Trading Places or Sharing Spaces

African American news from Pasadena - Editorial - Mentoring, reading newspapers and moreWhen I have occasion to mentor young people, I always advise them to read a newspaper every day. The purpose is to keep up with what is happening in the world and keep improving their reading skills. An example of the benefits of reading newspapers was demonstrated this past weekend. I discovered that Cal State Los Angeles, along the bastion of producing Black college graduates, has a new President, William Covino. He replaces James Rosser who was there 34 years.

The point to be made here is that after 34 years at Cal State L.A., James Rosser, an African American, held reign over a student population of 54 percent Latino, 16 percent Asian, 11 percent White, and bringing up the tail was 5 percent Black. (Los Angeles Times January 1, 2014). With malice towards none, my question is why were there only 5 percent Black?

Yes, I know the Latino population in California has grown exponentially and Cal State is essentially a community college, but that doesn’t answer the question. Why are there only 5 percent Black population at a state college? Are there more at Cal State Dominguez, or Long Beach, or other state colleges? There aren’t a significant presence at UCLA or its private cousin, USC. Cal State Dominguez where my wife graduated from, has a population of approximately 15,000 with approximately 20 percent African American.

The other thing I read this weekend was that Chicago closed over 50 schools, in the primarily Black Chicago School District. At the same time, they opened 20 charter schools. My Daddy used to call that robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is clear to me that this is by design to take the money to educate all the children and create a privileged status for a few.

Looking at Pasadena Unified School District, you’ll find the profit from charter school ownership has taken over our relatively newer school properties such as the sites of the old Loma Alta, Edison and Burbank schools. Now there is a building project for Altadena School. In the case of one school the profits has built a monstrosity in Altadena.

If you want to know why conservatives really don’t want Obamacare, it’s because it takes the profit motive out of practicing medicine and pharmacy. Why are we paying a profit for healthcare? Why do the conservatives want to take over Social Security and Medicare? The profit is gone. Now we buy bonds to build new schools like Edison and the private charter schools take over and make a profit without the guarantee of better educated students. If this doesn’t mean anything to you, just wait a few years and the results will become clear.

Another fact that came out of the local newspapers is that the state bar will admit non-citizens to practice law in California. At the moment, I don’t remember where I saw that bit of news, but a Latino employee in a place I did business with this weekend reminded me. It apparently spawned quite a discussion at his home. Sergio C. Garcia is the first Latino approved by the State Supreme Court to practice law even though he is not a citizen. He came to the United States at the age of six and as yet not received a green card.

In a local business magazine it demonstrated that there are no Black city managers and nearly no Black mayors. Although, in Pasadena, we do have a Black female, Jacque Robinson, as vice mayor. And if we travel south in L.A. County, we find Aja (pronounced Asia) Brown, mayor of Compton.

The schools have been our salvation, going back to the end of slavery. Why did they want to deny us the right to get an education or own property? There is power in both education and land ownership. They have devised plans to take our property and it worked. Now they want to deprive us of an equal opportunity to education, and if we don’t read, we won’t even know it is happening.

Likewise, they sent millions of young Black men to prison for marijuana charges and now the road to legalization is open. Colorado and Oregon now say it is legal to buy and smoke marijuana, just as they did in times of prohibition of alcohol.

Do you get it? Not if you are not reading and analyzing what is happening. Stop observing society pass you by, participate!