Black Audacity at Pasadena City College: 5 Years Later With No Significant Changes for Blacks, Now What?
<Pasadena, CA> Over 5 and a half years ago, The Pasadena Journal was the first to notify the community and garner National attention with the front page shocking headline “Is There Discrimination at Pasadena City College?”
In the introductory paragraphs of the August 2015 Pasadena Journal, Joe Hopkins described discrimination on its’ face as one in which employees endure a “keep quiet” approach, suppress their complaints because of the real fear of being fired. Joe advised the community in August 2015 to step up and demand that those regardless of race who were perpetuating the discrimination at PCC against black employees (full time, part time etc), and black students, and people of all creeds be fired or replaced by people who “understand that diversity is a chief goal of the college.”
August 2015, under President Dr. Rajen Vurdien, 36 new employees were hired and not a single one was African American. At the time, Black Student enrollment represented 6% of the PCC Student Body (Source: California’s Chancellor’s Office)
Since 2015 PCC has had two President’s, four Human Resources Vice President’s, two Vice President’s of Instruction, two separate Chief Business Officers and countless other personnel changes.
The institutionalized discrimination, which has continously and boldly passed from PCC administration to PCC administration, for at least five years if not more is what prompted the Pasadena NAACP to release in March 2020 “Pasadena NAACP Demands Solutions for the Hidden Figures at Pasadena City College: Black Women.” The full two-page document is available by request by contacting the Pasadena NAACP office.
Excerpts from it include the fact the Pasadena NAACP is investigating the hiring and promotional practices at Pasadena City College (PCC,) specifically related to black employees, and the hidden figures, black women. A forthcoming report by the organization will encapsulate the data and experiences of current and former black employees feeling invisible related to hiring, as well as career pathways. Why are highly educated black employees with extensive years of positive work experience stuck at lower paid entry level positions? Campus positions such as adjunct, clerk, janitorial, secretarial, professional expert (permanent part time), faculty but not Deans, classified etc.
Allen Edson, Pasadena NAACP President, and his predecessor, Del Yarbrough received numerous inquiries to the revered civil rights organization by black employees, yet they have been told over the course of the past five years by various PCC presidents, administrators and Trustees that they were “looking into the matter.” The lack of respect showcased in the five plus years “looking exercise,” has resulted in no investigations nor corrected behavior by the Aspen award winning institution.
Over the years various local media including the campus newspaper, The Courier have also investigated and raised concerns about discrimination at PCC. Black employees’ concerns are valid, yet they have been placed on the proverbial back burner, which has a compounding negative effect when ignored, of stress & income inequality as they juggle the lack of upward mobility and not getting a fair share of promotions.
“PCC has not arrived in the 21st century. It has stuck with discriminatory employment practices that most of us assumed had ended long ago. The invidious discrimination at PCC is not limited to an isolated incident - it exists across the board - at an institution that is fundamentally important to our City and society. I am outraged to learn that such discrimination still exists in the hiring and promotion process at PCC. Supporting the leadership and call of the Pasadena Branch of the National Association of Colored People, I have a reasonable belief that the new President of PCC, Dr. Erika Endrijonas, will take all steps necessary to remedy the situation post haste.” - John J. Kennedy, Former President, Pasadena NAACP, Former Senior Vice President; Los Angeles Urban League; Former Vice Mayor and Current Pasadena Councilmember.
“Inclusion is a right, not a privilege for a select few” - Judge Geary, Oberti v. Board of Education 1992 According to LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co., Black Women ask for promotions and raises at about the same rates as white women, but they get worse results. Regardless of their occupation, level of education, or years of experience, Black women are still paid less than men, and far less likely than others to be promoted in the workplace. On average, Black women in California make 61 cents to every dollar a white man makes. Regardless of socioeconomic or education level, Black women work decades longer than white men to match their earnings. The cumulative effect of lower earnings for Black women at PCC means less money for their families, housing, food, disposable income, retirement, savings etc especially since more than 80% of Black mothers are the main breadwinners for their households.
In the March 2020 public statement released by Dr. Erika Endrijonas, she states “that she was glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues when she met with Mr. Edson in his office earlier this year. In our fruitful conversation we talked extensively about topics of equity and fairness - particularly in the complex environment of state employment law - and she shared her own perspective on the inequalities that women face in the workplace. As a lifelong feminist and advocate for marginalized communitiies, Erika is intitimately familiar with the struggles women must overcome to earn equal pay for equal work. She looks forward to working with Mr. Edson and other organizations to implement solutions at PCC and throughout our community - that finally empowers women to receive the fairness they deserve.”
Dr. Erika Endrijonas assumed the helm of the college in January 2019, and eight months later in August 2019, 35 new employees were hired with less than four African Americans being hired. In 2019, black student enrollment represented 3.75% of the PCC Student Body (Source: California Chancellor’s Office) Several of the Board of Trustees who were the community's elected representatives for the college in 2015, continue to serve as the community’s Trustee representative in 2020. The current Board of Trustees makeup is 5 males including one male student trustee; three females; and one additional female Trustee being added in 2020 thanks to the election of Tammy Silvers in March 2020. Under Dr. Erika Endrijonas, the January 2020 District Administrative Staffing and Functional Chart of 55 positions, shows 10 white men and 14 white women; 13 Latinx, and 9 African Americans.
The Association of Black Employees (T.A.B.E.) and the President’s African American Advisory Committee (P.A.A.A.C) are two great campus organizations which have galvanized black students and black employees with campus & community pride, advocacy, and the dual emphasis on promoting student success. Two upcoming campus milestones for black students and black employees include the Black Graduation on May 29, 2020, on PCC’s Main Campus, Mirror Pools. And the always exciting community gathering, PCC T.A.B.E. 42nd Annual Scholarship Breakfast, the morning of Thursday June 11, 2020. For more details on both events please visit: https://pasadena.edu/campus-life/student-life/black-graduation.php https://pasadena.edu/faculty-and-staff/tabe/tabe-celebrates.php or email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
What can you do about what has transpired at PCC for black students and black employees over the past five years? Help advance economic justice and equal pay by advocating for change: contact your PCC Trustee Representative, voice your opinions to your Local, Regional, National Legislators, and overall lend your support in various ways to the countless current and former black students and employees who truly value the diverse Lancer spirit at Pasadena City College. #blackwomensequalpay #pcc
The Pasadena NAACP is speaking up for the many voiceless black PCC employees current and former because “there is no noise as those of a determined people.” The Pasadena NAACP values the positive partnership with PCC and asks that they be inclusive & expedient in their forthcoming positive actions.