(I contacted the artist and this is unfortunately one of 5 paintings which was made for a public art commission, and thus cant be used for any other projects currently- Sorry about that. I got a list of submissions we can use though)
Spring 2019 / Issue 1
The BCC Voice found a purple cow, silent, lying on her back, one block north of the BCC campus, just off the southwest corner of Berkeley’s Addison and Shattuck Streets. She was not someone’s hallucination, but a tangible object. She waxed poetic even in her stoic silence. No cowbells had been reported, yet there was a ring to her presence; let the poet’s voice rise mutely:
The Purple Cow
I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to meet one,
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.
The poem “Purple Cow” first reflected the light of day in 1895 in The Big Apple (New York City). She is not alone, but heads a figurative herd of over 120 other poems installed on Addison Street in 2003, to form the Berkeley Poetry Walk. Former U. S. Poet Laureate and long time University of California, Berkeley Professor Robert Haas curated the poems as part of a City of Berkeley Civic Arts Program Project. The poems were later published in “The Addison Street Anthology: Berkeley’s Poetry Walk,” edited by Robert Haas and Jessica Fisher, published in 2004 by Berkeley’s Heydey Books. According to Haas, in his introduction, “. . . the anthology is a collection of poems, translations of poems, and song lyrics that reflect something of the social and literary history of Berkeley.”
Haas also explains the inclusion of poems from William Shakespeare and Ben Johnson, among other canonic poets, through their relation to plays produced by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Berkeley Rep), located on Addison Street. The introduction further notes that song lyrics heard among the poems have some connection with the City of Berkeley. Gelett Burgess, the poet behind “Purple Cow,” was at one time an instructor at UC Berkeley. Lee X., an experienced worker at Half Price Books, explained to The Voice that copies of the “Poetry Walk Anthology” sell out quickly whenever they appear at the used book store.
Each sidewalk poem was fabricated from cast iron and baked enamel, with raised lettering, encased in a concrete frame, and placed along either side of Addison Street between Milvia and Shattuck Streets, one block from the BCC campus and adjacent to Half Price Books. Scores of poems in bas relief, line the sidewalk waiting for their moment in the sun, waiting to speak to the visitor or passing BCC student, waiting patiently as part of the community.
Haas' anthology provides a brief introduction to each poem and its author in addition to the text of the poems. Among the better known poets with Berkeley connections, in addition to Robert Haas himself, are Jack London, Robinson Jeffers, Kenneth Rexroth and Muriel Rukeyser. The list is not complete without also saluting Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Seamus Heaney, June Jordan, Alice Walker and Robert Pinsky.
The Poetry Walk displays translations of poems from a world of cultural traditions: California native Ohlone and Yana tribes, ancient Greek, classical Japanese, immigrant and classical Chinese and works by visiting scholars from Germany, Poland, Russia, Spain, Latin America and elsewhere.
The poetry tiles permanently decorating the sidewalk now function as urban characters, sharing space with attractive trees, theatre billboards, and inviting promotions ofor nearby theatres and musical attractions at Freight & Salvage. The Berkeley Rep vies for attention with the sidewalk poems of the Theatre District.
Adding to the urban setting, a tour of Addison Street on any given day will produce evidence of the prosaic side of city life, with garbage cans awaiting pickup and parked bicycles sharing space with the surface of the poems. The working area of the sidewalk itself includes not only the poems, but other ignored, functional aspects of a city life: street lights, fire hydrants, freight elevator openings, electrical access covers and iron skirts around tree planters, all laying claim to ground level space, often obscuring the display of the Poetry Walk. The poems represent both a verbal and visual respite from urban life.
Many people walk on this block of Addison Street without noticing the Poetry Walk, especially if they are paying attention to their cellphones. The BCC Voice asked three adult men on the Addison sidewalk, each wearing a name tag indicating they were attending a workshop, whether they had noticed the poems on the sidewalk. Joey D’Angelo, 43, affirmed he had noticed the poetry, but had not yet had an opportunity to look at it closely. John Hood, 53, a local Berkeley resident, had never noticed the sidewalk poems before they were brought to his attention by The BCC Voice, and Jacob M., 26, had noticed the poetry tiles, despite being a visitor from Sacramento, but had not taken time to see them all.
The project’s award winning architectural firm, John Northmore Roberts of Berkeley, has posted a portfolio of images online, depicting Milvia Street teeming with people at the installation ceremony, local businesses reflecting the Theatre District’s cultural magnetism and representative views of the installed poems.
If you are a study-blue, exam-weary BCC student, you may wish to set the books and computer aside for a moment and take a break from homework. Take a walk and a glance; take a chance on finding a line in a poem or a color, a rainbow perhaps, on the Poetry Walk,
For quick access to the path of poems, from Berkeley City College, cross Center Street and head east towards the hills for half a block until you discover a hidden walkway on your left called the Arts Passage, which runs under the parking garage and cuts through the block like a tunnel between Center Street and Addison Street. Cross Addison to find your treasure trove of poems lining the street.
More than study blue? Seeing purple? Find your own rainbow.
BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019 3
On the Cover
Cover art for this edition of The BCC Voice is from local artist Emily Fromm. "Golden Boy," is acrylic on panel, from her recent solo show. For more information on Fromm, visit her website at: www.emilyfromm.com
Photo by Thomas A. E. Hesketh
by THOMAS A. E. HESKETH
3 Purple Cow Spotted Near BCC Campus
Metaphor Rhymes on Poetry Walk
Thomas A. E. Hesketh
4 Get Your Tech On
Bootcamps and Online Courses vs.
the Traditional Classroom
6 Calling All Punks
Get to Know Your Local Music Scene
8 Breaking Ranks
The Fracturing of the Womens' March
9 Where's the Power?
Anniversary of “Bloody Thursday” and
Demolition of People’s Park
Stephanie Nicole Garcia
10 A Paradoxical Predicament
The Dangers of Modern Day Identity Politics
11 The Historic OUSD Teachers' Strike
Who's Going to Save Public Education in Oakland?
12 Against All Odds
There's No Better Place to Start
Your Journey to Fame and Fortune
Your Paul Flipse
2 BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019
Purple Cow Spotted Near BCC Campus
Metaphor Rhymes on Poetry Walk
In This Issue
BCC Voice - Spring 2019 - Issue 1
STEPHANIE NICOLE GARCIA
THOMAS A. E. HESKETH
THE BCC VOICE is produced
by the 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,
and students who make
this school great!
As college tuition continues to rise and competition in the job market becomes tougher, some millennials are turning to tech bootcamps and online computer science courses as an attractive supplement, or alternative, to traditional higher education. However, students should understand the costs and benefits of these alternatives before committing themselves to a program.
Bootcamps provide intensive programs that teach various tech-related skills, from User Experience (UX) design to software engineering, with the goal of landing students a job that fits their specialization.
Enrollment in bootcamps across the nation has increased from 2,178 students in 2013 to 20,316 students in 2018 according to Course Report, an organization that tracks market growth and outcomes of the schools. The development of distance learning in tech-related courses and certifications has expanded the online student population by 173 percent just in the past year.
Coding bootcamps are generally non-accredited, meaning students will not earn a degree after completing a course. However, schools are required to be licensed and have their curricula reviewed with a state regulatory agency. Rather than offering a degree, the goal of bootcamps is to land graduates a job.
Makiko Harris, a UX designer based in San Francisco, landed a job in her field after graduating from the UX Design bootcamp offered through General Assembly, a private, for-profit organization that teaches in-demand skills related to the tech field.
“My ex-roommate and her husband both have master’s degrees in UX design,” Harris says, “and at this point in our careers we’re basically in the same place. I guess having a degree makes it easier to get a job initially, but after that, employers don’t really care where you went to school.”
Bootcamps offer an efficient, focused curricula tightly linked to job placement. The average full-time bootcamp in the US is 14.3 weeks long and costs $11,450 according to Course Report. In 2018, 79.3 percent of graduates were employed in a position that used the skills they learned at bootcamp and had an average starting salary of $64,528.
“The program at General Assembly also includes help with job placement,” Harris says, “We learned how to write resumes and update our LinkedIn profiles and we did mock interviews.”
General Assembly also offers an optional Career Services program to help students with job placement. According to its outcomes report, 76 percent of graduates choose to participate in this program, and of those 99 percent land a job in their field within 180 days of graduation.
College Board says that the average college tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year is $9,970 and $25,620 for in-state and out-of-state public universities, respectively, and $34,740 for private non-profit colleges. According to data collected by Complete College America, a four-year degree takes an average of 4.8 years to complete. Starting salaries are similar to those of bootcamp grads with an average of $65,900 as reported by the University of Wisconsin.
However, the data also indicates that coding bootcamps act as more of a career-booster rather than an on-ramp into the workforce for inexperienced young adults; the typical profile of a bootcamper is a 30-something with about six years of previous work experience. Furthermore, 59 percent of students already have a bachelor’s degree.
Both Harris and Eller expressed doubt about using bootcamp as a viable alternative to traditional education.
Eller, who has a B.A. in history from Santa Cruz and worked for four years as a paralegal before enrolling in bootcamp, says that the college experience offers a place for young adults to mature that bootcamps can’t provide.
“Theoretically, an 18-year-old may be able to do the same work that I can, but employers want to see that you have previous work experience. I don’t think most high school graduates have the maturity to be successful at a bootcamp,” he says.
Harris has a B.A. in philosophy from Tufts University and worked as a merchandiser before enrolling in the UX design program at General Assembly.
“I do think colleges would benefit if they implemented the kind of pedagogy used in bootcamps,” said Harris, “It’s very hands-on and intensive. You’re in class five days a week from nine to five or later. I never experienced that kind of focus when I was in college.”
This idea has slowly taken hold. Since 2016, some universities have partnered with bootcamps or developed their own internal bootcamps, allowing students to experience real-life applications and project-based learning while simultaneously earning college credits.
In previous years, bootcamps were reserved for the select few who had the money up front to pay for tuition. However, they are gradually changing to make their programs more accessible to people without these advantages.
According to Course Report, some schools such as App Academy and General Assembly now offer deferred tuition and income sharing agreements. These payment plans allow students to pay a small, or even no upfront fee in return for the promise that they will pay an agreed upon amount after they graduate and find a job. This opens options for more students; 34 percent of bootcampers are women, compared to the 19 percent who are enrolled in undergrad CS programs. For low-income students, completion of a coding bootcamp lifts their salary on average by 128 percent.
For students who want to go beyond the practical applications of coding to gain a robust understanding of the basic principles of computer science, online courses, some of which are offered by top Ivy Leffague schools, provide a verified alternative to in-person college attendance.
EdX, a provider of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) is an open-source platform founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, as stated on their website. It connects the public with free, online courses from the world’s top universities.
Computer science courses attract the greatest number of students to MOOCs, according to Esten Perez, a writer for the Harvard Gazette. CS50, one of the most popular among these courses and the largest on-campus course offered by Harvard, equips students with a fundamental understanding of computer science and programming. Online students can opt to take the course for free or pay $90 for a certificate of completion.
Courses offered through MOOCs make it possible to earn the equivalent of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in computer science without paying the steep costs of university attendance. Computer Science Zone, one of many organizations that provides resources for computer science and IT students, has compiled a list of 20 highly-rated courses that are roughly equivalent to an undergraduate degree in computer science at NYU. Courses on the list are offered through institutions such as Carnegie Melon University, MIT, UC Berkeley, and Princeton University.
In 2013, Georgia Tech, a top public research university and institute of technology located in Atlanta, Georgia, launched a master’s of computer science program delivered entirely through MOOCs. The program costs about $7,000 compared to the residential price of about $45,000, and students can complete their classes entirely from home and on their own time.
Despite the appeal of Georgia Tech’s online master’s degree and MOOCs in general, online education continues to have a dismal completion rate. Harvardx and MITx reported in 2017 that the completion rates for their online classes was about 5.5 percent.
“There’s no accountability,” says Harris when asked why she didn’t complete the UX classes she enrolled in with MOOCs after graduating from her program at General Assembly. “Honestly, when you’re busy, the things that you aren’t accountable for are the first things to go.”
However, initial enrollment is not always a good indicator of the effectiveness of MOOCs. Some students shop around for classes that interest them, and others want to learn only some of the content and don’t feel the need to complete a whole semester’s worth of work. Defining success on the completion of an entire course draws from established ideas about education that don’t necessarily make sense pedagogically.
That being said, there is a lack of support that makes it difficult for some students to get the help and motivation they need to be successful.
“I think there’s a big plus to human interaction,” says Paul Winsberg, a computer science professor at Berkeley City College. Winsberg has been teaching at BCC for about three years and has also taught at Laney College, Diablo Valley College, UC Berkeley, and UC Los Angeles. “I present context for the material from my personal experience, I help students if they get stuck, I also facilitate other students helping each other.”
While working independently may be a benefit to some students who are resourceful and can find answers on their own, the lack of teacher-student interaction is generally a downside.
Coding bootcamp and online computer science courses are by no means an exact replacement of the college experience, nor does successful completion of either guarantee a job in the field. Furthermore, the curriculum in a bootcamp is, at least as of now, not equivalent to the curriculum a student would cover in a computer science degree. When deciding which of these paths to follow, students should assess their ability to learn in different environments and with different degrees of support. They should also consider exactly what kind of career they are pursuing and confirm that their chosen program is aligned with that pursuit.
While there are many improvements yet to be made, it is clear that bootcamps and online courses have provided for many a way to higher grounds where there was none before. This small triumph deserves a little appreciation.
by MAYA HARRIS
Bootcamps and Online Courses
vs. the Traditional Classroom
Get Your Tech On
BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019 5
4 BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019
Photo Illustration by Maya Harris
Photo by Neville Gruhler
6 BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019
Joe Hueken poses in front of the rules at The Gilman, displayed prominently by the front door.
Get to Know Your Local Music Scene
by NEVILLE GRUHLER
BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019 7
Michigan-based punk band Grey Matter performs at The Gilman on March 17
924 Gilman has been a community-run venue for music lovers of all ages to enjoy and be a part of since its establishment in 1986. The organization that operates it considers itself to be a “multi-generational independent collective," according to their website. Many well known bands, such as Green Day, Operation Ivy and The Offspring played some of their first shows there. Despite the combined success of these bands and others, the West Berkeley music venue has been run by volunteers as a non-profit organization since the beginning. Thanks to supportive community efforts and its reputation for hosting talented musicians, The Gilman has been able to continue operating, and volunteers there express optimism for the organization's future.
The corner of Eighth and Gilman in West Berkeley is the home of the Alternative Music Foundation, more commonly known as The Gilman, or by the address, 924 Gilman. When I walked into the front door, the first thing I saw was a sign asserting the rules of the club: No racism, sexism, homophobia, alcohol, drugs, fighting or stagediving. I was greeted by some delightful punk youths who were eager to inform me of the club's membership policy. After stamping my wrist, I entered the venue. The room itself isn't very special, but it is interesting to gaze at the black walls which are covered with colorful stickers and graffitti. Every inch of the room has been painted, scratched on or sharpied by the patrons at one point or another. The only seats inside are a couch in the back and a few chairs and a table for the merchandise booth. Tonight, the volunteers at The Gilman are friendly and happy to be there. Each of the volunteers I interviewed was glad to give me their perspectives on their favorite Berkeley music venue.
Despite the optimism held by volunteers, there are threats and obstacles on the horizon. The shifting economic landscape in West Berkeley has been stressful for some volunteers at the venue. “I think that the neighborhood is definitely changing economically to a point where it's not viable for a grassroots organization like us to remain open every week,” said Otto Christianson, who has volunteered at 924 Gilman for over three years. Because of gentrification in the area, he worries for the future of The Gilman. “It's rapidly changing. There's more money that is going to be flowing into the neighborhood, and that's money that we can't really compete with.”
Like any non-profit, fundraising is a major issue for the Gilman. The organization has had a long term goal of raising money to buy the building, which is becoming more and more difficult as gentrification ensues and housing prices increase. “Buying the building is probably the biggest issue,” according to Lev Jaramillo, another three-year volunteer. “Even an old warehouse like this on the corner, developers could swoop in and put a hundred apartments or something.” The Gilman's fundraising board is always busy behind the scenes keeping the venue afloat. “We write grant proposals, those come in every once in a while. We sell membership; you have to buy a membership to get in and all that money goes to the venue,” says Jaramillo. The memberships are only $2 a year and allow patrons to attend a monthly democratic meeting which addresses issues regarding the club. Everyone who attends a show at the Gilman must become a member.
At present, it does not look like The Gilman will purchase the building any time soon. Although originally a punk establishment, those at The Gilman work hard just to keep the lights on. “I did see somewhere the rough yearly operating costs, and it’s like, they make like $300 more a year than it takes to keep the place open. I mean, it's just the skin of their teeth; it's just a bunch of goofy ragtag punk kids, but there are a lot of clear eyed, disciplined, passionate people who make sure that everything that needs to happen is happening when and where it needs to happen.” says Eric, a long time Gilman volunteer who declined to give his last name for privacy.
Veteran volunteers at 924 Gilman face a changing local culture associated with the economic changes in the area. “I would also say that the music variety has definitely gone down since I have started coming, because pop punk, indie and melodic hardcore are really popular right now, especially amongst the younger crowd,” said Jaramillo, recalling how the variety of music has shifted over recent years. “Our bookers definitely pursue bands, a lot of bands call in trying to get booked, but we’ve got all sorts of music here. All sorts of different punk, metal, we’ve got hip hop shows every once in a while.”
“The gentrification might affect [variety]. There are a lot of hipsters coming here,” says Ayana Sueshi-Hague, who has volunteered at 924 Gilman for over a year.
“We have a lot less of the music I would personally enjoy. I don’t know, I’m a bit jaded. We’re glad to have you here, we would just also want, you know, more grindcore shows,” says Jaramillo.
The Gilman does not discriminate based on musical genre. In fact, the venue does not tend to discriminate at all. This has landed the venue in trouble with its own community in the past, with long-time members boycotting The Gilman for the bands they chose to book. “Well, some bookers and staff were booking bands that weren’t so — I don’t like to say immoral — but had done some rather immoral things, and people were getting frustrated, and then Fang got booked, and that was sort of the fly on the elephants back,” says Jaramillo.
The community outrage following the booking was not unfounded. “[Fang's] singer killed his girlfriend. Yeah, he went to jail for it, he got out, he made some apologies, and they kept playing, and they got booked here. So that kind of drove a lot of people away, a lot of bands, a lot of people quit, but now we’ve got a whole new crew of bookers, we've vetted bands a lot more ... There's a lot more conscious effort into making sure the bands we book are, you know, not assholes. We’ve had almost no problems with bands since I’ve been here, besides the boycott,” says Jaramillo.
The Gilman has proven to be a vital community resource for many who feel at home in the Berkeley punk music scene. On the rainy night I visited, the bands playing were the jazz duo Rice Kings as well as the four-piece rock band Copy Slut.
Each volunteer has their own reasons for being there that night. “To be quite honest, my impetus tonight was that I’m homeless as fuck, and this is a place where I can be warm and get WiFi ... And, if I’m lucky, I’ll hear a band I like,” says Eric, while working the back door. “I’ve always felt welcome. Even if I show up in a baseball cap sideways and baggy pants, or if I show up with just long hair ... I never felt like I don’t belong here.”
For some, volunteering at The Gilman has been a learning opportunity. Many of the volunteers are young adults who can benefit from the experience, and leave The Gilman as stronger leaders and more mature adults. “In the beginning of my involvement here, I started out as this irresponsible punk, just doing my own thing, leaving and coming back, but lately, in the last couple years I’ve taken on a sort of administrative role … Basically I think that The Gilman has helped me become a more mature, responsible person, and I have gotten sort of deeply involved with the organization, so it has kind of shaped my adolescence more or less,” says Christianson.
For others, volunteering is a great way to make friends and be a part of a welcoming community.
“All my friends [volunteer] too, So I just thought, oh, I’ll make more friends volunteering here. And I did,” says Sueshi-Hague.
“I came to a couple shows, and it was cool but I didn’t want to spend all my money. I was fifteen, but I found out I could sweep at the end and get in free, so I started volunteering,” says Jaramillo. That's right, if you want to see cool free shows, all you need to do is come down to The Gilman and make some friends while you're at it.
However if you don't feel like sweeping up after, shows are typically $5-10 at the door plus a $2 annual membership fee. You can go online at www.924gilman.org to see the upcoming shows, or pay them a visit just two blocks below San Pablo on Gilman Street any weekend night around 7 p.m. and be pleasantly surprised. If you want to donate to the Gilman, you can find their fundraising website at www.helpgilman.org.
Calling All Punks
BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019 9
of the Womens' March
8 BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019
In the days following the election of Donald Trump as president, several groups and individuals coalesced into the entity now known as the Women’s March. The 2017 Women’s March drew record crowds of over 5 million people across 408 locations in the United States alone, making it one of the three largest single-day demonstrations in U.S. history. Initially, it comprised women of multiple perspectives, including Vanessa Wruble, a Jewish journalist and activist, Tamika Mallory, a southern gun control activist and Carmen Perez, a criminal justice reformer. The latter two women were initially brought on when Wruble reached out to a contact at The Gathering For Justice network, hoping to increase representation of minorities in the leadership of the fledgling march.
After a successful march however, the mood when the co-chairs met again was anything but jovial. Mallory and Perez felt that minorities were underrepresented in leadership (five white or Jewish women, three women of color), and that Jewish people were a part of the oppressive group, not the repressed group, due to a “secret history in the slave trade.” Mallory and Perez, along with Linda Sarsour, all three of whom currently co-chair the Women’s March Inc., found their beliefs about jewish slave owners in books, most notably “The Secret relationship Between Blacks and Jews” published in 1991, and speeches by Louis Farrakhan. Using his platform as leader of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan has preached against people of Jewish faith for several decades and the organization he leads is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be a hate group. Bob Bland (another co-chair) and Tamika Mallory have both denied this version of events, but multiple sources confirmed to Tablet Magazine that it was at this meeting that Perez and Mallory began berating Wruble for her Jewish ancestry. Wruble left the group shortly after in Jan. 2017. She has since founded MarchOn, a group specifically addressing concerns with the Women’s March Inc. such as anti-semitism and bottom-up organizational structure.
Women’s March Inc. has also recently lost its connection with overseas women’s marches, Women’s March International. The group said that it split off mainly because of poor communication from the U.S. based Women’s March Inc., though the controversy surrounding its co-chairs did make the decision easier. Locally, the Oakland Women’s March has not declared its independence from the national Women’s March. Though The BCC Voice found a statement from 2018 addressing anti-semitism, the group has yet to respond to a request for comment. San Francisco’s march issued a statement through its website on Jan. 14 of this year after holding a meeting with several leaders within the SF Jewish Community Center. “Women’s March San Francisco is an autonomous grassroots organization. We arose alongside Women’s March, Inc. (the organizers of the march in Washington), but are — and always have been — run by our own leadership. We develop our own programming and raise our own funds.” The San Francisco march followed up on these promises, featuring Marci Glazer, CEO of the SF Jewish Community Center, as a speaker at their rally on Jan. 19th.
Brianna Sommer was at this year’s Women’s March in Oakland. When The BCC Voice asked about the controversy surrounding the national leadership she said she was unaware, and wanted to do more research before coming to a conclusion. Sommer identifies as Jewish. I asked her if this new information would affect her attendance at future marches. She said “I feel like we are here as women who just want equality. Period. You can’t please everyone, so the rhetoric of other people isn’t a hindrance to me.”
To hear the full story about the Women’s March controversy, read "Is The Women’s March Melting Down" written by Leah McSweeny and Jacob Seigel, pulished in Tablet Magazine on Dec. 10, 2018.
by STEPHANIE NICOLE GARCIA
Anniversary of “Bloody Thursday” and Demolition of People’s Park
by NOAH BERNHARDT
Where’s the Power?
The "Bloody Thursday" mural by Osha Neumann and Brian Theele on the wall of Amoeba Music
Graphic by Paul Flipse
Fifty years ago, a progressive rally to defend People’s Park from being fenced-off and turned into a sports field turned into an infamous riot known as "Bloody Thursday," when UC Berkeley students clashed violently with police, and then California Governor Ronald Reagan called in the National Guard to subdue the protesters.
The future of People’s Park is relevant again, due to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ's controversial plans to develop the majority of the park into a student housing facility creating 1,000 new beds, and allowing for future “supportive housing” for those suffering from homelessness, as announced in a university press release. However, it's unclear how the university will achieve the goal to support Berkeley's most vulnerable citizens because planning and construction for supportive housing will not begin until an outside developer comes in with the funds and resources to create it.
In a Daily Cal article published last spring, the Associated Students of the University of California Housing Commission disapproved of the construction of student housing on People’s Park. Matthew Lewis, a member the Commission, expresses in another Daily Cal article that students will be reluctant to live at the facility because they “hate and fear homeless folks.” When asked if the Commission had student survey responses to substantiate Lewis' claims, Chair Kevin Klyman stated, "As far as I know, no such survey has been commissioned or released that gauges whether students generally 'hate and fear homeless folks' or whether they would be willing to live in the future student housing on People's Park."
The BCC Voice asked UC Berkeley students to comment on the development plan for People's Park, in terms of how they would be affected and whether they believed another student movement would occur to protect the park from being demolished.
“I think People’s Park stands for a lot of things and represents a lot of values UC Berkeley used to care about, but they might not necessarily walk it like they talk it, you know what I mean?" said UC Berkeley sophomore Manduhai Baatar, 20, who lives across the street from the park. "I think, [the park] provides something for people who don’t have anywhere else to go. ... For the most part they don’t bother anyone. Students and the school are scared of all them, and dehumanize them a lot. Like you can even see when students walk through … their whole bodies clench up. I think a lot of that has to do with privilege, class, race, and just kids just being sheltered and feeling uncomfortable around homeless people, because that’s what parents have taught them.”
“I think [the construction] is going to further gentrify the City of Berkeley," UC Berkeley sophomore Eve Weisburger, 19, told The Voice, "They’re trying to do this very quietly, and it’s gonna work because the vast majority of students walk by with complete disregard for the people who live in the park. It’s dehumanizing. ... Like, they can’t stay there overnight, but at least they can congregate during the day, and sometimes it’s really beautiful to see people congregating from all kinds of races and backgrounds, and while it can be said that some of them are maybe on drugs, maybe 'crackheads,' it’s just a massive generalization to make on an entire community. There are circumstances that placed them there, and by completely removing this support system and the spaces where they all congregate, like you’re just gonna worsen the problem. They’re all just going to slip out on the streets and it's gonna exacerbate everything that already exists.”
Chinwendu Ononuju, a senior at UC Berkeley, is conflicted on the issue of building student housing on People’s Park, despite her own displacement as a result of the housing crisis and the negative effects it has had on her mental health and financial stability. “There’s a huge disparity in the availability of housing for students, and building new residence facilities seems like a great plan," said Ononuju. "Although I support meeting the need for student housing, I question the University’s motives in choosing People’s Park. The university seems more concerned with profit, rather than meeting the needs of its students. I don’t think this is a black and white issue; there are many gray areas that still need to be addressed.”
Juan Jose Chihuahua, a 22-year-old senior at UC Berkeley, feels that students will not take action against the proposed construction on the park because he believes “Many students do not even know about the history of People’s Park and the important role it played in the radicalization of students in the 60’s and 70’s movements in the East Bay.”
The Voice went on site to People’s Park to speak to those who will be most affected by the approaching construction. "If the park wouldn’t have been here, it would have been a really big problem with the structure of my life at that time, because I was in and out of prison,” recalled Jay from East Oakland, an on-and-off resident of the park for 30 years who was unaware of the administration’s plans to turn the park into housing facilities.
Oakland natives DaShaun, 33, and Rick, 54, both refuted the claim that People’s Park is a high crime area, due to 10,012 UCPD-related events documented over the past five years.
Rick feels that the majority of the crime that occurs near the park is not caused by people in the park, but by others from outside of the area. “It’s a college community and [students] are always targeted … There’s always gonna be theft, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the park whatsoever … I don’t think people stay in the park and then go out and do crimes. Mostly, the crime that goes on here is minor selling of pot."
DaShaun and Rick agreed that students will most likely not take action when the proposed construction on People's Park begins.
Jay was more optimistic. “It’s gon’ be some tricky stuff," he said, "but I know, the things I know about Berkeley, it might be a small city, but it has a hell of a punch to it… There’s some very bright peoples’ here. Ya know what I’m sayin’? They can see past that bullshit. … When it comes down to it, I think the people's gon' win. That’s how I feel in my soul, ya know what I’m sayin’? That the peoples’ will should be heard, and should be respected.”
Photo by Jerry Javier
10 BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019
by MANA SHIMAMURA
Intergenerational strikers march for Oakland schools
Who's Going to Save Public Education in Oakland?
Photo by Mana Shimamura
Photo by Brooke Anderson Photography
by RHANA HASHEMI
The Historic OUSD Teachers' Strike
Various media outlets touted the 2018 midterm election as the most diverse political field in our history. With representation from groups that have never had a seat in congress, it would seem the United States is becoming more equitable. However, amid the rhetoric that embraces our cultural differences, by emphasizing the minority status of the contenders’ ethnicity, people unwittingly reduce candidates to their races. To be perceived through that limited scope skews where voters' allegiances should lie.
The dissonance manifests through interviews when candidates, who are people of color, are repeatedly asked about their specific lineage and their connection to it, or in articles that talk about how they will get the (insert their racial group here) vote.
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris deals with this line of questioning and expectation in her political career. In an interview with the Washington Post earlier this year, she said when she first ran for office she had difficulty with the pressures to “define” herself in a way that was digestible for the public, a.k.a. by her race. It’s noticeable through her different engagements she prefers the conversation to not focus on her DNA. When asked, she often gives curt responses, tells interviewers to read her book if they are curious about her racial identity or simply changes the subject. With Harris announcing her bid for the 2020 democratic presidential nominee, questions about her heritage will likely be provoked once again.
In a country where the societal discourse promotes diversity, it seems fitting that people have pride in their racial background and anything deviating from that would warrant suspicion and scorn. In the same Washington Post article that interviewed Harris, members of the Indian-American community spoke about how they were delighted with Harris being more open about her “Indian-ness,” and how she should use her race to connect with potential voters.
But there is something problematic about this mindset. What it inherently suggests is that people of the same race will have the same desires, and therefore she should capitalize on her ethnicity. This currency that is given to culture in politics implicitly encourages people to vote on racial relatability rather than a candidate’s track record and legislative goals, while simultaneously sustaining the fallacy that people from similar groups always have the same experience beyond the political realm.
“Unfortunately, it seems like the climate in this country has shifted, and the value we place on culture has increased exponentially, and to not value it makes you a bad person,” says Diego Padilla, a concerned voter and Peralta student. He has attempted to bring awareness to individuals who might favor Harris due to her skin color and, contrary to the two Indian-American interviewees in The Washington Post article, Padilla disapproves of Harris as the democratic nominee because, during her time as a prosecutor, she marginalized members of the poor minority community.
Critics might argue that not acknowledging someone’s race would be equivalent to denying the impact race plays in our society, however these two items are not mutually exclusive nor are they fully comparable. Interviewers can avoid asking candidates about their specific lineage, while still inquiring about their plans to deal with the racial issues that saturate our society, questions every candidate should expect to be asked regardless of their genetic composition.
Circumventing the topic of a candidate’s race is not to say mentioning race, under any capacity, is in and of itself problematic. It’s about not confining people of color through the narrow lens of their lineage and ascribing them narratives they might not subscribe to or see as an integral part of who they are and ultimately defining them on their terms, not ours. Furthermore, and specifically in politics, it’s about understanding that an individual’s biology will not determine the policies they set.
None of us exist in a vacuum, and the habits we practice in our private lives transpose to what we allow in the political sphere. Common actions such as asking a stranger their ethnicity unsolicited or assuming someone must understand a phenomenon associated with the culture that mirrors their physical features can all perpetuate the authority we give to potentially inconsequential factors. Everyone has the responsibility to reexamine their day-to-day activity and see if they are participating in dialogues that continue this rhetoric.
Asking voters to ignore someone’s race does not imply race does not matter in all aspects, rather the point is to make sure that if they do take it into consideration, it is relevant to the topic at hand.
With the 2020 election campaign kicking off and other candidates joining Harris in their hopes to be the next president, voters across the country have to be able to distinguish between arbitrary and pertinent details that surround us every day in order to make a judicious decision.
Mural on the side of Wild Child Boutique in Oakland
A Paradoxical Predicament
BCC VOICE / SPRING 2019 11
The Dangers of Modern Day Identity Politics
When the Oakland Education Association (OEA) began its seven-day strike Feb. 20, they were met at picket lines by parents, nurses, therapists and educators all across the Bay Area. The historic strike for equitable public education in the Oakland Unified School Districts proved successful, as the days ensued with community-wide support and only three percent of 38,000 students around the Bay Area attending school. The cost of student absences caused a massive blow of about $1 million per day, according to the School Services of California, a Sacramento-based consulting firm.
The OEA, a union of 3,000 educators, declared a strike after a two-year request for ratified contracts that ensued higher wages, smaller caseloads for nurses and therapists, smaller class sizes and the end to school closures. The strike ended Feb. 3, when the OEA voted 64 percent saying yes to the district's offer, which included an 11 percent raise for teachers and a five-month pause on school closures.
Meanwhile, 42 percent voted no due to the absence of gains made for nurses and therapists, behavioral health positions, closing of schools beginning in August and a one-pupil-per-classroom reduction in size.
The minimal gains of the strike have sparked feelings of loss and betrayal amongst teachers, nurses, therapist and restorative justice practitioners who stood behind the classified union on a picket line for days. While teachers saw some gains in their situations, others found their critical, yet under-served and under-resourced positions in schools, fared no better than before.
During a Jan. 29 school board meeting discussing their structural budget deficit, The Oakland Unified School District announced plans to close up to 24 schools largely in high-poverty black and brown communities. The playbook of cutting costs by slashing roles, closing and merging schools is not new for the Bay Area school district, which has been under state scrutiny as they attempt to regain financial stability and improve school quality. The OEA has been in discussions and negotiations with the District since 2017. Both the OUSD and the OEA agree that public education in Oakland has a teacher-retention crisis, with 18.7 percent of teachers leaving on a yearly basis and substitutes taking over classes for months as the district struggles to hire and sustain qualified teachers.
Teachers who have been able to withstand the rising rent costs in the city, despite having the lowest salaries across the Bay Area, are expected to prepare each student for the next grade level, while juggling the behavioral and developmental needs of 30-40 students in a room. According to Anthony-Levine, a teacher in an East Bay Oakland middle school, OUSD teachers are not making enough to meet their financial needs, yet working 40 plus hours. Meanwhile, many students across the district have been struggling to receive social and emotional support, with one therapist serving a school of 400-600 children. The non-partisan fact-finding report also states how the current caseload for nurses in the district is 1:1350 students, for counselors it is set at 1:600 and psychologists with caseloads of 1:1700.
Over the last decade, such inequitable learning and developmental conditions have only worsened for Oakland’s youth in public schools, while the OEA claims the charter school movement has increased in numbers across Oakland and diverted public resources to privately-run institutions.
Ronald McSwain, a veteran teacher of 20 years, is concerned that, for students in Oakland, the window for them to learn and receive what they need to be successful on the next level is limited. He says their "space in the time-space continuum" is thrown off when they don't have the tools to manipulate their experiences and opportunities in life. “Students from affluent communities learn everything they need to be a functional human being, along with skills such as problem-solving, and thus are able to manipulate their position in life. So when they decide whether they want to go to college or drop out and start a tech company, they can do that. When you are not getting the support you need to have those skills, you don't have the opportunity to make decisions that form your own life path," said McSwain.
Joequisha Hill, a Freshman at Skyline High School, is worried that the staff who are planned to be laid off will impact her academic success and social well-being. She cites the 2019-20 Budget Reduction Plan put out by the OUSD Superintendent and the behavioral health services proposed to be cut. Roles on the cutting block include Positive Behavior Intervention System, Restorative Justice, School Security Officers (SSOs) and Social Emotional Learning Positions. She believes that these behavioral health supports and school safety officers are necessary for her and her peers to heal from their trauma while making advancements towards college and career readiness. Hill recalls her poor behavior and mental health at the beginning of the school year and praises the school and its counselors for relentlessly offering support services to make school work for her. She is grateful for the moral and legal obligations public schools have to equitably serve every child in the community.
Despite growing concerns about the defunding of public education and the impact under-served public schools have on youth who lack resources for meaningful alternatives or additional supports, Governor Gavin Newsom made no mention of public education as a priority for the state in his Feb. 12 State of the State address, leading many to assume that if nothing changes, in broken districts like Oakland, the public school option will be reduced. McSwain believes it's unlikely that public schools will be wiped out because those who are going to profit from charter or private schools are not going to be willing to do the work to serve everyone. They will most likely choose a population that serves their business function, and students with the highest need for “differentiation and difficulty functioning” would be allocated to the public. McSwain predicts a deepening divide.
A program manager who wishes to remain anonymous believes that the Oakland Unified School District is on its way to rock bottom without meaningful solutions or external financial support. Until a leadership body can propose solutions for the district to restore the community's and students' trust in its promise to provide decent education, the state of Oakland’s public schools will only get worse, before it becomes better.
There's No Better Place to Start
Your Journey to Fame and Fortune
by PAUL FLIPSE
Against All Odds
What do you want to do with your life?
Or, rather, what are you studying to become? As Berkeley City College students, the path before us is vast and full of opportunity. From where we are now, we could become literally anything, do any job, make any amount of money. And BCC is as good a place as any to start. It’s been done before.
The Peralta Community College District — and the four colleges it operates: Berkeley City College, Laney, Merritt and the College of Alameda — have produced a fair amount of noteworthy alumni.
Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, co-founders of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (later shortened to the Black Panthers), met at an Afro-American Association meeting on the campus of Merritt College during the 1960s. They formed the organization to secure protection and equal rights for African Americans. According to the biography “Africa Within,” Newton is credited with helping to add the first African-American history course to Peralta’s curriculum.
Frank Oz was studying journalism at Laney College when he was hired by “Muppets” creator Jim Henson, according to an interview with People Magazine. He went on to provide the voice for some of the most famous characters in movies and TV, including Yoda from the “Star Wars” saga; Bert, Grover and the Cookie Monster on “Sesame Street;” as Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Animal on “The Muppet Show;” and as an actor in the movies “The Blues Brothers” and “Trading Places.”
Master P, the rapper otherwise known as Percy Robert Miller, whose $350 million net worth makes him the third-richest hip-hop artist of all time, according to Forbes Magazine, started at Merritt College.
Peralta has also produced its share of professional athletes, with six members of the NFL, along with Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Glenn Burke, the first major league baseball player to publicly identify as homosexual.
Even U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums, who served in the House of Representatives before being elected Mayor of Oakland, started here. Though it could be argued that Mr. Dellums was more infamous than famous.
Certainly, these results are uncommon. The odds of becoming a Hollywood movie star are roughly 1 in 1.5 million. But, simply through the law of averages, more of our students will someday become famous. And in the end, we’re all in control of our own destinies.
And if that doesn't give you some perspective, here are the chances of finding yourself in some high-profile positions, along
with a few other random odds of things happening to you in this world, courtesy of the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, Forbes Magazine, “The Book of Odds,” by Amram Shapiro, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. National Safety Council:
Hit by a meteor 1 in 182 trillion
Winning the Powerball jackpot 1 in 292 million
Killed by vending machine 1 in 114 million
Bitten by a shark 1 in 11.5 million
Elected President of the U.S. 1 in 10 million
Killed by a tornado 1 in 5.5 million
Becoming a movie star 1 in 1.5 million
Struck by lightning 1 in 1 million
Dying in a bathtub 1 in 840,000
Crushed by a meteor 1 in 700,000
Dealt a royal flush in poker 1 in 650,000
Becoming a YouTube star 1 in 500,000
Becoming a professional athlete 1 in 24,000
Injured by a toilet 1 in 10,000
Dying in a car accident 1 in 6,700
Writing a best-selling novel 1 in 220
Marrying a millionaire 1 in 215
Having sex before you go to bed tonight 1 in 3
Dying from heart disease 1 in 3
So, regardless of where you want your journey to end, the odds you're already in the best place to start are pretty good.