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***************** RELEASING JUNE 19, 2016 ******************
We are pleased to announce our soon-to-be-released multi-contributor anthology, “Why Black Lives Matter (Too)”! Recognizing that the fight for social justice and equality is bigger than any one person and that there is room for diverse talents and expertise of anyone who is committed to freedom, this multi-contributor anthology comprises curated essays written by 50 social justice advocates from across the nation.
Our release date, June 19th, is set to coincide with Juneteenth—also known as Independence Day or Freedom Day—a holiday commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African American slaves throughout the Confederate South.
Book Summary: The Black Lives Matter movement evolved as a protest against police brutality against unarmed Black men. This book extends beyond police brutality to revolutionize the national conversation about racial injustice and inequality and advocate for freedom and justice for all Black Americans. Addressing a range of hot button issues and racial disparities that disproportionately impact the Black community, this is a call to action that will challenge you to confront your long-held values and beliefs about Black lives and confront your own white privilege and fragility as you examine racial justice and equality in a revolutionary way.
All proceeds will benefit The Sentencing Project, a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system through the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns and strategic advocacy for policy reform. Our gift to the organization will support their efforts to promote reforms in sentencing policy, address unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocate for alternatives to incarceration.
Stay tuned, and please consider purchasing this book, when available, to support the vital work of The Sentencing Project.
By Sevgi Fernandez
“What are you?”
The question that’s been on repeat since I burst into this world
A little caramel girl who would grow up with the weight of two worlds
“What are you?”
I’m LOST between two worlds at war with one another
I’m lost between two worlds that made me, yet neither will claim me
If I listen to you………
I’m too light,
like I’ve blinded u with my high yellow ass
I’m too dark,
like the pit of your soul
I must be uneducated, unemployed, and unloved
I must be stuck up, a sell out and all the above
If I listen to you I,”talk like a white girl”
Yet my “white girl speech” doesn’t erase the melanin in my skin
What are u?
Mexican, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian?
I must be black….no I must be white….no no that’s right,
I’m so tired of the labels
I’m so tired of you trying to find out what I am so you can decide whether I’m worth your respect
What am I?
I’m a mother…a daughter… .a sister….
What am I?
I am done with the labels, the stereotypes, the games
No longer will my self worth be determined by your shame
I am the bridge between two worlds
I am Found, no longer bound by the fear and ignorance that surrounds
No longer will I take the bait to hate myself because u fear what I am and what I will become
I am found
I am found
By Sevgi Fernandez
As I look at the state of our country and the racial divide I can’t say I’m surprised. In fact, although formal segregation hasn’t been at play in many years, racism has never left and it plays out in our schools everyday.
With the majority of students in k-12 public schools being of color and the majority of the teachers in these schools being white, the racial biases the teachers hold are cause for great concern. Aside from parents, one could argue that teachers are the next most influential people in our children’s lives. They lay the foundation for how our young people view education and what they are capable of becoming in the future. They are pivotal in how far reaching our children’s dreams will be.
Institutional racism is a pervasive machine that begins to work on a child’s sense of self worth the moment they begin school. It’s a machine that’s been well oiled and perfected over the years. With knowledge comes power and one need only look at the history of racial oppression in this country to see why the white dominant society would want to create and perpetuate a system that makes getting a quality education equal to that of their own extremely difficult to attain for people of color.
“So while our education system is highly problematic—it is neither fair nor equal—it’s not broken. It does exactly what it was deliberately built to do.” C. Royal
If we look back at the history of education in the U.S., we can clearly see how the systematic approach to keep people of color uneducated began.
Although many slaves and free Africans found ways to self teach and there were whites who aided them in their education, there was a significant amount of time in which there were few schools available to them.
In the 1600-1700’s there was a steady increase in schools and educational options for blacks yet by the early 1800’s leading up to the imancipation proclamation, many southern states outlawed the education of blacks both free and slaves. These laws had steep penalties for anyone caught aiding in the education of blacks as well.
In the interest of keeping this an article and not having it turn into a book, I’m go to skip around a bit. So let’s fast forward to 1954 and Brown vs The Board of Education. On May 17, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in schools. Did that change things? Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately the statistics aren’t all one would have hoped.
It’s telling that we live in a country where it took a Supreme Court order to desegregate our schools. What’s even more abhorrent is the fact that since over 200 school districts (mostly in the south) were released from this court order, many quickly returned to their segregated ways.
“But while segregation as it is practiced today may be different than it was 60 years ago, it is no less pernicious: in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, it involves the removal and isolation of poor black and Latino students, in particular, from everyone else. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.” (N.H. Jones)
The effects of this systematic racism are apparent in the African American community across the country, wherever you look. It’s in the hopelessness of our youth, in the violence within our communities and at the hands of the police. It’s in the educational system that is set up to fail our kids and the healthcare system that is either unattainable or so discriminatory many fear ever seeking out the care they need. Rather than educating and nourishing the minds of our young people of color, the system is feeding the school to prison pipeline .
“Young Black men — across the board — score below their counterparts in other racial and ethnic groups when it comes to graduation rates, literacy rates and college preparedness. And many African American men, in turn, are virtually locked out of employment and are filling up the nation’s prisons in disproportionate numbers.” (J. Daniels)
“Nearly 75 percent of imprisonment spending happens at the state level, where dollars are drawn from a general fund that is meant to pay for a range of public needs, including health care, housing, public assistance, and education.” S. Hawkins
So when people wonder what all the protests are about, what black people are so upset about, just open your eyes!!!! Why are our youth rioting??!!! It’s not just about police brutality, it goes much deeper. Look at the reality these young people face everyday. Poor quality education, teachers who don’t understand them culturally, who don’t believe in them, who tell them what they cannot be.
“When black teachers and white teachers are asked to sum up black high school students’ potential, white teachers are much less likely to see black students as college material. And that’s true even when they’re discussing the same students.” L. Nelson
They face a school system that has been designed for whites to excel. A system that is funneling our children of color into prisons at epic proportions. A curriculum that is culturally irrelevant to a huge percentage of those it’s there to teach. A system that is funneling money into prisons while subsequently starving the programs that could keep our kids out of prison. They are insuring the continuance of the cycles of poverty, illiteracy and hopelessness.
This system is purposeful. There have been plenty of studies that have examined why the system is failing African American children and plenty that have offered solutions, yet here we are.
For example, the “No Child Left Behind” law that instituted mandatory testing with the purpose of accountability, has failed miserably. The number of African American drop outs increased by 10% in its first 10 years. One study shows only 50% of the nations girls of African American, Hispanic, and Native American descent are actually graduating high school. The statistics for boys are much lower. W.B. Harvey
If we examine this list, we can see why our African American youth are in the state they are in. I was fortunate to sit on the thesis committee of an incredible educator, Chilufiya Safaa, she summed up what these children are facing with heart piercing accuracy:
“The children act out; they take on the labels of being dumb or trouble. They then become vulnerable to the streets, jail, and death. They start fighting each other rather than fighting against the stereotypes and the system which is oppressing them. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Wake up folks. We are steadily heading backwards. Racism and segregation are very real and our young and vulnerable are faced with it everyday. We can’t just complain, or close our eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist. It takes critical thinking and community action. What can you commit to do in your community to address these issues and bring about change? If you don’t know here are some places to start:
We advocate for victims of racism, discrimination and police brutality across the country. We also hold workshops on dismantling racism and building community. We plan to incorporate a youth leadership academy that trains participants to become social change agents and prepares them to enter college with an excellent foundation in civil and social justice advocacy. We will also offer participants mental health services that allow them to process the issues they see in their communities and in their lives. Our hope is to develop a successful model that can be implemented in cities across the country. We are raising money to cover the filing, legal costs, and the various other needs that come with starting a non profit. We hope that you will help us on this journey! Just click the link below, and please SHARE!
#blacklivesmatter I’ve seen too many people share this post not to say something, Black Lives Matter is not a hate group. According to their own definition, “Black Lives Matter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black Racism that permeates our society.” Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national organization that […]
Together We Stand
Together We Stand is more than a Facebook Group, more than an organization, it is a Movement. Our mission is to proactively dismantle racism, discrimination and police brutality through education, advocacy and legislation. This is our very first newsletter, and we welcome you to our family.
2015 In Review
I started this group with the hopes of creating a forum where people could have open, honest and respectful dialogues on the difficult issues surrounding racism in this country. Never could I have imagined what was to come. Since our inception in August, Together We Stand, (TWS) has evolved from one person, into a group of over 1,200 amazing members, all of whom have shown their commitment and dedication to ending racism, discrimination and police brutality.
We have advocated on behalf of many, some who are no longer here to advocate for themselves, and some who needed others to join in their fight for equality and justice. Here is a list and brief summary of a few of the cases we have assisted in:
The murder of Laquan McDonald by officer Van Dyke, and the subsequent handling of the case by the police, prosecutors, and local government was nothing less than abhorrent. We have called for the resignation of both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Prosecutor Anita Alvarez and are following the campaign of Prosecutor Alvarez in 2016 and plan to continue challenging her throughout. TWS sent out numerous letters to state and local government along with law enforcement, denouncing the terrible racial injustices that plagued not only this case, but the city of Chicago.
The acquittal of officer Thomas Webster IV in the assault of Lateef Dickerson was an absolute injustice to Mr. Dickerson and a blow to the morale of his community. We reached out to Mayor Christiansen, Police Chief Bernat and President of the Dover County NAACP Mr. Dunn, asking for the termination of officer Webster and offering our assistance in helping their community work through this and develop preventative measures so occurrences like this won’t happen again. Our follow up committee is still working on this as of March.
This case is particularly close to us as we have Family of Corey’s in TWS. Corey was killed on the side of the road after his car broke down. Corey was shot 3 times by plain clothed officer Officer Nouman Raja. Officer Raja claimed he believed the van to be abandoned and was then confronted by an armed suspect. There was no evidence to back up this claim. TWS along with several other organizations vpushed for there to be an independent investigation into this case. The officer was placed on administrative leave and subsequently fired in November. The family made the following statement:
“While we are pleased that the city of Palm Beach Gardens has terminated the employment of the officer who gunned down Corey Jones, we maintain that the officer in question must also be held criminally liable for his reckless actions that night,” the statement read. “Our family remains hopeful that the outside agencies brought in to investigate Corey’s killing will soon begin to yield factual information about how and why this officer acted so callously.”
Rosella “Rose” Kaquatosh was wearing a Menominee medicine pouch when a kitchen employee at Gresham school allegedly demanded she take it off, citing tobacco products were not allowed on school property. After being taken to Principal Keary Mattson, he allegedly examined the pouch and removed some of the tobacco, which was culturally inappropriate and insensitive. She was in tears and the actions on the part of the school were not only culturally insensitive, but also disrespectful. TWS wrote the school board and principal demanding an apology and a safe environment for all students to practice their diverse beliefs. During a follow up conversation, we are pleased to say that a provision to allow such religious and spiritual items is now in place and the staff has undergone diversity and cultural sensitivity training.
We have written letters to the state and local authorities calling for an independent investigation into the death of Sandra Bland as well as prosecution of the arresting officer. We have also circulated a petition asking Vanita Gupta the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to open an investigation. We are pleased that the arresting officer Brian Encinia, was finally terminated, yet we still continue to push for criminal charges against Encinia and those involved in the death of Ms. Bland and the subsequent cover up that ensued.
John Carroll University:
TWS member Brittany Kincaid, a student at John Carroll and part of the university’s African American Alliance, was involved in a movement on campus demanding structural changes to staff and curriculum to make the campus a more inclusive and culturally diverse environment. TWS wrote to president Niehoff on behalf of the AAA, stating our full support of their demands and asking that he take any and all necessary steps to rid the community of racist vitriol. We also asked that a safe space for students of color to express their needs be provided. We look forward to assisting other universities in creating and maintaining an atmosphere of Trust Respect Empathy and Ethics.
2016 A Look Ahead
We have hit the ground running this year! We receive many requests everyday for assistance in cases across the nation and are pleased that word of our organization is spreading to those in need. We also want to thank our members who diligently report issues and cases to us, we appreciate your dedication. Here is a peek at some of the work we have done so far this year::
After Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin, Bruce Hagen, posted anti Islamic rhetoric on social media, TWS assisted one of our group members, Kym Young, in her work to demand his resignation. We reached out directly to the mayor and also to state representative Milroy. We truly believe that there is no place for racism, oppression or discrimination in our country and specifically within our government. To see our elected officials act in such hateful and inciting ways is totally unacceptable. We will be campaigning against Hagen in the upcoming election.
Victor School District:
After being notified that a bilingual educational aide for Victor Elementary School District was posting racist pictures and rhetoric we spoke to the Superintendent and the person in question was informed that her behavior was not appropriate or acceptable. We believe in the first amendment, but we do not believe it is a pass to tout racist or hateful rhetoric. Clearly we cannot go after everyone who does this, but given the person in question was working with children of color in a school, we felt it important to say something.
The death of Gynnya McMillen, at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Justice Center still remains a painful mystery for her family. The cause and circumstances surrounding her death have not been made available. The family has asked the public for help in finding answers. We have contacted the Principal of the detention center as well as the Mayor of Elizabethtown, Kentucky demanding answers. We will continue to follow up and support the family in whatever way we can.
This case is one that hits us all hard given it was a child, Tamir Rice, who was killed so senselessly. A grand Jury failed to indict the officers in this case and it has been an impossible injustice to accept. TWS has been in touch with the City Council, Mayor, and Chief of Police regarding the impact this has had on the community, and how we can work collectively to insure this doesn’t happen again. We are also calling for Prosecutor McGinty to resign. His clear bias has tainted this case and his handling of it all but guaranteed there would be not Justice for Tamir or his family. He is up for reelection this year and if he does not resign, we will fight to make sure this is his last year in office.
Judge Olu Stevens:
Judge Stevens is an example of someone in our criminal justice system who is doing this right and unfortunately because of that he has become a target. Within the last year, Judge Stevens repeatedly has made national headlines, most notably for dismissing juries that were not racially diverse. Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine had asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to decide whether Stevens has the authority to dismiss juries for having too few black members, as the judge has done twice. The state Judicial Conduct Commission is investigating Stevens for insinuating on Facebook that Wine is racist and wanted “all-white juries.” TWS is investigating Wine’s history and plan to write his office denouncing his action against having diverse jury pools. We are also contacting the Chief Justice John Minton regarding this case and his removal of Judge Stevens from cases because of his stance on diverse juries and for speaking out against Tom Wine’s motives. It is important that we support those who do the right thing in the face of adversity.
We have written the North Carolina Parole Commission on behalf of the family of Felicia Huston who was murdered by Robert Hinton, asking that his parole be denied and he be forced to continue his life sentence.
Flint Water Crisis:
TWS is working in conjunction with Stanley Plumbers and Crossing Water to secure home water filtration systems for 200 of Flint’s most needy. The filters are in the process of being tested to insure they will properly filter out the high levels of lead and iron found in the water supply.
If you would like to donate money to the residents of Flint please do so through Crossing Water at https://www.crowdrise.com/crossingwaterworkingforflint
Special thanks to Stanley Plumbing and Michael Hood of Crossing Water for your collaboration.
Three Strikes Reform Act:
We are joining Choose1.org and TWS member LaTease Levye in supporting the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016. To read about the initiative and volunteer to help, please visit http://www.choose1.org
Everyone knows that to start a nonprofit organization there must be fundraising! We have a few ways that you our supporters can help us grow our organization and in turn assist us in not only advocating for people on a larger scale, but also in our efforts to train youth to become social justice leaders. We have two crowd funding campaigns and the links are below. For those who cannot donate monetarily, we always need volunteers! If you would like to volunteer time please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As of the publishing of this letter we have received $620 from some of our members and we’d like to thank you all!
Toya Marie, Edwin Harris, Julie White, Rhonda Leath, Eva Caraher, Julie A. Fernandez, Amber Kerr, Rahel Smith, Eva Cohen, Tyler Gage, Caroline Gage, Yolanda McInnis, Dwight Ford, Don Scott, Daniel Schuette, Nancy Slocum and Lori Thames!!!!!
TWS wants you all to know that your assistance is so meaningful! With the funds we have raised so far we were able to get help with our logo, get our website going and get our filing fee for incorporation paid.
We recently launched two fundraising campaigns selling TWS shirts and Hoodies. This was a time limited campaign and we were unable to meet our minimum sold to go to print, but we want to thank everyone who did order and let you know that if you’d still like to support us you can do so at the links below!
Sevgi has been running groups and workshops for many years with her company Diverse World Coaching. Last fall she began the first of a series of workshops by TWS that she hopes to bring across the country, Unite Against Racism:Breaking Down Walls and Building Community. The series ran from November-February and covered some of the following topics:
• White Privilege
• Conversations with my Black Child
• Examining Bias
• Police Brutality
The next series will focus on Political Action, specifically looking at groups like the Black Panther Party from the past, and Black Lives Matter today. What works, what doesn’t, and how do we move Together We Stand into a position to affect change in 2016 and beyond.
Meet our Board of Directors
Sevgi founded Diverse World Coaching 8 years ago after many years working with high risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in working with blended, cross-cultural and interracial families as well as individuals struggling with racial identity formation, anxiety and depression.
Sevgi has a successful blog covering that reaches readers in over 60 countries She is a published author and seasoned speaker. She offers workshops in the following areas:
• Racism and White Privilege
• Parenting Mixed Race Children: Understanding their Racial Identity Development
• Navigating the Blended Family
• Youth Empowerment through Community Action
Sevgi is the Senior Vice President of Race and Cultural Diversity at ARMCGlobal providing research, executive coaching and product development.
She did her undergraduate and graduate work in Psychology at the Western Institute for Social Research and now sits on their board of directors.
Sevgi is now embarking on what she believes is her life’s work in Together We Stand. Her vision of a movement that crosses the nation ending racism through education, advocacy and legislation is certainly going to be a challenging goal, but her life has prepared her for this moment, this movement.
Dr. John P Fernandez
Dr. John P. Fernandez is the founder and president of Advanced Research Management Consultants Global, LLC. He also works closely and in collaboration with Diverse World Coaching.
Prior to founding ARMC Global, John worked for 15 years at AT&T, becoming the first Black division level operations manager. Responsible for a division that had over 500,000 customers, John developed and enhanced processes for selling, construction, engineering, human resource management and technological innovation.Based on his extensive experience working with many corporate clients and issues, John has written and produced more than 36 videos on human resource management, leadership, cross-cultural teams, Diversity and Proactive Inclusion®, and GlobalTREE℠ from a global perspective. He has written and developed e-learnings for Bank of America, Citibank, GlaxoSmithKline, and Lucent.Dr. John P. Fernandez is the author of 10 books and has received critical acclaim as one of the world’s leading thinkers in areas of leadership, team building, diversity, childcare, eldercare, and human resource management. He is currently working on a new book about glass-ceiling phenomenon, and the global perception of female managers.After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, John received his Ph.D. from the University California at Berkeley. As a highly sought out speaker, John has appeared on CNBC, CNN and Marketplace on National Public Radio. John has taught at Yale, New York University, Antioch, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Carol Laborde/Outreach and Research
Carol Laborde received her BA in Sociology from Nyack College. Carol is retired now and has spent much of the last three decades volunteering her time and skills to various nonprofit organizations. She worked with the Rockland Family Shelter for battered women and children from 1988-2002. During that time she served as a Rape Crisis Trauma Counselor, was on the Board of Directors from 1988-2002, and served as President of the Board from 1998-2002. Carol also served on the Board of the Nyack Center, aiding at risk youth with breakfast club and after school mentoring. Carol currently heads up TWS advocacy communications and works as an Ambassador for Hope with Shared Hope International, an organization working to end sex trafficking.
Ty Anderson has his Associates in Graphic Arts as well as being a self taught artist.
Ty worked for the City of Rochester’s Public Library Promotions Graphics & Public relations department and also sat on the Quality Council Team which assisted in fairness and accountability between Supervisors and their employees. He is also a part of his community’s Neighborhood Empowerment Team/NET and currently works in Forestry as an Arborist.
Ty is an American of mixed European, African & Native-American heritage. The spirit of family, culture, ethnicity and inner accountability are things he takes great pride in which have fueled his passion for bringing people together. Helping others to discover their commonalities and celebrate their diversity is something he excels at and brings to TWS as our online moderator. Serving in the capacity of TWS Chaplin, Ty’s goals are to help keep the group moving in a positive and affirming direction, keeping our mission to educate and advocate, one of integrity based on Trust, Respect, Empathy and Ethics.*
*GlobalTree, Trust Respect Empathy and Ethics, ARMCG 2015
Rhonda Leath was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Rhonda majored in Psychology and minored in Journalism at Los Angeles Trade Tech and Southwest College. Rhonda worked as a youth counselor in residential treatment and as an EMT on the Psych Emergency Team. She is a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 7 and is active in her community doing faith based and social justice work. Rhonda is a key member of TWS doing endless work behind the scenes assisting with administrative work and research.
In closing we want to welcome you to our TWS family and ask that you spread the word about who we are and what we do!
Follow us on Twitter @Twsrevolution
Civil War! We’ve been in one! Race war! It’s been here! We are going to all have to engage in this fight in order for it to end. It WILL get worse before it gets better. They are fearful, they know they have already lost and they will do anything to hold on. The United States is no longer a nation that will be run by the racist white elite. The civil rights movement began what our revolution will finish! We cannot do it divided. We must come together, it can’t just be about individual communities. Natives, Muslims, Immigrants, Blacks, Asians, Christians, LGBTQs, we are all one community that must unite against the hate and oppression. We must garner our power and hold each other up through this most important battle. Losing IS NOT AN OPTION!#TogetherWeStand
Like Together We Stand on Facebook and help us advocate for victims of racism, discrimination and police brutality!
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WHY Did Hillary Clinton Once Call African American Kids “Super-Predators”? Published on Feb 11, 2016 Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks discusses a devastating editorial from Michelle Alexander in The Nation which dives into the Clinton family’s history with the African-American community. Former President Bill Clinton is often called our “first Black President” but […]