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Do Opportunities in Spanish Discriminate?

African American news from Pasadena - Commentary on Spanish and discrimination.In April 2010, I was retained to represent two certificated African American employees of the Pasadena Unified School District. They were being terminated from their positions because they didn’t speak Spanish. One had eleven years with the District and had just finished a Ph.D.  Her “crime” was she allegedly spoke no Spanish. The District had interpreted a state education code [section 44955(d)] to mean that even if you had more seniority than another employee, you could be fired and replaced by another employee with less experience, if you did not speak Spanish.  The practice was called “skipping.”  I called it discrimination, in my brief, and in my oral arguments.

The result was that the Administrative Law Judge agreed with me and while one of the two had substantially more experience, the other had less experience and the need to skip was not necessary. This second employee left the District and was hired elsewhere.  Pasadena was then left with only one African American in the particular category.  I am not mentioning the client’s name or employment category because of the confidential nature of the Attorney-Client relationship. 

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More Than Good Intentions

African American news from Pasadena - Editorial - solving global povery problemsMy wife has been telling me for years that sometimes my advice to others on subjects, like becoming entrepreneurs, just doesn’t work for every individual. She is constantly reminding me that my solution to unemployment is to open your own business, just doesn’t always work because what works for one may not work for another.

I have had a real problem believing that the entrepreneurship answer is not a universal one. I have a hard head and still believe that if the circumstances are right, entrepreneurship works.  I must admit that a book I ran across recently is causing the foundations of my belief to be shaken.  The book called, “More Than Good Intentions”, talks about how to solve problems of global poverty. One chapter is about the Chinese proverb that says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.” 

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Bridging the Gap Between the Church and Community

Black news from Pasadena - Editorial - saving the youth and homeboy industriesI had the distinct pleasure of speaking to the Interdenominational Ministerial  Alliance of Greater Pasadena on Saturday May 28, 2011. The event, held at Altadena Baptist Church where Pastor George Van Alstine is the pastor, was to my surprise, a packed house.  A full agenda was accommodated by the Alliance and its president, Dr. Nicholas Benson. I took my few minutes to talk about and promote the idea of the group organizing to develop a program that serves the young people of Northwest Pasadena where all of the traditional programs seem to have disappeared, or simply don’t serve the young people, anymore. My personal target is young Black males, in particular. I am aware that that may be offensive to some, but in my opinion, young Black males seem to have been abandoned by their fathers, the schools, the churches, and the community, in general. They are the ones who need special attention, quick, fast and in a hurry. I guess the fact that I represent so many young men in court who have been abandoned, one way or another, and see so many mothers and  grandmothers struggling to save them, the epidemic is clear to me.

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Liars and Other Rites of Passage

Black news from Pasadena - Editorial - Rites of passage and remembering lessons from the pastThis week I was again reminded of one of the lessons that my daddy taught me and which my years on earth have proved true. That lesson is that there are many White men who don’t sleep at night trying to think of new ways to keep Black folks down. My daddy was right again. I was defending a young man in a trial who was severely injured by police action but the District Attorney filed criminal charges against the man and blamed him for his own injuries, kinda like they did in the Rodney King beating.

We went through the trial of so-called peers in Alhambra where there are few jurors of a Black man’s peers. Don’t be fooled by that term of peers. It doesn’t mean you will have people that look like you or even think like you on your jury. You may very well have people on your jury whose whole culture is worlds apart from yours. As a note, that is why you need to find a lawyer you trust, pay him/her, and please, listen to your lawyer.

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Surviving In An Upside Down World

African American news from Pasadena - Editorial - surviving in an upside down worldWe’ve all heard the words, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Now in the post Bush economy, we are watching it with our own eyes in disbelief that the Republicans and Tea Party people are working to stop Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, so they can give more tax breaks to oil companies and insurance companies. I am still in shock that the Tea Party and Republicans are for breaking up public education and firing teachers while maintaining corporate welfare called, subsidies, for giant, rich corporations.

The Republicans say they wanted to get Osama Bin Ladin who masterminded the 9-11 bombing in New York and caused the death of nearly 3,000 Americans on American soil.  And yet when a Black American President named Barak Obama catches and kills Bin Ladin, these people are finding reasons to criticize him. Indeed, Rush Limbaugh is saying he still wants Obama to fail. Others are saying he should have asked permission to kill him. But these same people want the police to act and question crime suspects without reading them their Miranda rights to remain silent.

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