By: Breanna Fierro
The fight for racial equity continues as students of color are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Los Angeles Community College District Vice Chancellor of Educational Programs and Institutional Effectiveness Ryan Cornner, commended the African American Outreach Initiative (AAOI) for making it their goal to work toward students and communities.
Cornner said people need to go beyond supporting the communities during times of crisis, at AAOI’s 2021 Black History Month Celebration.
He said to set a goal to begin dismantling systems that have generated the inequities in times of crisis and in times of normalcy.
He met with Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez, Co-Founder and Vice President of A2MEND Dr. Edward Bush, AAOI coordinator Nyree Berry, LACCD student speakers and staff from the other eight LACCD colleges.
“The current struggles remain clear. The systemic and structural barriers that are in place have prevented us from being able to effectively serve our communities and achieve our equity goals,” Cornner said.
LACCD student Da’Quinn Shepherd led the student dialogue on deconstructing the black monolithic. He said he feels like those around him ignore getting to know him first. Instead, they judge him by his ethnic background, when those judging tend to culturally appropriate their culture.
Shepherd also said students should do their research before making any decisions, especially politics, not jumping to conclusions to conduct research to change the world.
The speech was followed with a poetry reading by LACCD student Sherry Bradford on her life and journey as a young African American girl to the present day and a deconstruction of the black monologue by LACC student Aigner Ellis.
“Black people have to work twice as hard to get ahead or to be successful, and as a Black gay man, I felt that way, even within,” Ellis said.
AAOI coordinator Nyree Berry introduced Edward Bush as co-author of the African-American male theory before he took over to discuss the critical juncture in the African American community and those of color.
With the LACCD being the largest College district in the nation, Bush said he doesn’t take lightly the position of influence those of African descent and those of color have right now, nor should anyone else, to view it as an immense responsibility, and due to the complexities associated with the district if they are able to figure it out.
“One thing that drives me to do this work is not out of my own intrinsic idea, it’s because I recognize first and foremost that I have a debt that must be repaid. That when our ancestors died, they knew directly that they would not benefit from the struggle and sacrifice,” Bush said.
“But they wanted to do the work because they knew at some point you were going to come along and wanted to make sure you were in the position you are now in order to make a difference.”
Dr. Bush said to challenge the policies that stand, that the community of color knows to be deleterious, to understand that no matter what African-Americans and those of color do, they are operating at a point of righteousness and that they are going to be okay.