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Editorial: San Antonio Code Up Facing Criticism for Job Shaming

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Locally based Code Up, which offers a coding bootcamp for job seekers in software development, has caused quite a stir in the black community. Many are saying its job shaming black hair stylists.

Its recent billboard features the word hair stylist marked out in red ink. The hair stylist featured in the sign is a former Code Up student.

Code Up said in a blog post its intentions were good and its message was to tell people if they are in jobs they don’t enjoy, they can choose Code Up as a means to another career.

However, If Code Up did its research on black hair stylists, such as watching the “Barbershop” movie series, they would have reconsidered placing the billboard in Northeast San Antonio – an area that is home to some successful salons.

Many black hair stylists often have long careers and are considered almost holy in the black community. To get hair braided, relaxed, colored or even weaved in can cost female consumers hundreds of dollars. It’s not your typical $12 hair cut. Black salons for both males and females are the one place where you not only go to get your hair done, but catch up on the news, sports, politics and make lasting friendships. In many communities, it’s the epicenter besides the church.

Facebook user Carolyn Brown posted, “What company would career shame another career choice. I was a hair stylist for over 25 years and believe me, that was one of the best decisions of my life. I’m no longer a cosmetologist, and have a different business, but being a hair stylist and salon owner will always be my first. Be the best you can be at whatever career you choose and take the billboard down!”

Salon owner Toni Campbell of House of Royal T is also fighting back on her own Facebook page by posting her own “billboards.”

Code Up responded directly to Campbell on her Facebook page and said they weren’t trying to offend anyone. In return, she said, “I have seen your response but have you seen our response? It may have not been your intention but it is very offensive to me and others … I understand the intent but execution was bad … so therefore for me (a stylist for over 25 years) to pass by and see that sign is very disrespectful and appalling to me.”

Code Up says on its blog post why it chose to use the message.

“Luke used to be a soldier, Mars was a barista and bartender, John was studying law, and Sukari was a hairstylist. We’re not saying those weren’t real jobs! And we’re not saying software development is better for you,” according to Code Up. “We ARE saying that each of our students chose software development for their own reasons. We highlight those stories to show that YOU, regardless of what career you have now, CAN become a software developer IF that’s what you want.”

It’s commendable that Code Up responded and does offer people an opportunity to a new career. At the same time, its response seems a bit condescending, especially with all the cap letters, and doesn’t seem to understand the cultural value of black hair stylists in their communities.

Yes not every person will be satisfied in their careers. Some hair stylists may say why choose to be a software developer when you can be just as successful as a hair stylist.

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Student Volunteers Operate One of the Busiest Tax Offices in the City

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St. Philip’s College students will open San Antonio’s most productive income tax preparation site when the 2019 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) season begins on Jan. 22.

Currently the top floor of the college’s Bowden Building, at 1801 MLK Drive, has been taken over by the VITA San Antonio program for training its entire corps of new and returning tax preparers. The St. Philip’s site, which was established in 1992 and run by students, is ranked No. 1 in productivity locally in 2018, No. 4 in productivity in the region, and No. 12 in productivity nationally.

Kenneth Bankston is the VITA college site leader and the instructor for the tax training center. He said they have already trained 300-400 volunteers on campus since December. VITA provides free income tax return preparation to taxpayers earning up to $60,000 annually. All VITA tax returns are prepared and submitted to the IRS electronically by volunteers. Taxpayers can anticipate receiving a check in seven to 10 days business days.

For the 2018 tax season, the VITA-St. Philip’s College volunteers processed $7.3 million in refunds for 4,170 clients. Many of the students who volunteer to help taxpayers are scholarship recipients of the HEB Student Engagement Grant.

Crystal Gandara is a 2015 alumna of the college’s liberal arts and business administration programs who began volunteering for VITA in 2014.

“For 2019, I’m going to help with Spanish speakers and see if we can serve 5,000 people. I think both are achievable,” said Gandara.

Lisa Alvarez is a 2018 alumna of the college’s computerized accounting program. Now she’s training this week to become the leader at VITA’s Brook Hollow site.

“When I got into VITA, I was no longer unsure what I wanted to do. When I tell people what I love do with taxes, they are like, well you are one of the few. When I get to Brook Hollow, I’m going to have my St. Philip’s College VITA experiences in my head the whole time. I love it, because this is helping people,” Alvarez said.

For details, contact site leader Kenneth Bankston at spc-vita@alamo.edu or call (210) 486–2122. To learn more, go here.

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New Interim District 2 Councilman

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Former Councilman Art Hall has been chosen as the interim District 2 Councilman to replace William “Cruz” Shaw. Hall previously served on the council, representing District 8. He has residences in both districts.

Hall was selected among a group of three finalists that included military veteran and motivational speaker Jada Sullivan, and Denver Heights Neighborhood Association President Aubrey Lewis. Thirteen people originally filed to be considered for the position. Hall said he will not file to run for the position in May. Hall must wait 10 days before being seated on the council.

Hall, who is an attorney and a dean at St. Philip’s College, served two terms from 2003 to 2007 when he represented District 8. The recent District 2 Council seat became vacant when Shaw resigned to accept an appointed judicial position at the Bexar County Courthouse.

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San Antonio City Council *Live*

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