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Syllabus Magazine

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Syllabus Magazine, the Carolina's source for Music, Culture and Fashion

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In a plea deal with federal prosecutors, the case that many of us here in Charleston, SC, around the low country, and around the world have been watching for months; Michael Slager did something we’ve rarely seen in these cases.  On Tuesday, May 2nd, Slager plead guilty to violating the civil rights of Walter Scott causing his death after a routine traffic stop in April 2015.

Walter Scott became one of many unarmed black men in the United States who have been gunned down by police, and this trial, like so many others brings added anger and animosity to a small city, and a country already on the brink of patience that is slowly being depleted.

In a strange turn of events, Michael Slager entered a guilty plea during the federal trial.  This decision caused many folks to celebrate; believing that this was finally the confession everyone has been waiting on for over a year.  However, the plea made others extremely suspicious, because this leaves many wondering what sort of punishment (if any) would the officer get for a sole, civil rights violation?

While we wait to see how the judge will handle the penalty phase of this two-year saga, here are 10 important things to know about the upcoming sentencing for Michael Slager:

  1. Michael Slager plead guilty to a single charge of violating the civil rights of Walter Scott by shooting him without justification. Specifically, “willfully depriving Scott of the right to be free from the unreasonable and excessive force used by police” – he DID NOT plead guilty to murdering Walter Scott

  2. As of May 2, 2017, murder charges against Michael Slager have been dropped; also, some fed/state charges have been dropped, including lying to investigators AND using a firearm in a violent crime – all were a part of his plea deal

  3. The state cannot reissue murder charges against Slager

  4. The plea specifically states: “The defendant used deadly force even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances”

  5. The charge of violating Scott’s civil rights carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and no minimum penalty – meaning Slager could get life OR time served

  6. The plea does not specify how much, if any, time will be served

  7. A U.S. District Judge will decide the punishment for Slager at a hearing scheduled on a later on this week

  8. The Slager plea is not a reason to celebrate.  This plea sets a precedent for the public to pay attention to the current administration, including Jeff Sessions who already has a controversial past.  The public should also continue to review their local elected officials and many of the people tied to this trial

  9. There will be a demonstration May 23rd to object to the plea deal for Michael Slagerblf

  10. Never Forget Feidin Santana.  Without Santana risking it all to not only film the murder of Scott, but to overcome language barriers, and to return to SC to testify – We may have never even gotten to the point of a plea

 

Syllabus Magazine, the Carolina’s source for Music, Culture and Fashion

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Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Boston is receiving some backlash after issuing detentions to two 15-year-old students, Deanna and Mia Cook.  Were they fighting, cheating on a test, or bullying – the answer is no.  These students were punished for wearing their hair in braids as seen in the picture.  Not only were they suspended for their traditional African-American hairstyle – they are now facing potential suspension, for alleged hair code violations.

The school’s says that braids are a violation of the dress code.  To add insult to injury, according to the Boston Globe, Alexander Dan, the school’s interim director, says that their policy is to “minimize fashion expenses for families whose children attend the school,” in addition he goes on to say,

“The specific prohibition of hair extensions, which are expensive and could serve as a differentiating factor between students from dissimilar socioeconomic backgrounds, is consistent with our desire to create an educational environment, one that celebrates all that students have in common and minimizes material differences and distractions.” 

Deanna Cook believes that the policy that got her detention is a racist policy.  She added,

“What they’re saying is we can’t wear extensions, and the people who wear extensions are black people. They wear them as braids to protect their hair and they’re not allowing us to do that.” 

The attention that has been brought to the school because of the suspension of the Cook twins, has led to organizations taking a look at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School as a whole.  The Project Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, Matthew Cregor, issued a letter to the school explaining that the policy may “violate federal anti-discrimination laws,” based on guidelines from the U.S. departments of Justice and Education.  In Cregor’s letter, he details the following:

“This civil rights guidance is directly relevant to your school’s discriminatory treatment of the Cook twins for three reasons: First, the parents in today’s article expressed concern that white students who dye their hair are not facing the same consequences as black students with braids or extensions. This is especially troubling as your policy does not even discuss suspending students for hair/makeup violations, something that the article suggests has happened.

Second, unlike the jewelry and nail polish prohibited in your code, braids and extensions are worn primarily by African-American and Afro-Caribbean students, raising concerns of discriminatory treatment. Third, it is hard to understand how braiding, a deep-rooted cultural practice of people of African descent, can be put in the same category as the ‘drastic and unnatural hair colors’ your code prohibits as ‘distracting.”

In addition to the school’s policies, Mystic Valley’s hiring practices are also coming into question.  According to U.S. News and World Report, out of 156 teachers, only one of these teachers is black.  43 percents of the children at Mystic Valley are people of color, and 17 percent of those students are black.

School administrators insist that they only want to focus on,“what unites our students and reduce visible gaps between those of different means.”  Today, many are asking is punishing a student because they choose to wear their hair in a protective, traditional style really the answer; or is this a perfect example of what African Americans have been complaining about for years regarding discrimination and the school to prison pipeline?

 

Sources:

US News & World Report

CBS News

Syllabus Magazine, the Carolina’s source for Music, Culture and Fashion

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No one knows the details of what they’re doing down at Whitehaven, in Memphis, TN; but whatever it is, they need to bottle it up and sell it to other school districts around the country.  This school has proven with the support of parents, and a strong, proactive force of teachers and school officials – kids can be highly successful!

 

We can all use some good news and this story is sure to make you proud.  They’ve been deemed the “Million Dollar Tigers”, and this group of students have rightfully earned that amazing title.  Schools in the south often get a bad rap regarding academics, but Whitehaven High School is proving it’s not about where you are; it’s about where you want to go.

whitehaven1

Whitehaven is the first school in the nation to host an academic signing day to celebrate the school’s scholarship record.  The graduating class of 2017 managed to earn over $80 million in scholarships!  According to reports from Channel 5 Action News, the excitement throughout this school is overwhelming.

One of the top scholars, Zariah Nolan, earned $9.4 in scholarship funds; she is headed to the prestigious Dillard University this fall.  Nolan, who credits her single mom for her success had this to say to all of the naysayers, “Everyone like says, ‘Oh you can’t do it. You’re telling me I can’t do it; Watch me do it!”

These students have become viral sensations across the internet for all the right reasons! More than 40 Tigers are headed to colleges and universities across the country.  As they were celebrated, the Superintendent Dorsey Hopson applauded these kids, and their parents, who have obviously been at the core of their success.

Source: ABC News

 

Syllabus Magazine, the Carolina’s source for Music, Culture and Fashion

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It’s the anniversary of Lemonade. Beyonce’s groundbreaking album is still being talked about, recently earning a prestigious Peabody award as,“a sublime piece of work in the scripted television field.”  On the anniversary of this epic album, Bey is focused on continuing to take the message of girl empowerment by awarding some very special young women around the country.

Through her website, Beyonce announced a group of scholarships called the, “Formation Scholars“.  This scholarship program was created to, “encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.”  Naturally, these scholarships are geared toward young girls studying creative arts, music, literature, or African American Studies.  There will be one award given out at each of the following institutions: Boston’s Berklee College of Music; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Parsons School of Design in New York City; and Atlanta’s Spelman College.  Two of these schools are Historically black institutions and the other two are colleges geared toward the arts.

Although there are no details as to the amount of money awarded; anything helps in the world of academics and college expenses.  Thank you to artists like Chance the Rapper, Beyonce and a plethora of other artists who continue to support the arts, give back to their communities, and try to make the world a better place by being an influence and making it happen for the betterment of the culture.  BRAVO.

Source: Beyonce.com

 

Syllabus Magazine, the Carolina’s source for Music, Culture and Fashion

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Since the most recent presidential election, people are finding out pretty quickly, that if you really want to effect real, positive, and influential change, then you are going to have to start that change on a local level.  For too long, voters have been wanting the federal government to step in and change the landscape of what has been going on within their local communities.  For years, citizens have been blaming Presidents for the lack of funding within their cities, lack of growth, and for a lack of opportunity.  Now, voters are starting to realize that power at a local level can be just as powerful than decisions made at a federal level.

The state of New York has long been defined as a melting pot, a state of influence, and a trailblazing place for those looking for bigger dreams in their lives and careers.  Now, New York is being defined as a State that’s making history by listening to the voices of their constituents and taking action with some of the pressing issues that have been plaguing this state.  In turn, these actions seem to be getting positive feedback, and cities around the world are looking at how to implement some of these ideas into their own future plans. These plans, though they are not perfect; they are a step in the right direction of making actionable moves, making the future for New Yorkers brighter.

Here are 3 cool steps NYC is taking to make life better for its citizens.

Tuition Free Schools

nyschool

The state passed legislation this month that would provide free tuition to students attending New York State’s public colleges and Universities.  According to the New York Times, the legislation is being held as, “a breakthrough and a model for other states that will change the lives of students at public colleges across the state.”  This cuts the cost of a four-year degree by approximately $26,000.

Though the plan still has some kinks, for example, not making part-time students eligible. The state of NY must still be applauded for the execution of bringing it to the legislature for a vote.  The money that will be saved will help alleviate the plague of student debt that has been around for decades.

Closing Rikers Island Prison

rikers

Parents of children who have been imprisoned on Rikers call it, “Torture Island”.  From the day-long experience of having to travel in order to visit someone there, to its reputation of cutting prisoners off from their family and friends, to the violence that has become notoriously connected to this island; residents are glad to see it going away.  This prison has a population less than half of what it was in the 30’s; however, the price of jailing someone in this New York jail has ballooned to $250,000 per year.  Also, stabbings and slashings have quadrupled in the last ten years. We all know the story of Kalief Browder, held at Rikers for three years without a trial, for a crime he didn’t commit. Browder’s experience was at the epicenter of why this prison needed to shut down.

Though, it will take a few years to find all of the prisoners new homes, New Yorkers understand that if they were going to be held in high regards as being the progressive state; then sending inmates to a remote island is an old, and dated way of solving a new millennium problem.

Provide Jobs to Released Inmates


prison

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will spend $10 million on their “Jail to Jobs” program. This program will guarantee that inmates currently serving time of a year or less in Rikers, will be issued short-term employment once they have completed their time.  Jobs will be paid with taxpayer money, and not paid by employers.  According to research, inmates who are able to get jobs once they are released from prison are less likely to commit crimes and return to prison.

Though this program, like some of the others, has many critics stating that it does not solve the problem, this is yet another progressive step that the state is making in trying to positively change the dynamic of their city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Syllabus Magazine, the Carolina’s source for Music, Culture and Fashion

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