Saturday, November 09, 2013

The Confusion that is Africatown

Here are a couple of photos, all taken in the same room at the Mann Building, that show why some of us are confused about what the real mission is for Africatown.  I do not know when they were written but they were left up during the press conference I attended.
Mann as a "safe haven for radical thought" or an art space or a fashion academy or a "cannibis farmer's market".

They clearly want to help African-American kids but it also seems they believe that their neighborhood is changing in ways that they feel are wrong/unwanted and that taking the Mann Building is the first step in keeping it an African-American neighborhood.

Ideas about teaching African-American students


It is very hard to know what to think or if this represents the thoughts of an entire neighborhood. 

42 comments:

Anonymous said...


http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2013/05/a-vision-for-africa-town-by-addisalem-gebremedhin-resident-of-newholly-community-and-solomon-welderfial-resident-of-yesler-community/

PSP

rahelg said...

Why do you need to understand what a members of a neighborhood and community you are clearly not a part of want for their children? Who are you to evaluate "their" thought process? Honestly. Why do you feel like you should have any say when you are neither African American nor from the CD?

That would be like if I wrote ad nauseum about the community efforts in Queen Anne and what I thought was wrong in it and how they just need to do x, y, and z.

How is it your business?

Anonymous said...

Here is the text, as written:

WHAT DO YOU ENVISION FOR THIS BUILDING

* "A Little United Nation C."
* Studio
* Safe haven for "radical" thought
* Art $pace
* Uplifting Place To Grow & Learn :)
* A Fashion Academy for the community to grow and build with
* Apiologist program "Bee keeping" stewards of Planet
* NoOneAlike Jewelry Store/ SistaSoul Speak
* MMJ dispensery /cannibis farmer's market

Some of these goals seem more adult focused than child focused, IMHO.

-ABC

Anonymous said...

Here is the text of the AIC board:

AFRICATOWN INNOVATION CENTER

* Regain & recapture the symbols of life
* Teachers should receive knowledge from students - reciprocity of teaching
* Engage a child's point of interest
* Process of learning vs the product
* Culturally Relevent curriculum
* Teachers represent the background of students
* If help what we want hold district accountable
* Re- what we're
* Understand different and indoctrination
* Early learning/ teach children the BIG picture about learning about the world they live in
* Understand our cultural strengths & use it in the classroom


How Black Kids Learn
--------------------

- Relational
- Collective
- Inter-personal; want to talk out about we're learning
- Dialogue
- Rhythm(?)

ABC

ArchStanton said...

@ rahelg:

How is it your business?

It's all of our business.

If we were discussing the occupation of a private, I might feel that this opinion was justified, depending on the circumstances. But, we are talking about a public school building - OURS - yours and mine. That alone gives all of us reason to have some say if we choose to.

It's not clear whether you are just addressing Charlie and Melissa or anyone who has participated in this discussion, but I can assure you that many people posting here are either from the CD, are African-American, or at least are of mixed-race, mixed-families, lower status, lower income, etc. You are mistaken if you are painting the participants in this discussion with such a broad brush as to assume they are not part of your community.

Also, people here freely discuss what other communities and schools should be doing, how their buildings should be used, how boundaries should be drawn, what should be taught, who should be tested, etc. SPS has been poorly managed for a long time and is excellent at pitting different schools/communities against one another; welcome to the blog. Your building/school/community isn't likely to be treated differently if tax dollars are supporting it.

You can't hide behind a wall of, "It's a Black thing, you wouldn't understand."

If you want support, you need to help everyone understand. It may be unfair to require the non-dominant culture to explain itself to the dominant culture - esp. in the language of the dominant culture. But, without supporters in the dominant culture, I don't see how this occupation can end well. Seattle is strapped for seats, and folks aren't going to be happy handing the building over unless they can buy in to what you are hoping to accomplish. Unfortunately, the "What Do You Envision For This Building" brainstorming session pic hinders your cause more than it helps.

In the words of Chuck D., "It's a Black thing, you GOTTA' understand."

Help us understand.

Franklin Pierce said...

Rahelg,

Your ignorance and naive view of the world is the main problem for African American kids ( if you even have any). I have raised my kids to be open to all types of cultures and experiences and not be limited to the African American experience. Your paranoid beliefs are not wanted in my home or my community ( I also live in the Cd)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Franklin Pierce said...

Wide range of ideas. What are you talking about. If the ideas put forward on that white board is suppose to be diverse thinking then we are doomed. If that's the best that the Aficatowns leaders can come up with its no wonder that the readers of this blog do not support allowing Africatown to be involved in the education of children.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One, I don't live in Queen Anne.

Two, I'm a taxpayer and so yes, if someone is taking a public building that we all own, sure I will ask questions. The use of the building is in the ownership of it. Also, why does someone have to be African-American to have a say in the Central Area? That's confusing to me.

I didn't say anyone in Africatown is confused; I said that what they are saying is confusing if these two boards are any indication.

Anonymous said...

Here is another try at the text of the AIC board. I previously used brackets for the illegible parts, which were previously removed when posting:

AFRICATOWN INNOVATION CENTER

* Regain & recapture the symbols of life
* Teachers should receive knowledge from students - reciprocity of teaching
* Engage a child's point of interest
* Process of learning vs the product
* Culturally Relevent curriculum
* Teachers represent the background of students
* If help (illegible writing) what we want hold district accountable
* Re-(illegible writing)what we're (illegible writing)
* Understand different (illegible writing)and indoctrination
* Early learning/ teach children the BIG picture about learning about the world they live in
* Understand our cultural strengths & use it in the classroom
* (illegible writing)
* (illegible writing)


How Black Kids Learn
--------------------

- Relational
- Collective
- Inter-personal; want to talk out about we're learning
- Dialogue
- Rhythm(?) (illegible writing)
- (illegible writing)

ABC

4equity said...

raheig, Anonymous 7:53 and others who are concerned about the educational well being of black children and youth, and plan to bring an end to the educational abuse of African American students by Seattle Public Schools, please do not lower and marginalize our children struggles by posting on this blog. Please allow the writer and readers of this blog talk to themselves. Why do they matter, leave them alone they have their own problems to deal with. Please don't ask me to look at this blog again, there is nothing relevant to our children's here. Now I have a glass a wine and jazz to finish. : D

Anonymous said...

How does explaining your group's program "lower and marginalize" the struggles of black children, particularly when you are requesting an allocated public school property to run this program in?

Wanting Clarity

Ed Lambert said...

Melissa:
AGAIN, you are misinforming your readers with a venomous headline and selectively posted material that supports your pre-existing hatred of the AIC.

You post pictures of a few random brainstorming notes on white boards but IGNORE any of the intelligent discussion that you heard last Saturday (during the brief period you were at the press conference).

While you may not agree with the AIC, it is extremely irresponsible of you to severely misinform your readers and generate an atmosphere of fear and hatred towards a community that is trying only to protect their children.

I suggest that you read Rebecca Solnit's "A Paradise Built in Hell”. Dr. Solnit looks at the reactions of everyday people during disasters. In every case, there is overwhelming evidence of people with the least giving of themselves to help their community. However, they inevitably face repression by more dominant and privileged neighbors that become gripped with fear and over-react with a harsh military response.

A specific example of this is New Orleans during Katrina, where the media FALSELY REPORTED rapes and murders in the Superdome. This caused a hysterical reaction among the wealthier white neighbors who then formed vigilante gangs that murdered innocent blacks involved in rescue operations. (This is a fact -- there were NO documented rapes or murders in the Superdome, despite what you heard on TV at the time, and there were scores of DOCUMENTED murders by white vigilantes. Please look this up for yourself.)

Melissa, whether you intend it on not, your EXTREMELY biased editorial stance might do actual harm. I am not trying to convince you to support the AIC. However, when you post a hatchet job on the AIC like the piece above, you further dehumanize the AIC in the minds of poorly informed neighbors. Your inaccurate and biased reporting is fueling a spirit of fear and hatred against the AIC and their supporters. This is the kind of fear and hatred that runs through the mind of “neighborhood watch” types -- like one in Florida named George Zimmerman.

While you may not support the AIC, you really need to stop posting such inaccurate and biased information to incite the community -- it is dangerous and irresponsible of you..

Anonymous said...


Hands off page :

https://www.facebook.com/events/1390090434565739/


PSP

mirmac1 said...

Speak for yourself Franklin Pierce.

Lynn said...

Ed Lambert,

Do you have a minute to share your opinion of Dr. Umar Johnson? If you didn't hear him speak at the Mann school, here's a link to some of his other speeches. In particular, I'd like to know (as a Nova parent) if you feel he would be an appropriate guest speaker at Nova.

Anonymous said...

I know the supporters of Africatown are unhappy and feel they are being misrepresented.

But what exactly ARE you wanting to do? If you will not publicly write about your group, your goals, and your plans, how exactly do you think you'll gain support? If you do not want public support for your plans (which I understand, really), then why are you seeking public resources such as an entire school building? (this is the part that I don't understand, frankly)

You can either work solely within your own group to achieve change, but you'll only have your own resources to draw on. Or you can seek allies outside of your group, but you will need to explain what you are doing to the wider community to get them to give you resources.

Which option are you actually seeking here?

Wanting Clarity

rahelg said...

Franklin Pierce, you do not know me.

I was referring to Melissa when I asked why is it her business to evaluate Africatown as she has made it clear in her blogposts that she is not from the CD. I just threw out Queen Anne as an example of a white neighborhood that can do whatever it wants without having to answer to and "seek support" the "dominant culture" when they take any action.

I think it's laughable that a group who is trying to educate and uplift children should have to "help white people understand" why and how they're doing so. You think these parents should spend their time explaining to you about what they are doing rather than focusing on alleviating the MASSIVE issues in the Seattle black community? I think it's abundantly clear what their goals are. It's not complicated AT ALL.

I am so reminded here because of these comments, in ML King County of this quote from MLK himself:

' "Over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” '

rahelg said...

ArchStanton No, we don't need to help everyone understand. I was not put on this earth to explain my struggles and goals to white folks. If you want to learn, that's your own responsibility.

Melissa - you say it's about the ownership of the building, but you've delved further into other issues. This blogpost doesn't talk about the rights to the building, it questions the Africatown mission and their approach to alleviating issues in the CENTRAL DISTRICT--AGAIN, for which you are not a part of.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough - you do not want to let anyone else know your business. I can see that.

But the cost of being insular in that way is that you have to pay your own way. Why should anyone offer to help pay for your program, or give you a public building, if you do not in turn tell them your plans and goals?

Seeking Clarity

rahelg said...

Come on, that's disingenuous. Africatown leaders have been in talks with SPS, partnered with many organizations and had open meetings where their goals are clearly stated.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I came across these three links in the past few days which I think can help contribute towards understanding some of what is being aspired to by the More 4 Mann groups:

Wayne Au's piece on how much more engaging his African-Anerican studies classes at Garfield were than the traditional honors history class he took:
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/23_02/deco232.shtml


The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Nationwide Problem for Equal Rights | Rolling Stone
ow.ly/26Uovo
(I think if you copy and paste this shortened URL it will work correctly)

Why Does Los Angeles Criminalize Black and Brown Youth? | The Nation
ow.ly/26Y6YC
(Copy and paste this shortened URL to your browser)

They aren't incorrect that there are better methods of teaching and management of learning environments. I think most of us want that for our kids. As stated above, poor management for years is part of the cause.

The first sign shows greater interest an aspirations in a community space, a hub for the community, one that is losing its historic district to gentrification. It isn't chaotic, it is open-minded and aspirational.

Whether the Mann building is the exclusive or ultimate location available for this pursuit is questionable, though I can understand the appeal of the facility.

I visited an ecolodge in the rainforest of Ecuador some years back. A non-profit group was founded by a white American who did graduate field work in the area to develop their compound. The business model was done in partnership with the indigenous community and arranged such that through working at the facility they gained equity over some years resulting in total indigenous ownership over time. This was in contrast to European and North American businessmen and their associates who built the other ecolodges in the area where the locals were hired at the least wage possible and had no equity stake in the operation.

Ann D.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mighty laughable said...

What is laughable and sad is the middle class whites who are so concerned about what Africa town is doing? As if they can help someone if they only understood the issues, as our pensions get smaller, and our educated grown kids can't find decent jobs,
and most of our graduates have no real proficiency in math and science either, heck most can't name the states in their country, and their schools are closing, and our kids falsely packed in so called AP classes that aren't worth a quality education any place but home. WHAT IN THE HECK IF YOU KNEW ABOUT AFRICATOWN YOU CAN DO FOR SOMEONE ELSE WHEN YOU CAN'T EVEN HELP YOUR OWN? Last time I look wives is working for minimum wage, meth. killing kids, more mothers raising children alone.

White people are in those ridiculous Board meetings more helpless, hopeless than everyone else cause we are actually believing they actually care as SPS becomes more impotent.

The only privilege we THINK we have belongs to someone else, go ask Gates and the Koch and they don't care if you are white.
Now if you are white talk about what you going to actually do for kids being screwed in your own neighborhood and leave Africa town alone, they definitely have a clearer vision than us. JESUS! Would laugh if it wasn't so sad!

lol! said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Disgusted said...

To Everyone:

"Only the racist can't hear the racism when it is communicated."

Taking photos off white boards and flipcharts as a community attempts to help itself. Yikes! a very tabloid blog.

B said...

Reposting for the anonymous @ 7:18:

Thanks to whomever posted the link to centraldistrictnews.com. They have a picture of the AIC rules. Apparently people are allowed to spend the night in the Mann building. Is AIC providing education or a rooming house? This is ridiculous. I live in the CD and wish the Umojafest people would just go away. They are militant, uneducated, angry and an embarrassment to the neighborhood. They represent a tiny little group of people that until recently were totally isolated from the rest of the hood. The are a very evil hate filled group.

JvA said...

To me, the "What do you envision for this building" heading suggests an open invitation for ideas from all, rather than an agreed-upon statement of purpose.

Thanks to ABC for posting transcripts -- I couldn't enlarge the second picture large enough to read it.

Central said...

Occupying Mann doesn't stick it to The Man, it sticks it to CD kids.

Central schools are overcrowded, and the kids need Mann as a school building. Overcrowding at Washington can only be made better by reopening Meany (which the District should never have closed); Meany can only be reopened as a middle school if we move the schools there now somewhere else; there aren't extra buildings, it has to be Mann. And I GUARANTEE that the District is not going to take the $1,000/day or whatever it's costing at Mann out of their own central budget, they'll take it out of the money they put in our classrooms.

You've made your point. It's time to move and give the building back to the kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think anyone here fears OR hates Africatown. I think it's a lot of puzzlement and worry. There's a difference and I find it interesting you call me out on words and yet you use inflammatory language.

Ed, I will warn you - you need to not try to align this blog or me in any way with people like George Zimmerman (and indeed, the DAY the verdict came out, I posted and was very angry).

I find it interesting that people who do not like/want to be judged are quick to judge other (the comment on the people who live in Queen Anne - fyi, they have been fighting for decades for a high school for their region - do they have one? No.)

"Why should anyone offer to help pay for your program, or give you a public building, if you do not in turn tell them your plans and goals?"

Good point. No,the plans have NOT been clearly outlined. There's a lot of talk but again, no written proposal which is standard for this kind of partnership. I again note that some groups from Africatown were unable to secure dollars from the F&E levy because of this lack of documentation. It's a public building and public dollars - yes, everyone from the Superintendent on down has the right - as citizens - to see what public dollars are being spent on. It's no one's private business.

Disgusted, there were two photos and one was talking about how to support African-American students. It was fine so I don't get your point. I was showing the confusion between the two photos.

Anonymous said...

Their Facebook site had a clearer photo, so I was able to fill in some missing pieces. Here is another try at the text of the AIC board:

AFRICATOWN INNOVATION CENTER

* Regain & recapture the symbols of life
* Teachers should receive knowledge from students - reciprocity of teaching
* Engage a child's point of interest
* Process of learning vs the product
* Culturally Relevant curriculum
* Teachers represent the background of students
* If help (illegible writing) what we want hold district accountable
* Re-(illegible writing)what we're (illegible writing)
* Understand difference btwn training, education & indoctrination //
* Early learning/ teach children the BIG picture about learning about the world they live in
* Understand our cultural strengths & use it in the classroom
* Euro = fact; if you don't see it it doesn't exist
* African = a feeling (illegible writing)


How Black Kids Learn
--------------------

- Relational
- Collective
- Inter-personal; want to talk out about we're learning
- Dialogue
- Rhythmic (illegible writing)
- (ex of an Afri (illegible writing)

ABC

Anonymous said...

From the KIRO story:
Seattle school squatters warn of 'itchy trigger finger'

"Horace Mann School is still being occupied by a group of people that might have a gun and is on the lookout for police officers.
Someone inside the Seattle Public Schools-owned building left KIRO 7 a voicemail after a photographer working for the station shined a light to take video Saturday night.
"I was wondering if you could tell your cameraman to please turn his light off because we thought it was the police and our guy up on the roof, he's got an itchy trigger finger,” the man in the message said. “So if you would please turn that off, that'd be great."


- WTF?

Journalistic Integrity? said...

@Melissa,

Do you have documentation that any "groups associated with Africatown" were denied FE funding? What is your source? What group are you talking about? More made up hearsay?

It is true however that FE Levy dollars sold on the backs of black students continue to go to white organizations mostly run by white women who are not accountable or authentically part of the community they claim to serve.

How about an expose on where all the money supposed to help these students is going? What is their plan? What is their data/outcomes?

I mean we understand you are anti-Africatown but your vigilante propaganda is really a bit much.

Anonymous said...

"Vigilate propaganda"? Dude, she is not on the roof of a school building threatening news crews with a gun. Your guys are.

WTF?

Melissa Westbrook said...

My source is at the Office at Education at the City which runs the F&E levy. I don't make things up, folks. Ever. Of course, I checked this. (They were not specific on which groups but said, yes, Africatown had talked with them.)

Anonymous said...

At this point anyone can do anything in the name of "Africatown" and so long as it's negative you all will eat it up.

Anyone could have made that call to escalate the tension. There are parents and children frequenting the building, I don't think there is anyone "on the roof with an itchy trigger finger."

KIRO should play the recorded message on air to expose the person and I'm sure the police can trace the call pretty easily.

-Drama

Melissa Westbrook said...

That KIRO was accosted by two masked guys on Wednesday makes the phone call much more credible.

All of us have asked for more information about the plans Africatown has for their program(s). As has the district. As has the Board. It is clear from the Board comments, some want to believe in these groups but want more information.

That's where the disconnect comes in. Even if you believe the general public has "no right" to any specifics, the Board and the district does.

Journalistic Integrity? said...

@melissa

So an anonymous source at the Office of Education said "Africatown had talked to them"?

LOL

Denial of funding usually means that an entity submitted an application that was reviewed and denied based on some criteria.

Might I also add that I understand "Africatown" to be a community (like Chinatown-International District) not any one organization and not limited to the effort at the Mann building.

I thought your fact checking usually includes a paper trail, names, pictures, etc. but you've been posting a lot of hearsay regarding this issue. Always with a negative spin. I see that others have noticed your bias and commented on your selective reporting as well.

Confusion said...

The scope of the Africatown movement is bigger than the Mann building so using the term "Africatown" without specifics is always going to be a source of confusion.

www.africatownseattle.org

Also, don't assume that every entity or individual that relates to and supports the Africatown concept identifies with the tactics at the Mann building.

Melissa Westbrook said...

My source is not anonymous but I choose not to say who it is.

I have printed photos.

I have put up website links.

I have never said that I am unbiased on most issues. I try to present the facts but yes, I usually will support one thing more than another.

Africatown uses their name; I don't have enough information, in written form, to understand how to use or not use it.

Again, the original tenants had keys, made keys and gave them out and now we see a "rules" list to use/sleep in the building. Clearly, someone is in charges of who is and isn't in the building.

If people who support Africatown do not "identify" with these tactics, they should be speaking out. They are not.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I believe this is a good time to end this thread. If any further news comes up, we'll report on it.