OPINION: Brother’s Keepers & #WhiteMenMarching while LAUSD makes school tougher

Obama may aim to help young men of color through his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles the school district is raising its high school graduation standards — and will need to make a concerted effort to help its most disadvantaged students.

Young Men of Color forum | Sikivu Hutchinson

Men of Color College Forum at Gardena High School | Sikivu Hutchinson

According to GOP Congressman Paul Ryan, an insidious “inner city culture” has prevented “generations” of “inner city” men from seeking jobs. Evoking the ghost of the GOP past, present and future, shiftless lazy black men with no work ethic are to blame for the high rates of unemployment in the U.S.’ ghettoes. Ryan’s comments were no doubt a desperate attempt to stay relevant and on message after not receiving an invitation to be grand dragon (marshal) of the “nationwide” White Man March.

A few weeks before Ryan trotted out his Black Pathology 101 thesis, President Obama announced that the administration would spearhead a “Brother’s Keeper” initiative to address the dire socioeconomic conditions confronting young men of color. A central focus of the initiative is improving college-going rates for African American and Latino young men, who lag behind women of color in college admissions. Another is reducing Black and Latino mass incarceration.

See also on Intersections: Obama announces My Brother’s Keeper for young men of color

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Student receives college scholarship

Gardena High School student Betsy Casas.

Gardena High School student Betsy Casas.

Betsy Casas, a 4.0 GPA student at Gardena High School in Los Angeles, is a finalist in the prestigious QuestBridge scholarship program. QuestBridge provides low income, high achieving students with full four year scholarships to leading colleges and universities of their choice. QuestBridge partner colleges include Ivy Leagues like Yale, Princeton and Stanford. Betsy is a former foster care youth who wants to pursue a degree in environmental science. Her top college choice is Stanford University and she will be the first in her family to go to college. According to QuestBridge, “Over 84% of high achieving low-income students don’t even apply to top colleges and 44% don’t go to college at all.”

For the past two years, Betsy has participated in the Women’s Leadership Project mentoring program, a feminist humanist civic engagement initiative that provides first generation young women of color with community leadership and public speaking opportunities while preparing them for college. In addition to QuestBridge, WLP alumni have received scholarships from the prestigious Posse Foundation and Horatio Alger Foundation. QuestBridge scholarship recipients are notified of their college admission status in December.

OPINION: School violence, the media and Gardena High School

imageOn Tuesday, January 18, there was a shooting at our school, Gardena High. It happened during the beginning of the 3rd period.

The truth is that through the chaos, we, the students, managed to stay calm, unlike the crazy fools the media made us out to be.

A few days later, El Camino Real High School also made the news because of gunfire, however, they were portrayed as calm good students. The media also talked about how the kids at El Camino had to pee in sinks and trash cans.

Many news anchors portrayed the Camino Real students as “those poor kids.” Most news outlets expressed sympathy for the circumstances the El Camino students were forced to endure. We also had to pee in sinks and did not have any food or drinks while we were on lock down, but there was no sympathy for us, only talk of gun control.

Photos in the news about the shooting at Gardena depicted a young black man in handcuffs. The reports emphasized prior incidents of violence at our school. Yet the photos of El Camino depicted smiling white teenagers “overcoming” the shooting.

The message was that El Camino kids were good respectful kids, while Gardena kids were bad.

Even though we have many uplifting events and student programs at our school, the media doesn’t embrace the good, only the bad. For example, we had No Haters week and designed a unity mural; we organized a youth media conference; advocated for undocumented students, and participated in Denim Day. Every year students from our school also get accepted into prestigious universities.

But the media consistently looked for and portrayed students who fit the stereotype of what they thought Gardena was.


Women’s Leadership Project of Gardena High School