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Diversity and Inclusion at Alamo Colleges

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By: Jose Macias Jr., D2, ACCD,

When people say things like the “system is broken” or “everything is fixed” – what they are really saying is that they have little faith or trust in the system. Instances of corruption, oppression, and a lack of accountability over the decades, have done little to restore confidence in government. Government seems to benefit those “who have” verse those “who have not.”

I have been addressing this issue for over ten years as an elected official. I won my first election in 2010 due to the climate of distrust in Judson ISD over a bond package that was mismanaged. A stadium renovation project that voters approved for 4 million dollars ballooned to over 10 million dollars. The construction company said that operational cost had increased since the bid as justification for the increase. It is something I never believed.

Anger in the community was off the charts, and as I began my work in trying to understand the process, I began to understand how the “system” was built. I also understood how linked bond and construction projects were directly tied to the classroom and to student success. Poor facilities meant that our students were not getting the very best environment to learn, and taxpayers were not getting what they paid for. As a school board member, I had to be diligent about understanding our construction strategies just as much as I had to be about our curriculum, teacher retention, and support programs.

In my role serving District 2, I can apply that experience to helping Alamo Colleges grow even stronger. Since it is all about student success, it is imperative we build an efficient system. During my first 100 days in office, I met with many minority business owners in D2 and asked them about their experiences in doing work for Alamo Colleges. Many of the responses were not kind. There was an overwhelming sentiment that we were not being inclusive of small minority businesses.

I recognized immediately the significance of this disconnect, and I committed then to help my district. I reached out to the Alamo Black Chamber of Commerce, The Hispanic Contracting Coalition, and the Fair Contracting Coalition (FCC) and began significant dialogue about creating inroads to greater inclusion of small minority businesses at Alamo Colleges.

Many hours and countless conversations have taken place across District 2 in preparing to take next steps to increase diversity and inclusion practices at Alamo Colleges. It is critical that our business partners reflect our community, and just as important that our tax dollars benefit businesses operating in our community as well.

Our data does reflect a strong record of utilizing minority businesses at Alamo Colleges, but our current course has not bridged the disconnect felt by a large group of minority business owners. With some modifications in our strategies and policies, we can bridge that disconnect.

The issue of diversity and inclusion is something that I know is important to my constituency, and if it is important to those I represent, then it is important to me. After all, the core of representative governance strongly implies that you must “Represent” and “Fight” for the community you serve. That is what I call “Truth.”

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Stork’s Nest Community Conversations

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Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Alpha Pi Zeta Chapter launches its Stork’s Nest Community Conversations program, with its first event on Feb. 18 at St. Philip’s College from 10 am to noon.  

Stork’s Nest Community Conversations will bring expectant mothers, their support groups, health and medical care experts, advocates, and government leaders together. Its purpose is to educate and engage on pregnancy and women’s health topics.  

March of Dimes 2022 Report Card depicts the need for collaborative work and innovative ideas to improve Texas preterm births. Texas’ preterm birth rate is 11.4% (D-). Bexar County and San Antonio’s preterm birth rates are 12.0% (F). The preterm birth rate among Black women in Texas is 41% –  higher than among other women. 

The Alpha Pi Zeta Chapter will host four Community Conversations throughout the year. On May 20, the topic is Learn How Legislation Affects You: Meet the Medical and Government Experts. On Aug. 19, the topic is Postpartum Education: What to Expect When You and Your Baby Come Home. And on Nov. 18, there will be a health fair, and a conversation on You are in Control: Health and Finances. 

The sorority’s Stork’s Nest 3.0 e-Learning Course also educates pregnant women to help improve birth outcomes and develop healthy lifestyles. Since 2021, the Stork’s Nest 3.0 e-Learning Course has enrolled 108 clients and has averaged an 86% graduation rate. The sorority partners with the Alpha Pi Zeta Foundation, the March of Dimes, the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, African American Health Disparities Council.

The Feb. 18 Stork’s Nest Community Conversations will be in the Turbon Student Center on the 2nd floor of St. Philip’s (1801 Martin Luther King Drive). To learn more about future Community Conversations, just put Stork’s Nest Community Conversations in the search bar of Eventbrite.

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Black History Events – Safe Spots for Black Motorists to IKEA Exhibit

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Black history is American history 365 days a year, and here are some events in February from the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) to learn about African American influences and achievements. Located at La Villita (218 South Presa), the mission of SAAACAM is to collect, preserve and share the cultural heritage of African Americans in the San Antonio region. 

Feb. 7 from 10  am – 11 am – Story Time in the Park at the Hemisfair (434 S. Alamo Street). Each month young explorers learn and play around the theme of being different while being included. A short story is shared followed by a hands-on learning activity. 

Feb. 11 from 1 pm – 3 pm  – Black History River Tour (218 South Presa). Join SAAACAM on the San Antonio River for a 100-minute cruise exploring San Antonio’s Black history and the holiday lights that adorn the Riverwalk. The trip starts at La Villita, where it travels north through the Museum Reach to the Pearl, then back downtown to the Alamo, Convention Center and back to La Villita. Participants will be surprised at the continued African American influence in San Antonio.

Feb. 13 from 8 am – 10 am – Black Resistance at the Lunch Counter (IKEA Live Oak, Live Oak). SAAACAM and IKEA Live Oak celebrate the opening of the new exhibition at IKEA Live Oak “Black Resistance at the Lunch Counter,” with a complimentary breakfast. The exhibit will be available to the public for viewing from Feb. 13 through March 16. 

Feb. 22 from 2 pm – 4 pm – Green Book Historic Marker Unveiling (218 South Presa). View the locations of San Antonio’s Safe Spots for Negro Motorists during the Jim Crow era researched by students of the Texas A & M University-San Antonio, Methods of Historical Research Class (2022) led by Dr. Pamela Walker. This is a free event, but registration is required.

For more information about the different events and how to participate, visit (SAAACAM.org).

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People of Color Increasing Pet Ownership

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By Melissa Monroe

I have a confession to make. When my son was 5 years old, I lied and told him our beloved dog, Simba, ran away. You see, Simba, a beautiful white spitz mix breed, wasn’t the fun-loving character like on Lion King. Instead, he was the vicious growling Cujo. 

Simba wanted to go everywhere with us when my daughter was born (when my son was 5). He was loving to the family, but no one could pet him. I mean, NO ONE! We would have to put him in a bedroom when someone wanted to visit. After 10 years, I had to make the hard decision to give him to San Antonio Animal Care Services

After that experience, I was traumatized from owning another pet but finally gave in when my two kids wanted a toy poodle. Mojo now is much different, though he has issues too. He does allow people to at least touch him. So why this long intro? Because, like many people of color, I didn’t want to be stereotyped as not being a good pet owner since I’m not white. In fact, Mojo gets his “hair done” more than I do. I even had pet insurance for him at one point. 

Pet owners like myself are fueling the billion-dollar pet industry. According to consumer market research company, Package Facts, the U.S. pet industry continued its strong advance in 2021, surging 14% overall to $123 billion. The company also reported that pets now live in 67 million U.S. households, and multicultural pet owners are a key reason. 

Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans are an influential and growing segment among owners of dogs, cats, and other pets. Compared to a decade ago, pet owners are now more likely to be a member of a multicultural population segment (28% in 2018 vs. 22% in 2008).

Another reason why I enjoy being a pet owner is because of the love pets show you. Mojo is the first to greet me at the door when I get home and never talks back to me (smile). A large majority of pet owners believe their pets have a beneficial impact on their emotional and physical health. 

We see evidence of that with the increasing demand for service dogs to help ease people with PTSD, autism, seizures, diabetes, and much more. Training for these working dogs can range in the tens of thousands of dollars, and many fail to become top-notch service animals. 

Atlas Assistance Dogs, an organization that trains people to be qualified dog trainers, estimates that there are 16,766 assistance dogs in the North America Region. But this number considers service dogs trained by ADI-accredited organizations. It doesn’t consider service dogs trained by their disabled owners. Atlas says it’s difficult to establish an exact number of service dogs in America. For example, ShareAmerica.com estimates about 500,000 service dogs in the US. 

Service dogs also have legal protection from discrimination. The U.S. Fair Housing Act requires homeowners and housing providers to provide reasonable accommodation for service dogs and not to discriminate. Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), airline operators in the US are required to accept service dogs as passengers and transport them on flights to, within, and from the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives service dogs the right to access public areas and facilities. Operators of public facilities are required to admit them and their handlers without discriminating.

Pet ownership is also great for physical fitness. Researchers analyzed 29 studies published between 1990 and 2010, primarily in the United States and Australia. On average, 60% of dog owners walked 160 minutes per week and four times per week, a greater amount and frequency than people in dog-less households.

So while I miss Simba and think about everything I did to help him – expensive dog training and even having a psychic check him out – YES, I did that too; I’m grateful for the time I had with him and for knowing I did what I could to help him. Sharing a home with a pet is not cheap, but many benefits can be gained. 

Here are some more stats about multicultural pet owners 

  • Hispanics have become an especially significant part of the population of pet owners. The number of Latinos owning pets increased 44% from 15 million in 2008 to 22 million in 2018, a growth rate vastly greater than that experienced among non-Hispanic white pet owners.
  • Although a much smaller population, Asian pet owners grew at the same rate (45%) between 2008 and 2018.
  • During the same period, the number of African American pet owners also increased at a healthy rate (24%).
  • The impact of Latinos on dog or cat ownership has been especially pronounced. Over the past decade, the number of Hispanic dog owners increased by 59%. The number of Latino cat owners likewise increased by 50%.
  • The two most popular pets, dogs and cats, live in 39% and 24% of U.S. households, respectively. One in eight homes has other pets — including fish, birds, reptiles, or small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, or gerbils.
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