Chicago School Board Votes to Close 50 Schools; Largest School Closure in City’s History

Despite days of protests and acts of civil disobedience, the Chicago Public School Board has voted to close 49 elementary schools and 1 high school program.

Dozens of parents came out to address their concerns, and several protesters had to be physically removed from the meeting.

Just four schools were spared; a vote on one school was delayed until next year.

From the Chicago Tribune:

We can no longer embrace the status quo because the status quo is not working for all Chicago school children,” Byrd-Bennett said before the vote was taken.

Does Obama Unfairly Hold African Americans to a Different Standard?

President Obama’s Morehouse commencement speech has reignited conversation regarding the idea that he might be unfairly holding black youth to a different standard.

Most of us are familiar with the “Bill Cosby” argument about how black youth need to stop being lazy and work harder.

Is Obama reiterating that same rhetoric that ignores history and further marginalizes vulnerable groups, or is he finding a balance between taking history into account and articulate the reality of the difficulties that will be faced by black youth in the 21st Century?

Bronx Bus Tour Shows NYC Tourists What a “Real Ghetto” Looks Like

NYC bus tour Real Bronx Tours reportedly takes foreigners on a tour of the Bronx to learn what a “real ghetto” looks like.

Past patrons say the tour guide, Lynn Battaglia, pokes fun at the borough and its residents throughout the tour; lambasting the Bronx as a crime and poverty-infested nightmare.

NewsOne describes some of the tour’s itinerary:

At one point during the tour, Battaglia allegedly told the tourists in front of pantry line, “I don’t know what that line’s about, but every Wednesday we see it,” Battaglia told the tourists. “We see them go in with empty carts, and we see them come out with carts full.”

David Dennis: Why isn’t New Orleans Mother’s Day parade shooting a ‘national tragedy’?

In a spot-on editorial for the Guardian, writer David Dennis reflects upon how race and class impact what mainstream America deems a “national tragedy.”

Horrific violence in Aurora, Newtown, and Boston have been deemed “national tragedies; flags hang at half-mast, politicians weigh in, and there’s obsessive, sustained media coverage for weeks and weeks.

But what about the countless young people gunned down every weekend in Chicago? Or the Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans last weekend?

Why aren’t these national tragedies?

Soledad O’Brien on ‘Black In America’ Criticism: “OK, white person, this is a conversation you clearly are uncomfortable with…”

In a recent interview, news anchor Soledad O’Brien addressed criticism she’s received regarding her “Black in America” series on CNN.

According to O’Brien, many whites have expressed displeasure with the “divisiveness” of the series, asserting that we should be moving towards a colorblind society; and that African Americans should quit differentiating themselves from whites.

Obviously, Soledad disagrees.

Alice Walker Laments the Cruelty of America’s Continued Persecution of Assata Shakur

In a recent blog posted on her website, Alice Walker ruminates on the continued harassment and persecution of Assata Shakur.

From drone strikes, to Guantanamo, to the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor; Walker laments our society’s  “ever accelerating tolerance  for cruelty.”

But for Walker, nothing is more senselessly cruel than the fact that “our big, muscular, macho country would go after so tiny a woman as Assata who is given sanctuary in a country smaller than many of our states.”

Mother of Unjustly Incarcerated Son Pens Letter Describing a Mother’s Day Without Him

Last year, Brandon Jackson was sentenced to 12 years in prison by an all-white jury after defending himself against a group of white males who’d attacked him.

His story has made headlines throughout the country; but none have been more affected by this travesty than his mother, Gloria Fisher.

In a passionate, inspiring letter, Fisher discusses what it feels like to spend another Mother’s Day without her son.

Does America Care About Murders in Black Communities?

In a recent op-ed, Tamika Mallory asserts that America is desensitized to the murders in black communities.

She reflects on the recent murder of 17 year-old Alphonza Bryant; a young man gunned down in the Bronx, in a case of mistaken identity.

According to Mallory, if white children were being killed at the rate of our youth, there would be national outcry.

Principal Fires Security Guards and Invests in Arts Programs; Transforms School!

Like many schools around the country, Roxbury, MA’s Orchard Gardens was plagued by violence, lack of organization, and falling test scores.

Then school principal Andrew Bott (the 6th in seven years) came along and changed everything.

He immediately fired the school’s many security guards, and invested that money into art teachers, programs, and facilities.

LZ Granderson: Treat Chicago Gangs as Terrorists

A powerful editorial by LZ Granderson calls for a new way of framing the rising tide of violence in Chicago.

According to Granderson, there is very little difference between the impact of an act of terror like the Boston Marathon bombing, and the terror experienced by young people in communities carved up into gang territories.

Our youth are unsafe, afraid to go to school, and afraid to walk the streets of their own neighborhoods.

Why doesn’t America fight gang violence with the same sense of urgency with which it combats terrorism?