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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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Gardening with St. Philip’s During the Holiday Season

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The St. Philip’s College 100 Percent Organic Gardening Team invites all to help San Antonio go healthier by sharing knowledge this holiday season as a guest volunteer on Nov. 16 and Dec. 7 in the community garden on San Antonio’s East Side.

The 6,500 square-foot East Side Community Garden is a civic engagement project focused on educating students and the community on urban gardening that started in 2015 located at 1715 N. Center St. (near the 500 block of N. Walters St.). The garden has several community partners, including Green Spaces Alliance, Antioch Baptist Church (which owns the land), the Center for Excellence in Science and the neighborhood gardeners. The interaction between students and the various partners is beneficial, especially the wisdom shared by the older gardeners with our students.

In November, students and volunteers plant vegetables that will be ready to harvest in the following spring. In December, the volunteers and students learn, mulch and clean the space. In the interim, all are also educated on what and why they are growing organic. The team will share information on how anyone can do what they are doing.

Community members are welcome to join in time for the 2018 holiday season, according to this season’s project organizers, and the garden team is equipped with organic insect repellents, tablets and garden tools, and college faculty members Katy White and Mary Cottier.

Registration by phone or email with organizers at (210) 486-2755, kwhite@alamo.edu and (210) 486-2682 or mcottier@alamo.edu is encouraged, but volunteers who drop by for the holidays will be welcomed to the team. Accompanied children are also encouraged to join the team for these Friday events.

Here’s a look at the remaining 2018 SPC Community Garden Volunteer Work Day project schedule:

  • Nov. 16 | 9 a.m.-noon | 9 a.m.-noon | East Side Community Garden | 1715 N. Center St. | Parking and walking or car-pooling from the college is recommended due to limited neighborhood parking. The campus is located at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr.
  • Dec. 7 | 9 a.m.-noon | East Side Community Garden | 1715 N. Center St. | Parking and walking or car-pooling from the college is recommended due to limited neighborhood parking. The campus is located at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr.

For more information about the garden, visit the college web page on Civic Engagement.

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Remembering the 19 Soldiers of the 24th Infantry Regiment

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Nineteen black soldiers were hung on Dec. 11, 1917 in San Antonio. In spite of their military service, racial tensions took over their fate. However these men won’t be forgotten by the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Association.

The local organization recently voted to pay homage to the 19 soldiers of the 24th infantry regiment by placing a commemorative plaque or monument in the Buffalo Soldier Peace Park at 1602 Wyoming Street – not too far where the soldiers faced death.

Famed actor, author, and former Army Reserve Ambassador James McEachin and Civil Rights leader Pastor Kyev Tatum teamed up to get approval from the Bexas County Buffalo Soldiers Association to collaborate on erecting a monument in recognition of the century old court-martial of 113 black soldiers and 19 hanged in the Alamo City – the largest in military history.

According to the Texas Historical Commission, the condemned men were not told their fate until two days before their execution, nor was time permitted to appeal for clemency. Instead, the execution was hastily carried out before dawn at a secluded edge of Camp Travis along Salado Creek. Their request to be shot had been denied. The gallows upon which they were hanged were gone by the time the news broke to the public. To read the full story of what happened, go here.

“This unique opportunity to recognize and remember the black soldiers lost because that resisted tyranny, rejected injustices and revolted against mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement in Houston, Texas over 100 years ago is a dream come true,” says Pastor K.P. Tatum, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Fort Worth and Pastor of the New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church, also in Fort Worth.

Pastor Tatum and McEachin, a Korean War Veteran and Purple Heart and Silver Star recipient, are also working together to produce an event at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington DC for next July 2019 in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers of America with special recognition given to the brave soldiers of the United States Army 24th Infantry Regiment.

“The US Senate and President George H.W. Bush declared July 28, 1992 as Buffalo Soldiers Day in America and it is only fitting that we honor them with a day at the new Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African-American History and Culture in 2019,” Pastor Tatum said.

The two events are designed to continue the journey towards justice for the black soldiers that will lead to a presidential pardon.

“We believe these soldiers were protecting the fundamental fairness of freedom for all of us very similar to the brave Americans who fought at the Alamo in San Antonio. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was right, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ You can not call the soldiers at the Alamo hereos without calling the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment heroes. They both stood up and resisted brutality, one foreign and the other domestic. Injustice is injustice. We are excited about the possibilities of honoring our faithful forefathers both in San Antonio and in Washington DC,” says Pastor Tatum.

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Free Luncheon and Parade to Honor Veterans

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To honor area veterans, District 1 City Councilman Roberto Treviño has organized the fourth annual free Veterans Day luncheon at the historic VFW Post 76 at 10 Tenth St downtown on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 1 to 3 pm.

All veterans and their families are invited to attend after the parade for an afternoon of leisure. VFW Post 76, considered “The Oldest Post in Texas” will host the luncheon.

Residents are encouraged to show their support for veterans by attending the Veterans Day Parade which will take place along Houston Street from N. Alamo and end at Milam Park. The parade will begin at noon and end approximately at 1:30 pm. Prior to the parade, there’s a drill team competition at 8 am next to the Alamo, and a wreath ceremony at 10 am in front of the Alamo. The parade is presented by the U.S. Military Veterans Parade Association.

Visit https://www.usmvpa.com/ for more information.

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