Video: Student-Teacher Panel Discussion in Brentwood

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Here is the video from yesterdays student and teacher panel in the City of Brentwood held on Tuesday in City Park. The panel was approximately 2-hours and was streamed online.

Uplift and Amplify is a collective who described itself as a group of individuals in Brentwood, Oakley, and Antioch consisting of students with a  mission to help uplift the voices of marginalized communities in the East Bay by hearing and understanding their experiences with racism, oppression and discrimination with a focus on restorative justice and community engagement they seek equitable solutions.

Imonikhe Braimah kicked off the session by providing data.

Suspension Rate – State of California

  • White Students: 2.9%
  • African American Students: 8.8%

Suspension Rate – Liberty Union High School District

  • White Students: 2.8%
  • African American Students: 10.5%

In 2017, over 13% (1 in every 8) African American students were suspended by LUHSD schools. In 2019, suspensions for white students decreased while suspensions for African American students increased. He continued by explaining the LUHSD continues to practice Willful Defiance” while others have banned it for all school levels.

Braimah shared “healthy kids” survey data through LCAP which showed students within LUSHD showing African American students reported a lower sense of connectiveness with schools: (9th Grade = 46%, 11th grade = 45%) than all students 57% and 52% respectively.

A video was shown providing testimony from students of what is going on in the schools along with hundreds others they have collected.

Ariel Ryan shared that they had testimony shared by teachers, however, some of the comments were pulled as they were scared for job security.

Antioch Unified School District Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White spoke sharing she witnessed the protests at the Liberty Union High School District highlighting an administrator who was demoted.

“I was really surprised that the teachers are ignoring the students emotional racial slurs that they are experiencing in the classroom,” stated Sawyer-White. “I have kids in the Antioch School District and its not much better. Its in the surrounding cities, its all over. It’s happening in Oakley, its happening in Brentwood, its happening in Antioch, Discovery Bay.”

Sawyer-White highlighted the need for a change in the hiring practices and hire teachers, principals, board members who look like the students. She also encouraged more of these types f forums.

A panel discussion then occurred at around the 1-hour mark which included students, 4th grade teachers Allison Popovich and Tyler Rust (a former teacher at Liberty Union High School District)

Dr. Lamont Francies, who last year served as the assistant principal at Liberty High School, spoke calling race one of the most important issues of our time and many people don’t know how it operates and how it works.

“Racism is seldom personal, its institutional and structural. Its power plus privilege,” said Francies. “When you have that kind of system, privilege plus power, you have institutional racism. Many people will say I am not racist because I have a black friend, or I talk to a black person or I coach black people, but I can be married to my wife and I can still be a sexist and we can sleep in the same bed every night. So just being closed to woman doesn’t mean I can’t be sexist and just because I am close to a black person or person of color doesn’t mean you cannot be a racist. The heartbeat of racism is denial.”

Francies went on to explain the “heartbeat of racism is denial” and one must first confess you have a little bit of racism in yourself—everyone needs to do self-reflection.  He also challenged why the black man is devalued and life and deified in death.

“If we can come out here for a black man that is no longer out here, if you can do that for a black man that is dead, what will you do for the black man that is still living,” asked Francies.

Francies further highlighted how every system out there produces what it was designed to produce, which there is an education system out there designed to keep black and brown as a permanent underclass.

He encouraged people to begin to start voting, reading books that challenge who you are and looking at how racism operates and racial hierarchy and what they can do to fix it.

A Zoom meeting will be held on Saturday with more testimony and more conversations.

For those who would like more information: [email protected]

8 COMMENTS

  1. Well, Lamont Francies has a somewhat controversial history as an educator.

    I can agree with his statement that “one must first confess you have a little bit of racism in yourself” with the observation that it is a HUMAN condition not confined to any one racial or ethnic group nor confined just to the U.S. (despite the myopic message that the media tends to generate). It is widespread throughout the world.

    I do not agree with the assertion that “every system out there produces what it was designed to produce.” On the contrary, some systems utterly fail to produce what they were designed to produce and others produce “side effects” that were never intended.

    He then asserts that there is “an education system out there designed to keep black and brown as a permanent underclass. Exactly what is his definition of “designed” in this context?

  2. Don’t blame “racism, oppression and discrimination” for ALL the troubles of African-Americans.

    During this discussion, did you talk about what the home life is like for kids that are struggling academically or behaviorally in school? Did you discuss the percent of African-American families that do NOT have a father in the home and the huge impact this has on kids? Did you talk about lifestyle & disciplinary differences for kids who Do have a dad in the home versus those who Don’t? Did you discuss Differences academically, behaviorally, socially in a home with a Dad vs no Dad? And all the african-American Dads that are in jail? How can that NOT impact a child?

    It’s not ALL about racism. It’s much more complicated than that.

    Maybe African-Americans need support to help reverse what has developed within some African-American communities— Because nobody wants their kids to join gangs and join a violent culture.

    Instead of blaming everybody else for their problems, instead of trying to put us on the defensive by calling us racist, maybe the African Americans community should take responsibility for changes they can make from within.

    And for the record…
    No it’s not OK to sling racial slurs. It’s hurtful. And, No it’s Not OK to discriminate against people because of their color. Also hurtful.

    Also, would you PLEASE stop accusing people of being racist just because they Have a different opinion than yours.

    And PLEASE don’t accuse me of being a racist just because I make comments you don’t want to hear. Possibly those people who are accusing everybody of being racist need to do a little self reflection of their own.

    If all you can say to people who disagree with your opinion is to accuse them of being racist, then you’ve lost the argument

    • You are clearly not a racist! If you don’t believe one race is superior to another, you are not a racist. The real racists are those people who would apply attributes to an individual they don’t know based on the color of their skin. It’s amazing how often it is the person shouting “racist” who is doing just that!

  3. Teresa, you’re racist. These kids pour their heart out to you and you ask if they’re in a two parent home ? You start talking talking about gangs and violence in reference who?? I had kids do you think are facing issues with gangs and violence in the video/panel? Seek help

    • Thank you. Why are the people commenting so insensitive? They are the same people who would start screaming bully if anyone disagreed with their child.

  4. My wish for social justice education is for our students to do a year in school in a non European country. Our students will return and look themselves in the mirror and state: “This is the best country in the world for tolerance and I know how I can preserve what we have”. I have been blessed and yes, privileged to have travelled the entire known World. So glad I was born into such a great country.

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