Black History Fun Fact Friday – Georgia’s School-Prison for Black Boys

“Today, students of color in the United States are nearly three times more likely than white children to be labelled cognitively impaired. When Latoya walked into Seth’s first special-education classroom, she said, “I did not see one white child. All I saw was black boys.”

“School,” one student said, “is like prison where I am in the weird class.”

This isn’t really a black history fact. It‘s more like a modern-day fact with roots that go back to the Jim Crow era.

GNETS is short for Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support but support is not a word that I find fitting for this program. Earlier this week, I came across an article, “Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special Education System,” which detailed how the GNETS program separates children by disability and race. As I read on, it became apparent to me that GNETS is an entirely separate school system in itself, that turns the classroom into a prison for black youth, disproportionately, black boys.

According to Bestcounciling degrees.net, “Psycho-education is a form of education that is specifically offered to individuals who are suffering from any one of several distinct mental health conditions impairing their ability to lead their lives. The ideal aim of the psychoeducational approach is to give both the individuals who suffer from psychological conditions and their families a stronger base of knowledge for knowing on ways to cope and thrive in spite of the condition.” These programs exist by way of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.

IDEA was introduced in 1975 and first came into being on October 30, 1990, when the “Education of All Handicapped Children Act” was renamed “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. According to Beth Ferri, a disability scholar at Syracuse University, IDEA provided a kind of loophole to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in schools. “Before the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted in 1975, U.S. public schools accommodated only 1 out of 5 children with disabilities. Until that time, many states had laws that explicitly excluded children with certain types of disabilities from attending public school, including children who were blind, deaf, and children labeled “emotionally disturbed” or “mentally retarded.” (Wikipedia)

IDEA sounds nice, but it became a double-edged sword. While it may have tackled the issue of allowing children with disabilities to be integrated into the public school system, it was also a subtle response to Brown vs. Board of Education. Schools that did not want to integrate could do so by re-labeling blacks disabled and pushing them out. Now racial segregation continued “under the guise of ‘disability.” Disabled, poverty-stricken, and feeble-minded are just a few code words used throughout history in the America‘s that were often references to African Americans. Instead of blatant racism or racial epithets, people could just say things like “ghetto,” or “inner-city,” when referring to black people.

GNETS
Photo by LaToya Ruby Frazier for the New Yorker

“Data obtained through records requests reveal that the percentage of students in the GNETS program who are black boys is double that of the public schools in the state. Most of the students in GNETS are classified as having an “emotional and behavioral disorder,” a vague label that does not correspond to any particular medical diagnosis. A teacher who worked for five years at a GNETS program called Coastal Academy, in Brunswick, told me, “We always had a sprinkling of middle-class white kids, maybe two or three, but they didn’t stay long. Everyone made sure they got out. It was the black students who were trapped there. They came in first grade and never left.”

An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Georgia’s public schools assign a vastly disproportionate number of African American students to psychoeducational programs, segregating them not just by disability but also by race. In such instances, disability has become synonymous with race. Black children in these programs are restrained using dog leashes, experimented on, and locked in rooms like prisons, with bars over the windows. In one such room, a 14-year-old boy hanged himself.

At a school in Cordele, students with behavioral disorders must use segregated restrooms. They have separate lunch periods. They have to enter through a special door and, unlike their peers without disabilities, pass through a metal detector.” In Rome, students in the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support program aren’t allowed to engage with other students – or even leave the basement.”

“As a black kid, you keep getting in trouble,” said Craig Goodmark, a lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid who represents families of disabled children. “You get in trouble, there are no mental health services. The only mental health services are in the GNETS. That sort of combines to create a reality.”

Seven-year-old David got into trouble as soon as his mother enrolled him in school after moving to Cobb County last spring. He received out-of-school suspensions for 10 of his first 17 days, then was suspended another nine days in the first two weeks of the fall semester. His offenses, according to school documents, included “physical violence without harm,” “class disruption” and “insubordination.”

“Basically,” his mother said, “he was set up for failure.”

“The longest restraint lasted 15 minutes, after David screamed, threw items at other students, toppled desks and slapped at teachers. To keep David from biting him, a school report said, a teacher pushed his fist into the child’s mouth and held it there for several minutes. David told Tonyi he gagged and almost vomited. The school district later said the teacher appropriately controlled David’s “disruptive and assaultive behavior.”

Through such programs as GNETS, Georgia illegally segregates thousands of students with behavioral or psychiatric disorders, often in schools that are dirty, in poor repair and, in some cases, served as blacks-only facilities before court-ordered integration, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Fifty-four percent of students in Georgia’s psycho-educational programs are African American, compared to 37 percent in all public schools statewide, the Journal-Constitution found. In half of the 24 programs, black enrollment exceeds 60 percent. In one, nine of every 10 students are African American.

Sources:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/01/georgias-separate-and-unequal-special-education-system

http://specials.myajc.com/psychoeducation/

https://www.ajc.com/news/local/georgia-illegally-segregates-disabled-students-federal-inquiry-finds/Wof1iqxxvvdJv2cyowCs3O/

https://www.ajc.com/news/local/death-highlights-lack-regulation-georgia-psychoeducational-schools/vUhQ7un2Yxy7kiXGqkSBdN/


Be sure to check out other Black History Facts by visiting the Black History Fun Fact Friday page!

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Even Salt Looks Like Sugar

We are six days away from the eBook release of my new novella, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar so this is your once in a blue moon shameless self-promotion post. Go get it!!

Okay. Now that I have your attention. What is this about any way?

Wanda wants nothing more than to escape the oppressive upbringing of life with her abusive foster mother. Miss Cassaundra manipulates the system by bringing lost children into her home turned whorehouse and collecting the money. Wanda knows what it’s like to be abandoned and has no doubt Abby is Cassaundra’s next case. When an opportunity arises, that could save them both, Wanda must find a way to get the paperwork that will secure their freedom. But Cassaundra’s got eyes everywhere and no one can be trusted when even salt looks like sugar.

You should read this book if:

  • You are into Young Adult Fiction
  • You are passionate about African American experiences
  • You love women’s fiction
  • You love and care about children
  • You suspect something is wrong with America’s Foster Care system
  • You’ve been in the foster care system
  • You are a mother
  • You didn’t grow up with a mother
  • You are short on reading time (this is a short novel)
  • You are short on finances (this book is just 99cents)

PreOrder this short novel today in eBook at just 99cents on Amazon. CLICK HERE!!

Mark as “Want to Read” on Goodreads if you want to read it. CLICK HERE!!

Remember, setting up a Goodreads account is FREE and only takes a moment!

Thanks so much!!

 

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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I don’t usually review Traditionally Published books on this blog because I am usually too lazy. Sorry, it’s the truth. But also because most of these books already have a gazillion reviews so I’m thinking, “they can’t miss my little review.”

But…

I have decided to change things up a bit and review traditional as well as Indie books on this blog. 

The first book I’ll review (because I just finished it so it’s still fresh and it’s the latest talk right now) is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It is being made into a movie this fall.


Author: Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give

Genre: Young Adult

Publisher: Balzer + Bray; First Edition Later Printing edition (February 28, 2017

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0062498533

ISBN-13: 978-0062498533

WRITER'S WEDNESDA

Basically, I loved this book and it was refreshing to pick up something that kept me glued to the page (or screen rather) for the first time since I read American Marriage (another must read). I am not surprised Thomas got a movie deal because reading this was like watching a movie. I yearned to physically see everything that was going on and I am thankful that we’ll get to do just that this fall.

Sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses her best friend Khalil, an unarmed black male, get gunned down by a white police officer. This book gives us a personal and up-close look at the Black Lives Matter movement through the eyes of Starr, her family and the pain experienced by their community and Black America in general at this very hour. The Hate U Give is a spelling out of the acronym Thug Life as made popular by rapper Tupac. “The Hate U Give Little Infants F—s Everybody.”

If you know me, you know I love history and writing historical fiction. I enjoy writing Black Historical Fiction because it’s fun for me to place fictitious people in the midst of real events that happened in the past. That’s what this book is like except it’s a modern, new-school, updated, millennial version (I seriously felt real old reading this and the Tupac thing was a little much for me. I get it but I don’t think he was the best thing since sliced bread lol) and I think it’s perfect for young adults. There’s enough history to educate (references to Nat Turner, and the Black Panthers for example) but in a way that young people can understand and won’t get bored with. The way the author broke down the meaning behind the book’s title, “The Hate U Give” through the dialogue between Starr and her father was well done.

Everything about the book was well-written from the dialogue to the characters and the events taking place. For Starr and her friend’s age, everything they did and said was authentic. Even though the movie is coming out and I had heard all the rage, I wanted to read this for myself. I am not one to jump on bandwagons so I wasn’t going to champion this unless I had read it for myself. I have to say, Angie did not let me down. I even liked the doggie Brickz (“Brickz you been pissing on my roses?” Loll)

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

In Theaters October 19, 2018

Next:

Men we Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Immigrant Children and Black Senators Introduce Anti-Lynching Bill

There’s a lot going on. The situation of immigrant children being separated from their parents locked away in cages, and “lost” is a very serious and sad situation. It amazes me that a country that can lock children in cages and hang people from trees are celebrating freedom today. A Walmart has even been turned into a shelter housing undocumented children separated from parents in Brownsville, Texas. Walmart’s being turned into detention centers and camps was talked about years ago but people said they were just conspiracy theories.

In the midst of this, there is an increase in racist behavior toward Blacks. It seems that every week someone is calling 911. It’s not just “BBQ Becky” or the woman who called the police on the group in Oakland but 911 calls are being made every day. Videos of racial profiling by white police and White Americans have gone viral. A Black girl was selling water without a permit, a white woman assaulted a Black man who “did not belong at the pool,” a Black boy accidentally mowed some of his neighbors lawn and an 89-year-old Black woman was forced to urinate in public after being denied the use of the bathroom at a Circle K gas station. 

Lynchings are also taking place regularly, even though no one’s talking about it. It is happening so much that Congress’s three African-American senators introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to make lynching a federal crime. “The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018 notes that during the first half of the 20th century nearly 200 attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation failed to gain support from the Senate despite urging from seven sitting presidents.”

What they won’t say is that Lynchings didn’t stop there.

The body of Frederick Jermaine Carter, 26, was found in 2010 hanging from an oak tree in the predominantly white North Greenwood area of Leflore County, Mississippi, Otis Byrd’s body was found hanging from a tree in 2015, and on April 18, 2018, the mutilated bodies of two young African-American men, Alize Ramon Smith and Jarron Keonte Moreland, were found in a pond near Moore, Oklahoma. A woman was discovered hung near a Walmart in College Park, Georgia on May 14. And a man was found near Atlanta University Center on April 27. (Essence also listed 5 additional attempted Lynch cases.) Many of these cases are deemed suicides. That’s for the people who do not know any better.

…and the myriad of unarmed Blacks being shot and killed daily which are now being deemed modern-day lynchings.

“The tragic shooting deaths of 17-year old Trayvon Martin in 2012 and 18-year old Michael Brown in 2014 reawakened the nation to the epidemic of killings of unarmed blacks by private citizens and law enforcement officers. Sadly, the shooting of unarmed blacks seemingly continues unabated despite the numerous nation wide street protests, town hall meetings, and pledges from politicians and law enforcement agencies to address this systemic problem. According to the Washington Post, “Although black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police in 2015. What is more, the Post’s analysis documents that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed. Whereas in 2012, Trayvon Martin was literally the poster child for unjustified killings of unarmed blacks, today there are a litany of black victims (Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice to name a few) that can fill that role.” (Source: 21st Century Lynchings)

READ MORE ON THE ANTI-LYNCHING BILL HERE.

 

Black History Fun Fact Friday – James Shober

 

James Shober was an African American doctor and the first Black doctor in North Carolina. James was born on August 23, 1853, in what is now Winston-Salem, North Carolina. James father Francis Edwin was a white businessman and politician who served in the North Carolina state legislature and the United States Congress. His mother was an 18-year-old enslaved woman named Betsy Ann.

Betsy was of mixed race who lived in Salem and passed away in 1859 when Shober was between six and seven-years-old. He was sent back to the Waugh Plantation near Waughtown, North Carolina, where his grandmother lived with other family relatives.

Educated at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, Shober then enrolled in the Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. where he was one of the forty-eight graduates in 1878.

Image from State Library
Image from Library of State, James Shober

After graduation, he began practicing medicine in his home in Wilmington, then the state’s largest city. Shober was the only Black doctor in a city of more than 10,000. There were only a handful of licensed black doctors across the United States following the Civil War. Shober now joined those ranks in 1878 and became the first professionally trained Black physician in North Carolina.

On June 28, 1881, James married Anna Maria Taylor, an educator who taught at the Peabody School in Wilmington, and they became the parents of two daughters, Mary Louise and Emily Lillian. His daughters both graduated from Fisk University and pursued a number of professions. James Shober died young, at just 36 years-old on January 1, 1889.

“Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2)” by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Thanks so much for sharing! Fam, remember that Revolution needs your support. Part 2 of The Nora White Story. Check it out.

Nesie's Place

cover

Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2)

by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Genre: Historical/African-American/Family Life

3.99 at time of posting!

When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When the community discovers the truth of the alleged crime they devise a way to get Gideon out of jail but their actions could mean life or death for everyone involved…

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – Juneteenth

I don’t celebrate holidays (this includes Kwanzaa and Juneteenth. How can I celebrate the end of slavery when we are still in captivity? Maybe I’ll celebrate it next year, the marking of our 400 years in this land.) Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be right (in keeping with my Black History origin traditions on this blog) if we didn’t explore what this day is and what makes it so special for many Black Americans; many replacing their 4th of July celebrations with Juneteenth instead. It is still an important part of history to remember and I don’t believe we’ve ever covered it on this blog so here goes.

According to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863, the proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” By rebellious states it was referring to those states that had seceded or withdrawn from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. The freedom it promised also depended upon United States military victory. In brief, Emancipation only applied to those slaves who lived near Union lines.

140619_POL_Juneteenth.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge

News of the supposed emancipation did not spread as quickly as the movies would have us to believe. Many slave-owners packed up their belongings and their slaves and moved to Texas in mass. “Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.” (Henry Louis Gates Jr.) In a hurried re-enactment of the original Middle Passage, more than 150,000 slaves had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former slave he quotes recalled,”‘It looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.’’ For the next two years, slave owners and the enslaved would live removed from the updates of the war and slavery would go on, business as usual.

And so, when General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, on June 19th to lead the Union occupation force, he had to deal with ongoing slavery in defiance of the Emancipation Proclamation. To fix this, he issued the following order:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

This second proclamation, specifying that all slaves were free, is the foundation to the celebration of Juneteenth, a combining of June and the nineteenth when the order was issued. However, it is also important to know that just like the first proclamation, this order did not exactly free the slaves.

Juneteenth0619

“There is much evidence to suggest that southern whites—especially Confederate parolees—perpetrated more acts of violence against newly freed bondspeople in Texas than in other states,” writes historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner in an essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory.” “Between the Neches and Sabine rivers and north to Henderson,” she continues, “reports showed that blacks continued in a form of slavery, intimidated by former Confederate soldiers still in uniform and bearing arms.” Murder, lynching, and harassment were common. “You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom,” reported one freed slave, “They would catch them swimming across Sabine River and shoot them.”

Still, Blacks celebrated their freedom with the first official Juneteenth event taking place in 1866 where they read the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and praised Abraham Lincoln as the great liberator. (I find this odd). The celebrations continued until coming to a halt with the institution of Jim Crow, laws that essentially put Blacks back into a form of slavery where we were fully disenfranchised and outside of the law. Convict Leasing is a great example of this. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, Southern states, who had amassed great wealth from slavery, found their economy in shambles.

Juneteenth.0

They had to figure out how to keep a slave-like system going and like sharecropping, convict leasing was another answer. Black Codes and Pig Laws, unfairly penalized poor African Americans for crimes such as stealing a pig. It was also a crime to be unemployed. These laws could be imposed on Black men easily, sending them to jail and thus former slave owners turned “entrepreneurs” could lease them to various companies that would work them to death and treat them like they were slaves. This made the states tons of money. In 1883, about 10 percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately 10 times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.

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Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

Juneteenth didn’t make a full resurgence until The Civil Rights Movement when Blacks began to celebrate it in full again. And while many Blacks have celebrated it for centuries, it still did not become an official Holiday until it was made a Texas state holiday in 1980, and it wasn’t until 1997 that Congress recognized June 19th as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” after pressure from a collection of groups like the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage and National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation.


For more Black History Fun Facts, be sure to visit the BHFFF Page HERE.