Blog | Not in Our Town


April 23, 2015 - 2:06pm
When I became a Junior at Soledad High School in 2011, I realized two things: time was running out, and I needed to do something to distinguish myself for college. Therefore, in order to stand out, I looked to personal experience: bullying. Little did I know that what started as a silver lining for my college application would change my life, and make me recognize that extending one’s own moral determination would be just as fulfilling as getting a higher education.
April 22, 2015 - 7:06pm
As educators, it may seem overwhelming that, in addition to addressing overt racism in our classrooms and schools, we also need to tackle unconscious racial prejudices, known as “implicit bias,” not only in our students, but in ourselves. However, it is possible to address implicit bias, and the solutions are in our hands.
April 20, 2015 - 10:10am
At, we profile leaders in the law enforcement community who are working to make a difference in their towns and schools. This month we profile Detective Rudy Perez, the Region 9 director of the National Association of School Resource Officers. In school, Rudy Perez was a special education student. The middle child of Guatemalan immigrants living in the projects of Los Angeles, Perez wasn’t reading at grade level and stuttered when he spoke. Surrounded by gangs, drugs, and gunfire in Pacoima, his parents fought to get him into good schools and connected him with a church youth group. “We came here with nothing. Were we very poor? Yes, but we didn’t feel it. I had a caring adult. That’s what makes a difference in all of this,” Perez said.
April 16, 2015 - 10:10am
Events in Ferguson, MO and elsewhere have inevitably brought to head long overdue discussions about race and community policing. [ALPACT] On the day that the St. Louis Grand Jury decided not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the Ferguson, MO shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, a group focused on police-community relations in Grand Rapids, MI had come together to watch and discuss the Not In Our Town documentary, Waking in Oak Creek. The group, Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT), exists to grapple with these very issues. ALPACT started nearly 20 years ago in Detroit, when citizens complained that the city’s law enforcement officials were profiling and harassing them.
April 14, 2015 - 9:49am
In preparation for reading Farhana Zia’s The Garden of My Imaan, a lovely young adult novel about an American Muslim girl named Aliya, my students and I wrote down what we knew about Muslims. I teach in a public middle school where the majority of students are white and Christian, so I expected a steep learning curve. I encouraged all the students to write down their thoughts and ideas and to be open and honest about their thinking. Sometimes I would chime in and contradict incorrect ideas, but mostly I would just record student thoughts on the whiteboard as they recorded their thoughts on our worksheet.