Sol Collective held a screening of “13th” and Paul Willis, the facilitator of the event, talked about what he hoped would come from the knowledge. Time will tell if what he hopes for come true.
On March 7th, the Sacramento City Unified School District launched a campaign that defends undocumented students from deportation in the face of ICE agents. This came along soon after the Sacramento City Unified School District Trustees began hearing from teachers, parents, and administrators that children are terrified of being deported or even their family members being deported.
In December, the board of trustees came up with a resolution declaring SCUSD schools “Safe Havens” to any immigration agency and anti-immigration rhetoric.
Board member Jessie Ryan said that the campaign aims to reassure the undocumented students in the district that going to school is completely safe and that the school is there to protect the students if need be. Ryan said that shortly after the presidential election, third graders at one school were too afraid of going outside during recess because they felt that they would be deported.
“The worst case scenario would be children afraid of showing up to school because of fear of deportation,” said Ryan.
It is estimated that in California alone there are around 2,350,000 undocumented immigrants, making up about 6% of the population. Around 1,850,000 of those undocumented immigrants are in the workforce.
This philosophy is gaining traction in other districts all over the state. San Francisco Unified School District says they are “developing a rapid response protocol to support children and families,” if law enforcement is in or around schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District voted in February to make their schools “Safe Havens” and create centers of support for undocumented families threatened by immigration.
“Personally I believe that Safe Haven schools is an amazing thing to any student that wants to extend their education,” says Angel Perez, a student at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento.“This gives them the ability to feel more comfortable accomplishing their dreams.”
For some though, the idea of a “Safe haven” school isn’t sitting well. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones believes legislation like this that would prevent local agencies from entering schools would be invalid because it conflicts with federal law.
“I have a strong belief that it violates federal law,” says Jones. “Every sheriff is going to be in a very difficult position to decide what they personally are going to do should this pass.”
“It’s important for Sacramento City Unified to reiterate that we’re focused on the education of every child who resides in our district, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and that’s what this resolution does,” said SCUSD Trustee Jay Hansen.
“I was brought in as a child by my parents,” said one undocumented SCUSD, too afraid to give their name due to the fear of deportation. “I was brought here for a better life than the one I possibly would’ve had if left in Mexico. One day my best friend and I were walking to the corner store, my best friend also being undocumented. And he told me he’d wait outside as I entered and got whatever I was going to get. I came back out a few minutes later to the sight of police detaining my best friend.”
“I just remember not being able to do anything,” the undocumented student recalled. “Just slowly walking off because I knew I would be deported as well if I did anything. It was horrible, we made eye contact. I don’t know what he could’ve done while I was in the store but that was the last time I saw my best friend.”
Only time will tell how this new legislation from the Sacramento City Unified School District will turn out.
The Sacramento Youth Alliance is preparing to work on the city’s upcoming initiatives for youth. Will the programs that arise be meaningful for our young people and with the youth have a say in how they are created?
On March 6th, in the chambers of the Capital of California, District 7 Assemblymember Kevin McCarty named community representative Tamika L’Ecluse as his “Woman of the Year”.
L’Ecluse has a 13-year history working with children at the early childhood age, roughly age 6 and younger, and reducing African-American child mortality is a focus of her efforts as she currently works as the program Manager for the Greater Sacramento Urban League.
“We can’t forget our most vulnerable and often that’s our children,” said L’Ecluse. “It all comes down to the children and making sure they’re in an environment where they can thrive.”
L’Eclise has also volunteered as a board member, Vice President, and President of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, and as an appointed member of the Sacramento Promise Zone Resident Council. Although her background is in work with children, her main emphasis is on helping the community at large.
“Supporting the people in the community is definitely my number one priority,” L’Eclise says.“I’ve always grown up in struggling neighborhoods and I think it gives me a more grounded perspective.”
L’Eclise has advocated for women’s rights, including reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and gender equity. In 2000 she campaigned for marriage equality against Proposition 22.
“Tamika L’Ecluse is a bright light in the Sacramento region, giving inspiration and hope to people in our community and throughout the 7th Assembly District,” commented Assemblymember McCarty. “I am pleased to honor Ms. L’Ecluse for her commitment and dedication to help students maximize their potential, to build a strong and diverse workforce and to improve the lives of residents throughout Sacramento County.”
Many schools in the U.S today still enforce the zero tolerance policy. That means that a student’s first offense against many school policies will get an absolute punishment. The same thing could even be said with the law, after all, should be no second chance when a murder or robbery have been committed? But what if the crime is committed by an adolescent? Should the crime still be held to the strict standard it’s supposed to be for an adult?
The documentary film, They Call Us Monsters, by Ben Lear, challenges the traditional idea that if a child commits an adult crime, they should get tried in adult court and get an adult punishment. The movie follows three real-life juveniles who have signed up for a screenwriting class while in a detention center. They committed high-level crimes such as attempted murder and drug trafficking as teenagers. One of them was in the process of getting out through court and was successful. He was arrested two months later for robberies and is now currently awaiting trial. Another inmate was also in court, challenging the law to get a reduced sentence. However, his lawyer failed and he got a sentence of over a hundred of years. Due to a recent law passed in California, he was qualified to get a reduced sentence to 15 years since he was an adolescent when the crime was committed.
The question of whether a child should be treated like an adult when committing an adult crime is a question that many lawmakers and legislators have tried to answer. This movie presents the realities as it is. It shows the side of the inmate that is not seen from behind the bars and in the courtroom.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about this world I’d stumbled into,” said Ben Lear about his film. “The narrow space between a lost childhood and a stolen adulthood where these kids managed to live, laugh and discover their potential.” The film presents the reasons to why many youth turn to crime; it’s because they came from poverty stricken neighborhoods where gangs provide shelter and a false sense of security to young teens that are growing up. The inmates in this film even wrote a movie that reflected their own experience. Many politicians have a tough on crime policy because many voters don’t like the idea of “soft on crime”, but when it comes to a child who yet to have a fully developed brain, is it still fair to punish them for life?
What is the purpose of food stamps? How important is a healthy diet? Today we learn about what some people in Sacramento think on these topics.
“Links to Law Enforcement” by La Familia is an event that will go from the 1st of March all the way to April 5th. It will be held at La Familia’s Maple Neighborhood Center which is on 37th Ave in Sacramento.
La Familia is an organization that provides multicultural counseling along with services of support for low-income and at-risk youth and their families in Sacramento. For over 40 years, has provided these services that are all completely free with a totally bilingual staff. Their mission is to improve the quality of youth and their families by providing these services and providing programs that aim to help families to become empowered and succeed.
The Links to Law Enforcement event is a six session event that empowers young people and encourages them to participate in all things law enforcement in Sacramento. This is in effort to have the youth participate to diversify the law enforcement including the California Highway patrol and local sheriff agencies.
This event is likely in response to the police department not being racially diverse as the communities they serve. In Sacramento, the police department is dominantly 72% white while the community is only 36% white. While the rest being 14% black, 25% latino, and 25% other.
“This event has been happening for a long time in Sacramento, and we’re very proud of it,” said Ramon Guitart with La Familia when asked about the event. “These programs, especially from La Familia, help out families and youth and their communities.”
For more information on this upcoming event and what they do please click here.
This coming Wednesday, March 8th, from 6 pm to 9 pm, Sacramento activists are going to have a screening of Ava DuVernay’s “13th”, a documentary about the history and current criminalization of the black community. It will be at Sol Collective on 2574 21st street in Sacramento.
The community is coming together to do a screening and discussion of the documentary 13th. Pizza, spicy popcorn, and drinks will be available. If you want to know more about the event and time, look here for the Facebook event page.
“All of a sudden, a scythe went through our black communities,” Pat Nolan of Prison Fellowship said in 13th. “Literally cutting off men from their families. Literally huge chunks just disappearing into our prisons, and for a really long time.”
Criminalization of African Americans began once they got their freedom, and was amplified by the film The Birth of a Nation. African Americans were lynched and murdered by mobs between reconstruction and World War II.
“The demographic geography was shaped by that area,” Bryan Stevens of Found, Equal Justice Initiative said in the documentary 13th. “We have African Americans in Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, New York, and very few people appreciate that the African Americans in those communities did not go there as immigrants looking for economic opportunities, they went there as refugees from terror.”
Once mob lynching became unacceptable, African Americans civil rights activists were portrayed as criminals for breaking segregation laws. The civil rights act and voting right act finally turned things around for African Americans.
Around the time the civil rights movement was gaining popularity, crime rates were beginning to rise in this country. The baby boom generation was reaching adulthood by this time, however, politicians were quick to put the blame on the African Americans. Nixon started to crack down hard on drugs and crime, calling it the War on Crime.
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon white house after that had two enemies: the anti-war left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black…” John Ehrlichman, Nixon adviser said. “But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities… we could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
This set the future for America, cracking down on crime and drugs. The Three Strikes You’re Out Law also increased the sentence for people who were incarcerated. With these harsher and longer sentences for people, one would imagine that all races would be incarcerated more, however, 1 in 17 white males have a likelihood of being imprisoned within their lifetime. 1 in 17 is a lot less likely of being incarcerated than the statistic for the black community, which is 1 in 3 being imprisoned within their lifetime.
Watch 13th on the 8th of March to get more details about criminalization of the black community.
“Redlining” was a legal practice from 1932 to 1964. It directly affected minorities living conditions and housing options. Today, among other factors such as the wage gap and the pricey cost of higher education, redlining continues to affect people of color and other minorities.
During the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration and the Home Owners Loan Corporation worked together to finance over $120 billion dollars worth of housing. However, they did not make this housing available to minorities. They would purposefully exclude minorities, and even went as far as to mark on a map of where the majority of colored people were, so that way the would not finance homes in that area.
This affects people to this day, as homeowners in the redlined areas have a harder time financing their homes, due to the area being poorer than the surrounding communities. This in turn brings down the value of the entire neighborhood. In these redlined areas, the houses also tend to be more decrepit, and the cost of repairs become more expensive.
However, redlining isn’t the only reason minorities are having a hard time. A study done by the Survey of Consumer Finances shows that there is a wage gap between minorities and their white counterparts. The wage gap refers to the phenomenon where one person gets paid less than another due to prejudice rather than skill or adequacy.
With this gap in pay, it makes it a lot harder to attend college in hopes of a higher education. With the price of tuition on the rise, it’s becoming harder and harder for poor people to climb out of their predicament.
Redlining, coupled with the wage gap and pricey education, makes it extremely hard for minorities to pull out of this poor crisis. Solving this issue would not happen quickly, and there are more factors that go into poverty than most people realize, but a good place to start would be to make education more affordable. Also, encouraging affordable houses in nicer areas, and fixing up less desirable areas would be a great place to start.
This past weekend the Growing Together School Garden Initiative gathered together to strengthen and educate teachers, parents, and community leaders involved with helping kids make the connection between food, health, and the environment.