The “Choice Watch: Diversity and Access in Connecticut’s School Choice Programs” report released last week suggests ways that “open choice” schools in Connecticut should work to reduce segregation across racial, linguistic, and ability lines. The report finds that most school choice programs are actually integrated as far as socioeconomic status is concerned, with integration defined quite broadly: enrollment between 25-75% minority students. Continue reading 'How to Make Schools More Integrated'»
With artists from Haiti, South Africa, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Mozambique, UK, Cape Verde, Korea, Canada, India, Philippines, Czech Republic, and the United States, the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival celebrated its ninth year. The event’s main draw is the concert, but over several days there are lectures and workshops, films, dance, live graffiti art, and more. Continue reading 'Trinity International Hip Hop Festival Brings the Sun and the Noise'»
- Free admission to the Connecticut Historical Society galleries today, 9am-5pm.
- TNMOT-AZTRO: Projector Series II — from 7-8pm, watch a performance that blends dance, fashion, and visual media at The Garden Center for Contemporary Dance, 56 Arbor Street, Suite 411. $5 minimum donation.
- Night of the Gypsies: The evening features live music by accordionist Markus and violinist Annalise, fortune telling by Madame Johnny Frechette Super Fine Artist, henna hand painting, and dancing to DJ Jon Eastman. There will be art and more for sale by Anne Cubberly, Alexia Lalande, Jen Bonee, Karen Weiser Kelly, and from Blaze and Bloom. This will be at the Dirt Salon, 50 Bartholomew Avenue, from 8pm-midnight. Tickets are $20 at door, $15 in advance. Continue reading 'March 2014 Events'»
The conversation was supposed to continue until 3pm, but well before that time, the library announced the panel would be wrapping up, despite panelists and audience members showing continued interest in having an actual conversation about the Black Panthers and continued racial tensions. This was not received well and people demanded to know why. There was mention of jazz starting at 3pm in the atrium. After some verbal resistance, the event was allowed to resume and panelists ended it on their own, just a few minutes before the official stop time.
Butch Lewis, co-founder of the Hartford chapter of the Black Panthers Party, observed that “we are more segregated now” in the city than when the party was active. He named the number of anti-poverty organizations in the city; without spelling it out, Lewis implied that the poverty agencies have been benefitting from this social injustice, rather than addressing it.
When looking at how race relations have changed, he was not the only person in the room to notice that the education system suffers. Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings, during Q&A, noted that while the Black Panther Party “gave us some alternatives,” Hartford still has “educational disparities” and that there are no black department heads. Continue reading 'Thoughts on Black Power'»
Enough Elephants in the Room for a Circus
Hartford is a small, diverse city. The 2010 census data indicates that 38.7% of its population identifies as black, 43.4% identifies as Hispanic, and 15.8% identify as white, non-Hispanic. The rest falls into categories of white, Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and biracial/multiracial. Of course, we know these numbers do not reflect those who are not reached by data collectors; historically, blacks and Hispanics are undercounted.
Knowing this, questions were raised going into last week’s #youngHartford forum about the blatant lack of racial diversity on the panel.
Carlos Hernández Chávez, a local with a solo exhibit currently on display in the ArtWalk Gallery, posed a similar line of questions while in the audience of the Courant/Fox/HYPE-sponsored event: “I’ve been here [in Hartford] 47 years,” he said. “Hartford right now is over 50% Hispanic. How many of you are Hispanic here?” he asked the audience. A few hands were lifted. “That’s not 50%.”
Hernández Chávez said this was not about creating guilt for anyone, but this subject had to be discussed.
“How many dark faces do you see here?” he continued. “If we want to see Hartford thrive,” he said, “then “you have to look at that issue.”
But not everyone has been wiling to do that. Sidestepping unpleasant controversy is just easier for some, including those who had both an audience and a microphone but chose to use neither for the greater good.
That’s not to say that all of the panelists were complacent. Continue reading '#younghARTford: Second Time Around'»
For its preschool-through-eighth grade, the Kinsella Magnet School for the Performing Arts has a permanent location on Van Block Avenue, in the Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood. It has expanded to create a high school, currently located temporarily on Locust Street, one mile away in the South Meadows, a predominately industrial area of Hartford.
The Hartford Board of Education had planned to vote Monday evening on a permanent site for this high school but the vote on this and approval of a lease agreement for the Weaver Culinary Arts Academy with Lincoln Culinary Institute were tabled until the meeting next week. City Council already approved $33 million for construction of a new Kinsella high school facility.
The Superintendent’s suggestion that the Kinsella Magnet School for the Performing Arts High School be built on City-owned property adjacent to SAND Elementary School (America’s Choice at SAND) on Main Street did not go over well. Continue reading 'Superintendent’s Pick for Kinsella Site Opposed'»
He has been called a “visionary” and praised for examining white privilege. He’s been denounced for making racist statements on Facebook.
Others have criticized the culture that allows a white male to receive attention and praise for saying the same things that get ignored or treated with hostility when those with less inherent privilege say them.
Author Tim Wise will be speaking at Trinity College on January 29, 2014 about “Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama,” the idea some hold that because our leader is black, racism no longer exists.
The lecture begins at 7pm in the Washington Room of Mather Hall. This is free and open to the public.
As we move into the holiday season, some see it fit not to push toward creating a more just world, but to punish those who have already been punished. This is done selectively and in ignorance, or apathy, of the larger consequences and messages being sent. The same people lamenting recidivism are actively putting up stumbling blocks to those who have made mistakes and are trying to do right.
Last week what we saw in Hartford was not concern for public safety but a witch hunt.
We can speculate over why Kennard Ray was singled out more than others to have his background checked out. Maybe it’s his party affiliation — being part of a growing third party in a city controlled by the Democrats. There’s been open hostility toward that party by those who believe it is somehow responsible for both Republicans losing their footing here and for some Democrats to lose votes. Some have suggested that those calling for this investigation with such gusto all hail from a different racial background from Ray, and that their privilege prevents them from seeing how they are contributing to institutional racism.
I asked Kennard Ray why he thinks this got the spotlight, after all, not all new hires are given so much as a second glance by the media. His telling of it is that questions arose after a press release was issued by the Mayor’s Office, with reporters from the Hartford Courant initially raising the issue. At this stage of the game, he had been appointed and was due to begin work this morning, following the Thanksgiving weekend.
He says that he has “heard several theories on why [his past] may have been brought up, but I’m not sure if any of those theories lead me in a direction where I can form a solid opinion and I am not comfortable speculating. I’m sure we’ll hear more about why this became a public issue of interest in the days to come.”
Regardless of the reasons, this push to “investigate” Ray came largely from those whose own pasts are far from perfect.
The Debt That’s Paid is Never Paid
At what point has someone paid his debt to society? Is it after he has served his jail term? Stayed out of trouble for five years? Ten years?
Kennard Ray himself, in a statement on Facebook, has said that he has “worked tirelessly in my community and communities like it over the past decade to make good on past misgivings. I have in fact done the crimes that the media has reported on, and I have also done the time. In fact, over the past decade I’ve put more time and effort to doing right, than I ever have in doing wrong.”
Do we only consider him rehabilitated on his death bed when we can all be sure that he has obeyed the law for the remaining decades of his life?
What Does the Law Say?
The fact is that Ray, nor anyone else applying for a job with the City of Hartford — with only a few exceptions — needs to be upfront about his criminal past. Hartford has an ordinance spelling out as much. A resolution states:
The court of common council by substitute resolution dated January 12, 2009 resolved that the human resources department review its current civil services processes and eliminate any barriers during an interview process that may preclude applicants with criminal records from gaining employment with the City of Hartford.
Interpretation: a person who has a criminal past can be employed with the City of Hartford. Continue reading 'Ban the Box: What does the law say?'»
Last week we learned that a sorority at Trinity is temporarily suspended for allegedly putting young women at risk of danger. While this investigation is ongoing, it is not the only concern up the hill right now. At the beginning of this semester a Facebook group, Trinity Confidential, emerged. People can post anonymous comments. Most of the content is the mundane and predictable material one might associate with anonymity and young adults: lots of references to sex, drinking, and drugs, with a few complaints about food. But in between these remarks are others that have caused some to take pause. There are more than the occasional veiled or overt racial comment, along with anti-gay slurs, and the ever-present anti-Hartford slur: “locals.”
There is not agreement or complacency from everyone on campus. Some have responded, also anonymously, but others have stepped up and taken responsibility for their opinions. Continue reading 'Trinity Student Offers Suggestions for Bridging Town-Gown Chasm'»
Sandra Fluke, an attorney and women’s right activist whose name achieved celebrity status when Rush Limbaugh publicly referenced her as a “slut” and a “prostitute,” spoke to a group of students, academics, and community stakeholders in Hartford about an array of social justice issues affecting modern day politics and life. The discussion spanned from reproductive healthcare, Roe v. Wade (and Planned Parenthood v. Casey for the constitutional law enthusiasts out there), to social welfare programs, poverty, labor movements, and even immigration reform.
At first glance, these issues appear to stand alone as isolated social and political agendas. However, Fluke, a Georgetown Law graduate, demonstrated how each of these issues intersects with gender equality, providing a context for modern-day feminism that is often disregarded as being abstract or far-fetched. But as Fluke pointed out, what is a theoretical debate in one circle represents another community’s day-to-day reality of living on the margins of society – despite desires to break free from the structural barriers they face to legally proscribed rights.
Fluke cited the family cap on public assistance as one example. The cap is a policy that denies mothers and families who receive welfare additional assistance after the birth of another child. Essentially, it’s a child exclusion policy. Fluke said, “That child is cut off from any kind of basic assistance. Basic needs. If you think about why we have this policy [and] what that policy is about, it’s about controlling the reproductive choices of somebody who’s poor. It’s about saying we don’t want to have a lot more poor children, so lets try to tell poor people not to have more kids. …. [It] links to very racist ideas about who should be having kids and who shouldn’t.” Continue reading 'Breaking Down the Silos in Modern Day Feminism'»