by Evan Walker
Ongoing police brutality toward People of Color — particularly Black, Indigenous, and Latino people — and efforts to shed light on the racism baked into our legal systems are contributing to a heightened public conversation of the purpose and impact of policing and prisons. A lesser-known part of our criminal legal system, however, is its sprawling network of fines and fees.
These fines ensnare people interacting with this system in devastating cycles of debt and create massive barriers to post-conviction livelihood — and they must be eliminated. Throughout Washington State and the West Coast, there is growing momentum on this issue, and legislation before State lawmakers would begin to make critical progress.
Continue reading OPINION: Washington’s Punitive System of Fines and Fees Must Be Dismantled
by Kathya Alexander
When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, Tyrone Brown was in Lesotho, an independent country of 2 million people completely surrounded by South Africa. As a volunteer for the Peace Corps, he was teaching English, life skills, and HIV/AIDS prevention to Lesotho elementary school students. But the Peace Corps decided to withdraw all their volunteers worldwide and send them home.
Born and raised in Seattle, Tyrone Brown, the founder and artistic director of Brownbox Theatre, credits his mother for introducing him to the arts when he was very young. Brown feels Seattle gave him more freedom and exposure to the arts that he wouldn’t have received, especially as a young Black male, had he grown up somewhere else. Still, being involved in the arts in a single-parent family had its challenges.
“I remember I was in the Northwest Boys Choir for a short period of time. I don’t remember a lot about the experience except for one thing. We had a big concert that was happening in downtown Seattle. And my mom couldn’t get me there. She said, ‘I don’t have money for bus fare. So you’re going to have to call somebody.’ It was a predominately white institution, a group of white boys basically. And I didn’t know those kids, who came from two-parent homes and had money. I was just so embarrassed.”
Continue reading Tyrone Brown: Where Art and Activism Meet
by Alexa Peters
To say that Black Coffee Northwest, a new Shoreline-based Black-owned coffee shop, has had a tumultuous first six months would be an understatement.
Last October, right before their grand opening in the middle of a pandemic, Black Coffee Northwest was the victim of a racially motivated Molotov cocktail attack. Only a month ago, their property was defaced with swastikas. At the same time, the line for their drive-thru consistently wraps around the block, and concerned community members are actively donating money, supplies, and even volunteering to keep watch in the shop’s parking lot to prevent future attacks.
“We have people that are supporting us, people that are showing up. It’s also showing that there are people that … want this community to be better,” said Black Coffee Northwest co-owner Darnesha Weary. “And that pisses [our opponents] off even more.”
Continue reading Black Coffee Launches Youth Internship Programs for Resume Development and Social Justice
by Shasti Conrad
In 2020, we saw people across the country make their voices heard with an urgency America hasn’t witnessed in decades. We marched in cities from coast to coast to express the need for social justice in our country. We advocated for change, pushing for more equity and inclusion.
The core of our chorus in protest after protest, “Black Lives Matter,” is a demand for action — an insistent call to finally tend to the overdue work of elevating Black voices and centering Black experiences.
That call was heeded at the ballot box here in Washington State, with more Black candidates elected than ever before.
Now that we have transitioned into 2021, it is more important than ever to keep building that momentum beyond electoral politics. We must continue to lift our voices and advocate for change throughout our society.
Continue reading OPINION: We Must Continue Lifting the Voice of Every Womxn
by Jack Russillo
Southeast of Seattle, in unincorporated King County near Auburn, sits a nearly 39-acre parcel of wild land and outbuildings. Currently called the Red Barn Ranch and owned by Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), the property has been everything from a summer camp to a conference center to a farming education program. For the last three years, though, it’s sat empty. To some Black leaders in Seattle, this property could be exactly what the community needs to move toward an equitable model for Black-led land ownership that helps the Black community thrive.
Several community voices have been lobbying since the summer of 2020 for the City of Seattle to transfer the Red Barn Ranch property to Black ownership. Who the land is sold to is ultimately up to SPR, but a leading candidate to take on the task of stewarding the land is Nurturing Roots, an urban farm located in Beacon Hill.
“People have asked me if I wanted to own it, but no, I want it to be all of ours,” said Nyema Clark, the founder and director of Nurturing Roots, during an interview with the Emerald in October. “All of us should have a share, and that share should never be able to be sold. You could pass it down to other generations, but you couldn’t make money off of it. We want to make a legitimate model that lasts.”
Continue reading Red Barn Ranch Gets One Step Closer to Potential Black Ownership
by Jasmine M. Pulido
Estrella Gonzales-Sanders’ parents may have been prophetic when they named her Estrella, the Spanish word for “star.” The young Renton resident has already danced in front of notable stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Barry Gordy, and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. Now, she has landed a small feature in Debbie Allen’s newly released Netflix documentary, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. And at age 12, Estrella’s own rise to stardom has only just begun.
Continue reading Rising Star Estrella Gonzales-Sanders Featured in New Debbie Allen Netflix Documentary
by Sharon Maeda
Exhaling … from the emotional exhaustion of the past four years. Saturday evening, after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris spoke as president and vice president elect, I joined the thousands, if not millions of Americans who finally slept through the night and woke up refreshed.
I had written commentary before the election, waiting only to insert a paragraph with the exact results. It was a get-this-out-of-my-system litany of the dishonest, disgusting, and death-causing policies of the current president. Writing was a good release as my fingers flew over the keyboard. But I realized Emerald readers have already lived through enough political trauma.
Continue reading Exhaling …
by Jasmine M. Pulido
Catering to whiteness has been a survival mechanism that’s difficult to put down.
Continue reading OPINION: Black Lives Matter More Than White Feelings
It was why I hesitated in anxiety before I sent that email to the white woman coach who was using my stories as a Person of Color to profit, thereby showcasing herself as the white ally doing good. I told her she no longer had permission to use my testimonial and to stop using POC stories like mine for her white benefit. I feared what she might think of me or how she might respond, the way I always did when I considered confronting whiteness.
by Sally James
South Seattle is among places in the United States where researchers are hoping to recruit volunteers for one study of a potential vaccine against COVID-19.
South Seattle zip codes include a more diverse population than in some other sectors of the greater-Seattle area. The pandemic has hit Black and Latinx populations harder than white populations across the country. According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Black population is about 13% of the United States, but Black people make up 25% of deaths from COVID-19.
Lead researcher Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH talked to the Emerald about outreach efforts in an interview about the vaccine she is studying, sometimes called the Moderna vaccine (named for the company that co-developed it with the National Institutes of Health). She works for the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI).
The researchers hope to recruit people from African American, Latinx, and Indigenous populations, as well as other ethnicities. Historically, medical research studies have often been overwhelmingly white.
Continue reading New Pandemic Vaccine Could Emerge From Seattle, Here’s How You Can Help