We introduce the 2010 State of Black Pasadena Report with the same preamble as the 2009 report except to add Fannie Lou Hammer's famous line that we are "sick and tired of being sick and tired" of the same old treatment that guarantees Black American's the position at the bottom of the barrel, no matter how much we do or how much we accomplish or contribute.
Hammer was speaking on behalf of the Mississippi Freedom Party's struggle to get Black representation in the Democratic Party in 1964.
In a word, nothing has gotten any better for Black Pasadena. And the only way to make it better is to do it the old tried and true way: Do it for ourselves by recalling the methods of the past and acting accordingly. For those who are squeamish about how we got over to this point, we quote Frederick Douglas' famous proclamation of August 4, 1857:
"The Whole History of The Progress of Human Liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle .... If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom yet depreciate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters... This struggle may be a moral one or it may be physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out what just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance whom they oppress."
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS
One year ago Black students in Pasadena Public Schools were reportedly graduating at a rate below 50%. Black males were graduating at even a lower level. There have been no initiatives to improve the Black male performance of Black students in the District. One Black male, Mr. Pannell has been informally designated as the designee to represent Black Pasadena at the School District, and yet his greatest claim to fame is that when he was a principal at Longfellow Elementary School he proclaimed that the Black female teachers were all jealous of the fact that he was married to a White woman. Operating under this Tiger Woods-like illusion, he proceeded to eliminate all Black female teachers from Longfellow. He has moved on as principal of Elliot Jr. High School and now designated to promote progress for Black males in the District.
This type of injustice needs to be avoided, however, the new Superintendent of PUSD has eliminated all Blacks from the Executive staff of the District. With no voices at the decision making table as portrayed in the March 11, 2010 edition of The Journal we are left to the devices of those who would choose Blacks that they deem safe. We reject and object to Superintendent Diaz' implied notion that there are no Blacks in the District qualified to sit at the table of power in a district that is probably 30% Black students.
In lieu of bringing Blacks to the table to assure closing some of the achievement gaps of Black students, Diaz brings whites from Glendale and other mostly white communities to make decisions about the future of mostly Black students. Perhaps Diaz is not aware that Glendale has not so long ago done away with the sunset laws that said "Blacks should not let the sun-set on them in Glendale." The elevation of Pannell will be like the Bush elevation of Clarence Thomas to the U. S. Supreme Court - a Black face only. The Thomas appointment was a racist act that made history but made no sense. Thomas is Black but acts like he doesn't want to be. He certainly doesn't subscribe to the James Brown prescription of being BLACK AND PROUD. He has done everything that he can to GIVE HIS BLACK BACK.
We need someone who won't give their Black back on PUSD's policy making staff Pannell will not tell Diaz this because he either doesn't know about it or he believes that the sunset law is okay. Diaz has already made history by removing all Black executives from the PUSD Executive level. Now it is time for him to make sense with and appoint someone that Blacks can count on to watch out for our children. Until something changes at the District level nothing will change to close the achievement gap and if Diaz doesn't understand that, then there needs to be a movement to get a Superintendent that does. Remember, there are no permanent friends just permanent issues, and the education of Black children so that they can fully participate in the benefits of America generally, and Pasadena specifically, is a permanent issue.
The fact that the School District hardly spends any money in those schools with mostly Black and Brown attendance speaks volumes about their intentions. As we come upon the May election where we are all being asked to vote for MEASURE CC, the parcel tax, we must ask ourselves are we going to vote for a system that continues to put our children last? And if we do vote for it, where is the indication that it will improve the status of Black students?
Last year there were two Charter Schools that concentrated on Black students. Today there are NONE. The whys could be debated for a long time, but the fact is that they were gone at a time when some initiatives needed to be implemented to help close the achievement gap that keeps Blacks at the bottom of the barrel. If we are smart enough to pass the teachers' exams, California medical boards, the California bar exam, and the Presidency, surely with some attention to our unique needs we can graduate more than 50% from high school!
We need someone to begin NOW to look at the School Board election as a way to improve things. Serious questions have arisen about Scott Phelps and Mr. Miramontes' performance on the School Board. In recent days there is evidence that they are both involved with disgorging elected Black officials and some Blacks from the position of Principal. Meanwhile the number of Black school executives has remained constant while others are ¬increasing under Diaz.
[Part II . . . to continue in next Issue.]