Archive for community

Casualties of Media Warfare

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by brucepoinsette

A recurring theme in my talks with Occupy Portland participants has been the “media war”. Consider Jason Parker collateral damage.

Parker was arrested a couple of weeks ago at the encampment for allegedly pulling a gun on protesters during an argument. According to the news reports, he pulled the gun after protesters challenged him for taking unauthorized video. One of the less emphasized elements of the news stories was that some of the protesters called him a racial slur.

In discussions with my editor, we both agreed something didn’t add up about the story. Why would someone pull a gun after he was told not to take video? For that matter, since when did a people’s protest make such a fuss about unauthorized video? Isn’t that what characterized the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and so many other countries?

The Skanner News Group decided to make an inquiry and the police report produced a much more disturbing account.

According to the police report, some protesters began arguing with Parker for taking video. They called him a racial slur and then pulled knives on him. In response, Parker, who is a concealed weapons holder, lifted his shirt to show them he was armed. Instead of arresting the protesters who threatened him, the police put Parker into custody.

He was released the next day and no charges were filed. However, his mugshot was posted online and the incident put a blemish on his otherwise, clean record.

In the midst of this “media war”, this incident was brushed under the rug by many on the left. Conversely, some right wing pundits used it as a way to prove the left is racist.

It is not the fault of Occupy Portland that this unfortunate incident happened or that there are some unsavory elements among the protesters. However, the refusal to fight for a black man who was the victim of injustice will leave a permanent stain on the movement.

Many have complained that occupiers aren’t giving enough attention to issues that face communities of color, even though they profess to be fighting for the “99 percent”. The Jason Parker incident validates the concerns and skepticism among communities of color and helps to explain why there is very little diversity at Occupy Portland.

While unity is an honorable goal, it has to go beyond words.

Communities of color will never accept the rhetoric of unity if well intentioned people choose to defend racists who threaten our people, all for the sake of winning a public relations battle.

The “99 percent” may be getting oppressed by the same powers that be but there are a number of divisions between us that can’t be patched up by words from unofficial spokespeople.

Asking communities of color to accept the racist elements while not challenging these racist elements to do the same and defending their flagrant violations of human decency is neither building unity nor upholding the fight for the world’s oppressed.

In the time I’ve spent at the Occupy Portland camp and my talks with occupiers, I’ve found that the vast majority are committed to making real positive change and standing up to power. They really believe in the power of unity and justice.

Thus, I urge occupiers to not let the wrong done to Jason Parker, or anyone else at Occupy Portland, to go by the wayside. True enemies of the movement would love nothing more than to use this incident to stop Occupy Portland and further their malicious agendas.

At the heart of standing up to power is the need to tell the truth.

New Article: Supporters Want Occupy Movement to Address Racial Issues

Posted in Journalism, News Wire with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2011 by brucepoinsette

Check out the new article.

Supporters Want Occupy Movement to Address Racial Issues.

New Article: Focus East Portland: City Pushes Neighborhood-Sized Projects

Posted in Journalism, News Wire with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2011 by brucepoinsette

Check out my new piece on Richard Heinberg’s speech as a part of the East Portland Area Project.

Focus East Portland: City Pushes Neighborhood-Sized Projects.

Recap of the Teaching with Purpose Conference 2011

Posted in Journalism, News Wire with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2011 by brucepoinsette

Check out my recap of the Teaching with Purpose Conference 2011. If you’re in the Portland area, and an educator, parent, community member or simply a person, try and attend next year. Don’t miss out on the innovations that could revolutionize education.

Education Expert Augusta Mann: Black Students Need the Five R’s.

Young Scholars Lays the Blueprint for College Preparation

Posted in Journalism with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by brucepoinsette

Carla Gary founded the Young Scholars to empower under served students of color, first generation and low-income potential college students. She realized just how much her pupils were learning when students from the program’s law cohort petitioned her for more freedom last year.

“They wanted to travel across campus with no RA (Residence Assistant),” says Gary. “They even outlined the consequences if they were late or not compliant.”

She told the them not to prove her wrong. The next day they showed up 15 minutes early to class to help RAs with younger students.

Gary founded the Young Scholars in the summer of 2005. It is a week long college preparatory program where kids stay in the University of Oregon dorms, attend classes, have a business dinner and conclude the week by displaying what they’ve learned to their parents.

“I was more excited than my daughter,” says Nike Green, whose daughter is an incoming Freshman at Roosevelt.

According to UO Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) General Teaching Fellow (GTF) Divya Bheda, the schedule for the students is the same every day.

They attend morning classes in math and writing before breaking off into cohorts that include Swahili, Journalism, Education, Business, Law, History and Music.

“The cohorts sound fun,” says Cen’tory Christmas, a junior to be at Central Catholic.

He heard about the Young Scholars in 8th grade through his principal at the SEI academy.

Gary has middle school students from the Portland and Eugene area apply through recommendations from people in their schools and communities. They can go through the program from 8th grade to their junior year in high school.

The program began with only 8th graders.

Now some students have siblings and/or cousins in the program.

Tyler Price, who volunteers with the Young Scholars, is one of three members of his family to go through the program.

“My brother was the first and my cousin is currently going through it,” he says.

Gary says she doesn’t do a huge call out for applications because it would be disingenuous to have hordes of students apply for a few spots.

She has gotten inquiries from all over the state and would like to see other Oregon schools emulate the Young Scholars. Gary suggest every Oregon US school host 25-30 students for a week. Her intention is to have kids speaking in terms of college because that will have them prepared to succeed in high school.

“Young people need to become familiar,” she says. “If they don’t see it then it’s not real.”

Gary also believes living in the dorms is a powerful part of the experience because otherwise it’s just like going to class.

In the future she wants to expand the program to two weeks to include co-curricular activities like trips to the coast and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Gary would also like to give the students some more recreation time to do things like attend a baseball game or go to the roller rink.

In the meantime, Young Scholars makes the most of seven days.

The final day of the program includes students from each cohort demonstrating what they’ve learned for their parents.

The Journalism cohort made a video of the other cohorts and left with the ability to say they’ve created a multimedia production.

The Law cohort did a presentation on freedom of speech while the Swahili students demonstrated their understanding of a different language.

In the Music cohort students did a presentation on the history of gospel and how it was integral to survival, especially when it was utilized for Negro spirituals during slavery.

The Business cohort did a presentation on personal finance, including interest, payday loans and which communities get taken advantage of by banks.

In the education cohort students designed a school in detail including how the institution would interact with communities and accommodate students with disabilities.

Lastly, the History cohort read biographies of other cohort members and explained how they were living history because many were going to be the first to attend college in their families.

Gary was still in awe after the seventh year of the program.

“It’s mind boggling,” she says. “It was a truly humbling experience.”