In Defense of Africatown

The City Just Botched a Chance to Address Race Problems in Schools


Omari Garrett is a virulent racist, as well as a violent felon.…
Mr.Garrett fights a war against "racism" against African American's.But you probably wouldnt understand that, would you?

Clearly the writer of the piece did not do their homework and is naive regarding the situation and Aficatown. First and foremost, Aficatown was asked by the district for a business license with basic insurance so that they could interact with children. They were given months to come up with it and never did. The district is still waiting. The district asked to see a list of the board of directors and they never did. Could be that Omari was involved. He is a sad, failed man not a educational activist. Remember he went to jail for smashing Paul Schell in the face with a megaphone, went to jail for holding a gun to a U.W officers head. Maybe some find this behavior oK.
This group was asked to provide some details about what they were doing and refused to provide numbers of students served and what they were teaching. SPS has a responsibility to have some oversight over community ity group's in th public's building.
Of course there is a problem with African-American children in Seattle, but this is not the right group to do it in this building.
As your writer should know, there is a city wide initiative to overcome capacity problems throughout the district . Renovating the Mann building is necessary because a program called Nova ( who had been in Mann for 30 years) had to move out recently need to move back in, because the building that they are in Meany, needs to be renovated for a middle schools which would help serve and lower overcrowding in the central district. The Mann building was not the appropriate location to house Aficatown, because kids would be stuck in overcrowded classrooms when they don't have to be. The Mann building is large enough to house 500 high school students, turning it over to a group that provided after school enrichment would be crazy.
In regards to this group, your readers and you should know that they invited to speak and support a man named Umar Johnson in who is incredibly anti-gay. He connects homosexual behavior and child molestation. He says " black boys are taught by white female teachers who hate them". His message has no place in America, let alone teaching children in Seattle.
Again the writer of the piece is clearly biased and sophomoric in this article. I would expect more from the stranger.
Omari is so much more intelligent than any news story has illustrated. If he is racist, it's from having suffered the personal and institutional racism endemic in Seattle, and his attempts to challenge that racism. He was convicted of a 2nd degree assault against Paul Schell. For years, the Central District had its own community festival. Then Schell and SPD (with its federal 'weed and seed' funds) and a few CD residents tried to trump that historic grassroots festival with their own celebration and its own agenda. Omari got his conviction for assaulting Schell during this new so-called 'peace and unity' city-sponsored festival. There is a long background to Omari and his associates trying to get real help on the streets for Black kids, using surplus school district property, with opposition from the city, the school district, and wealthier members of the Black community. That's a story I'd like to read.
This group supports an anti-gay advocate named Umar johnson. He spoke to the group on Sept 29th and if you speak with many of its members they support many of his positions.
Does this news conference that Paul Schell spoke at, give Omari the right to smash him in the face with a bullhorn. If he and Umar are your heros, no wonder the children of the African American children are suffering.
Have you all gone mad?
I work with the youth of Seattle and you all could not be further from the reality of the socio economic conditions on Seattle.

You really need to get jobs and an education based on knowledge and enlightenment. Not anger and hate. Everyone is human and we all have the same needs.

Stop making up these problems to profit off of others.
It's called America no other word. Like it or leave it
@3, @6: Where do you live, Central Area or "Capital" Hill (sic)? Can't be both.

Are you vetting all the speakers at Town Hall? What about all the breaks the city and business community of Seattle are giving Mark Driscoll? Where's your outcry for the way he's feted by Seattle as compared to one sad sack who spoke at AIC once?
@8, I see, so being just a little bit virulently homophobic is okay. Suffering makes it okay to inflict suffering. Gotcha.

It's a shame, because the point that the Africatown groups are trying to make is perfectly valid: the district has done nothing to close the infamous "achievement gap", despite several workgroups that have all come back with the same suggestions (all shitcanned by the district, of course). The trouble is, Garrett is poisonous. If the spokesperson is an asshat, it makes the whole group look rife with asshattery.
Ooh, Sargon, you have your troll hat on this morning! You know, it's hard to do homework when you don't have a home. Or when you don't have a computer at home, or when your parent works three jobs to PAY for the home you have, and so on. There's no question that the underlying problem is poverty, but there's also no question that poverty and race are highly correlated. Some of our schools raise enough money through their PTSA to hire full-time extra teachers. Some schools don't even HAVE a PTSA. Guess which one has the much much higher non-white population?
it can be both problems at once cather
@6 @10 Until you bigots are willing to go to town halls and openly declare your racist views shut the fuck up online as well. "Over the last decade, suspensions and expulsions have been meted out to black high-school students at least three times as often as to white students." If accurate this displays a clear case of institutionalized racism. @11 I'm positive the poverty correlation is a large part of it (the poverty resulting from centuries of structural racism), but it likely goes beyond just that to students of color being treated more harshly for similar behavior.
How come there’s no achievement “gap” for black students from Africa? That's right, nothing to do with "institutional waycism" and everything to do with shitty parenting. Don't let seattle's guilty white liberals deal with facts:

'Alarming' new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools

African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home — typically immigrants or refugees — according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools.

District officials, who presented the finding at a recent community meeting at Rainier Beach High School, noted the results come with caveats, but called the potential trend troubling and pledged to study what might be causing it.

Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is "extremely, extremely alarming."

The administration has for years analyzed test scores by race. It has never before broken down student-achievement data by specific home language or country of origin — it is rare for school districts to examine test scores at that level — but it is unlikely that the phenomenon the data suggest is actually new.

In fact, some national experts said the trend represented by the Seattle data is not surprising. They pointed to some studies about college attendance and achievement indicating that immigrant families from all backgrounds tend to put a larger emphasis on education than those families that have been in the country longer.
“”Over the last decade, suspensions and expulsions have been meted out to black high-school students at least three times as often as to white students."

Really? Black children of African immigrants don’t have high expulsion rates. Maybe it’s shitty parenting and the fact that 70% of African-American students in Seattle come from single parent homes?
Just because I point out that Umar and Omari are hate filled bigots does not make me a racist friend. I know its hard for you to see your leaders in a different light than your hero worship, but they did not, or will not help in the issue at hand. They offer nothing constructive except a bunch of ranting and whining.
Three times the average is not proof of institutional racism, it does point to a problem though. You can not expect SPS to solve the crisis of poverty which again you can not still blame on institutional racism. It is to complex to blame on racism.
I have actually fought against Mars Hill bigotry for years, but we are discussing the misguided takeover of the Mann school and my belief that Aficatown is not able to help and in fact hurts the very students that it wants to advocate for.
You really want this racist prick around any kids?…
I live in the CD and I think the city should be doing whatever it can to address racial inequities in the school system. However, it isn't clear to me how exactly this organization relates to Islam. As an atheist, I don't want my tax dollars supporting religious education. I would appreciate more unbiased info about this group although I understand its unreasonable to expect that from a newspaper in 2013.
@18, don't you see that that's a fallacy? 'Oh, [exceptional person] overcame [socially constructed barrier], therefore ALL people should just overcome that barrier!'

What utter horseshit. It's the same argument rich white folk use for everything (and, comparatively speaking, I guess I AM a rich white folk, so I oughta know). 'Why, look at Richard Sherman, worked his way out of Compton and into a lucrative career. Why can't all the kids in Compton just follow his example?'

And if you seriously think that if a kid mouths off in class and is WHITE, he'll get suspended, you've been too long out of a school building. And if that kid is black, then the odds are darn good he (or she, but especially he) will be suspended. For the same behavior. There's solid data to support this: for comparable misbehavior, black kids are far more likely to face suspension that white kids. So you tell me, why can't those black kids just buckle down and overcome the apparent racism of teachers and, especially, administrators? Because it's not THEIR racism: it's the adminstrator's racism. THAT'S who needs to rethink his or her approach.
Mr. Herz tells a very one-sided story. As someone who has followed this story (and written extensively for the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog) for quite awhile, there is a LOT more backstory to all of it, including Africatown.

Omar Garrett has multiple convictions, not just the one for assaulting Schell.

Africatown claims they want to help all black children but then complain of where the space is that the district has to offer. Which is also where many African-American children live. Hmmm.

The district has specific parameters around leasing space at reduced rates and it applies for ALL groups.

#9 has it right - Africatown is terrible at messaging and has really hurt itself because of it.

That police intel was based on real information of threat to KIRO tv reporters. If the police have reason - based on real evidence - that there are issues in a building that is taken over, yes, they have to proceed as IF it were true for the protection of the officers.

What Africatown is saying is true:
- SPS has no real plan to serve underperforming African-American students
- the disproportionality of disciplines rates is terrible.

Africatown has never put out any real written proposal of who they are, what their plan/programs are, how they plan to carry it out, who it will serve and what their outcomes/goals are. You cannot expect the district to give over space and resources without this kind of information.
@15 "How come there’s no achievement “gap” for black students from Africa?"

Because they weren't raised in a country that enslaved their ancestors and has been blaming the victim of its institutional racism ever since to make itself feel better.
@24 is correct. No program including Mr. Garrett is ever going to achieve anything. Garrett isn't interested in helping anyone but himself, and his tactics are felonious. He is a bullshitter par excellence; he's POISON. Anti-racism activists in Seattle would be well advised to keep him as far away from their efforts as possible. I very much hope they are able to do so, because I want them to succeed, not fall into predictable conflicts that don't mean anything.
White Seattle/Slog liberals are the dumbest, goofiest, most naive Pollyanna white people in the country.
“Because they weren’t raised in a country that enslaved their ancestors"

Are you claiming there was no slavery in Africa? No wars? No injustices? No horrors?

Sorry, but children of African immigrants in Seattle have no achievement gap because their parents care about education. The problem lies in the shitty parenting/marriage values of certain segments of urban black americans and the white liberals who encourage and reward shitty behavior.

If Seattle and SPS are so racist, why are so many Somalis trying their hardest to get out of the south end and come live up north in my ‘hood so they can send their kids to schools up here? Why are these kids thriving up here? Why are they so welcomed?
Funniest thing about Africatown is actual Africans want nothing to do with the place.
Over fifty percent of annual murders in Seattle are committed by guess what group???
Seattle is only about six point eight percent black
Ansel, your WMD analogy is deeply flawed. This wasn't bad, internally generated intel that led to a war. This was something Omari and his pals told reporters at the school prior to police going in. As found in this news story:…
@bogart14: "suspensions and expulsions have been meted out to black high-school students at least three times as often as to white students." If accurate this displays a clear case of institutionalized racism.

Our society imprisons men at 9 times the rate it imprisons women. By your logic, that's a clear case of institutionalized sexism against men, right?
@ Capital hill resident - racist @Sargon - bigot @seandr - moron

Thats the best you have to say. As Omari and Umar, you add nothing to the conversation.
Seattle Public Schools, like districts across the country, have mis-educated African-American students and continue to do so. This mis-education has taken a number of forms including, but not limited to:
* Inadequate rigor for individual students, classrooms of students, and entire schools of students
* Disproportionately high discipline
* Disproportionately high referrals to special education
* Disproportionately low referrals to advanced learning
* The absence of culturally relevant curricula
* Culturally incompetent staff who inadvertently give or take offense when none is meant

Our schools do a great job educating students who arrive at the classroom prepared, supported, and motivated. They always have.

Our schools do a crappy job educating students who arrive at the classroom unprepared, unsupported, or unmotivated. They always have.

Due to a combination of historical, economic, and cultural factors, African-American students are more likely to be missing one or more of these critical factors for success. While our society and our schools have made some progress to provide the support when it is missing (before- and after-school supported study, meals, healthcare, and more), and while our city is getting ready to step up with some of the needed preparation (early child education), there is little or no progress on the motivation, the most important of the three.

I doubt there is any school so bad that a motivated student cannot wrestle an education away from it. Nor is there any school so good that it can force an education onto an unmotivated student. Student motivation is the dominant determinant of student achievement. A lot of students get their motivation at home, but the schools do so little to nurture motivation that it is as if their mission is to crush it.

We know what motivates people to do cognitive work (like learning): autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Outside of the alternative schools (Yay, NOVA!), students are allowed almost no autonomy to direct their education or determine how they will demonstrate their knowledge and skills. While you might presume that the opportunity to achieve mastery is the school mission, the truth is that students are ushered from lesson to lesson without getting time to pursue mastery of any of them. The goal is proficiency, and often little more than familiarity is achieved. And, most of all, there is little effort made to tie schoolwork to a sense of purpose larger than the student.

These de-motivating factors are made worse by the disproportionate discipline and by the lack of any culturally relevant content in the curriculum.

Does that answer the question about how, exactly, Seattle Public Schools - and school districts across the country - mis-educates African-American students?
Now, as to the claim that a chance to address this historic and continuing clusterfuck was botched: it was. But it wasn't only botched by the District, it was also botched by the Africatown activists.

The occupation of the building was an effective tactic for getting the District's attention. But then everyone made every bad move available.

The superintendent, for his part, botched every decision. First, he didn't play hardball, like he should have, and forced everyone out of the building on August 16. Or at least on August 31. Second, he agreed to negotiate, but refused to negotiate in good faith. NOVA's return to the Mann building was a non-negotiable - a position he didn't reveal until the third meeting after two meetings wasted exploring alternatives. He never did, and still hasn't, offered Africatown anything that isn't available to any group seeking to lease space in a District building. Finally, he is trying to stiff-arm the activists with an Advisory Committee. This is a well-used tactic by the District. There have been at least half a dozen of these Advisory Committees in the past twelve years or so. They all make the same recommendations, and then all of the recommendations are ignored.

The Africatown activists started well with the occupation, but then botched everything after. Their worst mistake was to take the empty promise of an Advisory Committee, but they also failed to win any concession at all from the District. They got played.
You spend months criticizing Africatown and now your there defender. What kind of hypocrite are you. Its a waste of time even to discuss with you.
It's so funny to see liberal progressives so blind to the logical end results of their own naive policies.
Segregation forever!
Seattle will be so much better when Whiteness is eradicated and Seattle is more like a glorious socialist utopian combination of the conditions prevailing in Black Africa and Brown Mexico.
What are babbling about. What failed naive policies?
I guess your a step up from the two morons #41 and #42
2-repeat allele
3-repeat allele
& their distribution percentages amongst "population groups"

Look em up

Are you a creationist or not???
"what are you babbling about?"
"what failed policies?"

Maybe you'll find out if you have another White Privilege Conference.
Perhaps Caprice Hollins could help you out.
Somebody call Silas Potter now!!!
$ila$ Potter should be consulted about all this awful white racism!!!!
Seattle Public Schools missed a great opportunity to address its race problem when it got ripped off for millions of dollars by black people for the cause of blackness.
Oh how soon the goofy naive white Seattle progressive do-gooders forget!
#46 or #40
What are you talking about. Try to form an original thought and explain what your talking about.
Caprice Hollins, are you kidding. A failed SPS administrator. Doesn't she work for the Mars Hill Organization now. She fits right in with the Activation group.

@39, Neither the Africatown activists nor the school district are entirely right or entirely wrong. I have criticized the activists - and the school district - for what they have done wrong and praised them each for what they have done right. That's not hypocrisy at all.