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Top Graduates Will be Honored at SF State Commencement

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As San Francisco State University prepares for this year’s Commencement on May 22, its six academic colleges have each selected two graduating students — one undergraduate and one graduate — for the honor of representing their fellow students during the ceremony by wearing their College’s academic hood.

 

Two hood recipients will also offer their greetings on behalf of the Class of 2015. Eduardo Gonzalez, undergraduate hood for the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, will speak on behalf of the undergraduate class.

 

Jonathan Brumfield, graduate hood for the College of Ethnic Studies, will speak on behalf of graduate students.

 

Those to be honored include:

 

Noureddine "Dino" Chtaini

Noureddine “Dino” Chtaini

Noureddine “Dino” Chtaini

 

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Noureddine “Dino” Chtaini dropped out of school at 15 and, he said, “made some very negative choices” that led him to a 10-year incarceration.

 

He obtained an associate’s degree while in prison and transferred to SF State after his release in 2012. He is receiving his B.A. in sociology.

 

Chtaini’s difficult past has inspired his academic and community work — in particular, his interest in the economic and racial inequalities that impact crime and the criminal justice system. “With all my efforts, I try to provide research that illuminates injustice in the system,” Chtaini said.

 

While at SF State, Chtaini has volunteered with Project Rebound, an innovative program that reaches out to people in prison and provides support for formerly incarcerated students. As a participant in the highly selective Willie L. Brown Jr. Fellowship Program, Chtaini produced a sociological study for the San Francisco Housing Authority that explored the effect of the transition of public housing to private developers.

 

Chtaini is also developing an open-source program that can be implemented by schools and community organizations to help youth avoid turning to violence. He is creating a similar program model to assist the formerly incarcerated as they navigate the challenges of transitioning back into society.

 

In the fall, Chtaini will enter a prestigious sociology Ph.D. program where he plans to continue his criminal justice research and efforts to effect change among youth.

 

Johnathan Brumfield

Jonathan Brumfield

Jonathan Brumfield (Ethnic Studies)

 

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jonathan Brumfield and his family moved to Oakland when he was 12, a difficult transition for him. A self-described “knucklehead kid who challenged educational systems,” Brumfield struggled in school but found a sense of belonging attending hip-hop events. “With hip hop, I knew I had a voice, I knew I had a platform,” he said. His involvement in hip hop and interest in aerosol art — commonly referred to as “graffiti” — also kept him out of violent situations, he said.

 

Brumfield, who will receive a master’s of arts in ethnic studies, now leads the arts program at Safe Passages, an Oakland nonprofit with the goal of inspiring young people and ending the cycle of poverty. He teaches the history of hip hop and aerosol art, using these topics as a tool to connect students to their heritage and personal identities. “Hip hop saved my life, and I am so grateful to be able to save other young people through hip hop,” he said. “All these young people were considered taggers, but I help them explore the context of what they do.”

 

Brumfield’s thesis also investigated aerosol art and its culture, making links to historic Africana aesthetics. As part of his research, Brumfield interviewed youth who create aerosol art in vulnerable Bay Area communities, exploring the significance of the art form and common misconceptions about it.

 

Brumfield has been invited to speak and teach aerosol art practice overseas, including a recent trip to Senegal where he taught art to youth for several weeks. One of his major life goals is to develop an educational exchange program between youth from Oakland and Africa based on hip hop and aerosol art.

 

Emilly Rodriguez (Ethnic Studies)

 

Raised in Marin by parents from Brazil and Colombia, Emilly Rodriguez struggled in high school, became pregnant and almost dropped out. “Education didn’t spark my interest,” she said. But when she entered City College of San Francisco and started taking ethnic studies classes, Rodriguez discovered her passion. She decided to transfer to SF State and major in Latina/Latino Studies.

 

At SF State, Rodriguez thrived academically while working part time, raising her son as a single mother and participating in community-based research projects. In summer 2013, she trained high school and community college students to conduct oral history interviews in the Mission District for an anti-gentrification project.

 

She also contributed research for a history of Latinos in San Francisco sponsored by the San Francisco Latino Historical Society and the San Francisco Planning Department. In addition, Rodriguez volunteers with the San Francisco Day Labor Program, a nonprofit organization that connects workers with employers.

 

In her final two years at SF State, Rodriguez was a teaching assistant in Latina/Latino Studies, which inspired her aspiration for the future: to teach ethnic studies at the university level.

 

“I think it’s an accomplishment to be a young single mother in a challenging set of circumstances and to be so motivated to excel in my education,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been tough, but there are plenty of other parents who do it too. Parents are extremely motivated by their children.

Bay Area

Schaaf Seeks Retraction from Post Over School Closing Remarks

In a KQED interview, Mayor Libby Schaaf supported the proposed closing of 15 schools as an “opportunity” and even went father. “This is not just some painful but necessary budget cut,” she said. “I really feel for parents, students, teachers. We have been through so much trauma, and they have every right to feel distrustful and fearful about this decision. But I believe that it is different this time.

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Oakland.ca.org photo.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Oakland.ca.org photo.

By Ken Epstein

The Office of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has demanded a retraction from Oakland Post, saying the newspaper was incorrect to characterize Schaaf as a supporter of permanently closing up to half of the public schools in Oakland.

“She’s never held that position,” said Justin Berton, the mayor’s spokesperson, in an email to the Post.  “As you know, knowingly publishing false information is not only unethical, it’s potentially actionable,” he wrote.

Berton was responding to a sentence in an article in last week’s Post that said, “Schaaf, a longtime supporter of charter schools, has spoken forcefully in the media in favor of closing as many as half of the city’s public schools.”

The Post’s comments on the mayor’s position was based on a Feb. 4, 2022, interview with KQED. At the time, the school district had just announced that it was closing 15 schools this year and next and was planning to close more in future years.

The City Council took a strong position opposing the school closings not Mayor Schaaf.

In the KQED interview, Schaaf supported the proposed closing of 15 schools as an “opportunity” and even went farther.

“This is not just some painful but necessary budget cut,” she said. “I really feel for parents, students, teachers. We have been through so much trauma, and they have every right to feel distrustful and fearful about this decision. But I believe that it is different this time.

“When you look at districts like Stockton, Fremont, San Jose, they serve roughly the same number of students, about (33,000). But they do it in almost half the campuses, between 41 and 48 campuses in those three districts, whereas Oakland has EIGHTY CAMPUSES (Schaaf’s emphasis).

“This is an opportunity to do better for our students, our educators, our families, and I trust this leader to deliver on that promise in a way that has never happened before.”

To review Mayor Schaaf’s remarks, go to the original interview at https://archive.org/details/KQED_20220205_030000_KQED_Newsroom/start/360/end/420

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Bay Area

Presidio Unveils New Facilities, New Park.

“We been doing this since 2018, taking groups to walks as a way to relieve stress and get out and see nature,” said Gilkerson, who is the Rafiki Coalition’s Community Outreach and Engagement manager. “The Presidio is a prime park and a good place to be. The additions to this place are nice for children to go and run around in.”

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Maxine Gilkerson is the outreach and engagement manager for Rahiki Coalition for Health and Wellness. Photo courtesy of Maxine Gilkerson.
Maxine Gilkerson is the outreach and engagement manager for Rahiki Coalition for Health and Wellness. Photo courtesy of Maxine Gilkerson.

By Lee Hubbard

Once or twice a week, Maxine Gilkerson leads a group of people from the Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness on walks in various parts of San Francisco.

The Rafiki Coalition is a health organization that tries to eliminate health inequities in San Francisco’s Black community through education, advocacy, and holistic health services.

On one of those walks, Gilkerson was leading a group through the Presidio, San Francisco’s only national park, next to the Golden Gate Bridge when she came across its newest outdoor path and park, the Outpost. The Outpost is on top of Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 2-acre outdoor destination full of creative play, benches, slides, BBQ pits and educational centers and science lab.

“We been doing this since 2018, taking groups to walks as a way to relieve stress and get out and see nature,” said Gilkerson, who is the Rafiki Coalition’s Community Outreach and Engagement manager. “The Presidio is a prime park and a good place to be. The additions to this place are nice for children to go and run around in.”

As the summer heats up people like Gilkerson and her group are looking for outside activities, recreation and fitness opportunities. The Presidio is a park that fits that bill. In fact, the Presidio is a must-see San Francisco destination that’s broken into four parts.

These four parts include the Golden Gate area, where the bridge is located; Crissy Field, which consists of a walking trail and a beach; Southern Wilds, which is the woody area in the southern part of the park; and the Main Post which has office buildings and outposts from the 1800s.

The Presidio Outpost is between the Main Post and Crissy Fields, The Presidio has rehabilitated the area and opened up a new facility for youth and adults, with the building of attractions and walking paths.

“This Outpost was designed by pediatricians and youth experts,” said Beatrice Kilgot, a public relations specialist with the Presidio.

In the park structure, there is a hydro-tunnel for crawling and hiding, which was constructed through a boulder land form, a fallen, 250-year old white oak, sculpted into three pieces that you can crawl into, and a bluff slide, made of the Presidio coastal bluffs.

“We work to facilitate activities that are environmentally based,” said Briana Canizales, an adventure guide leader with the Presidio. “We brought in natural materials in creating the outpost.”

A field station was also built on the outpost structure. It is an indoor facility, with a lab and an indoor exhibit, which deals with the environment and animals that exist in the park.

“The field station showcases some of the animals that have been found in the Presidio or the Golden Gate National recreational grounds,” continued Canizales. “It is a research center that study’s the Presidio and its habitat and it shows the historical growth of the park.”

The official Outpost grand opening will take place on July 17, 2022, and it will be open to the public.

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Black History

OPINION: Warrior Parade Was America’s Juneteenth Celebration

The Warriors are full of talented millionaires, even among the bench warmers. Jonathan Kuminga, 19, is a future all-star on a four-year/$24.8 million deal for an average annual salary of $6.2 million. Former top draft pick James Wiseman has been hurt but is still on a salary that averages $9.9 million a year. Nothing like Curry’s deal, but just wait till their stars shine.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com.

By Emil Guillermo

This past week we saw the celebration of Juneteenth come alive with coincidence.

On the second year since it became a federal holiday, people began to understand the day for what it was. A delay of the end of slavery, which officially was abolished with the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, signed 100 days later, but not practically ended until the U.S. Army brought word to Texas which had continued slavery until 1865.

When it comes to social justice, even when you win, some will slow roll you to the very end. Blame it on the post office? It took an army to deliver the news.

So, Juneteenth is a worthy celebration both to note the real end of slavery and to celebrate the triumph of truth and history.

But, this is why there are still forces out there that don’t want Americans to know even rudimentary aspects in U.S. history that may be critical of whites, or harmful to white self-esteem. Everyone should know of the reluctance to end slavery among those who still valued free labor that masked real racism.

On Juneteenth everyone was back on the same page. It was like America was finally on the same team.

And that’s why the coincidence of the Golden State Warrior parade was somehow fitting. Sure, the parade was in San Francisco, but Oakland is where the soul of the team has been since their days at Oracle.

To see them celebrate a fourth NBA basketball championship in eight years was remarkable. Because who were the stars? There was Stephen Curry holding up his trophies, puffing a cigar like a mogul. The 34-year-old is on a four-year contract worth $215,353,664, that expires in 2026. That’s an average salary of $53.8 million, all according to the website Spotrac.

Curry’s the MVP. But the other stars are all well paid. Andrew Wiggins is at $35+ million a year. And as he and teammate Jordan Poole joked in the locker room after the Game Six win for the championship, both are expecting a “bag.”

Wiggins’ bag will be bigger, and Poole’s bag should shoot up from his current $2.5 million annual salary. The Warriors already have the NBA’s biggest payroll, and the post-season adjustments will push the team to a record luxury tax.

But the Warriors can afford it. They already make a ton of money from the games, from attendance, from merch, from international rights, so the players shouldn’t be shortchanged nor the true beneficiaries of the sport, the fans.

The Warriors’ two owners — Joe Lacob, a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and movie producer Peter Guber — were part of a group that paid $450 million for the team in 2010. Forbes Magazine estimates the team is now worth 10 times their investment. That’s $4.5 billion. And that’s probably a low figure.

I think the Warriors can afford the luxury tax.

And it’s significant to note because, in the NBA, we are talking about African American labor being compensated here, richly but fairly.

The Warriors are full of talented millionaires, even among the bench warmers. Jonathan Kuminga, 19, is a future all-star on a four-year/$24.8 million deal for an average annual salary of $6.2 million. Former top draft pick James Wiseman has been hurt but is still on a salary that averages $9.9 million a year. Nothing like Curry’s deal, but just wait till their stars shine.

On parade day, Guber said he wants a “sequel.” And that, like everything else in capitalist America will cost money. It’s good to see them seem willing to pay the price for extraordinary talent in a country where for so many years Black labor was free.

That’s what we celebrated as a country on Juneteenth. The Golden State Warrior Championship parade may as well have been the symbolic national celebration for the entire country. It left us with a feeling that we were all on the same team.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com.

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