Category: homophobia

Brown Lives

Brown Lives

Since the Black Lives Matter started after a series of outrageous killings of Black men and women by the police, I have often asked: where is the equivalent Latino group. Where is Brown Lives Matter?

Racial Justice in Education

Racial Justice in Education

As an educator, I have worked with students at the margin and become even more aware of the special plight of young African American males as they are schooled, and the expectations that are set for them.

Some facts first. Most teachers are white. according to a new study by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). “More than 80 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in education awarded during the 2009-10 school year were to non-Latino white students, according to Three-quarters went to women, and only 4.2 percent went to Latinos”.

While there is a dearth of black male teachers, one curriculum “Mastering Our Cultural Identity: African American Male Image”, is taught by Black males*. In Oakland, Calif., this is “a novel and ambitious initiative by the Oakland Unified School District is to rewrite the pernicious script of racial inequality, underachievement and lack of opportunity for African-American boys”.

African American students in particular are disciplined or suspended at disproportionate rates
for reasons that include lack of teacher training (in classroom management or culturally
competent practices) and racial stereotypes only contributing further to disengagement and
later dropout from school.

The main cause of dropout*** among LGBT high school students “appears to be the hostile
school climate created by continual bullying and harassment from peers due to their sexual
orientation. Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school in
the past year, three-fifths (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation,
and about a third (32.7%) skipped a day of school in the past month due to feeling unsafe”.

If you wish to view cameos of this subject visit the Twitter hashtag: https://twitter.com/hashtag/blackmindsmatter and see some of the latest thoughts on this.

I leave you with a quote from the activist Malcolm X: “Without education, you are not going anywhere in this world”. That is doubly true for people of color.

 

 

    _______________________________
    Sources:
    * http://www.ousd.org/Page/13823
    ** http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/education/edlife/in-oakland-building-boys-into-men.html?ref=edlife&_r=0
    *** http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/school-dropout-prevention.pdf

    • African American students in particular are disciplined or suspended at disproportionate rates
      for reasons that include lack of teacher training (in classroom management or culturally
      competent practices) and racial stereotypes only contributing further to disengagement and
      later dropout from school

     

    The full-credit elective, “Mastering Our Cultural Identity: African American Male Image” (commonly referred to as the Manhood Development Program), is now in the daily curriculum at 20 schools throughout the district, tailored to age appropriateness for third to 12th graders.

    While lower grades focus on the stories, legacies and images of black people, high school students take a deep dive into African-American history and culture, from ancient civilizations to the civil rights movement to contemporary media. All classes are taught by black male instructors whose own experiences and perspectives provide a multidimensional understanding of the students they mentor (in Oakland, as elsewhere, more than half the teachers are white and most are women).

    Manhood Development is the flagship program of the Office of African American Male Achievement, the country’s first department within a public school district that specifically addresses the needs of its most vulnerable children: black boys, who have stubbornly remained at the bottom of nearly every academic indicator, including high school graduation rates in most states, according to the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

    Begun unofficially five years ago, the office kicked into high gear in 2012. That is when the district signed an agreement with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to improve outcomes following an investigation into grossly disproportionate suspension rates of black males — 42 percent annually, though they made up only 17 percent of the school population. A majority were for “willful defiance,” nonviolent infractions like texting in class or using profanity with a teacher.

    “When black children do what children do, the system reacts more harshly,” said Christopher P. Chatmon, the executive director of the Office of African American Male Achievement and its turbo-powered guiding force. “The No. 1 strategy to reduce discipline issues is engaged instruction.” In Manhood Development, he added, “we’re talking about how to elevate their game academically through the lens of brotherhood.”

    In a city with a legacy of black political activism — where the unarmed Oscar Grant was fatally shot by a police officer in 2009 at the Fruitvale BART station and #blacklivesmatter was germinated — the initiative begins with the premise that the words “black male” and “achievement” go together and that a college degree can be a part of their future. The philosophy might be encapsulated in a greeting scribbled on a whiteboard at Oakland High School: “Welcome Kings!” — the somewhat grandiose title a shorthand for holding oneself to a high standard and being responsible for others.

    Think of it as #blackmindsmatter.

    The mission of the Office of African American Male Achievement is to support all of Oakland’s black male students, which it strives to do through a variety of initiatives, including peer mentoring, a student leadership council and conferences that bring together role models and students — a sort of uber school assembly that has the cacophonous energy of a revivalist meeting.

    In addition, two Afrocentric core courses have just been introduced — in English language arts and history — that meet the strict prerequisites for the University of California. And a career academy is in the works at Oakland High called the Khepera Pathway, which will steep African-American male students in entrepreneurship, social innovation and civic engagement, with help from a $750,000 grant from Google.

    While the programs are too young to be assessed, in the last two years chronic absenteeism and suspensions have dropped for black males in the district (come July, defiance will no longer be a suspension infraction). Last year, more than half the 52 students who started Manhood Development classes as freshmen — the first graduating class — headed off to college with scholarships from the local nonprofit East Bay College Fund.

    Perhaps most encouraging is the African American Male Achievement’s honor roll for black students, male and female, with grade-point averages of 3.0 or above — an accomplishment celebrated every year at a raucous event attended by thousands at a gospel church. The percentage of young men on the roll has risen from 16 percent to 25 percent over the past three years.

    Each school day, Rahsaan Smith travels the city’s vast economic, social and psychic divide, leaving the flatlands of East Oakland, synonymous with violence, for a middle school perched on a steep hill fragrant with eucalyptus. He is one of the few boys in Mr. Jennings’s class with both a dad and a mom at home.

    Compared to a white child born in the Oakland Hills, a black child born in East Oakland is 21 times as likely to be poor and a third as likely to be reading at grade level in the fourth grade, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department.

    Photo

    Students listening to Ernest Jenkins III in his Manhood Development class at Oakland High School. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
    In a survey of 250 boys in Manhood Development classes, Vajra Watson, director of research and policy for equity at the University of California, Davis, found that half of middle school students had seen someone shot; by 10th grade, two-thirds had.

    More than anything, it is the deep relationships between instructors and students, many of whom grow up with no male figure at home, that hold the key to ending the soul-numbing disenfranchisement that so many young men experience at school. Teachers will often stop by to ask Manhood Development instructors for insights about particular students.

    “You have to have your hand on their pulse,” said Earnest Jenkins III, who teaches the class at Oakland High, one of the city’s most diverse schools.

    Mr. Jenkins has seen it all — “crack epidemic grandbabies,” homeless students, the student who sells snacks at school as the family’s only breadwinner, “the parent who tells her son to go out and sell this weed to pay the bills.” And worst of all, “the trauma that nobody cares.”

    “You have to erase eight or nine years of low or no expectations,” Mr. Jenkins said. “You have to make them un-believe what they’ve been taught to believe.”

    Shawn A. Ginwright, a professor of education in the Africana studies department at San Francisco State University, noted that in cities like Oakland, “what shows up in the classroom is often the disinvestment outside of it.” Profound, meaningful relationships with teachers “help students develop a sense of agency,” he said. “Young people are not going to school just to accumulate skill sets but also to broaden the vision for their lives.”

    That vision was nonexistent when Mr. Chatmon was in elementary school in South San Francisco in the early 1970s. The teachers “didn’t know what to do with my spirited energy,” he recalled. In third grade, he was deemed so disruptive that the teacher moved his desk into the coat closet for two months, frequently shutting the door. In high school, he was told he “didn’t have what it takes to get into college” (he attended San Francisco State) and probably wouldn’t graduate (he would go on to earn a master’s degree in education from Brown).

    He vowed that, one day, he would be the best teacher ever to boys like himself rather than being “undercut, demeaned and made to feel not smart.”

    Mr. Chatmon’s background includes a stint as the principal of an alternative high school for formerly incarcerated and truant youth. The father of three sons, he radiates a sense of urgency beneath his signature Kangol caps. “Our role is not to say, ‘I caught you,’” he said. “It’s to ask, ‘What is our moral imperative and how does it show up in the education of our children?’”

    Lamar Hancock, an instructor at Oakland Technical, the city’s highest-ranking public high school, tries to retrieve the spark hidden within recalcitrant young men. “I see students with passion burning in their brains whose parents are not academic,” he said. “They’re looking for some kind of influence.”

    He stands outside the door of Room 141, shaking hands with each student as he enters class — a soft handshake or a lack of eye contact is a tip-off to something awry.

    “Some teachers don’t take you seriously when you raise your hand,” said Morris Jackson, a junior who is active in the Black Student Union and tutors at a local elementary school. “They think you’re just another ghetto black.” Not so in Mr. Hancock’s class. “What drew me was the unity of African-American men,” Morris said. “When we disagree, we disagree respectfully. Coming to this class makes you want to stay and do better.”

    A recent class discussion ricocheted from Marcus Garvey to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Brown and X-Men comics and a vocabulary lesson set to a jazz standard by Wayne Shorter. On “business excellence Thursdays,” students dress the part.

    Manhood Development students are typically an academic mix, including high achievers and those needing extra help. Some sign up for a class year after year; some move on and then come back.

    Continue reading
    Rickey Jackson, now a senior, almost failed his freshman year, burrowing into the school basement instead of attending class. At the time, his mother was in and out of the hospital with cancer. “I gave up, so to speak,” he said.

    Rickey and his siblings lived on their own, and when their mother died at age 57, Rickey called Mr. Hancock, who helped him make up nearly a year of school. He now has a 3.6 G.P.A. and recently went on an airplane for the first time to visit colleges. So far, he has gotten into six Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which reviewed his transcripts at a college fair and rendered an on-site decision. “My goal for Rickey was to hear the words ‘I got accepted,’ ” Mr. Hancock said.

    Manhood Development strives to create a scaffold of resilience with a flotilla of black male professionals and college advisers who mentor high school students. It also organizes field trips to local colleges and universities.

    Once a week, fellows with the U.C. Berkeley Destination College Advising Corps advise the classes. A recent session for Mr. Hancock’s juniors and seniors took creative license with “Jeopardy!”

    One category: “Myths About Blacks in Education.”

    For $100: “There are more black men where than in prison?” Answer: College.

    Work to elevate young African-American males is being done not just in Oakland but also in cities around the country. The Minneapolis Public Schools recently established its own Office of Black Male Student Achievement with a curriculum developed with the University of Minnesota. Last year, New York City, the nation’s largest public school system, announced plans to hire 1,000 black, Latino and Asian male teachers (black men make up just 2 percent of the nation’s teaching force).

    Some of the most heralded models are all-boys schools. Among them: Urban Prep Academies, a Chicago charter school with an all-black student body that famously boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate. The school day on its three campuses runs from 8:30 to 4:30, not counting time for required extracurriculars, and students wear jackets and ties. (It’s not for everyone: The school loses about a third of enrollees.)

    The District of Columbia Public Schools is working with Urban Prep’s founder and C.E.O., Tim King, to develop a similar all-boys school as part of its $20 million Empowering Males of Color initiative. As in Oakland, the “secret sauce” is high expectations and paying close attention, Mr. King said.

    While admiring these efforts, some educators see potential pitfalls. “They’ve done a lot to boost the self-esteem of these kids,” said Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles. But he added: “What you don’t want is for the other teachers to say, ‘I don’t have to worry about these students because the other instructor is taking care of it.’” Dr. Noguera would like to see a rigorous evaluation of the program. Understanding components that seem to be working would be beneficial to other districts grappling with equity issues, he said.

    Being embedded in a district also means students may still encounter what some researchers call “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

    “There has to be a focus on the cultural competence of white female teachers who work with black boys,” said Shaun R. Harper, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. “There’s not enough focus on, dare I say, remediating schoolteachers to effectively teach diverse students.”

    To Shawn Dove, head of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, a national leadership network, the new programs are a result of America’s unfinished business, centuries old. “When you start to shift the culture, climate and language of an entire school district, you begin seeing changes,” he said. “But it takes time. It’s not Jack-in-the-beanstalk work.”

    At Montera Middle School, Mr. Jennings encourages his students to set goals for themselves, whether it’s straight A’s or simply handing in their assignments on time. He frequently tells his students that “success is addicting” and enjoins them: “Speak loud and proud!”

    He writes their names on the board when they do something positive, instead of the other way around. He watches his young charges change “not just academically, but their character — what they believe about themselves and what they want people to know about them.”

    Anthony Johnson, an Oakland Tech senior, recently won the Confidence Award at a national event for black men in Louisville, Ky. His goal is to be a pediatric nurse.

    “This is proof that what they teach us is not a myth,” he said. “We are the ones who are going to set the bar.”

    PAFF 2016 journal #3

    PAFF 2016 journal #3

    So I met up with Ken and Mack at the movies and we saw “Stories of our Lives” with an unfortunately small audience. This is a lovely black and white omnibus feature which told 5 stories of everyday life in rural Kenya and its challenges for GLBT people. These challenges all stem of course from a hostile political and social reality. These 5 vignettes (2 about women, 3 about men) tell of the struggle of gay and lesbian people to live their lives and love whom they want. There are no big tragedies or deaths, only the steady resistance of the society to letting them be.  
    Most of what we hear about GLBT life in Africa is defined by the horrific laws and persecutions in some countries (Uganda, Nigeria). “Stories of our Lives” offers a more hopeful view absent the violence of other accounts but still realistic. Again with the dispelling of misperceptions of Africa! To wit: Africa is NOT a seething maelstrom of human slaughter and misery but is instead a collection of struggling communities and nations containing strong traditional elements as well as global trends and standards.  

    I won’t be going to the festival until next Saturday when I’m planning to see “KPIANS” (Nigerian horror movie), “Nelson Mandela Myth and Me,” “Second Coming” (Idris Elba), and “Eye of the Cyclone” (Burkina Faso during their civil war). Then Sunday the boys and I are going to meet our friends Vicky and her daughters to see “Out of Darkness,” a well regarded US doc about African contributions to history, and maybe another one. Lots more info at paff.org of course.
    Thanks for reading.

    Jeff H
    Anybody interested in joining me?

    Jeff Horton

    PAFF journal #2 

    PAFF journal #2 

    From Jeff H BWMTSC COCHAIR

    Sunday, Feb 7

    My planned viewing last night (Saturday) was altered by my underestimation of the popularity of the festival this year. (ALERT: Buy your tickets as early as possible!) I barely got into “Half of a Yellow Sun” and I had to substitute the American drama “Chapter and Verse: A Harlem Story” for “Lambadina” because it was sold out.

    “Half of a Yellow Sun” is a big budget Nigerian historical epic set in the bloody civil war of the 1960s when Eastern Nigeria tried to secede as the country of Biafra. The film tells the story of a middle class, educated couple (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton) whose romantic relationship and its missteps are inexorably and then suddenly overwhelmed by the violence of the civil war and anti Ibo persecution (they’re Ibo). Their lives, and the lives of their friends and her sister, devolve abruptly from a comfortable middle class existence to a frantic rush to find shelter from the war in a refugee camp. John Boyega is their loyal house servant. The transition from romantic melodrama to brutal and violent historical tragedy is jarring, and even though the main characters survive the violence, many of their friends and parents do not.

    This movie is a perfect example of why we should see the African narrative features. Our view of Africa is so distorted and twisted by centuries of anti African propaganda in Euro American culture that it really takes African stories (and movies) to tell the truth. This film not only presents a crucial historical event occurring shortly after independence from the colonial masters of England, it also paints a portrait of a fully rounded society with modern and traditional lifestyles. The actors do a superb job and the production is excellent. It’s showing again next Sunday Feb 14 at 215 pm. See it if you can, if you want to expand your understanding of African history and culture.

    “Chapter and Verse: A Harlem Story” directed by Jamal Joseph is also a gripping and revealing drama. Daniel Beatty, in a tour de force performance, is a recently released convict and former gang member who struggles to survive on probation in Harlem by delivering meals to the needy. He befriends an elderly woman (Loretta Devine) and her grandson, reconnects with an old friend who has also left the gang life behind for a barbershop, and in every case enhances the lives of those he encounters. The depiction of the tightrope that formerly imprisoned Black men walk in trying to survive gives the film a constant feeling of menace and uncertainty. All of the performances are genuine and human in the gritty, threatening, but vibrant world of Harlem depicted so vividly in the movie.  

    I give this one a high recommendation also. It is a Black perspective on Black life in the age of mass incarceration, neither sentimentally optimistic nor brutally negative. See it if you can. It’s showing Fri Feb 12 at 845 pm and Mon Feb 15 at 520.

    I’m about to leave to see “Stories of Our LIves,” a Kenyan feature with several vignettes about GLBT life in that country. I can’t wait go get a more balanced view of our brothers and sisters in Africa. I’ll report!

    Friday, Feb 5

    My first viewing at this year’s festival: the LGBTQ shorts program. This was a wonderful experience. There were 5 short films, 2 from Africa and 3 from the US. Afterwards there was Q & A with directors from the 3 American movies, all of them Black women. In fact all of the films are about women. They were all very well made and provocative. One of the African films “Oya” is an extensive exploration of the role of gender ambiguity in Yoruba culture contrasted with the vicious antigay laws being passed in Nigeria. “Transcend” is about a Black transgender man trying to reestablish a relationship with his parents. The others all deal with coming out and its consequences in one form or another. All in all I recommend this series highly. They are shown again on Thur Feb 11 at 345 and on Mon Feb 15 at 805.

    Tonight, Saturday, at 7 pm I’m going to see the exciting sounding Nigerian dramatic film “Half of a Yellow Sun” set during the civil war in the 1960s and starring John Bodega (Star Wars!) and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Then I’ll see the Ethiopian drama “Lambadina” at 930. Tomorrow, Sunday at 1255, I’m planning on seeing the Kenyan film “Stories of our Lives” which is a series of vignettes about LGBT life in that country.  

    Anybody interested in joining me?

    Jeff H

    Pens, Punched Cards and Patience

    Pens, Punched Cards and Patience

    It’s approaching Christmas and I am reminiscing on my earlier days. I know it sounds sentimental and a bit depressing to some but I was kinda excited to discover in the back of my drawer a bunch of tactile devises – fountain pens.

    Say what? For those unfamiliar with these devices, they are fine writing objects which deliver ink on paper by a collection of delicate wells and cavities to a a “nib” the best of which are 14 carat gold to allow for flexibility and resist corrosion. The fountain pens I have are 30 years old and and after charging with fresh ink fires up flawlessly,

    But why am I rambling on about this? You may know that have a series of blogs and podcasts* for the NABWMT about balancing or tactile (real) and online lives. This is relevant to our interactions with people especially when we promote our fight against racism and homophobia.

    I just read the New York Times and an article struck me as germane to this blog. It seems that 75% of hospitals have electronic records. However, the health practitioners reported “digital fatigue” and have been covertly resorting to paper to as a back up for passwords and notes. These are folks that are supposed to be people sensitive and are detracted from their roles as such. Does this sound familiar? Are you bombarded with the need to remember the scores of passwords?

    In my blog: “Blogs, Being There”** I stated that the NA has a proud history of emphasizing people skills especially at the margins of society, practice being a friend face to face. To that I add at this Holiday time we should renew the vehicles of phoning and writing (with or without a fountain pen)!

    The added bonus to this is that you may have an antidote to the 120 character communications a la Twitter, we often live in. You see, writing should slow down the movement of you thoughts to a physical record. Here is another old world analogy with computers. 20 years ago I started using a mainframe computer with “punched cards”. These cards enabled a computer to read each line of code, Today there are millions of lines of code embedded in a computer you can hold in your hand! I had to look at these cards to make sure I could find a mistake that could screw up my program. The point is thatI slowed down my thought processes to learn. I needed patience.

    I am not a therapist nor a Luddite but proponent of balance. I try to balance my offline and online day. Often it is difficult. But then I recall that our hero Bayard Rustin organized the March on Washington without a digital command center. Dr. Jon Bush,*** long time NA member wrote his academic papers on race relations. An Dr Jerry Mallon,**** another NA hero wrote is seminal monograph “Resisting Racism” probably with pen and paper (maybe a fountain pen?).
    _____________________________________________________
    Sources:

    *http://www.nabwmt.org/media-and-life-eye-contact/
    **http://www.nabwmt.org/blogs-brains-and-being-there/

    ***https://books.google.com/books?id=j2xrgrixYDIC&pg=PA192&lpg=PA192&dq=dr+john+bush+nabwmt&source=bl&ots=J_8989OfBy&sig=mBG-l__Htv4UJpgYwk-024N8a6A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwir67_C197JAhVV9mMKHcIwCi8Q6AEIQTAH#v=onepage&q=dr%20john%20bush%20nabwmt&f=false

    ****https://books.google.com/books?id=sIqGAAAAIAAJ&q=dr+jerry+mallon+Resisting+Racism&dq=dr+jerry+mallon+Resisting+Racism&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiytKfs2N7JAhUP2GMKHVwwAWoQ6AEIHzAA

    Bullying

    Bullying

    As we all know there are youths that are being bullied in school and society, and for sure in the LGBT community. How to deal with it effectively requires the skills to understand and manage their feelings, and overcome.

    As an educator I hear the expression “computers will soon be able to do many of the cognitive tasks in many jobs”. Life skills are mostly relational and being part of a team. Also empathy becomes a more important workplace skill, the ability to sense what another human being is feeling or thinkings.

    In addition, the ability to function in a group also becomes more important — to know how to tell stories that convey the important points, how to mix people together. Amazingly, there is an app for that to

    use technology to better articulate, understand and control ones emotions. So far so good. Research shows that people communicate more often with family and friends because of technology, but the quality of that communication may be weaker.

    However, kids who spend more time engaging with a screen than with other kids or adults can struggle to understand emotion, create strong relationships or become more dependent on others. If all you’re doing is using Facebook, you’re not getting the interpersonal connection that you need.

    For adults, reliance on the quick text or Facebook message is mostly about saving time. But for children, the overuse of technology to communicate affects the brain as we show below. Technology can be a big hindrance on interpersonal relationships, and can rewrite a child’s brain pathways in a very different way than how they would normally develop.

    The problem is that the more people and children interact with a person or the real world through a screen rather than in real life, the less emotion is attached to the exchange. The way we talk, our body language and tone are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology.

    Back to LGBT bullyingIn a study, 85% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40% reported being physically harassed, and 19% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual identity. To counteract this we need to

    – Debunk misperceptions about digital behavior;

    – Build empathy and understanding;

    – Teach online safety skills;

    – Equip young people (and some adults) with strategies to reject digital abuse in their lives.

    October was the national bullying prevention month. There is no federal cyberbullying law in the U.S.

    and efforts at creating the culture of empathy, on the other hand, receive far less public attention. One bright light is The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s partnership with with Facebook aimed at helping the company to foster empathy among its users.

    While public attention seems to be overwhelmingly focused on punishment, education on cultural values to  foster a different pattern of social relations and concern for others is just as important. Framing online behavior as symptomatic of larger cultural narratives is a much neglected view in the public debate around cyberbullying.

    So why do i perseverate on this when the average age of the NABWMT is 52 (or so)? The answer is we need to realize that the current traits of young adults in empathy can become (at least in part) ours. We need to balance our online and offline persona.

    After all the NA has a proud history of emphasizing people skills especially at the margins of society. So, after you have friended one of our thousands on our Facebook, practice being their and friend someone face to face.

    Theme: Overlay by Kaira