fall 2017 - issue 1
The BCC VOICE
Making it in the Restaurant Scene 3
From Mario to Milo 4
Then They Came for the Nazis 5
A Clean, Quiet Place to Study 6
Balancing School and Work 7
Start a Garden in Your Own Space 8
Oakland Skateboarders DIY 9
Broken Windows Bike Share 10
BART: Violence on the Rise 11
Support Black Business 12
Beauty in Their Hands 13
Are Latinx Students Transferring? 14
Edgar J Rosales
Ramen Rundown 15
Know Your Exit(s) 16
Derek Chartrand Wallace
By Adam Mann
Photo Credit: Adam Mann
On the cover: "Stand Off" by Qadir McCray.
McCray captured the image earlier this summer as police fanned across Center St. in Berkeley, Calif. during a political rally, blocking access to City Hall.
Qadir McCray was born in Harlem, New York. He studied the fine arts at Pratt Institute in the late 1980s. In 1998, he began studying digital art, multimedia and motion picture production at Berkeley City College.
His creative process involves a combination of different digital software as well as traditional techniques. His work is characterized by vivid colors fused with social, political, sexual and religious content.
McCray's work takes a distinct and provocative gaze at human behavior, relations and responsibilities. As a multimedia artist, he is able to blend disparate mediums, traditional techniques, photography, digital graphics and video to create fresh and original artwork.
In the future, McCray would like to work with socially and emotionally challenged art students. He believes that the field of multimedia is filled with exciting tools that can be used to educate and inspire. McCray would eventually like to open a production company.
Learn more about Qadir McCray at:
Fall 2017 Issue 1
Former site of FuseBOX, a West Oakland Korean-fusion restaurant that closed in early 2017.
Laney Bistro, Chef's Table special: Red snapper with cilantro-lime compound butter, bacon, roasted corn salsa, and summer vegetables.
Restaurant Review: Laney Bistro
It seems like a well-kept secret: I've lived near Lake Merritt almost four years and have eaten at most of the restaurants, but I'd never heard of or even noticed Laney Bistro.
Maybe it has something to do with the hours: the restaurant is only open weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. When I arrived, there were six other occupied tables in a dining room with perhaps triple that capacity. It had been a warm week, so I ordered the chef's special, something light — snapper with summer vegetables and lime butter. My server was nervous, obviously new, but professional, checking in several times during the meal.
Ordering fish on special can be a risky business, since, in restaurant lingo, "special" may be code for "we're trying to get rid of this." But here it was perfect. The golden edges of the fillet were a beautiful crisp texture, and the taste of cilantro and lime shimmered in the sauce. The asparagus — a vegetable prone to overcooking — was perfectly tender yet still firm. And the cost? Nine dollars.
As she was bustling around the dining room, I managed to talk to Noelle Blue, the Laney College instructor who managed the bistro. Staffed by Laney students, the bistro is actually a credit class — Garde Manger and Contemporary American Bistro Cooking, where students hone their front- and back-of-the house skills.
I also spoke with Ervin Lopez, a third semester student in the culinary program. His goal after graduating is to work in a restaurant. Hotels pay more, he said, but the work is repetitive.
As we finished talking, Lopez looked around. "Am I your only interview here?" he asked. I said he was. "Oh. We better come correct then," he said, raking his fingers through his hair. He then noticed my plate, set aside for the interview, which was spotless post-meal. I think it was obvious they had.
Keeping a restaurant open, especially in the Bay Area, is a tall order. No fewer than 80 restaurants have closed here since December of 2016, according to Eater San Francisco. And while stiff competition amid a renaissance in the Bay Area food scene, rising commercial rent, and the poaching of qualified chefs by food delivery and other food-focused startups have all been cited as reasons for closure, one of the most formidable problems — keeping staff — comes simply as a consequence of operating in the Bay Area.
Since the 2008 recession, the total cost of living has increased by around 20 percent, according to the Bay Area Consumer Price Index, and in Oakland and Berkeley, rent prices for a one bedroom apartment are up by around 70 percent over the past five years, according to Zillow rental data. As a consequence, restaurants, which operate on tight profit margins and cannot afford to pay high wages, have a difficult time holding onto workers.
"The staff situation is a nightmare," said Hannah Hoffman in an interview with The BCC Voice. Hoffman is the former proprietor of Doughnut Dolly, a popular doughnut spot that suddenly closed its Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco locations earlier this year. "Restaurants are having an incredible time finding staff. Everyone I know who owns a restaurant is understaffed."
Dining establishments must compete not only for customers, but also for workers — if one restaurant doesn't pay enough, quality staff can simply go somewhere that pays more.
One place aspiring chefs and restaurateurs look to prepare for these challenges is culinary school. Among Peralta colleges, the culinary arts program at Laney College offers two certificate programs: Baking and Pastry, and Restaurant Management. Students in these programs learn skills ranging from safety, sanitation and recipe costing, to knife skills, baking and sauces. City College of San Francisco provides a similar program, and offers free tuition for San Francisco residents.
For many, community college programs are a more sensible option than enrolling in one of the Bay Area's dedicated culinary schools. Schools such as The Art Institute of California and San Francisco Cooking School may cost as much or more than traditional four-year colleges, and are likely to encumber students with tens of thousands of dollars of debt in an industry that is notorious for long, stress-filled hours and low starting pay.
CONTINUED: See "Restaurant Scene" on page 15.
For example, attending the California Culinary Academy — which, according to the school's website, is no longer accepting applicants — costs around $15,000 per year in tuition, and requires nearly two years of study to obtain an associate degree. At Laney College, tuition for the culinary arts program is set at $46 per unit. At a time when restaurants are clamoring for good help, there are plenty of jobs to be had.
"If it were possible to have 200 percent employment, we would," Chantal Martin, department co-chair of the culinary arts program at Laney College, said in an email interview with the BCC Voice.
But not all chefs agree that formal education is necessary to make it in the culinary world. Ryan Minor, former sous chef for Picán, an upscale Southern restaurant in Oakland's Uptown that closed in mid-2017, began his career by working in a bakery when he was 14. He would wake up at 4 a.m., fry doughnuts for the shop's morning rush, then head off to junior high. Although he attended culinary school, he is somewhat skeptical of the effectiveness of formal education in preparing students for restaurant work, calling some of the training "unrealistic." Fresh graduates with little work experience who think they will blend in seamlessly on the job are in for a rude awakening.
"They learn recipes and stations," Minor said, "but you sort of have to just do it. You can't just learn from someone."
Chantal Martin, herself a former private chef and business owner, knows that it's more than the degree itself that gives students an advantage.
"It is very easy to find a job," Martin said, "but the hot market will not always be hot. If you want to continue moving up, you need to show formalized education and dedication."
In the long term, students who attain an Associate of Science degree in culinary arts are put on the path for upper management in hospitality — a position which requires a bachelor's degree. Another important draw are the connections culinary students make among peers and faculty, which can be key to securing employment.
Still, it's a common sentiment that in any art, there are no shortcuts. The same goes for the restaurant business.
"You are never prepared to open up your business," Hannah Hoffman said, when asked why Doughnut Dolly closed. "Even if you think you are...the more experience you have, the more problem-solving skills you have, which, honestly, is the biggest part of doing business in the Bay Area."
With all the obstacles facing those who choose to work in the restaurant industry, one might wonder what would drive a person to pursue such a career in the first place.
"They call it culinary arts for a reason," Chef Ryan Minor said. "It's a passion and it drives you...sometimes a chef wants something a certain way. And it's because he or she has an eye for something. Most people don't grasp that."
The BCC VOICE is produced by English 14/15 students at Berkeley City College, with funding from the Associated Students. A special thank you to the ASBCC, the BCC English Department, administrators, faculty, and students who make this school great! Visit us online at bccvoice.net.
Making it in the Restaurant Scene
Culinary Arts Programs Prep Students for a Tough Industry
By Alexander Coates
Photo Credit: Maya Kashima
Then They Came for the Nazis
Before Harvey and Irma washed the blood in the streets from the collective mind of the American public, before Las Vegas stained it anew, domestic headlines were choked with sour turns of phrase: white supremacists, white nationalists, extremists, Nazis. Major urban centers, including our own Berkeley, have become flash-points of retaliatory action and violence with college campuses and public parks the stage for rallies, counter-protests, and an arms race of menacing presence, while the social media landscape plays host to vile rhetoric, inflammatory images, and swift currents of often under-informed and incorrect accusations. And in the rush to lambaste and lacerate hate-fueled ideologies, a distinction between the tenets and the tenants of those philosophies is dangerously under-emphasized.
"Worst case scenario is ethnic cleansing; that's always been the fear," says Berkeley City College Professor Dr. Mark Swiencicki, who teaches a course on comparative social movements. In an interview with The BCC Voice, he spoke about the galvanizing force behind reactions to the recent visibility of alt-right rallies and demonstrations. The fear of a repetition of the worst abuses committed by white supremacists, by white nationalists, by racists, by Americans, is motivation and cause enough for many to try and cut off at the root the conservative political speech that is often a gateway to such abhorrent views.
Recent protests at the University of California, Berkeley and around the country against conservative groups and speakers have been pockmarked with violent clashes often attributed to leftist-extremist, anarchist or anti-fascist groups. Groups costumed simultaneously as mascot and scapegoat for the left. The problem with the use of physical force in these contexts, says Swiencicki, is that "the left, with this very strong need to police any ideas that it finds harmful to people, they've given up the moral high ground."
Such a tactical misstep is not limited to demonstrations in the square. Instances of doxxing and targeted social media campaigns bordering on vigilantism have leveraged national outrage against individuals, to varying effect. Recently, a restaurant worker here in Berkeley was forced to resign after images of his attendance at the Charlottesville, Va. tragedy and subsequently his personal information were broadcast on Twitter, and a University of Arkansas faculty member was deluged with threats and defamatory comments after he was wrongly identified as being present at Charlottesville.
Now, while outing white supremacists on the Internet may seem to inflict little social harm, history and context tend to complicate rather than simplify matters. In communities for whom the criminal legal system offers only small or nonexistent recourse (or in the countless instances when the criminal legal system itself is the bad actor), social media can be a powerful tool to draw attention to injustice. But injustice can be compounded by social media as well. The LGBT community has seen firsthand, and has had played out in front of millions, the callous and vindictive outing of its members and been subject to harassment that has stolen lives and for which categorization as agonizing torment does little to adequately define.
On display in these instances are our society's attempts to keep pace as technology redefines expectations of privacy and the exercise of power in every facet of day-to-day life.
The critique is simple — a mind doesn't change because its face gets rearranged and doctrine doesn't recoil at injury to reputation. Racists are a problem. Racism is the problem. A racist is someone whose mind has been colonized by a system of thought which thrives on dissonance. Rather than reinforce that dissonance through injury or ostracization and by so doing legitimize the narrative of the aggrieved/excluded/forgotten white working class expounded by whites of every stripe, try to afford the vile-minded those compassions which epitomize a humanist approach.
The necessary moral entrepreneurship here begins with a sifting of the ist from the ism. The beaten bodies and stained reputations, the collateral damage left in the wake of eager and ill-considered social activisms won't be scarecrows in the field of acceptable thought, they'll be catalysts and modern martyrs for a racist ideology which seeks to usurp a position of victimhood and find legitimacy in a catalogue of injuries.
A few efforts to address racist attitudes in a constructive manner have stood out recently. The Reverend Ron Buford's Racists Anonymous program in Sunnyvale, Calif., reported on in the past year by the Washington Post, Mother Jones, NBC and others has experienced a surge in interest and the Obama-funded, Trump-defunded, anti-violent-extremism group Life Against Hate has been featured on "Samantha Bee's Full Frontal," "NPR's Here and Now," and Business Insider.
These programs are not perfect. They beg critical questions about the potential medicalization of racism as well as the rhetorical question of why white supremacist groups are afforded therapy and deprogramming when other radical organizations are served interrogation and torture. But let's not collapse or frustrate these spaces because of the groups they have been created for. Rather, let's discover just what good might come from the precedents they set. It is possible to fight racism and save the racists. As unpalatable as that sentiment may seem, it is a necessary step to accomplish anything beyond merely sequestering our unique American shame.
Violence, Online Vigilantism and Tolerating the Bodies Behind Ideas
Illustration Credit: A. Coates
By Maya Kashima
From Mario to Milo
How the Right Wing Has Co-Opted Berkeley's Free Speech Movement
A Milo Yiannopolous supporter engages with onlookers outside the ASUC Student Union following Yiannopolous's Sept. 24 appearance at Sproul Plaza.
Social activism is not confined to marches in the streets.
Generations after its seminal student protests, Berkeley has become the epicenter of a renewed debate over the meaning of freedom of speech. The far-right feels their voices are being silenced by the anti-fascist agitators and "social justice warriors" who protest their downtown rallies. To them, this is liberal hypocrisy, an abandonment of the foundation the city was built on.
In February, violent protest led University of California, Berkeley administrators to cancel a speech by former Breitbart editor and controversial alt-right figure Milo Yiannopolous. The so-called "Battle of Berkeley" turned the small city into a combat zone. Storefronts were smashed in. Fires burned in the streets. The walls of banks and other businesses displayed hastily spray-painted hammer and sickles, anarchist symbols, and far-left rallying cries: "F— CAP[ITALISM]," "KILL TRUMP." The culprits were a group of masked, black-clad anti-fascists better known as "antifa."
As antifa went from underground movement to household name, they were criticized on all sides for what many saw as counterproductive action. The left believed they set back liberal causes. The right believed they stifled free speech. The First Amendment does not protect the incitement of violence, but antifa sees their actions as self-defense. "To people with platforms who decide when a protest should and should not be violent: You speak from a place of immense privilege...asking people to maintain peaceful dialogue with those who legitimately do not think their lives matter is a violent act," wrote UC Berkeley alumna Nisa Dang in an op-ed for the Daily Californian.
The rise of antifa marked a turning point in right-wing rhetoric. Pundits and activists began to co-opt the historically liberal ideals of non-violence and freedom of speech advanced by the Civil Rights Movement and Free Speech Movement, positioning themselves as the peaceful side. They just want to express their views, they say, but are prevented from doing so by the hateful and violent left.
"I want to bring something positive to the streets," said pro-Trump rally organizer Joey Gibson in an interview with The BCC Voice. His rallies, though, have caused a great deal of controversy for inviting alt-right speakers known to espouse violent viewpoints. Gibson has offered the stage to his friend Kyle Chapman, a notorious white supremacist who became known as "Based Stickman" after beating an antifa demonstrator with a wooden sign post at the Yiannopolous protest. Though he claims not to incite violence, Gibson admits that the main purpose of his rallies is to expose the violent nature of antifa. Cities like Berkeley, he says, "claim to be tolerant, so it [is] very important to…go into these areas and show how intolerant they actually are."
Berkeley has indeed become a symbolic rallying place for the alt-right, with events often invoking the language of the Free Speech Movement. The organizers of a "Patriots Day Free Speech Rally" on April 15 vowed to "take back Berkeley" from the liberals who they feel have corrupted the meaning of the original movement. Yiannopolous hoped to do the same when he planned a return to UC Berkeley in September for a "Free Speech Week." His guests were set to speak on Sproul Plaza from the Mario Savio Steps, named after the Cal alumnus who led the student protests of the 1960s.
Brian Wilson, a retired anthropology professor living in Massachusetts, recalled watching the original movement unfold during his days as a graduate student at Cal in a phone interview with The BCC Voice. "Cal campus has always been a hotbed of opposition, what I would call free speech" he said, "it's part of an ongoing movement, I think it's still going on."
He compares the Yiannopolous protests to those against George Wallace in the '60s. Wallace, then-governor of Alabama and prominent segregationist, was a highly controversial figure and his speeches were often met with resistance by progressives. In 1963, Yale rescinded an offer for him to speak for fear the event would cause unrest on campus and in the surrounding community. Wilson believes he should have been allowed to speak, even though he was "the embodiment of opposition to free speech."
At the same time, he worries about the growth of the alt-right. "Those are not free speech people, those are people who want to limit your speech and mine, our right to speak out. They would like to limit us the same way the fascists did, Hitler and Mussolini, they shut down free speech."
Others agree. Events promoting hate speech not only put people in danger, but deny victims their free speech rights, said one anti-fascist in an interview with The BCC Voice. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, cited the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville and the shooting of a protester outside of a Yiannopolous speech in Seattle. "Antifa can be problematic," he acknowledged, "but the fascists keep killing people."
The view from behind the counter at Saul's Deli in Berkeley.
Photo Credit: Abbey Kingsbury
By Abbey Kingsbury
Coffee ice cubes at Gaylord's.
By Andi Rusk
I told myself I would never work in the service industry. Recently, however, I was dining at a local establishment and one of the managers brought me a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie and a job application. I found myself filling it out, handing it in and beginning work there a week later.
Fast forward three months and I've put in my two weeks notice because I found that it started to conflict with school too much. As a student at Berkeley City College, I had witnessed a few classmates who stopped showing up to class because they were busy with work, specifically those who work in the service industry.
Kristin Swift, full time student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and part-time hostess, explained in an interview with The BCC Voice how the nature of a busy restaurant can negatively affect students. "I think the pressure on management makes them overlook the needs of students," she said, "but there is also a real pressure on students to cover last minute shifts at the request of a manager, even when they know we have class. Saying no affects our relationship with our managers and causes tension."
Although, this does not necessarily have to be the case. Emmet Smith, who goes to school part time at the College of Marin and works, also part time, did not express much concern in terms of scheduling and time management. "Work doesn't really interfere with school," Smith explained, "I mean, I plan for it. I knew how much I was going to be working. They haven't thrown any surprises." However, he did say that if he did not have to work, he would take more classes and hasten his transferring process to a four-year college.
When asked why they chose to work, both Smith and Swift explained that it was to pay for tuition and living expenses, and not necessarily because they are interested in that particular field. In fact, Swift even cited her job as a barrier between herself and her preferred field. "I would take out more loans," said Kristin, "but I don't want to be in too much debt when I graduate." She went on to explain that if she were to have time for a more lucrative major, she would think about investing a little more in her future.
"If I had time for biochemistry, which was my initial major, I would do it. But the course load was too heavy to do work as well so I changed my major to wine and viticulture, which is less demanding, but also less of a return on your investment, so to speak."
"I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything at work," said Smith, "but it's a good experience."
However, a college job does not always have to be an unfulfilling way to make rent. Although it is difficult to balance a full class schedule and twenty hours of work, BCC student Ambassador Derek Wallace described his job as a "good stress." "Finding time for homework is the hardest," said Wallace, "I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew — but on the flip side, there's a lot of good." He explained that, even though he sees his future at University of California, Berkeley and works towards that goal, he is also striving to do all that he can for his fellow BCC students, a community that he feels very much a part of. As someone who can act as a medium between students and bureaucracy, he is able to "look out for the people who need to be looked after."
"My work is my school," said Wallace.
Favorite Spots in Oakland and Berkeley
Homework is ironically named. Many students find it incredibly difficult to do homework at home. Thus, God created coffee shops and libraries. However, not all are created equal. When I decided to return to college at the beginning of 2017, I found out it is not always easy to find a decent place to study.
Libraries are an obvious choice for hitting the books (pun intended). Libraries tend to have limited hours and there are factors to consider that may influence how much you enjoy working there. I spent some time at a few of the Oakland and Berkeley branches before narrowing it down to my two favorite and most accessible libraries.
The main branch of the Oakland Public Library is located at 125 14th St., Oakland. It is conveniently located to both the Lake Merritt and 12th Street BART stops and several bus lines. Parking is not ideal but you can find metered spots and possibly even some two-hour street parking if you don't mind walking a couple of blocks. The staff at this location have never been anything but nice to me. The bathroom is surprisingly clean and the free Wi-Fi works well.
I highly recommend using the Oakland History Room, located on the second floor. It is often nearly empty and conducive to concentrating on work.
The Main Branch of the Oakland Public Library is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays, noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
My rating for the Oakland Main Library is 4 out of 5 coffee cups.
The Central Berkeley Library, located at 2090 Kittredge St., is two blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART station. There are five floors and lots of different places to settle in to work and read. There are bathrooms on every floor and the staff is pleasant. However, this location is a bit smelly in general.
I don't have any judgments against the unwashed masses, but I do find that if I am trying to buckle down and concentrate on work, having to inhale people's body odor can be a distraction. My personal favorite spot to study at this location is the fifth floor, near the records. I have noticed that it is generally less crowded and quieter up there. The Non-Fiction and International Languages section is my second choice for working. For daytime studying hours, it is a clear and viable choice.
The Central Berkeley Library is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. I give the CBL 3.5 out of 5 coffee cups.
Studying outside of general daytime hours is a different story. I enjoy having an evening and late night option to get some work done. Unfortunately, in Berkeley and Oakland, late night spots are limited.
Berkeley's Au Coquelet, located at 2000 University Ave., is a classic late night spot. Some might even say it is a Berkeley institution. It has coffee, food, pastries and plenty of seating. It's open until 1:30 a.m. most nights of the week and for this I have always been grateful. Because of its close proximity to BCC it is ideal for a procrastinator like myself. Don't mention it to my professors, but many of my papers have been completed in this café roughly 10-15 minutes before I went to class fueled by inexpensive iced coffee.
The fare is standard diner-style food and is fairly priced. Wi-Fi is advertised as "super fast" and this has been my experience. All around, Au Coquelet provides a comfortable environment for finishing up homework, reading, and grabbing a quick and cheap bite. I give Au Coquelet 4 out of 5 coffee cups.
Oakland's Gaylord's Caffe Espresso, located at 4150 Piedmont Ave., is open until midnight every day of the week. It is small and generally a nice quiet place to drink coffee and work. They do have some general café items on the menu, including bagels and pastries and a few sandwiches. Gaylord's is a clean and friendly option for working. A couple of perks of this café include a large selection of teas and the option of having coffee ice cubes as an added boost to your iced coffee beverages.
As far as late night places for studying go, Gaylord's fills a void. There are other spots that are open until midnight or later, such as Rudy's Can't Fail, but they are noisy and some do not even have Wi-Fi.
An honorable mention goes to Earthly Coffee located at 5506 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland. They are open only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, but I highly recommend this café as a spot for good coffee, minimal crowd, and delicious sandwiches. I have studied for many an exam here, and I would give it an easy 4 out of 5 coffee cups.
The bottom line is that no matter what kind of environment you study best in, if it isn't your house, finding a good place in Berkeley or Oakland should not be hard. These are my personal favorite places to go, and I am always on the lookout for more. With this information I hope readers will settle in somewhere to finish off the last pages of an essay or read assigned chapters in peace.
Photo Credit: Abbey Kingsbury
Balancing School and Work
A Clean, Quiet Place to Study
Photo Credit: Andi Rusk
Emmet Smith during his regular evening shift.
Students Speak Out
Photo Credit: Jakob Longcob
By Jakob Longcob
By Nina Cestaro
Start a Garden in Your Own Space
The Bay Area is a hot spot for skateboarding; it holds a deep and rich skate history and boasts enough skate spots and parks to keep any skater satisfied. Or does it? Although there are at least five government funded parks in Berkeley and Oakland alone, there are still skate parks being built illegally by skaters in abandoned areas. An illegal, skater-made park is referred to as a DIY park. The acronym "DIY" means to "do it yourself," which is an attitude that skateboarders worldwide embrace. Skateboarding by nature is a self-sufficient activity. From its inception, skateboarders have had to get creative. Driveways suddenly turned into slopes to carve, parking curbs became surfaces to grind, and stairs became something to jump down. Over 60 years after the birth of skateboarding, its DIY attitude still remains, especially in the East Bay.
One DIY park in particular stands out because of how public and unembarrassed it is. It is located within Grove Shafter Park on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, directly across from Eli's Mile High Club, and even has its own Google Maps location, titled "MLK Skatepark." Originally designed as a basketball court, its roughed-up concrete now serves as a home to wood-rotted quarter pipes and Quikrete cement ledges. On a windy afternoon, Adrian Nieto skates the park with a friend, egging each other on to land a trick on the quarter pipe. When asked about his thoughts on the skatepark, Nieto said, "It's a great spot because it really is DIY. It's not that pretty for the average person walking by, but for a skater, it's so fun." The humble skatepark has even been the location for a skate/BBQ event held on Go Skateboarding Day this past June, hosted by Berkeley's own 510 Skateshop. Grove Shafter Park was filled with kids from throughout the area skateboarding and having a good time on a summer day. Despite the attention and love the park receives from skaters, it also gets use from those not skating.
In late January of this year, the grass area surrounding the skatepark was filled with makeshift shelters serving as a community for homeless people called The Promise Land. Day by day, new plywood shelters were popping up, all constructed by volunteers. Unlike other encampments, The Promise Land was different because of its sober environment. Speaking with SFGate, Ahmed, a methamphetamine addict, said the 10 days he spent at The Promise Land were the longest he had been sober. Although the community of DIY houses served a completely different purpose than the skatepark, they shared the same ethos. Both were built with labors of love by ordinary people who wanted something in their community.
The Promise Land was torn down after only 12 days and the skatepark was destroyed by Oakland officials as well. The concrete ledges were crushed, the "borrowed" parking blocks were confiscated, and the wooden ramps were torn down. But not for long. Within a week, more skater-built obstacles were popping up mysteriously over night. Every day as you passed the park, a new obstacle occupied the lot, making it appear less and less barren each time. Currently, the park boasts over 15 handmade or repurposed obstacles. Concrete and wood may go, but the passion that compels people to make changes in their community lives on.
Oakland Skateboarders DIY
Photo Credit: Nina Cestaro
MLK Skatepark Embodies an Idea
A wooden quarter pipe built and further personalized by local skaters.
Nine Steps to Save the Earth and Eat More Healthily
Southwest corner of PlantToGrow community garden in Richmond, Calif., maintained by Darnell Stewart.
Have you ever wanted the satisfaction of growing your own vegetables and fruits? Gardening your own vegetables may sound difficult, but it's a lot simpler than you may think. My obsession with growing a vegetable garden began a year ago, when a neighbor started a Richmond garden club. I have attended permaculture workshops and even a class with Toby Hemenway, the main proponent and founder of permaculture. Permaculture's ethical vision is built on three principles: Care for the planet (earth care), care for others (people care) and sharing abundance (fair share), according to "The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture."
To jump start motivation for sowing seeds, The BCC Voice interviewed Darnell Stewart, a gardener who went through Merritt College's horticulture program. Stewart founded PlantToGrow community garden in Richmond Annex. Ready to start the planting? Here is an easy step-by-step guide to growing a vegetable garden.
1. "Test your soil," says Stewart. You can get a kit or send away to one of the many labs in the US, such as UC Davis' soil lab. This way you can detect if any lead has leached into your soil, as you wouldn't want to inadvertently eat it. A standard test costs around $40 and can provide you with information on what other nutrients may be missing from the soil.
2. Observe and pick up your soil to get a feel for what kind of soil you have, whether it be sandy, loamy, clay or some combination of all. If you roll a small ball of soil in your hands and it stretches to be about 2 inches long before breaking, chances are it's clay. The tiny molecules in clay are arranged in horizontal stacks and do not readily allow oxygen to break through.
3. Get amendments (nutritive fixes) for your soil. My soil was mostly clay, so I needed Clodbuster from American Soil and Rock in Richmond, as well as compost and potting soil. Your soil may be more loamy or sandy.
4. Use a pickax or broadfork and mix the amendments down into your soil about a foot deep. In strict permaculture, they say the less tilling the better. However, you at first have to aerate the soil manually. If your space doesn't have dirt, just get pots. Terracotta are fine.
5. Cover your dirt with sheet mulch, stacks of cardboard and compost. Wait two or three months, or grow cover crops, like vetch or radish, that can be harvested and then thrown back into the soil to aerate it. Interestingly, the more precipitation you have during this period, the better to break down the nutrients from the sheet mulch and compost.
6. Research what foods do well in what season and try putting your seeds or seedlings into the soil about 2 to 3 inches down and cover with fresh potting soil. My go-to crops are mint, broccoli, carrots and peas.
7. Water the seedlings morning and night and ensure the temperatures are neither too cold nor too hot. Pick out crabgrass or dandelions. Watch for birds trying to eat your seeds, but don't shoo them away as with insects, since they are pollinators and add to the biodiversity of your food-shed. What to do about aphids?
"Try spraying soapy water on them until they fall off," says Pilar Rebar, owner of Sunnyside Organic Seedlings farm and master horticulturalist.
8. Pick your vegetables and fruits, and eat or share with friends.
"There's something about humans," Darnell Stewart reminds us, "we like to get together and eat, and gardening healthy food is just another incentive."
9. Save the seeds and scraps. Compost the scraps and plant the seeds in your garden next season. The seeds will adapt to your soil and get stronger in time.
"The best class to take at Merritt [College] in the horticulture department is Edible Landscaping," Stewart says, "because both instructors are so giving, and Forlin brings in baked goods every night."
Jessica Bates, owner-founder of Food Forest West, said, "Permaculture is more than just gardening. It's about designing our culture for the health of the planet, changing the economy and wasting nothing...if you want to grow your own food, add various things to your soil like you feed your body. Don't add only one compost scrap or leaf type. The best way is to aerate your soil, but not tilling, which destroys the friendly microbes, worms and helpful bugs. Only poke with stakes. Mulching with leaves or twigs can help.
Pilar Rebar of Sunnyside Organic Seedlings says, "it's never too late to start your own crops. Don't be afraid to have some die in your learning process."
Reber also says, "You will want to condition the soil with compost, horse manure or some other manure to fluff up any extra-hard-packed areas. Plants do not like hard clay soil. They want to be able to move roots easily. They need the oxygen that goes with fluffier soil."
The work you put in helps offset all the costs of transporting and storing your produce by big multinationals, which of course can't sell you the freshest produce possible.
Skaters use Quikrete and found materials to construct obstacles and features for the park.
What Riders Need To Know
Photo Credit: Hannah Litwin
What Riders Need to Know
GoBike's Rocky Path
By Stephanie Miller
East Bay bus stop with windows smashed, surrounded by broken glass, amid rows of vandalized GoBikes.
Broken Windows Bike Share
Motivate's GoBike program (the "Ford Bikes" as they're commonly referred to) is easily recognizable by Berkeley residents. Signs include long rows of vibrantly painted bicycles where there were none before, decreased parking in front of local businesses, increased vandalism and commuters with questions. To some, the bikes are convenient and useful. To others, it seems like a hostile takeover by a foreign, New-York-City-based, for-profit corporation. For Berkeley students and residents living in a steadily gentrifying Bay Area, one of the main issues is figuring out not only why these bikes exist, but how they can be beneficial.
The bad blood between Bay Area natives and big corporations like Ford is largely due to skyrocketing rents caused by increased housing demand. All decade long, mega companies (including Facebook, Uber, Twitter, Airbnb, and most notably, Google) set up shop in Silicon Valley. The aftermath, a steady surge in market values that borders on unbearable for members of the middle class, is dismantling the culture of the Bay Area. The traditional image of a Berkeley resident is not someone pushing a car company's logo around on the way to a tech job.
The program's implementation bypassed standards of neighborhood courtesy. Neither Ford nor Motivate notified any owners of commercial properties or residences before implementing the 25-foot-long GoBike stations, causing disarray for homeowners and business owners alike.
When asked about how Ford or Motivate gave notice to the areas, a life-long resident of East Oakland stated, "No one saw that coming. It wasn't broadcast, it wasn't public at all. It was very hard to know."
According to residents in Berkeley and Oakland, "No Parking" signs just turned into bike rental stations one day. The program was an issue for some Berkeley residents, students, business owners, and visitors.
Residents blame Ford, but Ford is merely a sponsor. Justin Nguyen is a spokesperson for Motivate, the company running the Bay Area's GoBike program and the CitiBike program in Portland, Ore.; Washington, D.C. and New York City. When The BCC Voice asked Nguyen about the intent of Motivate and the bike sharing pilot program, he clarified.
"Ford has a stadium deal," said Nguyen. "We put their logo on the bikes so that this program is not a burden to the taxpayer. I feel that people are just vandalizing them because of the logo, like people tend to do when there is new street furniture."
GoBike-related vandalism includes "lynchings" of bikes in the Mission District and "drownings" in Lake Merritt. They are not subject to the type of attention that regular "street furniture" receives. Rarely does Berkeley or Oakland see a traffic sign or a patio set lynched. The GoBikes have spawned a unique type of vitriol.
Nguyen reasoned that they seek to provide healthy access to affordable transportation, partner with the public and reduce traffic deaths, accidents and congestion. He contends that "the biking culture, infrastructure and weather in the Bay were all factors of why we made the choice to bring the program to the Bay Area."
Nguyen had no comment on why Motivate did not notify residents of the implementation. Rather, he made points about how lack of parking would be negligible compared to the amount of cars taken off the road as GoBike is utilized by residents, thus creating a mass elimination of parking demand. The ends could very well justify the means.
Although the benefits of biking over driving manifest in both the environment and public health, this doesn't change the feelings of life-long residents who no longer have a space for their cars or their guests' cars. It is hardly practical to offer the solution of a $15 per-day bike rental to replace a car, citing that residents should be doing what is responsible for the Bay Area's traffic problem. Although there are low-income programs, and bike rentals can be as low as $149 for a year's membership, this figure is not within everyone's budget. The bikes are somewhat obtainable, yet the fine print cites overuse fees and charges.
"The idea is to make the bikes obtainable, but still have them available for everyone," Nguyen continued, in defense of the overage fees. "It is a bike share program, so the idea is that they have to be there for everyone to have access to."
For $149 a year, many proponents contend that just buying a year membership is a better solution. But people of lower incomes don't always have that much cash to spare at a time. When the only other option for consumers is to "buy in bulk," this may seem reasonable to those marketing the product. This suggestion is solely useful to the middle-class, and useless to those who are not in a position to give up that much of their income at a time. They will pay more in the long run to use GoBike. It is expensive to be poor.
The Berkeley map for GoBikes will be filled out by October, while the number of GoBike stations will double in San Francisco by winter. GoBike stations are also moving into Emeryville, SF beach areas and Richmond. Motivate anticipates a percentage of the bikes being stolen, damaged or ruined and has the staff and equipment prepared to rectify any vandalism promptly in any Bay Area neighborhood.
BART: Violence on the Rise
By Hannah Litwin
On Sept. 16, 2017, Julie Dragland was riding the Dublin/Pleasanton train when she was handed this note:
"There are 2 guns pointed at you now. If you want to live hand back your wallet + phone NOW + do not turn around and be descreet [sic]. Do not turn around until after you left Civic Center + you will live."
Instead, Julie faked a seizure and caused a commotion which led to the woman who'd passed the note running off into Powell St. Station. Her photo is currently posted on bart.gov in the "News" section, so that anyone who recognizes her can help track her down.
2017 has seen an increase in violence and robberies, particularly on BART trains and stations. The most notorious incident occurred on the evening of April 22, when a mob of around forty to sixty intoxicated teenagers ambushed an entire cabin, robbing and injuring innocent passengers. How this incident was handled by BART officials raised controversy, as they initially chose not to do a press release and still haven't released the security footage. The reason for this decision, according to BART Assistant General Manager Kerry Hamill in a memo released July 7th, is because the occurrence was a "petty crime" that would make BART look "crime ridden." Furthermore, it would "unfairly affect and characterize riders of color, leading to sweeping generalizations in media reports."
Now, the transit system is being sued by six of the traumatized passengers who were mugged that day, according to CBS San Francisco. The group had hopped the gates and proceeded to yell and pound on the shut cabin doors. Instead of calling security, the conductor opened the doors and allowed them onto the train.
Those two instances were not the only acts of violence to put BART in the news: On Aug. 3, a man heading towards Bay Fair Station was attacked by another passenger. The other passenger bashed his head in with metal bolt cutters, then punched and kicked him before fleeing the train, according to NBC Bay Area. On Aug. 11, a well known Berkeley chef named Oscar Castaneda was robbed and shot in the head (but not killed) near Ashby BART, according to Berkeleyside. That is just a taste of what kinds of attacks have been committed on our trains this past year.
According to CBS SF Bay Area, three kinds of crime have seen a jump this year: rape (six times as many calls as last year), assault (264 compared to 197 last year) and robbery (138 this year; 102 last year). The new BART police chief Carlos Rojas has attributed this to fewer BART police applicants and minimal funding.
The East Bay Times reported a story about Bay Area commuter Ben Friedland, who has created a website, bartcrimes.com, so that riders can see the daily crime logs that BART no longer posts. According to the SF Gate, almost 77 per cent of the trains sported decoy cameras until a controversy earlier this year. Only recently have the boxes meant to resemble cameras been replaced with actual cameras (an action spurred by a January 2016 incident involving a shooting).
This is the message seen on BART's official website: "We have created additional overtime shifts for officers who will be visibly patrolling stations. We are also cooperating and sharing information with numerous law enforcement agencies and school districts, where we have had previous success in arresting juveniles who commit crimes on BART. We are not releasing the surveillance video footage to the public at this time due to the age of the suspects involved."
Hopefully the 38 vacancies for BART police positions will be filled soon. As their official website has announced, there is even a $10,000 hiring bonus meant to entice potential applicants.
The BCC Voice solicited the opinions of two ticket agents at the Downtown Berkeley station. Their apprehension was palpable as one agent stated, "As a civilian, I would love to, but I could get fired." The other agent avoided eye contact and agreed that he was "in the same boat" as his colleague. He did give permission for the short conversation to be mentioned in this story as long as his name was withheld. "I would prefer 'station agent'," he said.
Regardless of the outcome and of the opinions of BART officials, all riders should protect themselves by staying alert and cautious when on the trains and in the stations.
Berkeley City College Students who use BART should also remain vigilant when walking to and from the stations. Some of these violent confrontations have occurred after the attacker watched the victim walk away from the station.
Stay updated on BART-related crime news at BART.gov/news/articles/2017.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Miller
Downtown Berkeley Police Station.
California Neglects Entire Labor Demographic
Long hours away from their families, dangerous workplaces that cost them their health, a career choice they would come to regret — this is the story many Vietnamese women share in their search for the American dream.
Thuy Thanh Trinh is a nail technician with 26 years of experience working in Bay Area salons. She attended cosmetology school for a viable source of income in a job field that required little spoken English.
Trinh came to the U.S. at 18 with her family: "My life was so hard in Vietnam; not enough money. I needed to provide for my two siblings," Trinh told The BCC Voice.
Trinh initially didn't adjust well to chemical fumes in the salon. In the first 10 years of her career, Trinh went from healthy to "skinny, tired, and sick," and is unsure if this was due to daily exposure to chemicals since linked to health concerns such as irritated skin, asthma and cancer.
"Who knows, maybe I'll die early," wonders Trinh, "my doctor says I'm fine, but maybe I had problems earlier in my life because of the chemicals."
Nail salon workers experience a spectrum of health concerns, and few have received answers.
The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative was created in 2005 by Asian Health Services to address the health needs of the nail salon community. They sponsor legislation for safer and improved working conditions, in addition to providing language accessible materials.
Jamie Liou is the co-founder and director of the Collaborative who oversees the group of 20 organizations across the state. The Collaborative has an established Research Advisory Committee and is focused on policy, outreach and education. They hold bimonthly workshops with the goal of presenting a holistic model of rights to nail salon workers.
"I'm always inspired by our community members," Liou said. "They've been so brave coming forward and enacting change through their experiences...we're here to give them that support."
The Collaborative recently worked on Assembly Bill 2125, sponsored by California Assemblyman David Chiu, to ban the "toxic trio," toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate, from workplace chemicals. Out-of-state chemical and beauty industry lobbyists came to California to testify against technicians' claims of potentially life-threatening effects from exposure.
"They would say, 'Where's the evidence?,' and the answer is that everyone in the nail salon community is aware of this issue," Liou said.
Liou described the Collaborative's journey as an uphill battle, with opposition from chemicals companies, salon owners, and technicians alike.
"[The nail salon owners and technicians] thought we were ruining their industry...it took a long time to build trust," Liou said.
The Collaborative struggles with finding funding and participants who want to advocate for nail salon workers' rights. Liou suggests they need to work towards building trust, worker initiative and attaining a cultural shift from consumers.
"The profit margins are so low and the competition gets difficult," Liou said, "it's a vicious cycle because owners are scared they're going to lose their customers."
There are no mandated breaks where Trinh currently works. When there are no customers to attend to, she eats. When the salon is busy, she doesn't.
Trinh's working conditions have not changed in her three decades sitting at her nail station. She does not see her situation or the nail salon industry changing in her lifetime.
"Vietnamese salons don't really have vacations. If something could change, I wish I could have vacation time or sick leave," Trinh said.
Many women such as Trinh found independence through their careers. Some went on to own their own salons. Most could raise a family in the Bay Area. Trinh can support her family as a nail technician. She and her husband are currently supporting their three children's educations.
"I wish I could be 18 again. I wish I had the chance to go to school. When I was a teenager I worked and worked and worked…but now I'm getting old, and I have lived my life. It's better than my life in Vietnam," said Trinh.
"As immigrant women in a service industry, a lot of people look down on them. We promote their stories and honor their workers and their experiences and their service. It's something they're proud of: their workforce contributions," Liou said.
"I want to take care of my customers. I love seeing the beauty in their hands," Trinh said.
"The new definition of freedom today is self determination," says prominent entrepreneur John Hope Bryant. History has taught us that Black people in the United States have suffered tremendously under the U.S. government. Black people in the United States have effectively been disenfranchised and disadvantaged; thus affecting Black income per capita and standard of living. One way Black people have effectively rebelled against the institution is by starting their own businesses. By using financial independence as a way to sustain their communities, Black businesses thrive and so too do their communities.
There has been much progress in the United States since then, but the story of Black business is still dim. This is due mostly due to institutional racism and the lack of tolerance in our society. Unfortunately, Berkeley, Calif. and surrounding areas are not free of this trend. Black business owners continue to face racism from institutions and from clients as well. But Black business is important and is here to stay. My mother, Wangari Kiambati, is one of many whose story proves this point. Wangari owns a small caregiving business serving developmentally disabled individuals. In an interview with The BCC Voice, she describes her experience:
What inspired you to start your business and why?
"I came to this country in December of 2002, and in 2003 I got a full time job as a school teacher. I was working the job, I was taking care of two girls and I was also going to school. Finally, I got a second job working as a caregiver because I wanted experience in the business that I started. It was hard; it was very hard. You learn how to juggle. You learn how to leave your kids in the house for a minute and you're gone — you are praying 'Wow, I hope nothing happens' but everything was okay and I appreciate that my kids were very disciplined and they helped in that."
What goods/services do you provide?
"I am a small-business owner. It is a supported living services company called Community Anchor Services, based in Sacramento but serving people in the Bay Area as well. What that means is, we take care of people with developmental disabilities. We partner with the regional center. We go to these people's homes and help them live independently in their own homes/apartments and they live in the community. We help them do that successfully. The caregivers help them get around, give them rides, or accompany them to stuff they wanna do in their community. They help them with planning meals — you know, just normal things you and I can do without help. But it's very good help for them."
Did you find difficulty in starting your business and was any of that difficulty attributed to your race?
"Of course every business person, every person who is trying to succeed is going to have difficulty. Even in my teaching, believe it or not some kids were very mean. I never took it personally — Never! Because I knew how I was as a teenager. Another thing is that as a Black woman people do not believe in you. Even your friends — I learned to surround myself with people who did believe in me. And I learned to believe in myself. "
Did you ever face direct racism?
"Lots. Even with clients who said they didn't want to be served by me [because I was Black]. Once I showed up to a client's house — and I had talked to them on the phone multiple times — but once they saw me they said they did not want the service."
Why is supporting Black business important?
"I am passionate about that. We all need role models, we all need people who look like us, we all need to see someone ahead of us because we cannot do it alone. We all need someone to guide us in whatever we are doing. We need to support our communities; we need to support our friends and relatives. So, if a Black person is successful they are going to support those who are close to them before they go to the masses. It is important to support those who are your own."
The African principle of Sankofa tells us that we should reach back to people who are behind us and help them come up to where we are. The following advice is for anyone who is looking to start their own business. "You can do it. Find a mentor who is willing to pour their life into you. You will start learning from them, you will find out how to be successful. Go to seminars and read books. It is important to keep developing yourself. Your business will grow when you grow," says Wangari Kiambati.
We can help Black business by supporting it. Support your local Black business. Checkout https://webuyblack.com for a list of Black business in Berkeley and surrounding areas.
Illustration Credit: Damiyr Saleem Studios
By Doris Kiambati
Photo Credit: Anastasia Le
Thuy Thanh Trinh coats deftly trimmed nails with polish at her station.
The Ghanian symbol of Sankofa.
Beauty in Their Hands
The Experience of a Black Business Owner in the Bay Area
By Anastasia Le
Support Black Business
Barriers for Berkeley City College's Largest Community
Are Latinx Students Transferring?
A junk food favorite the world around, instant noodles are a cheap, quick meal perfect for college students. Familiar classics Top Ramen and Cup Noodles can be found at any Safeway, but local grocery stores like Berkeley Bowl, KP Market (Oakland), Tokyo Fish Market (Albany), and 99 Ranch (Richmond, other locations) offer up a wealth of delicious options to anyone looking to expand their palate. Here are a few suggestions for the budding ramen connoisseur:
The Instant Classic: Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen
Sapporo Ichiban's Original and Chicken flavors are widely available in the U.S., but this Japanese import is one of their most popular products in Asia. The portion is larger, the noodles more delicate, and the soup base umami-er, a delicious take on miso with a hint of soy sauce. This is a great base for adding vegetables and meat to make a well-rounded meal out of your instant ramen.
The Flavor-packed: Mama Shrimp Tom Yum
The only Southeast Asian entry on this list, Mama's Shrimp Tom Yum balances a savory seafood taste with a kick of lime and mild spiciness. The noodles are thin and remain relatively al dente in comparison to other brands. The serving size is slightly smaller than others, but at under 300 calories, it is by far the healthiest option on this list.
Hot & Spicy: Nongshim Shin Ramyun Black
Shin Ramyun is Korea's most famous instant ramen. The flavorful beef and chili-based broth and the chewy, slightly larger noodles have led to a massive cult following; one can find Shin Ramyun shirts, keychains, socks, and other products to show love for the dish. Shin Ramyun Black, as opposed to the standard version in the red packaging, is the premium option. It comes with a sauce packet, in addition to the powder, as well as more dehydrated vegetables and meat. The beef stock and anchovies found in the Black version give it a more complex and satisfying flavor than the original, making it a worthwhile splurge.
Hotter & Spicier: Samyang HOT Chicken Flavor Ramen
The "Fire Noodle Challenge" of viral video fame has introduced the world to Samyang, a lesser known Korean brand that produces some of the spiciest instant ramen on the market. If you're interested in trying the challenge, purchase the version in the red packaging labeled "2x Spicy" and try to down it as fast as you can. Proceed with caution though, even the regular version in the black packaging made this reviewer's lips and tongue go numb! If you think you can handle the heat, this ramen is certainly worth it. The spiciness doesn't detract at all from the savory chicken flavor, which is rare among ultra-hot foods. Also, it's Halal Certified!
Comfort Food: Maruchan Akai Kitsune Udon Bowl
Maruchan's Kitsune Udon is a world away from their ubiquitous and bland "Instant Lunch." The perfectly-salty soy-based soup complements the udon noodles, which are thinner than most fresh udon. The noodles are topped with aburaage, often translated as "sweetened deep-fried tofu." For those familiar, the flavor is similar to the skin on inari sushi. The large piece of fluffy, chewy tofu soaks up the broth, making this bowl a unique departure from packaged noodles.
Know Your Noodles
According to the Fact Book listed on the Peralta Community College District's website, the Hispanic/Latinx community at Berkeley City College has been the highest-enrolled ethnic group of the student population since fall of 2015. One might expect that this fact would correlate with the highest transfer rate; however, California State University's online analytics regarding "Community College Transfer by Concentration, Ethnicity, Gender, and Campus Origin" reveal that the community's transfer demographics have not changed significantly in the past year. Although a significant portion of the student population, the Latinx sector has only recently been able to keep up with other ethnic groups in terms of transfers and graduations.
To put it in perspective, the Hispanic community is trailing their Caucasian counterparts in state schools by eight transfer students and in University of California colleges by twenty-one transfers as of fall 2016, according to both CSU and UC databases. Given that the difference in population size of these two groups is about two thousand students in favor of the Latinx community, the transfer rate should be much higher than any other.
The first time I was exposed to this information was during the fall of 2016 in Peralta Association of Chicanx/Latinx de Aztlan (PACLA) committee meeting. Consisting of Hispanic students, professors, deans, and staff from all four Peralta campuses, the primary goal is to increase this community's transfer rate. With this in mind, The BCC Voice went in-depth on the reasons for this trend and what the schools could do in order to close this gap. After interviewing multiple students and staff as well as examining "The State of Higher Education: The Latino Report," which was given to me by the President of BCC, Dr. Rowena Tomaneng, I found that the most consistent attribute was inadequate support for Latinx students either at home or in school. According to a 2015 report by advocacy group The Campaign for College Opportunity, "levels of parents' education and income are the biggest determinants [of] whether students successfully obtain a college degree."
Many families do not or cannot encourage young adults to pursue higher education due to their lack of economic funds. The Campaign for College Opportunity's report also mentions how Latinx parents are less likely to have a college degree than any other ethnic group, which is a factor as to why parents struggle to support their children's college endeavors.
"The support is there but my family does not have the resources, either financially or academically, to maintain that support," emphasized Jafet Oidor, a second-semester Computer Science student at BCC. This financial burden can give students the perception that college is a luxury, suitable only for families who can actually afford it, rather than as a necessity to build job skills and network.
Another contributing factor is that Latinx students view institutions like Berkeley City College, which does not have a high population of Spanish-speaking staff, as a more challenging school at which to get an education.
"I believe having staff who are Latinos is helpful for us students that English is not our first language," says Ricardo Mora, a Political Science student. "I feel that I would be able to communicate better...which would make me more confident," Mora surmises. Having a more diverse staff that represents the school's actual population would benefit students in overcoming insecurities and give them role models of a similar background to guide them through their academic career.
In spring 2017, Berkeley City College was finally acknowledged as a "Hispanic-Serving Institution," or HSI. Schools holding HSI status are entitled to access certain grants and funding for programs benefiting the institution and its Hispanic population, according to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). One specific objective BCC is pursuing: an increase in the amount of Latinx staff and academic/student services to improve this demographic's transfer rate.
BCC recently applied for an HSI grant with the purpose of paving a pathway for students who are considering a career as educators. The program would allow for the shadowing of professors and mentor guidance for educators-in-training. Such a solution could help the transfer rates for trailing groups and the push for a more diverse staff. Grants and programs that are provided by entities similar to HSI could allow more Latinx students to graduate and improve their chances of job placement, so they can give back to their local communities.
Photo Credit: Edgar J Rosales
Continued from Page 3
Latino Leadership Cultural Club at Club Rush, September 2017.
By Edgar J Rosales
According to a 2014 report titled "Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast," scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Southern California Earthquake Center, and the California Geological Survey estimate that the Hayward Fault Zone (which runs beneath such densely populated areas as Berkeley and Oakland) has a 72 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake or greater in the next 30 years. What should Berkeley City College students, staff and faculty do in the case of such a natural disaster while on campus?
A recent four-alarm fire in the Oakland Hills prompted Merritt College to cancel classes and evacuate as a precaution. Notifications were sent via Peralta Community College District's system of SMS texts, voicemails and emails, so any disaster would result in similar alerts here at BCC. Additionally, runners, bullhorns, building fire alarms and flashing lights for hearing impaired or deaf persons would be utilized.
"Emergency Procedures" are posted on all levels of the building and The BCC Voice encourages you to familiarize yourself with them. You can even snap a photo with your phone so you have the procedures on you at all times. These guidelines also cover many other emergencies, such as fire, hazardous materials release, explosions, active shooters, civil disturbance such as demonstrations, and bomb threats.
Most quakes only last from a few seconds to a few minutes, but can have severe aftershocks occurring minutes, hours, even days later. Until initial tremors have subsided, duck to the floor, cover yourself with a sturdy piece of furniture, stay away from hazards such as broken windows or exposed wires, and avoid running outside. It is then time to evaluate the situation and call 911, if possible, to report any emergency help that may be needed for those injured or missing. Turn off any dangerous equipment such as gas and electrical appliances, but if you smell a gas leak, it is of utmost importance to stop everything and vacate the building. Walk, do not run, and avoid pushing or shoving while keeping noise to a minimum so you can hear emergency instructions.
The elderly, children, and persons with disabilities or other special needs should be given high priority in an evacuation. You can help the visually impaired by explaining the nature of the emergency as alarms and confusion may disorient them, even if they are familiar with the area. Ask if you can guide them or provide someone who can, allowing them to take your bended arm at the elbow so they can follow your lead. Tell them where you are going as you walk, advising of any obstacles in their path, and orient them to where they are upon reaching safety. Ask if any further assistance is needed before leaving.
Hearing impaired persons may need to have their attention gained via the use of flashlights, arm waving, shoulder-tapping, gesturing, or writing out the nature of the emergency. Those with mobility impairments should always be asked first if they have special needs or equipment, and unless the situation is imminently life-threatening, call the Building Monitor, Berkeley Police Department, at 510-981-5900 or Programs & Services for Students with Disabilities at 510-981-2812. Emergency wheelchairs are located on the fourth floor, Room 460.
Once outdoors, staying 300–500 feet away from the building is crucial in case of structural damage or downed utility poles. Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Center Street is designated as an Emergency Assembly Area where BCC faculty and staff can help account for students or visitors, and notify the Building Monitor, Supervisor, or Incident Commander (IC) of absentees. The IC will coordinate an "all clear" sign to Building Monitors once it has been determined safe to do so.
Disaster response supplies are located in all three buildings (2050 Center Street, 2000 Center Street, and 2070 Allston Way). Automated Electronic Defibrillators are found on the first floor in Room 141 (Business Office), on the fourth floor wall between Rooms 454 and 455, and in the fifth floor faculty suite across from Room 541 (in the cabinet above the microwave). Oxygen is also on the fourth floor wall between Rooms 454 and 455. Flashlights are attached to first aid kits, which are at Front Desk Security, the second floor staff kitchen (Room 245), the third floor Teacher's Learning Center (Room 341c), on the fourth floor across from Room 458, and the fifth floor copy room (561) and Science Lab (Room 522). 2070 Allston Way also has first aid kits on the second floor in Room 204.
The Great California ShakeOut is an annual preparedness drill held each October in California, first organized by The Earthquake Country Alliance in 2008 and now joined by millions around the world. In concordance, mandatory evacuation drills were scheduled at Berkeley City College on Monday, Oct. 16 and Friday, Oct. 20 to help spread awareness, inspire confidence, and enhance coolness under pressure. BCC Voice readers can participate in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills by registering on their website, www.shakeout.org.
For more info, contact Shirley Slaughter, campus point for emergency preparedness training at 510-981-2840.
Photo Credit: Rich Cross
By Derek Chartrand Wallace
[Know Your Exit(s)
Keeping Calm and Helping Others During a Campus Crisis
Exits are located near the Security Desk at the main entrance and by both first floor stairwells leading to street-level.