Thursday, April 3, 2014
6:00 – 7:30pm
Columbus Public Library
3000 Macon Road, CB&T-A
Dr. Gary Sprayberry, Department Chair for History and Geography at Columbus State University; Richard Jessie; Theresa El-Amin; Jerome Lawson
Speakers will share ideas on improving the quality of life for Columbus
residents living with poverty and unemployment
Moderator: Tonza Thomas
Columbus Black History Museum and Archives
Southern Anti-Racism Network
Contact: 706-575-3646 or 762-821-1107 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the flyer here.
The following is a letter to the editor to the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer written by SARN Board Chair Theresa El-Amin.
The February 16 piece by Mark Rice on suspensions received the attention it deserves — Sunday, front page.
I first requested the out-of-school suspension data in May 2011 after seeing young, black men frequently on the front page of the L-E charged with serious crimes. I was given over 330 pages of records. After going through the sheets, I realized there was a sheet for every grade in every school. The disaggregated data (race, gender, etc.) also showed the 28 reasons a student could be suspended. The list included everything from the use of alcohol to homicide as well as sexual assault, sexual battery and other crimes. The list struck me as a form that might be used by law enforcement rather than a school. Yes, fighting was on the list, too.
However, many students were suspended under a category called “other.” After a few conversations with parents, I learned that “other” could mean the boy didn’t wear his belt or he was “talking back” or otherwise “acting a fool.” The school-to-prison pipeline was never clearer.
Durham Public Schools is a similar district to MCSD. The student population is about 30,000 and about 60% black. A few years ago, black males were about 80% of suspensions. During that time, one child had been suspended 27 times in a single school year. The struggle continues.
I dream of the day when parents, teachers, principals and assistant principals will function as a team to help children understand their legal right to an education and the shared responsibility to make it happen.
An out-of school suspension is “a failure to communicate.” Cultural competency seminars might help teachers and principals recognize the internalized oppression of black males growing up in poverty. That includes disciplinarians who look like the students suspended the most.
SARN held a Parents Assembly themed “Against All Odds: We Will Succeed” on Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 10:00am-2:00pm at the Mildred L. Terry Public Library. Dr. Kevin Rome, President of Lincoln University in Jefferson City Missouri was the special guest speaker. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson also made a presentation.
Parents spoke out on challenges they face and the tools they need to support high academic achievement and positive behavior for their children in school.
We watched and waited for the legal system to work in the case of George Zimmerman using deadly force on Trayvon Martin. There is no dispute that George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin because Trayvon fit his stereotypical profile of a young, black male. Zimmerman used a stereotype to “take charge” even after being told by police not to pursue Trayvon.
The right to self-defense first belonged to Trayvon against the aggressive actions of Zimmerman. Why did Zimmerman feel bold enough to approach a person he didn’t know? What made Zimmerman feel duty-bound to act in a situation that could result in an altercation? Did he size up Trayvon as a young man he could “take” in a fight?
It seemed obvious to me that shooting an unarmed juvenile in the heart at close range goes well beyond self-defense. With the whole world watching and knowing what Zimmerman did, the obvious is not the reality we woke up to on Sunday morning.
Even in the “Wild West” of the 19th century, shooting an unarmed man was murder. If you’ve ever watched Matt Dillon, Wyatt Earp and movies about the Western frontier, using a gun to kill an unarmed man even in a bar brawl was murder.
Race is a factor in the legal system that’s become our reality in the 21st century. Is that not obvious?
Despite the fact Trayvon Martin is dead, and George Zimmerman stalked Martin, Martin is the one judged to be responsible for his own death. And Zimmerman, based on his observed reaction when the verdict was read, expected it.
Sadly, so did I.
What crystalized my thoughts, apart from 71 years of observing, and experiencing at second hand, U.S. racial relations from the side of the minorities, was a comment (which I can’t quote exactly) by Jelani Cobb, associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African American Studies at University of Connecticut, on MSNBC just prior to the verdict. He said black people learn to expect the worst outcome from the legal system. And as civil rights attorney Maya Wiley said, “[Our] justice system is not a just system.” The system is stacked in favor of whites, or more properly, non-blacks.
All this boils down to the fact the person on trial really was Trayvon Martin. And he was judged guilty posthumously and in absentia, not represented by counsel. The prosecution let the defense get away with it by limiting the range of discussion to the scuffle and the shot, not including Zimmerman’s precipitating actions. And no consideration of whether Martin had the right to stand his ground. Was that because he didn’t have a gun to stand his ground with?
We need to move back from every-person-a-vigilante. Let’s stop enabling everyone’s living in a castle wherever they go, and return our gun laws to some form of sanity
Treasurer, Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN)
I am willing to bet you have used the words
without even thinking where they come from,
without even thinking there is a question
about where they come from
that you should be thinking about:
“I’m not just whistling Dixie.”
And if you’re not just whistling Dixie
what, precisely, have you been doing?
Yes, that is how deep the racist culture goes:
Even you do not stop to think
what this expression means
before you use it.
How about: “Keep your cotton-pickin’ hands off my . . . “
Tell me: Just what, precisely, is wrong
with “cotton-pickin’ hands”?
As for me, therefore,
I will keep searching for those
who are not just whistling
“John Brown’s Body.”
SARN had a great event on Friday, April 26, 2013 at Liberty Theatre from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., which raised funds to support the 5-year strategic plan for “Building a Village” in Columbus, Georgia. Everyone enjoyed cultural presentations of music and poetry and as well as the auction items.
The Building a Village project aims to support high academic achievement for all students in Muscogee County schools and to support positive behavior to minimize out-of-school suspensions.