Happy Kwanza, Pt II: Nia

NIA  To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness. 

SoBEO always wants to encourage and lift the work of Black Education in Oakland. There are stories and narratives to be told. Oakland struggles with sometimes a fear of being Unapologetically Black (Yes, Home of Black Panthers!). Wokeness without heart and lotsa “Random Acts of Equity” can be found, but we haven’t been bold enough about speaking to the needs of Black Education and the Black Community. We must make this our practice. We have to share the narrative and be honest. We are missing the mark of centering our work on Black Minds!

In the coming year, we will see the school district address enrollment issues move beyond the ideas of the Opportunity Ticket born out of  The Oakland REACH and SoBEO actions in 2019.

But there is more necessary work we must do. Courageous, honest, and uncomfortable conversations about an intentional integration plan being called on by OUSD.  What an important process, it will take a lot of hard work, if they are going to successfully govern and create an Anti-Racist School District focused on access and quality education for all. 

So as we move forward, let’s not have colorblind conversations about race and just say we are enrolling students in higher-performing schools based on family income. 

Be honest. We are not looking for proximity to whiteness in the education of our children, this is not what we believe to be the answer to ensure our student’s success.  We also aren’t going to assume every poor child is black and every black child needs to be in a predominately white school to perform well. We will need to define integration in this new initiative. 

We can have the best of intentions but if we aren’t clear about our purpose our efforts will be futile.  Here’s how we almost  UpEnded the Opportunity Ticket.  Integration nor segregation is at the crux of the narrative and practice we want to see changed, we want quality instruction from our educators and community satisfaction that all of our Oakland students will be successful. It is just as important to ensure the voices of Black Families are honored whenever they make choices about schools for their children, regardless of the delivery system they choose. 

We’ll need to be “Eyes Wide Open” with a clear purpose and rewrite the narrative:  courageously speak about race, demonstrate what it takes to have more black educators, demand and create curriculum and practices reflective of the black experience and black children thriving regardless of their circumstances.

That’s NIA! Landing us squarely on our Purpose – our collective vocation to restore our people to their Traditional Greatness.  

KUUMBA  To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

SoBEO is Creative!  Leaving our Community more Beautiful than how we found it. This might be my favorite principle. The sense of stewardship rings out in this principle. A responsibility to care for our community, our planet, and frankly anything we touch -our institutions and organizations we put our energy into daily. In 2020 we witnessed all of our partners move at a stealth pace to reimagine and reframe what was needed in the education space and what was needed for Oakland families and students to thrive in the midst of a pandemic. We also saw ReConstruction a K-12, a movement of educators and folks in edtech,  that have developed an unapologetically black curriculum. Reconstruction is a supplemental program that families and students can exercise their own agency to explore these great resources being made available to Oakland Youth. The Oakland REACH families have been the first to bring families and students to explore this work! This is Kuumba and we salute those families and the ReConstruction Movement.  

Just for Fun!  A little spoiler alert for 2020 – SoBEO Black Excellence Awards on January 15th. These creatives,  black women educators of Oakland. Kehinde and Awele both will receive the 2020 SoBEO Impact Award and Taiwo the SoBEO People’s Choice Award.  

These three SiStars stretched their practice of teaching to ensure theatre and creative arts came alive in a virtual format for Oakland students! They are Oakland’s Miracle Workers! Bringing creativity, an fo’ sho Leaving Us and the World more Beautiful than We Inherited!!!

                              2020 Ya Do What Ya Got to Do! Kuumba in Action!! 

Imani  To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

2020 provided new meaning to, “There Go I, But for the Grace of God.” It was a time of humility and grace, we’ve had to afford ourselves and others around us. The principle is Faith. SoBEO sends encouragement to build faith in yourself, school, and community. 

2021 try on the Nguzo Saba – embody these principles of the Nguzo Saba to raise cultural awareness, bring value to your work on behalf of Black Education and Black Community. In the midst of the pandemic learn what it means to be in the community and what it takes for us to continue to Be Together and Share.  And lastly, understand How Creation works and how the Beauty of it all moves in your Life! Keep the Faith!

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