Author and prison educator to speak at Adelante event

By Frank Portillo

The second event in the Adelante First-Year Program’s Social Justice Platica series for the semester will feature a reading of poetry from author and educator Tyson Amir.

Amir will be reading poetry from his newly published book titled “Black Boy Problems: An Account of Black Survival in America” and engaging with those in attendance with a question and answer on Feb. 22.

Organizer of the event and Dean of the Adelante Program, Dr. Vanessa Ochoa said the event is meant to act as “an opportunity for students to engage with the author and hear about his experience growing up as a child of Black Panthers in Oakland, as an educator in the prisons, as an MC and as a poet.”

She hopes that students will gain a perspective on how the African American community engages with different social issues from whom she calls a profound figure.

Amir has served as a mathematics educator in jails for 13 years in San Francisco, which Ochoa said to be one of the first places to have a GED High School Program in jails.

“I’m excited to expose students to someone who is doing amazing writing about a very social topic. In particular for ELAC, I’m excited because I want to make sure we also engage in this conversation. Because we have a larger Latino and Asian American population, I want this to be an opportunity for us to engage and hear from our brothers and sisters regarding their issues and concerns and how we can collaborate with the campus to help each other,” Ochoa said.

Amir came to Ochoa’s attention because of her love for hip hop and ties to him within educational circles.  She hopes that the reading will act as a teaser for the Adelante Program’s upcoming Hip-Hop Summit, which occurs on May 12.

“We hope that this is a great opportunity for the community to engage with the author and (since) he is also a spoken-word artist, it’s great to see him do some of his poetry from the actual book. We’re excited to have him here as part of the Social Justice Platica Series, but also as a way to entice our audience and students to come to the Hip-Hop Summit,” Ochoa said.

The event will be held in F5-201 from 5-7 p.m.

Those interested in attending the event can RSVP at

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