African arts showcase at UC Berkeley

The spirit of Africa was alive at the African Arts Society's "Showcase" on November 20 at UC Berkeley.

Ready to Learn Fun Fair

Children enjoyed face painting, legos and storytelling at the Ready to Learn Fun Fair at Peralta Elementary School in Oakland.

Occupy Oakland calls for West Coast Port Shutdown

Organizers say Port owners are "1%." Port begs to keep the Ports Open for 99% workers.

Oakland Labor Day BBQ hosts good time for 'fam bam'

The "I am Oakland" collective hosted the Labor Day Fam Bam BBQ at Mosswood Park on September 6.

Protest against censorship of Palestinian Children's Art

In response to censorship of Palestinian children's art by an Oakland art museum, dozens came out to protest in Oakland.

RIP Peabo Wellington

College of Alameda student Jepeabo Wellington was murdered days before the school year began.

Students gain college acceptance at Black College Fair

Hundreds of young people attended the third annual Black College Fair at Laney College, the second year the Oakland community college has hosted the event.

Oakland activists speak out against gang injunctions

Oakland activists speak out against gang injunctions following a May 27 hearing on proposed court order against alleged members of "North Side Oakland."

Johannes Mehserle Case Summary

AC Transit considers more cuts

AC Transit is considering more service cuts
Photo: Flickr user Davdaven

AC Transit is holding two public hearings (2 p.m. and 6 p.m.) on May 26 to consider declaring a fiscal emergency and cutting vital transit service for the second time this year. Bus drivers and riders will hold a rally and march at Frank Ogawa Plaza at 1 p.m..

The Board of Directors is considering 8 percent cuts throughout its weekday, late night, and weekend services, changing its late-night and All-Nighter service or only operating service on major bus lines on weekends.

In March, AC Transit reduced service by 7.7 percent, the agency said. Many routes were discontinued or consolidated into newer routes. The agency was originally considering 15 percent cuts last year, but opted to ask the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the regional transportation planning agency, to use funding from its proposed Bus Rapid Transit project to lessen the blow to the cash-strapped agency.

Despite passing a ballot measure (Measure VV) in 2008, raising fares in 2009, and cutting service in March, the reports a $56 million dollar deficit. Declining state funding, decreased sales tax and property tax revenues are the cause of the shortfall, AC Transit said.

This is the second time in two years AC Transit considered a "fiscal emergency." In 2009, the declared a fiscal emergency and a $57 million deficit.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has called for a rally and march beginning at 1 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland (14th and Broadway). ATU is also facing potential layoffs and is currently in contract negotiations with the district.

The public hearings will take place at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at 1600 Franklin St, on the second floor.

For more information on the proposed service reduction, visit

Laney College student Egypt bound for educational program

Laney College student Reginald James, host of The Black Hour, will be heading to Egypt at the end of May.

Support my journey to Egypt.

The two week trip is a part of the Merritt College Africana Studies Department's Study Abroad program. The purpose of the program is to "globalize students’ understanding of the African world historically, culturally and politically from an African Centered perspective."

James participated in a 2006 trip to Jamaica with Merritt College and is looking forward to visiting Africa for the first time.

"Growing up, I dreamed of going to Egypt," James said. "Then Michael Jackson's 'Remember the Time' video came out when I was at Longfellow (Elementary) and I said, 'I'm going to Egypt.' Now, I've been blessed to have a dream come true."

"Growing up, I dreamed of going to Egypt. Then Michael Jackson's 'Remember the Time' video came out when I was at Longfellow (Elementary) and I said, 'I'm going to Egypt.' Now, I've been blessed to have a dream come true."
Reginald James
The trip is being led by Professor Manu Ampim, a history professor at Contra Costa College in Richmond and adjunct faculty of Africana Studies at Merritt College. With over 20 years experience in Primary Research, Ampim is a reknown African scholar exposing fraudulent attempts to de-Africanize Egypt, known as Kemet.

Priority enrollment in the study aboard program is given to student activists, economically disadvantaged students of color, and single-parent students.

James is currently raising money for the rest of the trip's expenses. He has set up a special blog, California to Cairo to document the trip and accept donations.

"Traveling always makes you grow as a person. This experience will make me a better person for the community I serve," James said. "Besides documenting the trip on the Cali to Cairo blog, I will be making community presentations this summer and through the fall, to share my experiences."

To contribute, visit

Malika Ubaka - Mother, model, artist, Laney College student

Malika Ubaka at Laney College

Darting across campus in an oversized hooded sweatshirt with "Oakland USA" written across the front, Laney College student Malika Ubaka is hustling.

"You want to buy a raffle ticket?" Ubaka asks a student. "The money is going towards a scholarship for students."

That same grind that has raised over $500 in scholarships for honors students, is the same hustle that has Ubaka continuing her education at Georgia State University this fall.

"When I first came to Laney College, I was afraid of math. I got more than I bargained for."
Malika Ubaka
But just two years ago, the single mother and former reality TV show celebrity, returned to school starting off taking basic skills classes.

"When I first came, I was afraid of math," Ubaka said. "I got more than I bargained for."

Counselor Terrence Greene first met Ubaka two years ago when she joined a new student retention program, then called the African American Learning Community.

"She was one of the first students," Greene said. "She was just coming back to school and I happened to see her in drop-in (counseling session). I told her about the program I was running and she decided to join."

Besides being one of the first students in the program, she won a contest among students to name the program; UBAKA- Utilizing your Brainpower to Attain Knowledge Abundantly, an acronym based on her Nigerian last name.

"She was trying to find her way," Greene recalls. "After a semester with us, she saw the community and felt she was up to par to be a student."

Malika Ubaka Salutes youNow, Ubaka takes 15 units per semester and attends intersession in winter and summer. She attributes some of her drive to her experience in the music industry. Coming from a family of talented entertainers, she has performed since a child. Along with her sister, Khaliah, she used to dance throughout the Bay as the "Oaktown Girls."

After dropping an album in 2003, she appeared on MTV's "Making the Band" with Diddy. After her initial audition in LA, she didn't make the first cut. She went home, worked hard and flew out to Miami for another go at it. She was cast in the second season. Ubaka didn't "make the band" the second season, but was kept on for the third season. Unfortunately, she was eliminated on the third episode.

That didn't stop her, though. It made her stronger.

"She gives me the will to move past my circumstances and not be limited by life. She never gives up and moves toward a goal. Things may get a little tough, but she keeps moving forward."
Dr. Angela Cherry
While juggling motherhood, gigs, classes, auditions, court dates-and doing hair just to make ends meet-Ubaka manages to be an honor roll student. She is Vice-President of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), a two-year college honor society.

Still, her true passion is music.

"I'm never ever going to stop doing music, but school is like my latest hustle," Ubaka said. "This is making me even more complete."

Because of her experiences, background and determination, Ubaka inspires both students and faculty.

"She gives me the will to move past my circumstances and not be limited by life," said Dr. Angela Cherry, communications professor and adviser to PTK." She never gives up and moves toward a goal. Things may get a little tough, but she keeps moving forward."

Ubaka will transfer this fall to study Media Communications at Georgia State University. Her advice to other struggling students:

"Just don't give up, don't ever, ever give up on what you want out of life," said Ubaka. "Just keep pushing in life to be as successful as you want to be.

"I'm gone be Dr. Ubaka before you know it."

She will graduate from Laney College with three degrees in African American Studies, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Then, Ubaka will trade in the hoodie for a robe.

And although she won't have her doctorates hood on yet, she'll be wearing kente, honors cords and a special tassel with her name: Ubaka.

Richmond's DB "What's up?" Directed by Erk tha Jerk - Music Monday

Off the debut album, "How to be a Rich Man," Richmond, CA rapper DB comes with "What's up?" The video is directed by Erk tha Jerk.

"What's up?" by DB, directed by Erk tha Jerk.

A Day at COA: Inside the College of Alameda Children's Center

Nekah Dewitt shares a 'photograph' she made for you.
Photo: Reginald James/
Nekah Dewitt shares a 'photograph' she made for you at the College of Alameda Children's Center.

Earlier this semester, the Peralta Colleges administration announced its intention to close the College of Alameda Children's Center in July. After mothers organized, workers spoke out, and students protested (shutting down an April trustees meeting), the center will remain open through 2010.

Forty four students attend the center's school. The two classrooms, divided into "Tigers" and "Dragonflies," give children a loving environment while their parents are at work or school.

In the mornings, children play music, do arts and crafts, solve puzzles and learn shapes, colors and patterns. Later, students play outside on the jungle gym and run throughout the yard.

After washing their hands, students come back inside for snacks. Then it's storytime. After that the children lie down for a nap.

Oakland hosts Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival

Eastside Arts Alliance will host the 10 annual Malcolm X JazzArts Festival on Saturday, May 22 at San Antonio Park in East Oakland.

The main jazz stage features:

The line up goes through an evolution of Black music – from the beat of Africa to the blues, straight-ahead jazz, New Orleans second line and the next, newest thing with the next generation of jazz musicians, poets, dancers, and hip hop artists.

We will also be featuring dance this year with a very special tribute to Haiti by Rara Tou Limen and Traci’s Bartlow’s Starchild Dance Company.

There will also be a Soapbox Stage dedicated to Javad Jahi, an opportunity for community organizers to get their message out. The DREAM Courts featuring emerging youth artists, an all-city Graf Battle, and Kids Zone.

There will also be vendor tables featuring local arts and crafts and community-based organizations. There is also a food court with great tastes.

Killer Oakland Police officer Patrick Gonzalez identified, armed and dangerous, activists say

Killer Oakland Police cop Patrick Gonzalez identified

There is a man, armed and dangerous, roaming the streets of Oakland, California. He has killed three citizens, wounded another and known for harassing countless others.

"Sgt Patrick Gonzales is one of Oakland's most notorious killers," according to Oakland Cop Watch. "At the moment this murderer is being paid more then $200,000 a year for terrorizing the residents of Oakland. Everyone in Oakland needs to know the identity of Patrick Gonzales. He is a threat to us all!"

The anti-police terrorism organization, "Oakland Copwatch" has recently identified Gonzalez and produced the "Wanted" poster picture above.

Gonzales is known for shooting and killing the unarmed Gary King, Jr. in 2007. Calling King a "potential suspect" in a recent murder, Gonzales sped across six-lanes of traffic on Martin Luther King Blvd, grabbed King by the hair and tased him. When King ran, Gonzales shot him in the back.

A mural was created for King on a BART column, but was buffed by the transit agency earlier last fall.

He also shot and killed Joshua Russell in 2002. He also shot and wounded Amir Rollins in June 2006 for allegedly being armed with a shotgun. Last March, Gonzales was wounded while executing a botched SWAT raid to kill Lovelle Mixon -- an Oakland resident who had just shot and killed two Oakland Police officers -- that unnecessarily resulted in the deaths of two more Oakland police officers.

Cop Watch has encouraged people to be careful if approached by Gonzales, he is armed and licensed to kill, they say.

Dawna Williams elected Laney College student body president

Dawna Williams defeated Harry Jiang in a May 11 run-off election to choose Laney College's next student body president. It was a margin of six votes-Williams received 124 votes to Jiang's 118.

"It was very close," said Williams, who currently serves as an Inter-Club Council (ICC) Representative on ASLC. "I tried to do something a little different this time and let people get to know me."

In the April 20-21 ASLC elections, current ASLC VP Jiang received 333 votes while Williams received 242. Jiang was mistakenly declared the winner by the election committee; it was realized he did not obtain a 51 percent majority of the vote, as required by the Student Elections Code.

After a record ASLC voter turnout, in the first round, the run-off had the lowest voter turnout since 2007. The run-off had few fliers, less publicity and was not confirmed by election committee members until less than a week before the vote.

Some students who showed up to vote were turned away because their names were not on a printed election. Even with valid student ID, those students were told--including this writer and even an ASLC member--were forced to print out their class schedules. Later that evening, the rule was not strictly enforced, and those not listed only had to show ID.

Williams, co-founder and VP of Laney College's Alpha Lambda Co-Ed Sorority/Fraternity, has big plans to reinvigorate student life on campus. She wants to have more student activities and improve communication on campus. Most of all, Williams plans to make ASLC more effective student representatives.

Her "Team 360" swept into office with little to no opposition. "The summer will be used to make the team more cohesive," Williams said. ASLC will "work on team building, parliamentary procedures and redoing the office so it's more conducive to business."

Students likely have encountered Williams on campus. In addition to working in the Counseling Department, she hosts "News You Can Use" in the Student Center cafeteria three times per week. Microphone in hand, Williams discusses campus issues and shares scholarship information.

She has also organized "B.L.A.M." (Berkeley, Laney, Alameda and Merritt), a unity event open to students at the four Peralta campuses will be held on Saturday May 29 at Oasis Restaurant, located at 135 12th Street in Oakland.

"It is important for students to fight budget cuts, but students should have fun too," she said. "We need to have something that doesn't have to do with budget cuts, something social."

She added that the event is a part of starting a district-wide council, a proposal struck down by ASLC this spring.

Williams also wants to have a full council and have ASLC participate in all shared governance meetings. Her website is

Laney College Black Student Union Presents 'Chop from the Top' - Music Monday

This week's music Monday, "Chop from the Top" by Laney College student Jabari Shaw.

Peralta Colleges propose 'free speech zones' to limit free speech, students, faculty say

Photo: The Desert Lamp

A proposal to designate specific areas on campuses of the Peralta Colleges as "free speech zones" has drew outrage from faculty, staff and students at a May 12 town hall.

The draft "Administrative Procedures (AP) 5550-Speech: Time, Place, and Manner" will regulate public "speech activities" on campus. Individuals and organizations from the community that "wish to table, display materials, petition, engage in public address, distribute literature and/or post flyers" would have to comply with the proposed regulations.

Speakers would be limited to the 150 foot x 150 foot main quad at Laney College, as well as the outdoor quads at COA and Merritt College, and the Student Lounge on the fifth floor at Berkeley City College.

Requests for non-students to come on campus would have to be made three business days in advance and will be granted on first-come first basis, according to the procedure.

Groups would also have to reserve a space three business days in advance. Fliers could no longer be posted onto windows and walls, and would be restricted to bulletin boards. All fliers would also require an English translation.

The proposal is the result of ongoing district litigation with an anti-abortion group that was removed from COA in 2008, according to Peralta General Counsel Thuy Nguyen, who said she expected a decision on the case soon.

"If there is any light at the end of the tunnel, it is that there's an ability to coexist," Nguyen said.

The tone of the town hall quickly changed when an attorney representing the faculty union called the proposal "an abomination."

"Martin Luther King would have been in violation of this (proposal) the moment he spoke," said Bob Bezemek, legal counsel for the Peralta Federation of Teachers, who has threatened to sue if the procedure is implemented.

Some Peralta employees said the language was ambiguous, while others said it provided needed guidelines to ensure the safety of students and employees.

Anti-abortion group at Laney College
Anti-abortion group at Laney College-1
An anti-abortion group caused quite a stir on campus when they arrived at Laney College March 8. The group showcased banners with graphic images of dismembered fetuses.

In March, Laney College students and staff complained when an anti-abortion group came on campus with huge banners with images of aborted fetuses. The protesters also harassed people walking through the quad by taking their photos and posting them on Facebook and Twitter.

Laney College librarian Margaret Traylor, who wrote a letter of protest following the incident, said the proposal created needed guidelines to balance free speech and the safety of the campus community.

"Even if the Tea Party came on campus, I wouldn't object," Traylor said. "Everything in this world needs a guideline." Referring to the incident on March 8, she said, "Some people were threatened and intimidated" by the protesters.

The forum was held at the same time as an ASLC discussion meeting, and just four students were in attendance.

"Seems like we're attacking our students for something they didn't have anything to do with," said Laney student Stewart Jollymore. "The issue is involving people not apart of the college coming on campus."

Nguyen responded that on one campus, students are required to reserve space at least two weeks in advance.

"Ultimately, the board and district have to take a position on protesters," Nguyen said. "They have gave me direction to honor free speech to the fullest extent."

Requests for permission to speak on campus could be denied if the request conflicts with another reservation, previously scheduled student activities, or during finals week. Even though speakers cannot be banned from campus based on their message, administrators can forbid speech activities deemed disruptive or in "defiance of the authority of district officials."

Many students, like Alessandro Tinonga note that the proposal is being floated at the same time students are protesting trustees and administrators. Since the fall of 2009 semester, there have been numerous protests at the district's board meetings, as well as the March 4 Day of Action.

According to Nguyen, Peralta's attorneys in the COA lawsuit drafted the proposed language three months ago, prior to the March 4 protests, the anti-abortion protest at Laney College and the April 13 protest that shutdown a trustees meeting.

Laney College journalists honored for writing

Laney College student journalists were recently honored for their contributions to the Laney Tower newspaper at a state convention held by the Journalism Association for California Community Colleges (JACC).

Tower Editor-in-Chief Tracey Tate received honorable mention for Column Writing. Tate, who blogs at, also recently won a trip to New York to meet supermodel Iman, all due to her writing.

Tower Staff Writer Reginald James, editor of received a second place award in the News Story category. His story about a budget cuts forum at Laney College in September was his first JACC award for writing. James has previously won JACC awards for Photography, Page Layout, Informational Graphics, Student Designed Advertisement and an Investigative News Story about racial disparities in hiring of student workers at Laney College.

The Tower was also awarded Honorable Mention for Front Page Layout in the Tabloid size category, and student Robert Carey got second place for an Editorial Cartoon.

For more information about journalism at Laney College, visit " You can learn more about the JACC at

Thousands of Peralta students overcharged

  • Thousands of students attending the Peralta Colleges were charged for a fee that should have never been implemented
  • Had the Student Representation Fee passed, students would have tens of thousands of dollars to advocate on behalf of the student body
  • Student representatives failed to organize the pass the measure
  • The ballot measure was placed on the ballot by trustees and administrators improperly, a student expect says
  • Due to more budget cuts, student representatives say the fee is needed
By Reginald James Editor
Thousands of students attending the Peralta Colleges were overcharged for a student fee that was erroneously implemented in the fall of 2009. The fee was later repealed and funds were credited back to students.

An election on each of the district's four campuses was held in the spring of 2009 for Proposition B: Student Representation Fee. The measure asked if students wanted to pay a $1 fee for "student government to advocate on your behalf."

"Proposition B requires all Peralta students to pay a $1 Student Representation Fee per semester," according to an email sent out to all students in May 2009. This same message was posted on the Peralta website, and numerous posters on campus.

At other colleges throughout the state, revenue for the fee is used for travel to and from conferences where legislative matters are discussed. Students may refuse to pay the fee for religious, political, financial or moral reasons, according to the Code.

After the Tower informed officials that Proposition B did not pass, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Services and Admissions Jim Bracy took responsibility for failing to provide oversight of the campus elections.

Representatives from each campus emailed Bracy stating that the proposition had passed. He said he should have verified the election results sent to him by the campuses, instead of assuming the information provided was accurate.

“Upon closer review of my calculations of the spring 2009 elections, Proposition B (student representation fee) did not quite achieve the required two-third passage vote,” Bracy wrote in a Sept. 2 email to district administrators. “Consequently, I am asking the administration at each college to direct the bursars to immediately suspend the collection of the $1 student representation fee.”

An estimate 3,000 students were charged, according to district officials. The student’s payments were credited towards other fees, Bracy said.

Many student representatives were disappointed the proposition failed.

“I’m disappointed they assumed it passed,” Student Trustee Yvonne Thompson said in a fall 2009 interview. “Makes me wonder, ‘if you don’t check that, what else didn’t you check?’”

With this year’s spike in student enrollment, the fee could have raised at least $25,000 for student advocacy at Laney College alone.

“If [the] rep fee had passed, we would have used it for budget cut issues,” said ASLC President Ju Hong, who voted for the proposition. He was under the impression Proposition B had passed, but found out at a fall Board of Trustees meeting it hadn’t.

Hong said the money could’ve been used for this to fund ASLC’s recent bus trip for a march and rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento. The Laney Tower reported students were encouraged to “beg and plead” >Chancellor Elihu Harris for funding for the trip, despite students simultaneously protesting Harris, district administrators and trustees over disastrous budget cuts.

Lack of publicity
Proposition B failed last spring due to a lack of publicity, according to multiple sources. No information about the proposition was provided to the Laney Tower prior to the election, and minimal information was on Peralta’s special Referendum 2009 website.

Students also did not campaign for it and the student governments were “not communicating with their constituency,” Thompson said.

The Proposition was bundled with last spring’s Proposition A: AC Transit EasyPass by the Peralta Board’s Student Services Committee, according to that committee’s minutes. The board adopted a resolution in March 2009 to place the measure on the student ballot.

Although student representatives active at the time said they were not well informed of the initiative, past student governments have pushed for the fee.

ASLC representatives pushed for the fee in the spring of 2004, according to Laney Tower reports. The four Associated Student Councils of Peralta (College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt Collge in Oakland and Vista College, now Berkeley City College) got the go ahead to have a student election that year, according to the March 23, 2004 minutes of the board. The election's results were never published in the Laney Tower; however, election results obtained from the office of Laney College Student Activities Adviser Algeria Kirven show that the measure was passed at both Merritt and Laney College. Laney approved the measure by 71 percent while Merritt approved it with 67 percent. The measure only received 51 percent approval at COA. Election results from Vista could not be obtained from numerous sources.

In the fall of 2005, ASLC members mulled another run at the student representation fee. In the fall of 2007, the Associated Students of College of Alameda (ASCOA) adopted a resolution in favor of the student rep fee.

Although Proposition B received 69 percent approval at COA in 2009, it was not implemented.

“It was a district wide proposition,” Bracy said. “Not for an individual campus.”

ASCOA President Mali Watkins suspects the lack of information available may be why students on other campuses didn’t actively campaign to pass the proposition. He also paid the fee, but wonders where the money really went.

“We weren’t given much information about the proposition beforehand,” said Watkins, who was re-elected last spring. “We thought that it passed. Then we were told it was rescinded because it didn’t meet the minimum amount of votes required.” Watkins paid the fee, but does not know whether or not it was credited.
Watkins said, “I have no idea where the dollar went because it was such a minimum amount.”

Shoddy voting records

The code also requires a minimum number of students to vote in favor of the proposition for the election to be valid. The number of students voting in the election must be equal to or greater than the average number of students voting in the previous election, according to the code.

The various campuses did not have election results from previous years, according to Bracy. Officials were also unable to confirm what number, or source, was used to determine if the proposition met the minimum number of voting students required by the code for the election to be valid.

At the time, Merritt and BCC both had interim vice-presidents of student services (VPSS), Laney College’s VPSS was in his first year and the COA VPSS just returned from a short stint at the district as associate vice-chancellor.

Excluding Kirve, student activities advisers on the campuses contacted by the Tower were unable to provide past election results. With the exception of Laney College, student life personnel have also been unstable. Berkeley City College has been without an adviser this year. Merritt College's adviser left the district last year after allegedly misappropriating funds, according to sources.

Future action

While Bracy does not believe the current climate of increased student fees is appropriate for another go at the student rep fee, many student leaders say it is necessary to fight budget cuts.

A few student representatives thought the item would be a part of this year’s election. The item was to be placed on the ballot, according to the February 2010 minutes of the Board’s Student Services and Equity Committee. The measure was not included in this year’s election.

Rachael Richards, a senator with the Student Senate for California Community Colleges – a statewide student organization – said Peralta's election was a good example of how not to run an election.

"Each college's Associated Students call their own elections (or agree to have the elections as a district concerted event)," Richards said. She added each campus "must tally their own threshold, and votes at each college."

Posters on campus indicating the fee was to be implemented in the fall remain, just like some students’ hope that the proposition will eventually be passed.

“We need that advocacy fund,” Thompson said, encouraging student leaders to revisit the item. “It is important to the community colleges. We’re most affected [by budget cuts], she added. “We’ve got to get out there and advocate [and students] need funds to do that.”

Disclosure: Reginald James previously served as a Student Trustee of the Peralta Colleges from 2006-2008. At that time, he advocated for the implementation of the Student Representation Fee.

Women leaders speak at Laney College

By Terez McCall
Special to
Five dynamic and accomplished women recently joined a panel discussion in the Laney College Student Center to share their inspirations and insights on the issue of gender and leadership.

Facilitated by the ASLC, the diverse panel included: Leslie Ewing, executive director of the Pacific Center; Nancy Nadel, Oakland City Council Member; Dr. Angela Smith, Chair of the Communications Department; Dr. Inger Stark, chair and acting dean of the Sociology Department; and Laney College Interim President Dr. Elñora Webb.

First, the panel was asked, "What challenges or barriers do you believe women still face?"

According to Dr. Stark, misogyny in the form of social and cultural values that "reflect women as less than" serve to hold women back. Dr. Webb expanded on this idea by discussing the pervasive "less than" mentality becoming part of women's personal identity and necessary work to overcome this.

Dr. Smith began her response by quoting Marianne Williams' assertion that "our deepest fear… is that we are powerful beyond measure." Allowing others to define us is a big problem that stems from dehumanization, she opined. After taking the time to analyze what values and beliefs serve us, "we can achieve transformation and challenge what others tell us we are".

Ewing referenced gender bias and sexuality as heavy challenges to face, stating that personal and societal acceptance is essential. Citing the statistic that one-quarter of gay hate crime victims are actually straight, she stressed that a person's presentation can't be easily "switched off" even if it is socially unacceptable.

Nadel specifically mentioned the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funding for abortion) as discriminatory legislation that must be repealed. She also cited domestic abuse and rape as major barriers to an enriching life for women everywhere.

The next question was simply "Who is the most influential/ inspirational woman in your life?" These responses were the most varied and intimate of the event. Several very touching personal stories were shared about the poignant lessons learned from mothers, "sheroes," and friends.

Panelists cited notable women, past and present, such as educator and activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, famed feminist and gay rights activist Del Martin, pioneering Nobel laureate scientist Marie Curie, and social justice activist and author Arundhati Roy.

A key theme was that each woman had overcome the odds against her to do great things for herself and for others. Ewing described them as being "ordinary people who did extraordinary things."

Finally, the participants considered practical ways women could break the "glass ceiling" and enrich their lives locally and around the world. Suggestions included mentoring, working in solidarity to combat misogyny, and fostering a cooperative sense of "sisterhood" among women while acknowledging the challenges they each face.

Dr. Webb urged everyone to "first recognize and honor self, discover your passion or genius, and work at creating the reality you wish to see. Once this work is done, we can better see our connection and responsibility to one another, and act accordingly."

The event took place March 30 as part of International Womens' Month.

Proposed free speech zones at Peralta spark concern

By Reginald James Editor
George Orwell’s novel, 1984, described a world of an oppressive totalitarian regime, extreme government surveillance and an erosion of citizen’s rights.

A proposal at the Peralta Colleges to establish “free speech zones” has evoked Orwellian visions of the campuses’ futures. Yet others see the proposal as a necessary procedure to protect free speech.

Free Speech Zone Forum

May 12, 2010
Noon to 1 p.m.
Laney College, T-450
The draft “Administrative Procedures (AP) 5550 – Speech: Time, Place, and Manner” will regulate public “speech activities” on campus. Individuals and organizations from the community that “wish to table, display materials, petition, engage in public address, distribute literature and/or post flyers” would have to comply with the proposed regulations.

“Historically, free speech zones have been used by those in power to limit free speech,” said Matthew Goldstein, co-chair of the Laney College English Department, referencing the zones set up by former President George W. Bush’s administration that critics called, “free speech cages.”

Speakers would be required to submit a "Request for Reservation" form to the Student Activities Advisor of the College they wanted to speak.

“This means that those who determine who gets to use the free speech zones get to decide what speech is permissible,” Goldstein said. "A politically and morally intolerable state of affairs.”

The draft proposal states, "The Request for Reservation does not involve any review or approval of the content of the speaker's speech activity."

Requests for non-students to come on campus would have to be made three days in advance and will be made on first-come first basis, according to the procedure. The requests could be denied if the request conflicts with another reservation or previously scheduled student activities, or during finals week.

The proposed designated areas are the individual main quads at College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College, and the Student Lounge at Berkeley City College. “While engaging in speech activities,” according to the proposal, “speakers must remain in these specified areas only.”

“The purpose (of the policy) is to clarify and define rights on free speech and assembly” on the campuses, according to General Counsel Thuy Nguyen, who wrote the procedure. She added that the policy – which has been in the works for some time – was brought about by the recent, controversial anti-abortion demonstrators at Laney College and COA. “We had a few instances at two of our colleges around rights of anti-abortion protesters,” Nguyen said.

In 2008, three members of an anti-abortion group, “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust,” were arrested at COA and charged with trespassing. The arrests led to litigation between the group and Peralta. In March of this year, an anti-abortion group arrived on International Women’s Day with graphic ten foot banners with images of dismembered fetuses.

“In light of our experience in March with the abortion folks and their tactics that offended a lot of people,” Laney College Vice President of Student Services Dr. Donald Moore said, “the college is committed to having free speech. But how do you have it at a community college with various interests?” Moore asked. “Some believe these people (anti-abortion group) should be banned.”

Goldstein said, “Grownups need to understand that free speech can be ugly and irresponsible at times, but that tolerating all types of speech – event that (especially that) which offends us – is absolutely fundamental in a democracy.”

Both Moore and Goldstein recognize the policy raises concerns about academic freedom.

Student representatives contacted for comment were not familiar with the proposal.

The policy also regulates posting of literature on campus, although most Student Activities offices already have policies.

The policy does not mention military recruiters, who have had an increased presence on campus this past year and have also placed advertisements in the student newspaper, the Laney Tower.

A forum will be held at Laney College on May 12 from noon to 1 p.m. in room T-450 on the proposed Administrative Procedures.

African Americans Making Connections at Merritt College in Oakland

Oakland Youth Commissioners, from right, Brionte Young and Eric Gant, respond to a question from Ryan Nicole Peters.

By Reginald James Editor

More than 300 people assembled at Merritt College in Oakland for a conference May 1 organized by Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. The event connected community groups with activists, students with educators and entrepreneurs with each other.

“The reason for today is to reconnect and make new connections” during a time of doom and gloom, said Carson, who called for the convening. “We hear bad news, but there’s a lot of good being done in our community on a daily basis.”

State Assembly Member Sandre Swanson recalled being a student at Laney College 30 years ago when he got involved in the campaign of an African American woman named Shirley Chisholm who had the “audacity” to run for president. Swanson went on, with Lee, to work for then Congressman Ron Dellums.

“You may not see what your activism may bring,” Swanson said, “but you have a responsibility to be an activist.”

Youth were central to the program. Youth co-facilitated each of the conference’s issue area break-out sessions. There was a youth panel that included high school and college students who discussed youth obstacles, accomplishments and role models.

“Most of the time, it’s adults talking about what youth want,” Berkeley High School student Eric Gant said, “but adults don’t know what youth want. Youth know what youth want. Let youth control what the youth want.”

After the youth panel, attendees broke out into small group sessions on different issues affecting the African community. Issues included economic development, youth, housing, education, jobs, health, public safety and arts and culture.

In the education break-out session, attendees discussed curriculum development, teacher quality, learning styles and funding, while in the economic development workshop, people discussed the challenges of starting and maintaining a business, as well as other resources.

Spirited discussions were followed by a presentation by Wade Nobles, founder of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture.

“It is not about connecting organizations, it’s about connecting people-hood,” Nobles said. He suggested organizations incorporate culture more prominently in their organizations because culture is the glue that binds African people. “Culture is the instrument you use to express your humanity. We’ve adopted and allowed other people’s value system as our own.”

The culture African people come from is one of excellence, Nobles said.

Attendees were enthusiastic and optimistic about the chance to meet new people and resources. At the commencement of the conference, Congresswoman Barbara Lee urged people to stay connected, and come together beyond one day.

“This is a great opportunity for African American organizations to learn about each other,” said Rodney Brooks, chief of staff for Supervisor Carson. “We hope at the end of the day, you’ve found at least two more allies.”

This article originally appeared on Photos by Reginald James.

Laney College Presidential Candidates Forum

Laney College will host a forum for finalists for the campus’ new president on May 11. Each candidate will be interviewed and the public will have an opportunity to ask questions.

Laney College President's Forum
10-11 a.m.Dr. Steve Maradian
11 a.m.-12 p.m.Dr. Elnora Webb
12-1 p.m.Dr. Jing Luan

May 11, 2010
Room G-189
Laney College
Watch live on
The final candidates are: Dr. Steve Maradian, vice-president for policy and research at the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC); Dr. Elnora Webb, acting Laney College President; and Dr. Jing Luan, chief planning research and knowledge systems officer at Cabrillo College.

The Laney College Presidential Candidates Forum will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room G-189. The Black Hour will stream the forum live via

Former Laney College President Dr. Frank Chong left the post in 2009 to take a position with the Obama administration as the deputy assistant secretary for community colleges. Dr. Webb, then vice-president of instruction, was appointed to fill the position on an acting basis.

Back to Arizona - Hip Hop artists protest racist Arizona law - Music Monday

Hip-Hop artists in Arizona protest the new racist new state immigration law, Senate Bill 1070. The track, evoking a Public Enemy classic, features DJ John Blaze, Tajji Sharp, Yung Face, Mr. Miranda, Ocean, Da'aron Anthony, Atllas, Chino D, Nyhtee, Pennywise, Rich Rico, and Da Beast.

Back to Arizona

Hip Hop last drew down on Arizona when the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday as a holiday.

ASLC election run-off May 11

Dawna Williams
Dawna Williams
Harry Jiang
Harry Jiang
Photos by Lambert Li/Courtesy of the Laney Tower

Full Disclosure:
The Black Hour endorsed Dawna Williams for ASLC President. She was the only presidential candidate to complete our questionnaire. The Black Hour stands by the endorsement today.
The top two vote getters in the April student government elections at Laney College will go head to head in a run-off on May 11. The two candidates are Dawna Williams, vice-president of Alpha Lambda Sorority and Inter-Club Council representative on ASLC and Harry Jiang, vice president of ASLC and president of the Social Media Club.

During the April 20-21 elections, Jiang received 333 votes while williams received 242 votes. A run-off is necessary because neither candidate received the 51 percent majority needed in accordance with a district wide election code, according to the Laney Tower. The ASLC election committee announced Jiang as the election winner prematurely.

The Tower estimates five percent of the total Laney student population participated. A total of 766 ballots were cast with 725 voting in the presidential election, according to the Laney Tower.

The Tower also reported that a number of students were turned away from the polls because they did not have valid Student Identification Cards. Elections will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Student Center.

Oakland Police shoot and kill deer

Oakland Police shoot baby deer

Cartoon by Reginald James

Oakland Police officers shot and killed a baby deer in East Oakland on May 1. The deer was deemed a threat to public safety because many children – who called the deer, 'Bambi'– were in the area.

Laney College to host Malcolm X Summit

In honor of the legacy of freedom figher Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz), the Laney Black Student Union (Laney BSU) will host, "Malcolm X: Beyond Militancy Summit." The three day event features speakers, music, movies and more.

Tuesday May 11th
11AM-1PM Celebration with music, dancing, and art featuring Haitian dancers, African drummers, and a live band on the Quad.

5PM-8PM Movie about Haiti in Student Center Conference room.

Wednesday May 12th
11AM-1PM Call to organize! Free food, tabling, and SPEAK OUT on the Quad featuring local organizers and insperational speakers.

5PM-8PM Movie: "Aoki" a documentary about Richard Aoki, one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The filmmakers will be present.

Thursday May 13th
11AM-1PM Talent show: History of Expression through music. PLUS raffle prizes to winners.

5PM-8PM Movie: Operation Small Axe, a documentary on the Oscar Grant rebellions and organization that took place. A panel discussion will take place after the event.

RSVP on Facebook.

Oakland Police kills deer

Oakland residents were shocked to see a deer frolicking in the flatlands of East Oakland, but were even more disturbed when an Oakland Police officer murdered the deer. The deer was reportedly unarmed.

Photo Courtesy: KTVU

"The incident was caught on video and has gone viral on the Internet, stirring up concern from animal lovers. Oakland police have launched an investigation into the shooting", the Oakland Tribune reports.

"I was in tears after it happened," said Kim McLemore, who lives in the 1700 block of 90th Avenue. The deer had run through McLemore's carport and jumped a fence into the yard of a rental unit behind her home. She said she spoke with the officers who eventually shot the animal.

In a press release, OPD wrote "The Oakland Police Department wants to publicly express our concern over the incident involving a deer in East Oakland on Saturday. The shooting of the deer by police officers is an unfortunate event and we are disturbed by the situation. The actions of the officers will be reviewed and we are working diligently to find alternatives for a better outcome in the future. We value all life and are dedicated to training and partnerships in the future that will help us to understand wildlife preservation."

“I’m unhappy with the results of this incident. I do not like what I saw (in the video)," Batts said. "We are reviewing our policies and our procedures surrounding this incident to ensure that something like this does not happen again. I understand the importance of life and am working towards implementing strategies that will result in humane outcomes in our future contacts with wildlife.”

At Laney College, students were outraged by the shooting, seeing the murder connected to a long stream of violence towards people (and now creatures) of color.

"Not only has the Oakland Police Department been terrorizing our streets by murdering our fathers and sons," Laney Black Student Union President Jabari Shaw said, "They are now killing our childrens' dreams by shooting recklessly in inhabited urban areas."

"The police shooting anyone in East Oakland," said student Sade Adona. "If you darker than a paper bag, they will shoot you. It don't matter if you have skin or fur."

Shaw, a father of three, said that after witnessing the "atrocity," children burst into tears asking, "Why did the police kill Bambi?"

A representative from Oakland Animal Services was not available for comment.

This instance of police on animal violence is not unprecedented. Last year, Alameda Police shot one of its own K-9's. It was the second police dog to die within one year. The departments K-9 program was suspended and placed under investigation.

A memorial has not been planned, or announced.

Assembly Member Nancy Skinner speaks on California State Budget at Berkeley City College

California State Assembly Member Nancy Skinner leads a discussion about the California State Budget on March 27.

Part 1: Nancy Skinner Discussion

Part 2: Nancy Skinner Q & A

Video courtesy of P-Span, Peralta TV

Lupe Fiasco - "I'm Beamin" Video - Music Monday

Back in February, The Black Hour posted Lupe Fiasco's "I'm Beamin" as our Music Monday pick of the week. On top of a dope N.E.R.D. beat, the track from "outer space" reflecting "inner peace" returns to with a futuristic themed video.

Mayweather wins bout with Mosley

Photo: Chicago Sun Times blog

Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr. defeated "Sugar" Shane Mosley in a highly anticipated welterweight bout Saturday night in Las Vegas.

After Mosley landed a sweet right in the second round that caused Mayweather's legs to buckle, the chance for Mayweather to get knocked out for the first time ended. Judges handed Mayweather a unanimous decision after 12 rounds, but Mosley still retains the title as welterweight champion.

WorldStarHipHop has a 20 minute video with highlights from a few rounds, along with the post-fight interview.

Floyd Mayweather vs Shane Mosley Highlights and Post-Fight Interview

Of course, folks are still waiting for Mayweather to fight Manny Pacquiao.

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