Laney Defender ceases publication

July 1, 2008

Laney BSU newsletter discontinued

"The Laney Defender had a great run and will be an important example for future organizers of the Laney BSU."
Defender Editor Brother Reggie

The Laney Defender, the voice of the Laney Black Student Union (Laney BSU) during 2007-08 will cease to be published.

"After a year of producing the Laney Defender, we have decided to discontinue its publication effective immediately," said Defender Editor Brother Reggie, who also served as the Laney BSU Chairperson throughout most of the year.

He cited the lack of consistent contributions, poor organization infrastructure and participation and the lack of media training of successors as the reason for the publications demise. With the transition of summer from one year to the next, he hopes the Laney BSU is rechartered on campus.

"The Laney Defender had a great run and will be an important example for future organizers of the Laney BSU," the editor said. He added, "The newsletter is an important tool for any organization; however, without the basic organizational sustainability and guidance, the Defender is neither effective for membership recruitment or retention."

The Defender wishes to thank its dedicated staff for all of their hard work, as well as its readership for their loyal support.

"Defender archives will be online for future students to reflect on the Laney BSU's accomplishments in 2007-08," said Brother Reggie. "Hopefully it will inspire others to reincarnate another voice for Laney's Black student body."

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The Rhythm Within

May 27, 2008

The Laney College Dance Department hosted its annual student showcase May 16, 2008 in the Laney Theater. This year's theme was "The Rhythm Within."




Video by Joe Sullivan for P-Span. Courtesy of Peralta TV

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Spring 2008 Issue

May 25, 2008

Link to PDF of Laney Defender

News
Black Caucus Conference held at El Camino College
The Black Caucus of the California Student Association of Community Colleges (CalSACC) held its 10th Annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference (ABCLC), “Sankofa: Honoring our Past, Celebrating the Present, Building our Future,” February 15–16 at El Camino College.

West African drum stolen from BSU room
A West African “djembe,” hand drum was reported stolen at 4:41 p.m. Wed. Jan. 23 from room 403 in the Laney Student Center.

Features
Laney work-study disparities revealed
There are 300 jobs for students on campus annually, including about 100 Federal Work-Study positions. According to data from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, there are disparities among who gets FWS positions at Laney.

Of the 95 students at Laney who received FWS positions on campus 2006-2007, 73 were Asian. While African-Americans represent almost an equal portion of Laney's population compared to Asians, African-Americans received only 16 FWS allotments.

Paul Robeson remembered
To honor the 110th anniversary of the life of Paul Robeson, the City of Oakland is displaying artifacts and memorabilia of his many accomplishments called, "A Hero For All Time."

Health
BSU organizes HIV/AIDS testing
In the interest of the health and well being of students, the Laney Black Student Union (Laney BSU) organized free and confidential HIV/AIDS screening Nov. 14 on the fourth floor of the Student Center.

Culture
Fourth Annual 'Say it Loud' Fashion Show
The Laney Black Student Union (BSU) hosted the 4th annual 'Say it Loud' 70s/Hip Hop Fashion Show Feb. 2 in Laney College Theater.

Arts
'The Black Hour' Radio Show
The Black Hour is an internet radio show, organized by members of the Laney Black Student Union (BSU), airing online at 9th Floor Radio through Peralta TV.

Soul & Unity Festival
On May 7, the Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) hosted the Soul & Unity Festival on the quad.

Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival
In honor of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), the East Side Arts Alliance (ESAA) held the eighth Annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival Saturday May 17 at San Antonio Park in East Oakland.

The Rhythm Within
On May 22, the Laney Dance Department hosted its annual showcase, "The Rhythm Within."

Opinion
Black History is more than 28 days
There is a running joke within the Black community about Black history month that; again, we received the short end of the stick since February usually has only 28 days.




View Online Magazine style issue of the Laney Defender.

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Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival

May 22, 2008

In honor of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), the East Side Arts Alliance (ESAA) held the eighth Annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival Saturday May 17 at San Antonio Park in East Oakland. Fusing music, arts and crafts, and dance there was something for all.



Oakland Nation of Islam Minister Keith Muhammad, journalist Davey D, and POCC Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr.


BCC BSU Advisor Karen Senefru and BSU President Sunnye B.

There were three stages for performers. On the main stage, Howard Wiley & the Freedom Now! Band, The John Santos Quintet, The Ambrose Akinmusire Project with Goapele, Muziki Roberson Quintet with Dwight Trible and Soul Nubian performed. Nearby on the second stage on top of a large flatbed truck, the organic sounds of Hairdoo could be heard.

Laney BSU Treasurer Ariana Mitchell

Blu Pride of Club Knowledge

For the youth and young at heart, "The Courts" transformed the park's tennis courts into a family fairground. The upper court showcased live graffitti murals from artists from the Bay to LA. The second level showcased local HipHop artists Nu Dekades, Lady Blue and Queen Deelah, Ray Ridah from DIRTY MACKIN', and the Trunk Boiz. DJ Treat U Nice, DJ Wazir, DJ Fuze kept the music pumping on the wheels of steel. Infamous Oakland turf dancers like the "Fresh Kids" were "doing it moving" on the floor.

The food court on the lower level featured soul food and a plantains, jerk chicken, and a "Taste of Africa."


Saleem Shakir of Leadership Excellence, Black Caucus of CalSACC Treasurer Charles Perkins, and Defender Editor Brother Reggie

Nu Dekades: K.E.V., Ryan Nicole, and Midhnight Sunshine.



ESAA is a collective of artists and activist of color who live in the San Antonio neighborhood. The festival is one of the last free festivals in Oakiand where people, young and old, can have a good time.


African American Studies Professor Nehanda Imara




BSU Historian Lamar Caldwell and Minister of Culture President L. Davis.


8th Annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival May 17 at San Antonio Park in East
Oakland. For more info, visit East Side Arts Alliance



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Shirley Chisholm

May 20, 2008

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Soul & Unity Festival held at Laney

May 14, 2008

On May 7, the Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) hosted the Soul & Unity Festival on the quad. The event featured an amazing performance by students in the Laney College Dance Department.

Laney BSU member Sade Adona demonstrates Congolese dancing during a performance by the Laney Dance Department at the “Soul & Unity Festival” May 7 on the quad.



The Congolese dance was a preview of the upcoming third annual Congolese Dance Festival in June.

Laney College Dance Dept. Chair Linda Johnson gets Laney students into the groove.

A graceful Laney College dancer takes a bow.
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Laney work-study disparities revealed

May 8, 2008

Asians four times more likely to receive jobs on campus than African-Americans

Graphic showing disparities in Work Study allocations at Laney College 2007-08
Most community college students work. They have to. Work-study provides an opportunity for students to work on campus while attending classes.

There are 300 jobs on campus annually, including about 100 Federal Work-Study positions. According to data from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, there are disparities among who gets FWS positions at Laney.


Of the 95 students at Laney who received FWS positions on campus 2006-2007, 73 were Asian. While African-Americans represent almost an equal portion of Laney's population compared to Asians, African-Americans received only 16 FWS allotments. Latinos, whites, and Pacific Islanders faired no better.

Depending on who you ask, some blame the college, while others put the responsibility on the students themselves.

Getting work-study

"There are two ways students can work on campus. Through federal work-study," money provided by the federal government, or "through department funds. Overall, 250-300 students are employed throughout the year on campus."
Robert Fleming
Student Employment Specialist
"There are two ways students can work on campus," said Student Employment Specialist Robert Fleming. "Through federal work-study," money provided by the federal government, or "through department funds." There are allotments for students to work in the departments. "Overall, 250-300 students are employed throughout the year on campus."

"The FWS program provides funds that are earned through part-time employment to assist students in financing the costs of post-secondary education," according the U.S. Department of Education's website. Over 3,400 institutions participate.

In order to get a work-study position, a student must be 18 years of age. Students who cannot provide correct information cannot be hired, according to "How to Hire Hourly Student Workers: A Supervisor's Guide" for Laney College.

When school is in session, students may work a maximum of 20 hours per week. Hourly wages cannot be less than the federal minimum wage. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed in order for students to receive FWS.

The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, whose goal was "to mobilize the human and financial resources of the Nation to combat poverty in the United States" establish a new program for work-study. After the Higher Education Act of 1965 the program was transferred to the Department of Education.

The trend of Asian students getting a majority of FWS positions is not new at Laney. According to data from the state chancellor's office, the trend goes back as far as 1994. Allotments between 1992-1994 were evenly dispersed between Asian and African-American students, and other groups proportionately with the college's demographics.

"When students fill out the FAFSA, there is a question that asks if they are interested in working," explains Laney Financial Aid Coordinator Judith Cohen. "Students also have to meet a few criteria to be eligible. They have to meet the financial-need criteria, have their paperwork correctly completed and they must be enrolled."

"Financial need" is determined by congressional formula that evaluates the financial information reported on the FAFSA and determines the expected family contribution (EFC), according to the Department of Education.

Fleming said, "Students are given an amount they are expected to contribute, after their fee waiver is deducted and whatever other awards they receive. If they still have a remaining need, they are eligible for work study."

"We package them up on a first-come first-serve basis," said Cohen.

Winning the lottery

When Fleming started in 2000, work-study positions were distributed differently, and for his first two years, he "followed the old way," where students had one day in May in which they could pick up the applications.

"People would be waiting at 6 a.m. for an application," said Fleming. "It wasn't the best process. People who couldn't make it lost the opportunity."

Laney "used to have one day and they'd line up early in the morning," recalls Cohen. "It would be all Asian students. It wasn't fair.

Fleming now uses a lottery system to distribute work-study positions to students.

For most of the month of April, Fleming advertised the positions by putting up notices that students could get summer work-study applications, which had to be turned in by May 2. While he typically receives about 130 each year, this year he received 166 before the deadline.

"Sixty-six percent of the students who applied were Asian," said Fleming. "This is down in comparison to the past."

Fleming uses a random lottery to select 50 students from those who turned in the applications on time. He then checks to make sure those who have applied are enrolled for the fall semester. If not, they are bumped from the list and others are randomly chosen.

Fleming suggests this practice is fair.

"It's random selection," said Fleming. "But if you have a large population of one group of people over others, the odds are in their favor."

Occasionally students find work off campus or decide they have too many units to work, and the positions are filled randomly. This process of elimination is continued in this lottery format until all work-study slots are allotted.

Who gets work-study at Laney

"I don't know why they don't apply," said Fleming in response to why other ethnicities are not applying for work-study positions. He has made a few observations, however. When students are in the hallway waiting to get to the financial aid counter, "more Asians look at the information on the walls."

Getting financial aid is not an easy process said Laney President Dr. Frank Chong, who admits he had to "fill out FAFSA two or three times" in college.

"Obviously one can conclude that those students have figured out the system. They've learned to navigate the FAFSA and get through a myriad of requirements to get work-study."
Frank Chong
Laney College President
"Obviously one can conclude that those students have figured out the system," said Chong. "They've learned to navigate the FAFSA and get through a myriad of requirements to get work-study." Chong admits that it is not an easy process however.

"I would suspect that African-American students, particularly those who are first generation college students, are not aware and there is no one helping them figure out the system," added Chong.

"I would attribute internal and external variables that would contribute to that type of inequity," said Laney Researching and Planning Officer Dr. Connie Portero, who emphasizes the need for "communication." She sees disparity is due to a lack of communication to students, and a weak communication network among the underrepresented student populations, and the lack of a centralized manner of disseminating information to students as the cause.

"Internally, there is no system to monitor equity," said Portero. While the college publishes a Student Equity Report, Portero said "It is not internal," it's for the state. "We should develop it as apart of institutional effectiveness," or the monitoring of how well Laney is serving students.

Interim Vice-President of Student Services Jim Bracy agrees.

"This has not been monitored for some reason or another," said Bracy. "Now we have a situation where Asian students have substantially more work-study opportunities than other ethnic groups on Laney's campus."

Networking, not working

"It may be a situation where Asian students network more effectively," said Bracy, while other students do not."

"Asian students have a fantastic network," asserts Cohen.

"When you find this level of imbalance a college has to take immediate steps to rectify this concern," said Bracy. "It is a concerned when you see's those numbers," said Bracy, who accepts "ultimate responsibility" since he is over all student services programs.

"It's the student's responsibility," said Laney student Greg Wright, an African-American who has a work-study position in the athletics department. "But most of us don't have anyone to follow. There's no leader, no word of mouth."

Lamille Perry, a student ambassador and former ASLC Senator sees it as a lack of awareness. Perry, an African-American, thinks that most African-American students "don't know about it, or when they find out, it's too late," to sign-up he said. Perry found out about workstudy from a friend. He "filled out the paperwork and on parts I needed help with, Mr. Fleming helped me."

"Lamille told me about the student ambassador position," said Crystal Barnett, who thinks African American students don't apply for work study due to a lack of awareness. "I don't think they know about work study," said Barnett. "Sometimes they don't read the financial aid application."

But Portero doesn't think students are the ones to blame, but rather the perceptions and attitudes towards some groups of students.

"There is a negative perception towards African-American students that is not based on reality," said Portero. "We can't assume it is true until we create a different paradigm and test it. "It is often the same people creating injustice who are creating the myth to justify it," said Portero.

"It comes down to who is pursuing it and following instructions," said Cohen.

While there is a disparity, it may not be intentional. Chong doesn't think that financial aid is doing "anything wrong."

"You're doing a good job with Asian students," said Chong. "But what about the others?" he asked.

Fleming insists the system is fair, but encourages more students to apply earlier.

"My goal was to make it as fair and honest a way as possible," said Fleming. "And that's why I went with the lottery."

Why work-study?

"The purpose of work-study is to provide work learn opportunities to students as a way to supplement and meet" students financial needs, said Bracy.

Work-study helps students because it "works around students schedules," said Fleming. "For example, if they have classes in the morning, we can get them work in the afternoon."

According to Chong, work-study is an opportunity for students to learn while they earn money, while adding value to the campus through their service. While at UC Berkeley he had a work-study position and understands its' value, he said.

"Studies show that having students work on campus increases retention," said Chong. "Students learn about services they otherwise wouldn't have known about."

Portero said the disparity might also be contributing to the lack of retention amongst non-Asian students of color at Laney, particularly among African-American and Latino males.

"Work study is a financial tool here to assist our students in realizing their goals," said Portero. "Education is so expensive, even Community College is out of the reach of our students."

"For some students, by having work study on campus, it's their only way of saying to us, 'Look, we need financial assistance to make it through,'" said Portero. "If a student's on financial aid, we get first hand experience with getting to know them and their issues.

"If we can place them with their major, they get more experience within their educational goal," said Fleming.

Other employment opportunities for students

Besides work-study, there are other employment opportunities on campus. Students can get hired working for departments. Fleming wants to get departments to send him information about job opportunities within those departments. Each year, departments get an allotment of funds for assistants. These are not funded through FWS but by the college.

There are 384 students employed on campus. Forty-nine percent are non-Asian, according to Fleming.

"If you look overall, it levels out," suggests Cohen in regards to other employment opportunities on campus.

Students can also go to the Student Employment Center on the third floor of the Student Center for information about job opportunitites.

Fleming is considering new ways to get the word out to students.

"I put notices in the Welcome Center, EOPS, the Tower lobby," said Fleming. "I want to get more peole to apply." Although positions are "limited, we want to get the most people to apply as possible."

"I thought about advertising in the Tower," added Fleming.

Improving work-study

There is a plan in the works to revamp the Laney work-study program. The "notion of an Eagle Corps," according to Chong.

"We want to strengthen the work-study program," said Chong. "For work study may be students first opportunity to have a job, get training and opportunities."

"It's all about people power and taking 100 students and organizing them in a way that they will add value to the college and student success," added Chong.

Portero hopes that work-study opportunities will extend into the community, with the result being more training opportunities for students. "We should also have work-study opportunities in community based organizations," said Portero.

When Chong came to Laney in 2006, he commissioned an audit of the financial aid office that was conducted by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) in November 2006.

Among the strengths identified by the peer review team was Fleming.

"The FWS specialist should be commended for his organizational skills and coordination of the FWS Program. He effectively monitors each student's FWS wages and works well with students," according to the Standards of Excellence Report.

The NASFAA report also criticized the program for only allowing students who receive the Pell Grant to get FWS positions.

Achieving equity with diversity

"I want to consult with our African-American faculty, student, and classified leadership to get their input to make the situation better," said Chong. "I wouldn't want to assume I know the answers when I didn't even know the problem."

"Clearly Laney needs to do a better job in reaching out to African-American students," said Chong. "If it requires special workshops, targeted workshops to all students."

Due to Proposition 209 that was passed by voters in 1996 prohibiting public institutions from considering race, gender, or ethnicity, Laney is unable to save spots for specific groups of people; however, education is an option.

"Legally, you can't save spots for certain ethnic groups, you have to set criteria," said Chong. "You can't do quotas but you can do education.

"Maybe we can hire African American workstudy students to train them to help other students at least get started," suggests Chong.

Bracy suggests that the information can be shared during outreach to local high schools or during the new student orientation opposed to quotas.

"Bottom line is, it is not about quotas," said Bracy. "It has to do with how information is disseminated. It's about educating our student's about the opportunities."

"Laney should have a program based on African Americans, but for everyone. Like a Puente," said Wright."

"We used to call it affirmative action," said Bracy. "But there are affirmative 'steps' you can take to make sure more students are included."

Perry said "Everyone should get the opportunity."

For students interested in work-study positions, contact Robert Fleming at rfleming@peralta.edu or visit him on the second floor of the Tower Administration Building.
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Paul Robeson remembered

April 22, 2008



By Marlene C. Hurd
Defender News Editor

When one thinks of African American men associated with the Civil Right Movement many remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Huey P Newton, Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael.

Surprising enough many students do not remember Paul Robeson.

Born on April 9, 1898 in Princeton New Jersey, he was a man ahead of his time.

During the 1920's Robeson was known as the Renaissance man and a world famous icon.

Robeson was a great athlete, singer, actor, author, political activist, and scholar. He spoke and sang in 25 languages. Robeson won a four year scholarship to Rutgers University in 1915. In spite of the racism Robeson encountered while playing sports, he won 15 varsity letters in baseball, basketball and track.

Robeson lived in a time when segregation was legal in America. He still survived while African Americans were being lynched by angry white mobs in the South. Robeson fought for the civil rights of all people around the world. In 1950, the U.S. government revoked Robeson's passport--due to his international activism. It took him eight years before it was restored.

To honor his 110th anniversary, the City of Oakland is displaying artifacts and memorabilia of his many accomplishments called, "A Hero For All Time." The exhibit is located at Oakland's City Hall housed in the Rotunda. You can view the exhibit from April 9 through April 30.

The Robeson exhibit was put together by the Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee. The accomplishments of Robeson come to life though his photographs, books written, letters, speeches, album covers, facsimiles and his many theater plays.

On February 18, 2004 Merritt College co-sponsored the unveiling of the Paul Roberson Commemorative Stamp with the Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee and the United States Postal Service.

Robeson was known for his On stage performance in London, playing the lead role in Othello. He also performed in Eugene O'Neil's Emperor Jones, All God's Chillun Got Wings and the musical Show Boat.

Robeson also played a major role in the labor movement. During the 1920's, Robeson became an activist in the African-American freedom movement and the world labor movement. Robeson would use his concerts to raise money for social causes.

Karin Hart, Laney College Labor Studies Department Chair and instructor stated, "Thinking about Paul Robeson reminds me that it is both song and hard work that helps any meaningful movement to endure. He used his rich baritone voice to benefit the social movements of his time. Robeson fought racism in America, sang for peace and justice in 25 languages throughout the world, and used his talents to benefit other causes, like when he donated the proceeds of one of his musical hits to help Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler's Germany."

According to Douglas Banks, Laney College Library Tech, "Robeson advocated using art to forward political agendas". Robeson sacrificed his career and life.

He often quoted, "The artist must take sides. He must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative."

This is one of the reasons Robeson was so loved. They saw him as a forerunner in the struggle for human rights.

One of the artifacts shows Robeson transitioning from entertainer, artist, scholar and activist. As you turn the corner of the display next to his Labor achievements and Political accomplishments located in the middle is the display titled, "We Charge Genocide."

This important piece of Robeson's work could almost be missed if not carefully looked at. Robeson and William L Patterson with the Civil Rights of Congress presented this petition to the United Nations in 1951. The document charged, "The U.S. federal government, by its failure to act against lynching in the United States, was guilty of genocide under Article II of the UN Genocide Convention."

On the opposite side of this display lays the 1949 concerts in Peekskill New York. Angry white mobs attacked attendees who attended the concert. State police turned their heads and did nothing about it.

Pat Wynne with the Laney College Labor Heritage "Rockin Solidarity Chorus" instructor remembers this day well. In 1949, she was eight years old living in Golden Bridge Colony, 40 miles north of New York City. Wynne saw the windows broken out of the buses and cars. People were bleeding. After seeing the people returning home bruised, she did not know what had happen.

Later Wynne learned that people from her colony had traveled to Peekskill to hear Paul Robeson sing. When they arrived at the concert they were attacked. Because of the colony Wynne lived in, she was exposed to Robeson's music and thought he was an icon.

Robeson died on January 23, 1976 at the age of 77 in Philadelphia. The Paul Robeson exhibit will be on display through April 30 in the Oakland City Hall Rotunda.

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'The Black Hour'

BSU members form radio show to air issues



The word ‘Black’ is often used figuratively to describe negative occurences–“Black Tuesday” or the “Black Plaque” but a few Laney students are redefining “Blackness.”

The Black Hour is an internet radio show, organized by members of the Laney Black Student Union (BSU), airing online at 9th Floor Radio through Peralta TV.

The Black Hour sheds light on the voices of Laney’s Black students, taking them from the abyss of silence to the glow of empowerment.



Weaving lively student-driven discussions with live music, The Black Hour airs students issues and topics relevant to the community in first person.

The show features discussions led by students on topics ranging from the Presidential Elections to Black male and female relationships. The Black Hour can be heard online at http://www.9thfloorradio.com/.

For more information about the Laney BSU or The Black Hour,
to submit show topics or to be a guest on the show, email laneybsu@gmail.com
visit www.myspace.com/laneybsu.
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Fourth Annual "Say it Loud" Fashion Show

February 29, 2008


Beautiful young models from Youth Uprising pose for a group photo during the 4th Annual ‘Say it Loud’ 70s Fashion Show held Feb. 2 in the Laney Theater. ‘Say it Loud’ was produced by New Breed Entertainment and Mario B. Productions.


Photos Courtesy of Mario B. Productions
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Black Caucus Conference held at El Camino College

February 28, 2008



The Black Caucus of the California Student Association of Community Colleges (CalSACC) held its 10th Annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference (ABCLC), “Sankofa: Honoring our Past, Celebrating the Present, Building our Future,” February 15–16 at El Camino College.

Friday’s activities were kicked off with African drumming and dance, followed by the opening session “Hip Hop Comes to School” by Bryant K. Smith.

Black Caucus Secretary Reginald James deftly facilitated the “Harambee” workshop simultaneously in two separate rooms prior to the dinner speech by Assembly Member Mervyn Dymally at dinner. The night closed with the film ‘Sankofa.”

Saturday morning began with the Soulful breakfast with a keynote address by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors’ Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith. After two morning education sessions by Lasana Hotep and Alonzo Jones, students attended an inspiring keynote address by Congresswoman Maxine Waters during lunch.

Following three motivating afternoon education sessions, schools in attendance elected their representatives for the upcoming academic year.


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Ancestral Nationality

February 27, 2008

By Dr. Mujahidun Sumchai
SPECIAL TO THE DEFENDER

“Mental bondage is invisible violence. Formal physical slavery has ended in the United States. Mental slavery continues to this present day....it is worse than physical slavery....the person who is in mental bondage will be “self-contained”. Not only will that person fail to challenge beliefs and patterns of thought which control him, he will defend and protect those beliefs and patterns of thought virtually with his last dying effort.”
–Asa Hilliard

In the minds and hearts of all Americans, especially African Americans, are the painful connections and liberation truths of the past. Yet we are not victims.

We are living our victory.

The present American heart and mind is in recovery, trying to find the language and behaviour that makes our truths of today new for tomorrow.
We are looking for a new medicine language, which includes a bunker government for some, a Black president, a democratic society, education that leaves no child behind with highly qualified teachers in the classroom and a country without racism, classism, sexism, ageism and mindism––forever more.

The American future is both sure on one hand and uncertain on the other. All Americans, but especially African Americans are in need of new ideas that respect and honor our cultural traditions, norms, values and way of life.

Our ways of knowing, being, truthing and universing are culecopolsomatic as we seek survival-purpose justice-solutions. America’s behavioral aesthetics are transforming.

We are looking for a new medicine language, which includes a bunker government for some, a Black president, a democratic society, education that leaves no child behind with highly qualified teachers in the classroom and a country without racism, classism, sexism, ageism and mindism––forever more.
Ancestral nationality is the embodiment of the new American medicine language.
In instead of using skin color descriptive characterizations when talking and writing about others and ourselves, we could use ancestral nationality.
Our actions and words must have the ability to hold Culecopolsologic (CEPS) healing conversations or else we stay injured and in pain.

Today’s CEPS healing conversations must respect and honor our ancestral nationality.
Our ancestral gene pool is our biological reality that shall not be denied–except perhaps in error. We would not be here but for our fathers and mother’s and their parents is all I am really saying.

Today’s healing conversation must also respect and honor the geophysical place in which we act out our daily life and living, of community, work, education, family relations, personal and professional relations, art and science.

Ancestral nationality is the embodiment of the new American medicine language.
In instead of using skin color descriptive characterizations when talking and writing about others and ourselves, we could use ancestral nationality.
Skin color descriptive characterization in speech and writing is the last hinge on the door of racism both international and domestic.
Ethnic descriptions using Ancestral Nationality

• African American

• European American

• Asian African American

• European African American

• Mexican American

• Pacific Islander American

• African Asian

• American African

• European African

• Pacific Islander African

• Irish American

• Greek American

• American Italian

• Japanese American

• American Japanese

• African American Mexican

• French American

• French African

• German American

The applications are endless and limitless within the finite populations of our country, our planet and our imaginations. Skin color descriptive characterization in speech and writing is the last hinge on the door of racism both international and domestic.

Albert Einstein once said, “Problems generated by one way of thinking can not be solved by that same way of thinking.” Race and racism are a problem that is the result of a certain way of thinking. Thinking precedes action in most instances of our daily life and living. If we think a certain way we act a certain way.

Ancestral nationality is a new way of thinking and being in America. Our time for healing is a gift, it isn’t quick and sometimes it appears as if there are no results. We change slowly each and every day with small moves and deep breaths. What if ancestral nationality could be a helpful innovation in our thinking, being, truthing, universing and healing?
Race and racism are a problem that is the result of a certain way of thinking. Thinking precedes action in most instances of our daily life and living. If we think a certain way we act a certain way. Ancestral nationality is a new way of thinking and being in America.

W. E. B. Du Bois said in 1903, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, –– the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.”

In Du Bois’s day and time (the 20th century) this idea was appropriate for the slowly changing American landscape. We are more than a century later and still too many people are thinking in the century past.

We need another way of thinking and being about this American dilemma with its peculiar institutions and badges of color.

The American challenge of the 21st century is ancestral nationality, so that the respect and honor we must show for our mothers and fathers and country helps us to change ever so slowly with small moves and deep breaths.

The late Stephen Jay Gould quotes Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, “If the misery of our poor be caused not by nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

Dr. Mujahidun Sumchai, J.D. is a professor of African American Studies at Laney College in Oakland and the Laney BSU advisor.
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Marcus Garvey

February 20, 2008

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Black History is more than 28 days

February 10, 2008

Black history is about more than the past; it is about present day and the future which we create.

There is a running joke within the Black community about Black history month that; again, we received the short end of the stick since February usually has only 28 days.

This is based on the assumption that Black History Month was given to us by some omnipotent figure, known as the “man,” who handed out this menial token of recognition.

Some may find some pride that we recieved an extra day thanks to leap year (and the man). But, Black History Month is more than just 28 (or 29) days.

Black History Month has come far from its humble beginnings to become a time of cultural celebration, education and community service (as well as a magnet for token-corporate sponsorship opportunities).

Originally started as “Negro History Week” in 1926, Harvard educated scholar, Carter G. Woodson, hoped to eliminate prejudicial segregation and racism by educating whites with a more accurate depiction of Black people.

Woodson, who founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 1915, to train black historians, selected the second week of February in honor of Frederick Douglas’ birthday.

There are still many inequities in our society today which stem from the unequal founding of this country.
Soon after, Woodson was overwhelmed with curriculum requests. Woodson is often called the “father of black history month,” and when it became nationally recognized in 1976, it became his legacy.

There are still many inequities in our society today which stem from the unequal founding of this country.

Malcolm X said, “Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research.”

Black history is about more than the past; it is about present day and the future which we create.

Celebrate Black History Month by learning your history. Everyone should learn more about Black history, not just Black people.

Black history month isn’t just about education; it is about action.
People who have recently come to this country should learn about the civil rights movement and how Blacks advocated for the rights they enjoy today.

Black history month isn’t just about education; it is about action. Get involved on your campus, your community. By the way, it’s called “Black Liberation Month” at Laney.

Reginald “Brother Reggie” James is Defender Editor. Email him at reggiegeneral@yahoo.com.

*Parts of this column were originally published published in the Laney Tower in
Spring 2006.


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'Eye Gotcha Covered'

February 2, 2008

Laney fine arts graduate Milton Bowens multi-media exhibit “Eye Gotcha Covered” examines contemporary and historical views of African Americans in the media.



The exhibit is sponsored by the June Steingart Art Gallery in the Tower building. The gallery is open Monday–Thursday from 11 A.M.–5 P.M. A reception will take place Feb. 5 from 4:30 P.M.–7:30 P.M.

The Laney Black Student Union (Laney BSU) is co–sponsoring this exhibit.
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'Say it Loud' at Laney

February 1, 2008

‘Say it Loud!’ takes you on a hip-trip back to the 70’s, where the look, sound, and attitude was colorful, loud and proud.
Mark Elliott, producer
Have you ever seen an Afro so big its owner couldn’t walk through the door? Or how about a dashiki so colorfully loud and proud that you thought you were back in the motherland?

If you answered ‘Yes!’ to either of these questions, you are more than likely a product of the 70’s. Now for those who missed this era, don’t fret; your chance to experience a fantastic funky voyage has arrived.

The 4th “Say it Loud” Youth Fashion Show comes to the Laney College Theatre Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. for Black History Month fusing bell-bottoms, dashikis and soulful 70's sounds.
This show is designed to bridge the generation gap between young and old, mixing hip hop with old school as a new breed of fashionable entertainment.
Mario Benton, director
There will be really big Afros too.

“ ‘Say it Loud!’ takes you on a hip-trip back to the 70’s, where the look, sound, and attitude was colorful, loud and proud.” said Mark Elliott, the show’s producer. The shows theme draws the infamous Black Power call-and-response anthem in which James Brown sang the lyrics, “Say it Loud,” to cries of “I’m Black and I’m proud.”

Director Mario Benton said “This show is designed to bridge the generation gap between young and old, mixing hip hop with old school as a new breed of fashionable entertainment.”
Benton and Elliott capture the vibe using fly fashion, cool skits and classic soul music from the likes of James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin. The combination of funky grooves and hip threads creates a show hipper than any other 70’s show around.
“We want to bring back a sense of unity and pride in our community,” Benton added.

Benton and Elliott capture the vibe using fly fashion, cool skits and classic soul music from the likes of James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin. The combination of funky grooves and hip threads creates a show hipper than any other 70’s show around.

The soulful fashion extravaganza introduces a cast of proud inner city youth, who participate in the Mario B. Youth Modeling Program, to the world of fashion. The program, which was founded in 2001, has enrolled over 300 students from throughout the Bay Area. The program is currently supported by Youth Uprising Center in East Oakland, where students learn basic modeling technique, runway sills, photography, and fashion design.
We are all about bridging gaps and connecting peoples.
Laney BSU VP Andrea Spearman
This year’s production is being co-sponsored by Destiny Arts and the Laney Black Student Union (BSU).

“We are all about bridging gaps and connecting peoples,” said BSU Vice-President Andrea Spearman. “I can’t wait to see the reaction from Laney students to the mixture of 70’s culture and today’s youth.”

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the doors open at 8 p.m. Advance tickets $10. $15 at the door. For more information, call either (510) 978-8170 or (510) 472-0782 or email newbreed2me@yahoo.com or mariobpro@yahoo.com.
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Former Laney English faculty shares memoir

Adam David Miller presents his memoir at Laney CollegeAdam David Miller, poet, writer, editor/publisher, and former laney College English instructor will read from his recently published and highly acclaimed memoir, "Ticket to Exile," 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wed. Feb. 3 in Tower 450.

This coming of age story explores a life dominated by legal racism and governed by a strict code of race relations, little more than half a century after the emancipation of blacks from slavery.
Miller's reading celebrates Black History Month at Laney College. Refreshments will be served. "Ticket to Exile" chronicles African American family life and culture of the segregated South during the 1920s and 1930s in Orangeburg, South Carolina. This coming of age story explores a life dominated by legal racism and governed by a strict code of race relations, little more than half a century after the emancipation of blacks from slavery.

Miller, a smart, intuitive and sensitive adolescent, violates the code and pays for this life-threatening breach with exile.

Miller's reading is sponsored by the Laney College Library, the Laney Black Student Union and the Peralta Association of African American Affairs.

For more information, contact Margaret Traylor at 464-3502.

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El Camino College Hosts Black Caucus Leadership Conference

Two hundred-fifty community college students of African descent from throughout California expected to attend

Hundreds of community college students of African Descent are expected to attend the 10th Annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference being held at El Camino College in Torrance Feb. 15-16, 2008.

This year's conference theme is "Sankofa: Honoring our past, celebrating the present, building our future," commemorating the organization's history and growing legacy. The first two conferences were held at El Camino College in 1999 and 2000 and over 1500 students have attended since.

"When you look at all of the past conferences and the development of our organization, the historical significance of this conference is amazing," said Black Caucus President Marlene C. Hurd, who was elected at last year's conference at Laney College in Oakland. "It is as if we are revisiting all our past struggles, accomplishments, and conference themes, and are in the future now, but we still have work to do."

The conference features a weekend filled with inspiring keynote speakers, enlightening entertainment and empowering presentations.

California Assembly Member Mervyn Dymally (D–Compton) will be the keynote speaker at dinner Friday evening. It is expected he will address the 2006 takeover of Compton College by El Camino College.

California Community Colleges Board of Governor’s Member Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith of Oakland will be the keynote speaker Saturday morning at the Soulful Breakfast. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D–Los Angeles) will be the keynote speaker during lunch on Saturday afternoon. She previously spoke at the 5th annual conference in Compton.

Workshops, or "Education sessions" empower student leaders of African ancestry; feature successful models and practices that build community on campus; foster community outreach and involvement; and address development issues of Afro-centric organizations at community colleges.

"The conference occurs each year during Black History Month and is scheduled during the Presidents Day weekend so students can have a substantive leadership and cultural experience without missing classes," said Black Caucus Advisor Don Dorsey, dean of students at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

"It is an amazing opportunity for our students to gain knowledge about their history and culture," said Hurd, "And it is so powerful that they will go back to their campuses to get involved."

For more information, contact Conference Chair Marlene C. Hurd at mchurd@sbcglobal.net.

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February 2008

February 2008 Laney BSU Defender PDF

News
El Camino hosts Black Caucus Leadership Conference
Hundreds of community college students of African Descent are expected to attend the 10th Annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference being held at El Camino College in Torrance Feb. 15-16, 2008.

Arts
'Say it Loud' at Laney
The 4th “Say it Loud” Youth Fashion Show comes to the Laney College Theatre Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. for Black History Month fusing bell-bottoms, dashikis and soulful 70's sounds.

'Eye Gotcha Covered'
Laney fine arts graduate Milton Bowens multi-media exhibit “Eye Gotcha Covered” examines contemporary and historical views of African Americans in the media.

Former Laney English faculty shares memoir
Adam David Miller, poet, writer, editor/publisher, and former laney College English instructor will read from his recently published and highly acclaimed memoir, "Ticket to Exile," 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wed. Feb. 3 in Tower 450.

Culture
BSU honors King
The Laney BSU, in collaboration with Club Knowledge, hosted “The Real King: More than a Dreamer,” Jan. 22 at noon on the Laney Quad.

Opinion
Ancestral Nationality
In the minds and hearts of all Americans, especially African Americans, are the painful connections and liberation truths of the past. Yet we are not victims.



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West African drum stolen from BSU room

A West African “djembe,” hand drum was reported stolen at 4:41 p.m. Wed. Jan. 23 from room 403 in the Laney Student Center.

The BSU member first noticed the drum was missing on the first day of the spring semester, but assumed that someone may have borrowed the drum. He late contacted Peralta Police Services to report the drum stolen.

The wooden drum is red with red/black symbols on the sides. The drum was valued at $140, but has cultural, sentimental value.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the drum are asked to contact the Laney BSU at laneybsu@gmail.com.
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BSU Highlights: Fall 2007

January 25, 2008

Highlights of the Laney BSU in the fall of 2007:

BSU Reorganized
After being inactive since 2001, the Laney Black Student Union was rechartered.

Peralta African and Black Student Alliance
BSU organized and hosted a potluck with students from the BSUs at Berkeley City College and Merritt College.

Defender Newsletter
First two issues of the ‘Defender’ printed (Sept. and Oct.) and one issue distributed online (Nov.).

Jena 6 Rally
BSU raised awareness to the plight of the ‘Jena 6’ and other political prisoners in America.

Day of Atonement
BSU sponsored Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan’s live telecast honoring the 12th Anniversary of the Million Man March.

Ethnic Studies Rally
BSU rallied to raise awareness to the lack of full-time faculty for Laney African American Studies and the need for students to organize to maintain the program.

HIV/AIDS Testing
BSU organized free HIV/AIDS screening for 150 students.

Soul Cinemas
BSU hosted discussion of the film ‘Tales from the Hood.’

Click above links for more information or read Spring 2007 BSU Highlights.

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BSU honors King

January 24, 2008

Every year, celebrations are held throughout the world to honor the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Unfortunately, no campus in the Peralta Community College District ever organizes any programs.

This year, the Laney Black Student Union (BSU) changed that.

BSU, in collaboration with Club Knowledge, hosted “The Real King: More than a Dreamer,” Jan. 22 at noon on the Laney Quad. The event featured readings of Dr. King’s speeches and quotes, as well as poetry inspired by Dr. King’s message, life and legacy. And his work.

“Most people see King’s birthday as a day off or even a day just to get holiday pay,” said Laney BSU President Reginald James. “But his work means so much more our people.”

The idea of doing an event about the “real” King was inspired by what the BSU sees as the corporate takeover of King’s message. Opposed to focusing on the so-called “I Have a Dream” speech, BSU wants to raise awareness of his other positions–after
August 1963–and how they relate to what’s going on in the world today.

“King would be organizing opposition to the War in Iraq, against police brutality,” said James, “and he would’ve been for our reparations.”

The BSU sees King’s legacy as an example of the need for Black people to be unified and organized.

“King would want the descendants of former slaves to organize themselves,” said BSU Vice-President Andrea Spearman. “Then he would want them to join with the descendants of slaveowners, and all people; so we unite as one people with one aim, guided by one God.”

The BSU expects King will be honored at Laney for years to come.
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January 2008

January 23, 2008

January 2008 Laney BSU Laney Defender Front Page
News
BSU honors King
The Laney Black Student Union (Laney BSU), in collaboration with Club Knowledge, hosted “The Real King: More than a Dreamer,” Jan. 22 at noon on the Laney Quad.



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