The battle over the proposed Aspire School, a charter school that, if the developers get their way, would be built on City of Oakland property located on the northwest side of Derby Avenue between East 15th Street and International Boulevard (thus called “the Derby Property), continued to the July 10th Oakland City Council Meeting, but the decision was put off July 24th, as many Oaklanders had questions.
The main controversy surrounding the proposed sale of the public land that was owned by the Oakland Redevelopment Agency, and thus suposedly to be used for the development of affordable housing, Instead, Pacific West Communities, which does develop workforce housing, entered into a disposition and development agreement to create the Aspire Charter School.
Rather than adjust plans and actually try and meet the needs of the community to build housing, the debate has degeneratred into a sadly presented choice between schools and housing, with a developer that claims it can do both at the center. What’s most shameful abou the controversy is how some proponents use the image of what they see as “poor disadvantaged black kids” in Oakland as the reason the City Council should act.
Have doubts? Take a look at these Twitter tweets:
The #OaklandCityCouncil votes tonight to benefit 3,000 students, providing them with a new state-of-the-art school. 94% are disadvantaged and 100% kids of color. Maps shows they live in every Council District. DO THE RIGHT THING! @DanKalb @Abel_Guillen @LynetteGM @desleyb @aspire pic.twitter.com/ZSi4lYpIzd
— Michael Colbruno (@MikeOpera) July 10, 2018
Oakland City Council can do something amazing tonight by approving the new Aspire School (Item 9.3). 100% minority kids get new, safe school at NO COST to OUSD. Who could say no to these kids? #BetterSchools @DanKalb @Abel_Guillen @NoelGallo5 @LibbySchaaf @desleyb @LynetteGM pic.twitter.com/EwQrW9ciK6
— Michael Colbruno (@MikeOpera) July 9, 2018
Now, the person behind the tweets is none other than a friend of mine: Oakland Port Commissioner (and dog lover, and poltiical junkie, and all around good guy) Michael Colbruno. This, in my opinion, is where Mr. Colbruno made a mistep. This must be said directly.
Michael, if you want to help the black kids you show in the photo, rather than calling them “disadvantaged”, why not help their parents?
What is really bothersome is how perspectives like the one you shared, or the one that’s advanced by the Oakland Promise Program, is that “minority” children must be helped, but the folks who are their fathers and mothers are never mentioned.
There’s no excuse for not wanting to give better job opportunities and wealth to anyone who’s truly qualified to have them, but victimized by a racism that assume they don’t have either the skill or background to do a job. So, they lack the money they need to help their kids, only to have someone like Michael (who’s white) come along and say “help those disadvantaged minority kids!”
Try “help those disdvantaged parents of minority kids” and you will be on the right track. Racism causes deliberate misdirection of wealth away from those who are deserving of it and by those who don’t want them to have wealth. Anyone who maintains a system where black kinds are used as tools to direct assistance that should go to their adults, in particular, are not helping at all to make society better.
In Oakland, high crime and low economic resources go hand-in-hand. Breaking the cycle means improving the wealth of families, and then you really do help the same children you claim you care about.
That’s for my friend Michael and for anyone else who would knee-jerk adopt such a way of asking for a political body to approve a project like a charter school.
As an addendum, it should be noted that Mike’s tweets were liked and re-tweeted – logical to assume that those who did were supportive of the image presented and its message.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media