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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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San Antonio Wins Coveted Health Award

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The city of San Antonio announced today its selection as one of four winners of the 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation during a press conference at the Witte Museum.

The Prize honors communities pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health. Chosen from nearly 200 communities across the country, San Antonio’s award-winning efforts included its Pre-K program that’s citywide, a municipal court that helped decriminalize truancy, and its Haven for Hope center that gives solutions for the homeless.

The city’s Equity Office puts policies into play to reduce disparities, and the city’s budget prioritizes neighborhoods and populations that historically were marginalized. Judges of the foundation also applauded San Antonio’s wealth of data-driven collaborations for education, teen pregnancy prevention and homelessness. To date, 39 communities throughout the nation have been honored with this distinguished award in the past six years.

San Antonio will receive a $25,000 prize, join a network of prize-winning communities, and have their inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation. San Antonio joins Brownsville as the second Texas community to win the distinguished prize.  The other three winning communities are: Cicero, Illinois; Eatonville, Florida, and Klamath County, Oregon.

To see the other cities nominated, go here.

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Community Spotlight Bibliotech East w/Tivy Whitlock

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Community Spotlight feat. WestCare Texas & Workforce Solutions

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