Poet Laureate, David Flores, during an Open Mic event at CoBiz Richmond, in collaboration with Richmond’s Arts and Cultural Commission.

Flores was joined by fellow poet laureates including Eevelyn Mitchell of El Cerrito, Jeremy Snyder of Vallejo, Ayodele Nzinga of Oakland and Tongo Eisen-Martin of San Francisco to celebrate Flores’ installation. Each poet shared some of their work with the audience. A laureate is a person who has been honored for achieving distinction in a particular field.

Flores, an 11-year former schoolteacher for the Richmond Unified School District, submitted a few poems and some of his writings to a panel of commissioners last May, who reviewed his work and eventually selected him as the city’s newest poet laureate.

“To me, this is an opportunity to really highlight poetry as an art form accessible to everyone in our city,” said Flores. “I will use this appointment to actively engage young people and adults to allow them the opportunity to not only hear art but to also inspire them to share their work.”

Flores said that since COVID 19, people have been disconnected and now need community bonding to express themselves through art and poetry. “As a poet laureate, I want to grow as an artist and share my work,” said Flores. “It’s fulfilling as a shared humanity to connect and inspire people and a way to spark communication with one another. Once you have that experience, you feel confidence and there’s no going back.”

The poet laureates are not connected as a group but are part of a community that supports each other with our craft. Laureates help to bring awareness of poetry and literacy through the arts to their respective communities during their two-year appointments. Each laureate goes through a process involving several steps, outlined by a panel of commissioners, who make the final selections.

“One of the main things we do as poet laureates is to encourage unity within our community through the arts,” said Mitchell. “Our specific responsibilities are to highlight poetry as an outlet to allow people to express themselves.

“As poet laureate, we put on events to encourage our community to become more involved and aware, and to be more unified in bringing awareness, unity, respect and love within the community. Because of the pandemic, we are all trying to figure out our new norm.

“With everything that has been going on for the past two years, I firmly believe it’s important that we as a community, and I as a poet laureate, need to bring harmony back into our lives,” she said. “It is my quest and priority to promote that. We are neighbors, we are friends, we are a community, and we need each other to survive.”

The general public can learn more about their city’s poet laureate events and activities by contacting their Arts and Cultural Commission.

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Bay Area

COMMENTARY: Abuse Is Not Love

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

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photo from www.itv.com.
photo from www.itv.com.

By Godfrey Lee

The Mental Health Advocacy Team of First Missionary Baptist Church (FMBC), along with the Marin City Mental Health Services, and the Center for Domestic Peace, conducted a training called “Working Together to End Domestic Violence” on October 25.

Rev. Ronald Leggett, FMBC’s pastor, hosted the Zoom program.

Cynthia Williams, a domestic violence advocate for peace, and a friend of FMBC, introduced the presenter and facilitator, Meghan Kehoe, from the Center for Domestic Peace.

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

Kehoe says that domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used to exert power and control over an intimate partner. The abuser may use a variety of types of abuse to make sure that they have and maintain control over their partner. These types of domestic violence include physical, emotional, economic, sexual, spiritual abuse as well as stalking and strangulation.

Domestic violence can be physical, but the greatest impact is through verbal and emotional abuse. How victims have been abused and how they feel about themselves will always be present in their mind.

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

Survivors need unconditional support from their friends. Many of those who stay in an abusive relationships have probably lost a lot of friends who love and support the victim but don’t understand the pattern of abuse, and do not understand why the survivor leaves, then returns to the abuser.

Children witness and experience the domestic violence and fear it just as much as the survivor does, if not more, and 60% of them are also victims of the physical violence as well.

The children, youth, and young adults are also being traumatized and affected by the violence. They may not know how to articulate what is happening to their family, or how to feel when their parents are hurting each another. So, talk to them and see if they want to talk to their parents or a safe person in their life.

Even if children know that they are not the cause of the violence, they still feel it in their hearts. Tell them that it is not their fault, and nothing they did caused the violence.

Young people who survive need good information, programs and services to help them find and maintain healthy relationships.

There is never a wrong time to reach out to someone who is being abused in a relationship. And you should also go with them to get help. Connect them to professionals, or a domestic violence agency. Offer them unconditional support a friend who will look out for them no matter what happens to them, what choices they make, whether or not they go back to their abuser, and be there for them in a non-judgmental way, Kehoe said.

For more information, go to centerfordomesticpeace.org. If you are in need of emergency assistance or wish to make an appointment with Center for Domestic Peace, please contact their 24-hour hotline: (English/ Spanish) 415-924-6616.

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