Shoot us an RSVP, and we'll save you a spot. Hope to see you Thursday.
You are cordially invited to PADC's September General Membership Meeting this Thursday the 14th, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.
Shoot us an RSVP, and we'll save you a spot. Hope to see you Thursday.
We are at a crucial juncture in our city’s history. Piedmont has seen an increase in in hate speech and bigotry over the last year, including the harmful posts and comments made by our now former mayor. The community was outraged by this, and clearly expressed their expectations that our leaders promote inclusiveness and diversity, and that they be accountable for their actions and speech.
While it might be a relief to see one issue addressed, the reality is that there have been persistent problems with diversity and inclusion in Piedmont that will not go away without further action. This is the time to capture our public swell of support for tolerance and diversity and direct it toward lasting change, rather than only responding to individual issues that arise.
The good news is that community leaders have already begun taking steps to promote anti-bias and inclusiveness. City Council members approved a resolution reaffirming Piedmont’s Commitment to Inclusivity and Opposing Actions of Hate Groups. The Piedmont Unified School District offered anti-bias training and classroom curriculum to the administration, faculty and staff; and opened the training up to city staff and community leaders as well. However, if we want lasting change to occur, we all need to take action at the community level. Our leaders speak for us at times, but we must also speak for ourselves, and to each other. Here are a few steps you can take, which we at the PADC believe can help our community directly:
An Interfaith Prayer Service of Peace
Saturday, August 26 4 PM
Temple Beth Abraham 327 MacArthur Blvd Oakland, California
Come together as a community of peace and love in response to the hate marches occurring in our nation. Following a traditional Jewish "Mincha" (Afternoon) service, various local clergy members will be asked to present a brief offering of prayer from their traditions. The service will include musical selections by Benjamin Mertz of the Joyful Noise! Gospel Singers. Benjamin is also the Music Director at Skyline UCC.
Free child care will be provided
Refreshments will be served
Any questions, please call Rabbi Mark Bloom at 510-832-0936
On Monday, August 21 PADC City Liaisons David Gard and Mahvash Hassan presented remarks to the City Council during the public comments section.
Good Evening, my name is David Gard and I am here along with Mahvash Hassan representing the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee as city liaisons . It’s just the two of us here from PADC as the rest of the committee is at our first member meeting of the academic year. As you know, PADC works to promote inclusiveness, foster an appreciation of differences, and raise global awareness within Piedmont and surrounding communities.
We were reminded last week of the importance of our work with the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, before she was killed by an alleged Nazi sympathizer, posted on Facebook, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”,. This past week, that is the sentiment we continue to hear from our community members. We know, and you know, that here in Piedmont, we are not immune to hate and bias - it was just 3 months ago that the school district responded to anti-Semitism and racism on campus. And this coming weekend, there are at least 2 white supremacist events planned within miles of these city council chambers.
This past week Charlottesville’s mayor Michael Signer wrote, “The people who visited terror on us were using the mechanics of the Constitution — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly — to attack its soul, to set fire to the pillars of civility, deliberation, compromise, tolerance and reconciliation that underwrite our system of government….it is this soul — the norms and values, that enable us to collectively solve problems without force, violence and intimidation.”
So here in Piedmont, how do we channel our community’s soul our norms and values that underwrite our system of government to collectively address the reality of hate and bias?
The good news is that we have a lot to build on, and we are moving in the right direction. Over the years, the institutions in our community – the city, schools and faith leaders have stood up and collaborated with PADC to build an inclusive Piedmont.
For example, at a city council meeting in 2010, after several wrenching testimonials from residents about mistreatment by the police, then-City Administrator Geoff Grote admonished the council to instruct the City to act. That pivotal moment, inspired and stimulated a multi-year process of introspection, action and the transformation of policing in Piedmont.
Last fall, November 2016, in a letter sent jointly by the Board of Education and City Council, you as Council members committed to:
We encourage City Council members to also continue acting and speaking on their stated commitments from the November letter, and to work in ways that reflects the norms and values of a welcoming and inclusive Piedmont:
On May 24th, 2017, Kobi Eshun, PADC Co-President, along with some administrators and community members, addressed and discussed with the PUSD Board concerns, progress and how to move forward in managing the latest incidents at PHS, MHS and PMS.
Please also view recommendations for curriculum, by Shannon Fierro, VP Administration at Berkeley High School, in details on our "Resources" page on this website.
Below are Kobi's remarks:
On Monday, May 8, Randy Booker invited me and fellow PADC co-president Alison Feldman to inform us about a special assembly planned for that day. Since then the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee has been in ongoing conversations with the school district, parent support groups and community members to determine how best to be a resource for students, staff and community members. PADC has also heard from dozens of concerned residents, young and old, sharing their stories and feelings. Here are some of the themes that have emerged:
As a community we are deeply hurt and angry about the series of anti-semitic incidents. Certainly, Alison and I walked out of that first meeting with Randy feeling shocked and dismayed at what we learned. And there is a range of opinions on the discipline that followed; as well on as the focus these incidents brought on school climate in general.
We heard that some members of the Jewish community felt indignant that black kids complaining about being treated like a curiosity by their peers (e.g. constantly having their hair messed with) was somehow equivalent to the pain of The Holocaust. The takeaway here is that
there are factions forming within our community, at a time when we need to come together.
This is a community-wide issue not just a school issue, and we have to figure out how best to build community resilience to support and nurture our young people given the shifts in the broader social context, the nature of still forming youth and the need for all of us - adults and youth to learn from our mistakes. And to continue to build community. While some members of the community see the events as an opportunity to build alliances, students and adults are feeling quite polarized.
Many of our youth simply don't find this charged language (or these acts) to be offensive. It's unclear whether they're unaware of the historical genesis and implications of these slurs, or whether they choose to interpret them as benign. This is a complex and important observation to dig into.
We recognize that the news coverage of the anti-semitic incidents was sensational and inflammatory, but we have also continued to hear that it did give voice to the reality that students of color have been putting up with this crap for ever, and feel that their pleas for support have gone unheard by the school district.
Some kids experienced varying degrees of backlash after the special assembly, and after the KTVU news segment aired. Some of these actions are being investigated by the police department as potential hate crimes. These developments were astonishing and deeply saddening for all of our active members.
We heard, loud and clear, a need for forums for people to discuss and process these events. We heard from students, who organized a Share Your Voice gathering last week; and also from parent groups, who are exploring some options for adults. At a minimum, we at PADC would like to help create a safe space where our youth can share their stories without fear of retribution or judgement. We're also available to partner with other groups addressing this.
There is a sense that the school district was caught flat-footed with all of this. And many people felt left in the dark about what specifically had happened, and when. The second, district-wide letter did much to alleviate this, but some students wished they too had received additional clarifying information directly.
Unfortunately, these recent incidents of harassment and discrimination are not an aberration. Racist graffiti has been an ongoing problem. Brown kids in elementary school threatened with deportation, or vilified as terrorists, by peers on the playground. How can we forget the FSL insanity from 2012? It's clear that the social climate in our schools breeds this behavior. We need to take a hard look in the mirror and own that reality. We must, as a community, urgently address this issue. And not just because it's obviously the right thing to do. If we fail to act, we risk getting sued.
We are actually optimistic that Piedmont can figure this out, because we've done this before. At a city council meeting in 2010, after several wrenching testimonials from residents about mistreatment by the police, then-City Administrator Geoff Grote admonished the council to instruct the City to act, because if we do not act, we will get sued. That was a pivotal moment, and we now have a first rate, progressive police department that we can be proud of. We also know that you share our values -- for example, your forceful response to the Pig's Head incident and sidewalk graffiti last November was truly exemplary.
Tonight, on behalf of the community, we are asking the School Board to act swiftly and decisively. We know from this precedent that change will not come overnight -- it took years of training and renewal to transform PPD. But, with the coordinated and sustained support of school leadership, the city, and the community, we can do this.
Finally, we’d like to offer a specific recommendation for what Diversity Education could look like in PUSD. I’ll touch on highlights. Full document and additional resources will be available on our website.
To support the development of the whole child in PUSD and improve the climate and culture of our schools and community by providing students with the language and tools to successfully navigate issues of diversity both interpersonally and within society.
- To integrate explicit diversity education into the K-12 curriculum including both student learning objectives and experiential objectives such as celebrations and events.
- To develop a K-12 scope and sequence of diversity education for PUSD. Curriculum should address the four following areas of diversity education:
- To identify lab classrooms in the 6th and 9th grades in which aspects of an explicit diversity curriculum can begin to take shape and be piloted in 17-18.
This is a review of events since early May at PHS, MHS and PMS. It outlines a series of extremely offensive actions by a number of students, along with efforts by PADC and PUSD to respond. While most of the offensive acts took place before May, some have occurred since then. Our intent is to collect and present the public knowledge at this time, and to add updates as more information is available.
In the months before between January and May, 2017, some students at Piedmont High School engaged in a series of insulting actions, including: arranging themselves on the floor into the shape of a swastika, making “Heil Hitler” salutes in the hallways, and making comments including “f***ing Jew”, “burn in Auschwitz”, “n**ger”, and “go back to the plantation” to other students.
What PADC is doing:
A few more 2017 Community Nite tickets are still available here. Doors open at 7:00, and the music and poetry will start at 7:30:
If you have never attended a PADC Community Night event, then you are missing out. On March 25th, PADC celebrates its 2017 Community Night with an all star line-up of musicians and performers. Come celebrate with us at the Impact Hub in Oakland.
This year's program will include performances by the all-star jazz band Mingus Amungus, led by Piedmont resident Miles Perkins; and the young Piedmont poets of Together We Slam (a truly soul raising experience).
Don’t miss this!
Concert proceeds benefit PADC’s Grants Program, which funds educational programming, events and materials supporting and promoting diversity in the Piedmont schools
Date/Time: SATURDAY MARCH 25 @ 7:00PM
Location: Impact Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway
Great coverage of our Unity In Community event here: Piedmont: Community rally set March 4 to promote inclusivity
To promote and practice inclusiveness, foster an appreciation of differences, and raise global awareness within Piedmont and surrounding communities.