Category Archives: Voices

Ethnic Studies Educator Shraddha Shirude on Giving Math Purpose

by Ari Robin McKenna

This is the third in a series of articles featuring the words of local ethnic studies educators who are doing work to address systemic racism in our classrooms. To read the first, click here. To read the second, click here. To read the series intro, click here.

Early this past spring just before the pandemic emptied classrooms, math teacher Shraddha Shirude floated a novel course offering to sophomores at Garfield High for the 2020–2021 school year: Ethnic Studies Math. The result was confounding; 90 students signed up … for an elective math class. How could this be?

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OPINION: Vote for Kids August 4

by Erin Okuno

With COVID-19 surging, a recession, unemployment in King County at 14%, and the renewed call for justice and equity for BIPOC lives, it’s an important year to pay attention to local as well as national elections. While the country is focused on the November presidential election, Washingtonians would do well to focus on some very consequential local elections coming much sooner. 

Washington State’s 2020 primary election is on August 4. Citizens should focus their efforts on exercising the power of the ballot locally and vote in the primary. Those who are not able to vote can still participate in voter education, support candidates, and help get out the vote. 

Continue reading OPINION: Vote for Kids August 4

SEEDLINES: Indigenous Ways of Being — Reclaiming Authenticity in Storytelling

by Taylor Hensel

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Powerful, prophetic teachings can be found in our stories which explain reality but also give us the momentum to imagine and make urgent change. Among these lessons, there is one that tells of a time when Mother Earth will be in pain and Indigenous stories and teachings will be needed for healing. I firmly believe we are in that moment now. In the midst of a global pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, the world is on fire and we are faced with the challenge of confronting deep truths about inequity and injustice. This challenge must be met by a solidarity between Indigenous, Black and Brown peoples speaking up for change. In this spirit, the South Seattle Emerald is proud to launch a new monthly column in partnership with Nia Tero as a creative platform for Indigenous voices and narratives. Our first story is an op-ed, by colleague and Indigenous creative Taylor Hensel (Citizen of Cherokee Nation), who brings light to the power of story and the storyteller. Her analysis of narrative as power encourages us to ask — What new stories can we tell to help create the better world we desire?

—Tracy Rector, Nia Tero Managing Director, Storytelling

One of the most effective ways to disempower a group is to disturb its unity. The ongoing systemic attempt to erase Indigenous peoples through division has deep roots in the foundation of government and most western constructs, including storytelling. As a Cherokee filmmaker and journalist, this is a reality I know to be true. 

For centuries, false narratives imposed on Black and Brown people about themselves and their communities have been used as tools of disempowerment. In the midst of a pandemic and civil rights reckoning, the need to rebuild and reform systems that continue to promote injustice is clear. One of the ways institutionalized oppression is continually reinvigorated is through the misrepresentation of marginalized peoples. This is done through the stories that have been told and continue being told about our past, present, and future. 

Continue reading SEEDLINES: Indigenous Ways of Being — Reclaiming Authenticity in Storytelling

OPINION: We Need to Divest From Police to Improve Public Safety

by Tammy Morales

When we talk about “public safety” many people imagine law enforcement officers. Police respond to calls for assistance, the thinking goes. They investigate crimes and protect property. But public safety means so much more. And a law enforcement system that is rooted in white supremacy can’t keep the public safe. 

The community conditions that keep us all safe don’t rely on the police. Those conditions rely on a shared ability to thrive. Community safety means greater housing stability, affordable medical care, food security, opportunities for good-paying jobs, high-quality childcare. 

When communities of color endure generational poverty, it’s because our patterns of neighborhood investment are also rooted in white supremacy. It’s time to end these patterns. 

Continue reading OPINION: We Need to Divest From Police to Improve Public Safety

OPINION: Clergy Call for Justice for Seattle’s Central Area

by Rev. Lawrence Willis and Rev. Angela Ying

In 1969, City of Seattle officials presented Rev. C.E. Williams, pastor of the Central Area’s New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, with an offer he couldn’t refuse: Sell your parking lot to the city. If you don’t, they told him, we’ll condemn the property and take it. Continue reading OPINION: Clergy Call for Justice for Seattle’s Central Area

OPINION: Why Does Seattle Public Schools Spend $3.2 Million on Security Guards?

by Kayla Blau

A seven-year-old Black student was put in a chokehold by a white school security guard at Stevens Elementary in March, right before schools closed due to COVID-19. The incident further exposed Seattle Public School’s commitment to punitive policing of students, a dangerous practice that fuels the school-to-prison pipeline.

KUOW reported that the student was screaming “I can’t breathe!” while the security guard, David Raybern, held her in an illegal restrictive hold with his “right forearm across her neck,” the article noted. Principal John Hughes was present for the abuse and did not intervene. 

Continue reading OPINION: Why Does Seattle Public Schools Spend $3.2 Million on Security Guards?

Ask a Therapist: Tips for Weathering Parental Burnout

by Liz Covey, LMHC

Question: My kids are positively driving me crazy. At first, I was enjoying all the time together, but now I just want them to get out of the house for a few hours so I don’t go crazy. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I can’t do it. I have even read stuff online that has been helpful, but honestly, it’s just TOO MUCH parenting. Now all the camps are closed for the summer and I hear that school is pretty unlikely to reopen in September. What suggestions do you have for a mom at the end of her rope?

Dear Reader,

Your question reminds me of a tagline from an old movie, The Royal Tenenbaums, that has stuck with me over the years. It’s this: Family isn’t a word, it’s a sentence. 

Never has that double entendre been more poignant than today, as our worlds have practically shrunk down to the size of just our families, and we as parents face the undulating highs and lows that come with this new and challenging reality. So, thank you, Reader, for highlighting a feature of this year’s mayhem that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it deserves. 

Continue reading Ask a Therapist: Tips for Weathering Parental Burnout

OPINION: Victims of Racial Bias or Liars

by Matt Chan

Being called a liar is like getting punched in the face. From childhood we are taught that lying is wrong, but yet most everybody lies. White lies that ease over sticky situations, social awkwardness, embarrassment. But sometimes a lie is a lie — even in this era of Liar in Chief —  when an untruth is told to damage, discredit, or harm someone. And, for people of color, it’s all too familiar; being called a liar has been a more socially acceptable trope than racist comments to attempt to discredit us. Continue reading OPINION: Victims of Racial Bias or Liars