Podcast: Schools or Prisons?

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In some neighborhoods, public schools feel more like prisons than schools. In this episode, former social worker and attorney Helen Higginbotham discusses the policing of children in schools with BLACK AND CUBA director Robin J. Hayes.

Written/Directed/Produced by:
Ariana Arancibia
Phyllis Ellington
Echo Sutterfield

Executive Produced by:
Dr. Robin J. Hayes

Recorded in New York City at TNS_Logo1_Small_RGB

Glossary: Broken Windows

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Vintage Policing

Any theory is just a theory. It can never be fully proven, but it can always be debunked. The Broken Windows Theory has been used to justify aggressive policing of identified ‘unsafe‘ areas. Broken Windows policing violates rights, moral ground, and creates a perception of criminality amongst certain communities. Introduced in 1982, the criminological theory is rooted in the belief that people view disorder as a breeding ground for crime. The example often used (and the theory’s namesake) is a broken window in a building or a car, more damage to the car or building would encourage several undesirable actions including, vandalism, loitering, and squatting. Ultimately, the theory alludes that police can make an area, or an entire city, safer by focusing on smaller crimes that may build up to larger acts of crime.

Know Your Rights

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Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 4.07.10 PM


Nothing ruins your day more than flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror and few moments are as stressful as police encounters. The fear of police in poor neighborhoods of color is real. Not only are Black communities fearful of the very people meant to protect them, but they are also disproportionately harassed and killed by police officers of all races. In Boston, for instance, nearly two-thirds of those stopped and searched by the police between 2007 and 2010 were Blacks, even though they make up only about 25% of the city’s population.

So, what can we do as individuals to reduce the risk of being harassed? Believe it or not, knowing your rights can significantly impact the outcome of your next brush in with the law. Progressive Pupil has put together a fun and interactive video to remind you of your rights and keep you safe. Check out our KnowYourRights video on the Progress TV channel.

Don’t forget to like the clip and let us know what you want to see next on Progress TV in the comments!

Colorblindess vs. ColorBRAVE

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In her Ted Talk, Mellody Hobson, a Financial Executive, discusses her stance on colorblindness. She opens the Ted Talk by acknowledging that race in our country is an uncomfortable subject. However, by using her personal experiences as a successful Black women in a field dominated by White men, she provides compelling arguments as to why we should no longer be colorblind, but start the conversation of race in the workplace.

Central Park Five

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On the morning of April 19, 1989, five Black and Latino teens were arrested when the body of a White female, later identified as Trisha Melli, was found unconscious, beaten and raped in Central Park. Three youth were initially arrested: Salaam, 15, Santana, 14, and McCray, 15, interrogated and held at the Central Park Precinct for the night, without their parents or attorney. The two others Richardson, 14, and Wise, 16, were also later arrested, interrogated and coerced by the police officers into confessions. All of them were convicted with sentences which ranged from six and a half years for the juveniles for rape and robbery, to eleven and a half years for Wise, eldest at 16, who was convicted as an adult for sexual assault, first-degree assault, first-degree riot and sent to Riker’s Island to fulfill his sentence.

School Cops

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Students from Sheepshead Bay High School at “My School has Rhythm Not Violence” rap contest auditions, presented by the NYPD School Safety Community Outreach Unit. Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Daily.
Students from Sheepshead Bay High School at “My School has Rhythm Not Violence” rap contest auditions, presented by the NYPD School Safety Community Outreach Unit. Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Daily.

Which came first, school cops or school violence? It can be argued that school cops are a response to student violence. However, it can also be argued that student violence is a result of school cop presence. This debate is a very controversial issue at the moment and is extremely relevant to our schools today.

One of the earliest records of a school shooting took place in the 1760’s in Pennsylvania. A group of four Native Americans shot their teacher and nine other classmates in their small schoolhouse. Only three children survived. Fast forward to the later-half of the 19th century. From 1900-1980, there were around 130 school shootings. However, during the 1980’s, Zero Tolerance policies were applied to student’s behavior after heightened concern over youth violence. The “school safety” division of many large cities’ police departments began to grow, creating a criminalization of student conduct. Since 1980-2014, there have been around 230 school shootings. This number has almost doubled from 130 shootings, but in less than half the time.

Hashtag Activism

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jiatweetFor two weeks in August 2014, it seemed the entire country’s attention was turned toward an unknown suburb outside of St. Louis, Missouri: Ferguson. Even with serious competition for media headlines – from conflict in Israel, to the spread of Ebola, and the violence of ISIS – for a period of time, Ferguson was on the front page of what seemed like every news site, blog, and piece of print media in the US.

No Justice, No PROFITS

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Image Courtesy of PBS
Image Courtesy of PBS

On the heels of the announcement in Ferguson right before Thanksgiving that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the killing of unarmed Missouri youth Michael Brown, the call was issued for Black Americans to boycott the national day of shopping, Black Friday. The goal was to call attention to the elimination of racial injustice and, especially, an immediate end to police brutality against people of color. The rationale is based on reports that indicate how the combined buying power of Black people in America is expected to be $1.1 trillion by 2015. This means that African Americans across the board are very influential when it comes to how and where their dollars are spent and, therefore, are a tremendous financial asset to the United States (which, let’s face it, has always been the case). When you compare this fact with the reality that Blacks across the U.S. earn less than Whites and are unemployed at more than double the national average, it puts into context the insult that is being added to injury with ongoing injustices that African Americans, and other people of color, face within the legal system and institutions. Therefore, a boycott has been declared.