Reinstate Marylin Zuniga!

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Got this the other day.

Marilyn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 18, 2015

Contact:

Larry Hamm, People’s Organization for Progress, 973-801-0001

Donna Nevel, Communities for Marylin Zuniga, 917-570-4371

Supporters Fight to Reinstate Talented Teacher

School Board capitulates to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police

In an outpouring of community support, hundreds of community members, educators, and parents called for the immediate reinstatement of Marylin Zuniga to her position as a third grade teacher at Forest Street Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey. In spite of this overwhelming support, the Orange Township School Board terminated Ms. Zuniga from her position because she allowed her third grade students to write get-well letters to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

As educator and minister Nyle Fort, who is working with Communities for Marylin Zuniga, pointed out: “The Orange Board of Education is supposedly accountable to the community. After the public meeting, in which people spoke overwhelmingly in support of Ms. Zuniga, the school board adopted a resolution identified only by its number, and then got up and left the room. Until calls were made to the school the next day, no one knew that the board had decided to terminate her. That is hardly public accountability.”

Further, according to Alan Levine, one of Ms. Zuniga’s lawyers, “The Orange Board of Education flagrantly violated Ms. Zuniga’s right to due process. She never received a notice describing her misconduct, and had no opportunity to confront her accusers or to present witnesses on her behalf. Her termination lacked those constitutional safeguards designed to insure that government agencies act fairly.”

Hundreds of educators across the country sent a letter to the school board in which they “insist[ed] that Ms. Zuniga be immediately returned to her position as third grade teacher at Forest Street Elementary with supportive mentorship. The educational community is looking to you to develop, and not punish, this committed and qualified educator.”

Educator Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price also added that “Ms. Zuniga’s termination was grossly disproportionate to whatever offense she may have committed. Clearly, her termination was not about her student’s education or safety, but, rather, a reflection of the Board’s capitulation to outside pressures of the Fraternal Order of Police.”

As Mark Taylor, community activist and professor at Princeton Theological Seminary made clear, “ At the heart of this matter is the question of who controls what happens in public school classrooms. As long as the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) can influence what our children can and cannot learn, the right to democratic education is lost.”

“Marylin Zuniga was beloved by her studentsand was a wonderful teacher. If we are thinking about what is best for the children, which should be our only concern, Ms. Zuniga would be back in her classroom, “ said Tamia Chatmon, one of the parents of a student in Ms. Zuniga’s class.

Ms. Zuniga has asked her lawyers and her union to challenge the termination so that she can be reinstated to her classroom

Relevant links and attachments:

statement from educators and scholars across the US:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ktO2D3Vu0dbrJS9jfLH9bH5zIU4ppH74tGTxMn9vrzU/viewform

EMAJ letter posted for Zuniga, April 13, 2015

http://www.emajonline.com/zuniga/

statement from National Lawyers Guild

https://www.nlg.org/news/releases/nlg-demands-reinstatement-new-jersey-teacher-marylin-zuniga-suspended-after-students

news post: Putting Our Children First

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donna-nevel/putting-our-children-firs_b_7108800.html

“The Flash” Finale……

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………was quite extraordinary. And shocking and sad!

Sorry for the new cliche, but: this show is everything a superhero TV show should be. Twenty-three episodes and its potential is fulfilled. Now it has to stay there for nine more seasons.

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The above is more evidence that geeks have won!

Wow! “Flash”/”Arrow” Universe Spinoff And New One! Wow! (CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow” and CBS’ “Supergirl”)

LOL! Lookit Arthur Darvill (“Rory”) doing HIS Doctor, with long David Tennant-like coat and stuff! LOL! :)

Hmm…..a Black Jimmy Olsen and the return of Calista Flockhart to network television? Not too bad. It’ll move to the CW when CBS screws with it. :)

(Everything I liked got renewed: “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” “Agent Carter,” “Arrow,” “Flash,” “Gotham,” and now the above stuff added! That’s a LOT of comicbook network TV!)

MOVE-ing Tribute (May 13, 2015)

MOVE mural

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MOVE

(Photos by Dr. Mark Bolden)

MOVE is not just some memory, but an existing–and perhaps even mainstream!–organization, I learned yesterday.

Thanks to Jared Ball for the trip and Mark Bolden for the photos.

Book Review: Within The Cage

Benga

Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga.
Pamela Newkirk.
New York: Amistad/HarperCollins.
304 pp.; $25.99 (hardcover).

It’s the ingredients for a powerful devil’s brew: take white supremacy, slavery and colonialism and mix thoroughly with late 19th and early 20th century zoology, ethnology, wildlife conservation and taxidermy. Sprinkle with Darwin’s theory of evolution and simmer in Greater New York, the precursor to New York City. Simmer. Then pull back the curtain and pour, showing the African—the so-called “pygmy”—on public display in the monkey cage at the Bronx Zoo, all for the sake of greed disgustingly disguised as science.

Written by New York University journalism professor Pamela Newkirk in as dispassionate a tone as can be attempted, “Spectacle” shakes all the way to the reader’s core. The tale of Ota Benga, the Congolese forest dweller—exhibited with other captured people in the 1904 World’s Fair, the symbol of white world progress, and then, two years later, solo at the zoo—crackles with 21st century disbelief, even after taking into account an elementary historical understanding that many Europeans and white Americans for centuries publicly declared Blacks sub-human.

“For the general public [of the World’s Fair], the sight of barely clad, presumably primitive people assembled across the fairgrounds was evidence enough of Caucasian superiority,” writes Newkirk. “The beings whom scientists had described as semi-human, cannibalistic dwarfs were no longer regulated to mythology or to anthropological field notes. The reality—that the delegation comprised captured African children—if considered at all, was understood as merely a means to a scientific end.”

The painful, and painstakingly researched, work of social history goes beyond the surface level of “Whites Only” signs into the bleached hearts of an insecure, psychologically disturbed people who, in the early part of the 20th century, argued over the level of humanity of an African they had caged, failing to see the obvious irony. The efforts of a group of Black preachers to free Benga from his Bronx Zoo cage is prominently noted (as is the intellectual combativeness of the voice of true scientific reason, the anthropologist Franz Boas), but their limited, and relative, access to their own freedom and power dangles in the background.

Because Newkirk had no historical access to Benga, the public sensation via personal violation, she had the challenging task of writing around the man at the center of the monkey cage—the “prey for a merciless hunter.” That hunter’s name is Samuel Phillips Verner, and he is the central subject of this merciless defilement. He proves the old adage that some people in life pose as a friend in order to get into position as a more effective enemy.

Verner is, in many ways, the quintessential unapologetic white man for this type of unapologetically harsh story, fitting the perfect casting call for the benevolent white American liberal who interrupts African life for gold, status and power. He is a liar and thief who camouflages his character through the chronological guises of missionary, then adventurer, and finally an amateur “scientist” and “African expert” in this white world of European and American pseudo-science. In the histories and academic studies written and embedded by white men, he is the man who did well by doing good. Newkirk exposes his decades of shameless, opportunistic motives and behavior in what should be called visionist history.

Belgian King Leopold II’s shadow, and especially the mass graveyards of his uncounted African victims, loom over this work. Benga’s “rescue” by Verner, while the “hero” cuts business deals almost every waking hour, is symbolic of the American complicity in the raping of the continent by Europe. (As Newkirk shows, Belgium’s public relations campaign to get greedy American imperialists on its side—with Verner as one of many leaders—was quite successful, while it lasted.) The public shaming of white supremacy in the Congo by true heroes Mark Twain, George Washington Williams and Booker T. Washington are mentioned, but it is Verner’s ruthless ambitions that solidify the book’s central vortex.

Meanwhile, Benga—who a New York Times editorial charitably described as “a human being, of a sort”—resisted his captors as best he could, being a stranger in an absurd land surrounded by paternalistic friends. One day, he defies the zookeepers by physically fighting them. When he was physically prodded by the rowdy throngs that crowded the park to see him, he struck back. When he was allowed to roam the park, and another horde decided to track him, he fired an arrow at one of the rabble. He pulled a knife against a handler. Later, when he was moved to a museum, he attempted to escape. And finally, now years separated from his village, refusing to ask his former captors for help getting back to the Congo, he does what he must to ease his deepening depression. The author allows Benga’s actions to speak above the crushing waves of this psychologically tortuous history.

The Bronx Zoo, the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Natural History, the National Geographic Society and their institutional fellow travelers in quantitative academia—all historic bastions of elite, white male privilege—will have a lot of questions asked by Newkirk’s readers to answer. Complicity in the crimes against African humanity connects like amber waves of grain. “Me no like America,” Benga said from his cage.

Frederick Douglass said in a famous 1852 speech that the United States of America was guilty of “crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages.” This superb book proves that postulate again, right in time for recent, post-modern generations of Americans who seriously need to come to terms with that consistent, historical truth.