Flyer for PACT 2017 Series Kickoff

Parenting Black Children: Race, Racism & Culture in Education | PACT Workshop Series

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by Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq.

As noted by CLSJ Executive Director Esmeralda Simmons, Esq. in the video above, it is imperative that parents have the information they need to advocate for their students. This month, the Center for Law and Social Justice kicks off our Parent Advocates Coming Together workshop series. This free, dynamic series is designed to empower parents to become better advocates for their children. The workshop topics are described more fully below. Our first session (Wednesday, March 8, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm) will explore the Impact of Race, Racism & Culture in Education. Read more about this and other issues facing children of African descent in this month’s CLSJ Blog Post below. Refreshments will be served and free child care is available with pre-registration. In order to pre-register, please call the Center for Law and Social Justice at 718-804-8893.

Parenting Black Students: Race, Racism & Culture in School

PACT Flyer 2017

When compared to their White counterparts, by most measures and with few exceptions, the vast majority of Black children in American schools are performing at dismal rates academically. Black students make up the fastest growing group of children filling jail cells. They are suspended and expelled three times as often as White children, are subjected to harsher scrutiny and suffer from lower expectations from both teachers and authority figures.

Equally as significant, are the other systematic factors that follow Black students like an ever-present shadow. Black children face the same institutionally discriminatory burdens as the rest of the Black community. The neighborhoods where these children live typically face racially skewed economic policies in housing and school funding, disproportionate unemployment, violence and other social ills.

As if that weren’t enough, Black children (regardless of social class) also battle with what Dr. Joy DeGruy calls racist socialization: the adoption of a white supremacist value system which has its roots in race-based slavery. At this value system’s foundation is the belief that white, and all things associated with whiteness (including intelligence and beauty), are superior; and that black and all things associated with blackness, are inferior.

As noted by educator, consultant and author Gary Howard, “It is no mere coincidence that the children of certain racial, cultural, linguistic and economic groups—those who have been marginalized by the force of Western White domination—are the same students who are now failing or underachieving at disproportionate rates in our nation’s schools.”

When Black students first integrated into White schools, the American education system was permeated with assimilation logic: the belief that once Black students (and by extension other students of color) “assimilated into White society, academic success would follow.” However, research on the experiences of students of color since integration reveals that when schools require Black students to assimilate in order to excel, they deny the students access to their own culture, which is “the key resource that they bring to education.”

School Integration

Photo Credit: NC Civil rights

This explains why segregated schools, with inferior education resources, could produce honor roll students who were also part of the van guard of leadership in the Civil Rights Movement.

A report by the Heinz Endowment, Cultural Responsiveness: Racial Identity and Academic Success: A Review of Literature, reviewed more than 2800 studies “that examined the connections between culturally responsive approaches, racial identity, resilience and achievement.” Researchers found that contrary to the assertions of assimilation logic, Black students and students of color “performed best in settings that built on their culture and promoted their racial identities.”

A recent study out of Harvard and University of Pittsburgh found that when Black parents empower their children with positive racial socialization, they perform better academically. In fact, researchers found that “racial pride” was the single most important factor in protecting Black students against racial discrimination and it was found to have a “direct impact on the students’ grades, future goals, and cognitive engagement.”

quote-racial-pride-and-self-dignity-were-emphasized-in-my-family-and-community-rosa-parks-86-15-63

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

As poignantly asked by Gary Howard: “How is it possible, with so much research and information available about multicultural issues today, that prospective educators can complete their entire teacher education and certification program without gaining a deeper grasp of social reality?”

Indeed. Because despite that promising research, most Black children continue to struggle in an education system that was not designed for them.

“Access” is Not Everything

Before Black children integrated White schools, White educators used materials that were focused on and designed to accommodate the learning needs of White students. That didn’t change when Black students arrived. The books that were used, the authors that students studied, the mathematicians they analyzed, were all White. The way educators were trained to create lesson plans, taught to frame history, social studies, science and humanities were all centered on the specific learning needs of White children.

the-ten-little-niggers

Photo Credit: Atlanta Black Star

White children were born into a system that was carefully constructed and maintained to provide them with racially-based access to benefits and resources at every turn. White privilege ensures they never have to wrestle with the fact that their social safety nets were sewn together with the fabric of racism and threads of racist oppression.

These children were accustomed to a lifetime of privilege born out of the brutality of slavery and protected with the violence of Jim Crow. It should go without saying that the learning needs of White children, those who represented the new generation of the slave holding caste, are very different than the learning needs of Black children. Because Black children were born into a legacy of racial inferiority. A legacy that ensures that by the age of five they (and their White counterparts) have been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that Black skin represents a curse.

In a racist society, an education designed to meet the needs of White children can be extremely harmful to the psychological, academic and professional developmental needs of Black children. Sadly, forcing Black children to participate in an educational process designed for those who benefit from the oppression of Black people is directly related to the fact that: Black children are suspended more often and more harshly than their White counterparts. It is one of the main reasons why Black girls and Black boys are the primary passengers on the trains driving up and down the school to prison pipeline. This is why those disparities start as early as preschool.

Black children need a culturally responsive education: one that is both culturally competent and designed to meet their specific needs and the needs of the communities in which they live.

 

Student raising hand in class

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Professor of Education Dr. Geneva Gay defines Culturally Responsive Teaching” (CRT) as “teaching that uses the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them. It teaches to and through the strengths of these students.”

CRT is a dynamic approach to education that empowers educators and parents to improve academic outcomes for Black students. It is an education framework that requires us to center the specific needs of marginalized students. CRT is grounded in the plethora of research that demonstrates that “culturally responsive pedagogy and positive racial identity promote academic achievement and resilience.” In other words, it is imperative that Black students have access to educational environments that support their specific needs as Black children and validates their culture. Indeed, this is necessary for all students.

More importantly, CRT works.

Research shows that when Black children receive an education tailored to meet their specific learning needs, they will perform better in school, they are more likely to go to college and they are more likely to be empowered to use their education to address the issues plaguing their community. But shifting paradigms is no easy task. It requires the knowledge, skill sets and the will to make it happen.

We must remember the following words by Malcolm X: “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.”

In light of the dismal way Black children are floundering in schools originally designed to accommodate the needs of White children, it would seem Brother Malcolm was correct.

This and other research is why the Center for Law and Social Justice is pleased to kick off our Parent Advocates Coming Together series – a free workshop series designed to empower parents of NYC public school students. The workshops will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00pm, beginning Wednesday March 8, 2017. Each workshop will take place at the Center for Law and Social Justice, Medgar Evers College, CUNY at 1534 Bedford Ave. 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, 11216. Refreshments will be provided and childcare is available for parents who pre-register by calling 718.804.8893.

Flyer for PACT 2017 Series Kickoff

Flyer for PACT 2017 Series Kickoff

Session One: (Wednesday, March 8, 2017) will explore the Impact of Race, Racism and Culture in Education. This session will be facilitated by Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., General Counsel at the Center for Law and Social Justice, who has an extensive background in teaching the principles of Culturally Responsive Education.

Participants will learn about the connections between positive or negative racial identity and academic success. How does your child’s understanding about race shape how they perform in school? How does your school’s understanding of race and culture shape the academic outcomes your school produces? What can parents do at home to address this phenomenon and advocate for their students? These issues and more will be addressed in the first segment of the PACT Workshop Series.

Subsequent sessions in the series includes the following topics and will be taught by experts in the field:

Session Two: Wednesday March 15, 2017: Tips for Navigating the NYC Middle School Process | What do families of students of African descent need to know about the middle school application process? What are some of the pitfalls families and students need to avoid? How can you maximize your chances of getting the school you desire? Learn this and more in the second session of the PACT 2017 series.

Facilitator: Ro Johnson, Education Journalist

Session Three: Wednesday March, 22, 2017: Equity and Excellence in Math Education | How can parents and students in African descendant communities develop a love for and understanding of math? What can parents do to help increase their student’s math capacity? Participants will learn all this and more in session three.

Facilitator: Dr. Terrence Blackman, Mathematics Chairman Medgar Evers College

Session Four: Wednesday April 5, 2017: How to Get Your Child into a Top High School | How can parents prepare their students for the high school of their choice? What steps should parents and students take now that can help take their students to the top? Get your questions answered by the CEO of Admissions Squad, Inc.!

Facilitator: Tai Abrams, CEO Admissions Squad, Inc.

Session Five: Wednesday April 22, 2017: DOE Speaks: What are some of the key terms and policies that are can shape your child’s academic career? What are some of the insights parents need to have in order to better understand the Department of Education? Learn all this and more from celebrated principal Fabayo McIntosh-Gordon.

Facilitator: Principal Fabayo McIntosh-Gordon, Brighter Choice Community School, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Contact the Center for Law and Social Justice at 718-804-8893 for additional information. We look forward to welcoming you in the CLSJ-PACT community!

 

 

OTP March Flyer

#BlackWealthMatters: Black Land Ownership – March 2017

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The Center for Law and Social Justice is excited to continue our financial empowerment series focused on building personal & collective financial legacies in the Black community.

Why? Well, an average Black family needs 228 YEARS to build the wealth of a White family today. These disparities between the two groups persist REGARDLESS of the level of education attained.

When Black employees go to work, they are typically employed by non-Black owned entities. When Black employees spend their money, it is typically spent with businesses owned by non-Black people. This matters more than we know.

This series will explore the state of personal finances; entrepreneurship and business development; collective wealth generation; and land ownership in the Black community. Each month, hear from experts who will help us understand how we arrived to our current financial position AND learn how we can improve our finances on an individual and collective level. See the flyer and details below for additional information.

March: Black Land Ownership

The History and Current Reality of Black Land/Home Ownership

Key Challenges Facing Black Land and Home Owners Today

Resources for Land/Home Shoppers Seeking Opportunities

How Land Cooperatives Can Increase Black Land/Home Ownership

Next month, our final program will focus on Cooperative Economics (Apr. 21, 2017). Check here frequently for updates!

 

OTP March Flyer

#BlackWealthMatters: The Untapped Potential of Black Owned Businesses – February 2017

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The Center for Law and Social Justice is excited to continue our financial empowerment series focused on building personal & collective financial legacies in the Black community.

Why? Well, an average Black family needs 228 YEARS to build the wealth of a White family today. These disparities between the two groups persist REGARDLESS of the level of education attained.

When Black employees go to work, they are typically employed by non-Black owned entities. When Black employees spend their money, it is typically spent with businesses owned by non-Black people. This matters more than we know.

This series will explore the state of personal finances; entrepreneurship and business development; collective wealth generation; and land ownership in the Black community. Each month, hear from experts who will help us understand how we arrived to our current financial position AND learn how we can improve our finances on an individual and collective level. See the flyer and details below for additional information.

February: the Untapped Potential of Black Owned Businesses

On Friday February 10 we will take a look at the Untapped Potential of Black Owned Business and explore the following:

  1. History and current reality of Black-owned businesses
  2. Key challenges facing Black entrepreneurs today
  3. Resources for business owners to grow their companies
  4. The possibilities of a targeted #BuyBlack campaign

Subsequent programs will focus on Black Land Ownership (Mar. 24, 2017); Cooperative Economics (Apr. 21, 2017). Check here frequently for updates!

Photo credit: Rebloggy.com

#BlackWealthMatters: How Race, Debt & Personal Choices Shape Black Economics

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by Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq.

Wealth and Debt in Black Communities:

“If current economic trends continue, the average [B]lack household will need 228 years to accumulate as much wealth as their [W]hite counterparts hold today.” Joshua Holland, The Nation Magazine

When economist, author and former President of Bennett College, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, appeared in CNN’s documentary Black in America: Almighty Debt, she noted that personal and community wealth are based on cross-generational accumulation. Which means your personal and community wealth are supposed to grow when passed down from one generation to the next. According to Professor Steven Rogers:

Inter-generational wealth is “the monster wealth that started three, four, five of more generations ago and has been multiplying ever since; the kind of wealth that could, if the market conditions were right, start a retail chain, or buy swaths of real estate in the hottest market and develop a commercial residential complex or three.”

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Black Financial Legacy Series | #CLSJ30

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The Center for Law and Social Justice is excited to provide a financial empowerment series focused on building personal & collective financial legacies in the Black community.

Why? Well, an average Black family needs 228 YEARS to build the wealth of a White family today. These disparities between the two groups persist REGARDLESS of the level of education attained.

When Black employees go to work, they are typically employed by non-Black owned entities. When Black employees spend their money, it is typically spent with businesses owned by non-Black people. This matters more than we know.

This series will explore the state of personal finances; entrepreneurship and business development; collective wealth generation; and land ownership in the Black community. Each month, hear from experts who will help us understand how we arrived to our current financial position AND learn how we can improve our finances on an individual and collective level. See the flyer and details below for additional information.

bofl-general-flyer

January: Personal Finances Matter

On Friday January 20, 2017 we kick off our series with a deep dive into the state of personal finances. We’ll take a look at the following:

1. What is the current condition of personal finances in the Black community?
2. What are the historical and current conditions that preserve Black economic inequity?
3. What is a financial legacy and how can Black people create one for their families?
4. How can a community in financial distress strengthen its economic health?
5. How can cultural mindsets around Black people and money impact our financial future?
6. What steps can individuals take to strengthen their financial outlook?

Subsequent programs will focus on Black Entrepreneurship & Business Development (Feb. 10, 2017); Black Land Ownership (Mar. 24, 2017); Cooperative Economics (Apr. 21, 2017). Check here frequently for updates!

 

Young women singing freedom songs in a Selma church. 7/8/1964. Photo Credit: teachingforchange.org

“Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around…”

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A Post 11/9 Election Communiqué

by Esmeralda Simmons, Esq.

“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around, I’m gonna keep on talkin’, keep on walkin’, walkin’ up to Freedomland.”

Traditional Freedom Song

“We who believe in Freedom cannot rest…”

Bernice Johnson Reagon, Sweet Honey in the Rock

Young women singing freedom songs in a Selma church. 7/8/1964. Photo Credit: teachingforchange.org

Young women singing freedom songs in a Selma church. 7/8/1964. Photo Credit: teachingforchange.org

In turbulent times like these, I turn to freedom songs to ground myself. I hold onto who and where we are as African descendant people. I look at the present through the perspective of our history. I glance again at our goals for the future—keeping my eyes on the prize.

Admittedly, after the election on 11/9, our immediate prospects look glum. Once again, racial animus is raw in this country. Donald Trump, a man exulted in the United States by Neo-Nazis, the Klu Klux Klan, and ultra-extreme conservatives who dub themselves as the “alt right,” is now the President Elect. The same nation that elected Barack Obama to be its first Black President, has now elected his 180° opposite.

The 11/9 presidential election was a shock to many African Descendant people in the U.S. Metaphorically, and maybe literally, it was a hard slap to our face by the proverbial “Miss Ann.” After the initial shock, we engaged in a lot of “wringing of hands” and “gnashing of teeth.” We questioned, we analyzed, we asked “How could this have happened?

The blatant racism of then candidate Trump’s rhetoric, and the recent rash of hate crimes his rhetoric spawned, signal the dawn of another era of racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, misogynistic, anti-LGBT, and anti-“differently-abled” actions and policies. We are in the early stages of a 21st century White American backlash to the post-Civil Rights period – a period that brought expanded rights to a host of “different” American citizens and residents. This new era will be much like the post Reconstruction era when White terrorism against Black people, and wholesale mob and public lynchings, were societal norms in the U.S.

Kujichagulia Photo Credit: TheSistahCafe.com

Kujichagulia
Photo Credit: TheSistahCafe.com

By now, the sobering reality has set in and the new inquiry naturally emerges, “What now? What is in store for us?” Out of our questioning, an implicit answer has become apparent: “It’s about us! Now more than ever, our focus must be about African descendant people in the U.S., and beyond, having a collective viewpoint. It’s about our concern for, and action on behalf of, what we used to call “the Race.”

In recent years, due to the work of Michelle Alexander and others, our community has a greater understanding of “The New Jim Crow” and the mass incarceration of Black folks in the US. Also, Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary 13th has effectively broadened our understanding of this modern-day assault against African Descendants in this country. We’re clearer now so post 11/9, our communities best be prepared to face Jim Crow 2.0 which will result in an exponentially increased number of attacks against us as a people.

The good news is that African Descendant people in the U.S will persevere. We’ve come this way before. We are the masters of intelligent resistance: on the continent, the slave ships, the Caribbean breaking grounds, the Wall Street auction blocks, the plantations, in every US war, during post-Reconstruction, through Jim Crow, through the Civil Rights Movement, and as Abolitionists. When “we” recognize a new major societal attack, “we” join forces and collectively resist and persevere.

This time, the first wave of the attack is most likely to be an economic one. Resources, funded by our tax–paying dollars (upon which African Descendant people have long relied) may vanish or be severely reduced. Federal jobs and block grants to states which convert to state and local government jobs will likely be cut. Further cuts may be attempted in federal government aid programs such as SNAP (Food Stamps), free school lunches, federal homeless aid, health care subsidies to states (Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare), and social security aid to the differently disabled. Many in our community have grown accustomed to these governmental safety nets. If the Trump administration makes cuts, as they promise, then there is a great likelihood that many in our community will be seriously hurt.

The solution to some of these assaults lay in own hands. As a people, we must hire each other and support the remaining institutions within our control. We still have farms, houses of worship, non-profit service providers, businesses, schools, health care centers, and cultural centers. Innovative solutions like Black-owned “farm to community” food co-ops must greatly expand if we want to afford healthy food. Our advocacy organizations, e.g., nationally, NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Urban League, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights; and locally, e.g., the Center for Law and Social Justice, political clubs and the wealth of charitable and organizations (like sororities, fraternities, ethnic benevolence societies, etc.) must expand their collaborations to reach even more members of our community. Now, more than ever, we must take care of ourselves!

Support Black Business Photo Credit: notonedimeboycott.com

Support Black Business
Photo Credit: notonedimeboycott.com

At this “wake up” moment, we also need to re-assess our habits and ask ourselves, “What does my family and community need?” Is our “shopping” utilitarian or recreational? Most of us are not among “the rich and famous,” so we have no business attempting to emulate their lifestyles. Regularly supporting our local tailors, bakers, and restaurants may lead to our collective survival and prosperity. Putting our talents and skills to use for our people is imperative.

Our history in this country informs us that the prosperous “Black Wall Street” town in Tulsa, Oklahoma was real. There, we produced goods and transacted business. We didn’t merely consume.  As we gear up for the battles ahead, let’s shed those aspects of our lives that are not serving us or our people. Let us appreciate what’s sacred to us: family and loved ones, our culture, our spirituality, and the eternal flame of love in our hearts. We sing this song for a purpose.

Stony the road we trod

Bitter the chastening rod

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet, with a steady beat

Have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed.

We have come, over a way

That with tears has been watered.

We have come, treading our path

 Through the blood of the slaughtered.

Out of the gloomy past

Till now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast…

… Let us march on till victory is won.

– “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, The Black National Anthem by James Weldon Johnson

These post 11.9 days are just another trial in our path. Let us march onward, toward freedom.

 

 

black-voters-d_1

Election Protection Resource Sheet

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Information to Protect Your Vote!

When you head to the polls, make sure you are prepared! The Center for Law and Social Justice is pleased to provide this Election Protection Resource Sheet. On the sheet you will find phone numbers to call if you run into trouble, how to find out where you should vote and who is on your ballot and additional resources for Spanish speakers and members of the Asian American community. On election day, should you need to speak with someone, feel free to call us the Center for Law and Social Justice hotline at 718-804-8891. You can also download  a pdf version of the resource sheet here.

election-protection-resource-sheet

092013-global-gentrification-cities-brooklyn-before-after

“Our” Neighborhood: Gentrification in Brooklyn

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“Our” Neighborhood: A Forum on Gentrification in Brooklyn


Gentrification in in NYC is not new – but it is having an increasingly noticeable impact on central Brooklyn neighborhoods.

How is gentrification shaping the racial and housing dynamics in your Brooklyn community?
Will you be able to afford living in the community where you grew up? Will your children?
If you or someone you love is being harassed by landlords or developers – what steps can you take for protection?
How can “old” and “new” neighbors work on community relations in a way that minimizes the more harmful impacts of gentrification in our neighborhoods?

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Rise Up 4 Ramarley Graham: A Webinar by CLSJ & NAACP LDF

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On February 2nd 2012, Ramarley Graham was shot and killed in his home by NYPD. To date, none of the officers involved have been held accountable. In fact, they all remain on payroll, some receiving pay raises since the shooting. Join the NAACP LDF for a webinar on the campaign and the pursuit for police accountability.

Speakers include:  Mother of Ramarley Graham Constance Malcolm, CLSJ General Counsel Lurie Daniel Favors,  NAACP LDF Community Organizer Carmen Dixon, and Rahel Mekdim Tika

CLSJ Turns 30!

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In the mid-1980’s—in the face of what an escalation of police misconduct against Black and Latino communities, leading up to violence and even killings—a group of attorneys, pastors, and politicians got together to found the Center for Law and Social Justice. The Center, housed at Medgar Evers College, turns 30 this year, and BRIC TV sat with new CLSJ General Counsel, Lurie Daniel Favors to discuss the Center’s past, present and future.