Tag Archives: diversity

Engineering event parked in A.I! BE THERE, WPS!!

Save the Date

From the National Society of Black Engineers

NSBE’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community!

Hi, All!

It’s my pleasure to invite you to attend the TORCH Fest & Innovations Faire on …

Wednesday, March 23 …

from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM

… at the NSBE National Convention.

This event is open to the public and will feature all kinds of activities, organizations and educators to expose young minds to the wonderful world of STEM. I realize this event takes place during the school day, but I can assure you that students will benefit greatly from a day with us.

So come and help NSBE Engineer a Cultural Change!

Convention Website:
nsbe.org/convention

*******

NSBE’s 42nd Annual Convention

Engineering a Cultural Change

March 23-27, 2016| Boston

www.nsbe.org 

All that glitters is not golden public policy  

By Gordon Davis

Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus released his report on how to make Worcester a more diverse city last week. His ideas are reasonable but late, inadequate and besides the point.

The ideas raised by Augustus (the list was published in the daily but REMOVED within 48 hours!) are mainly old ideas that have failed or old ideas that should have been implemented in Worcester decades ago.

The big idea in the report is the creation of a “Chief Diversity Officer” whose job is to make sure that different populations in Worcester know about and apply for City of Worcester jobs. This should have been an ongoing effort by the City with or without a Chief Diversity Officer. I suppose Augustus will now have a scapegoat to point to when, due to Worcester’s  institutional racism, the City’s work force does not reflect its population.

Another big idea that failed and is being reestablished is the so called Worcester Clergy/ Police Alliance. The problem with this “alliance” is that the well meaning Clergy do not have much influence beyond their own congregations. The police, the Mayor, and the Manager will get well meaning Clergy to stand behind them in photo opps, but do not expect anything substantial to come of it.

The restructuring of the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee is just a reshuffling of papers. Nobody in our city government listens to them, and the good people there do not want to get on the bad side of their sponsors by being too critical.

Like other city committees, the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee serves at the pleasure of the City Manager.

The issues of police body cameras, cruiser cameras, and lock up camera should have been done years ago.

It is being done now because of the pressure of the Black (all) Lives Matter new civil rights movement.

As the manager’s report says, the use of these items are being “investigated.” What is not in the report is civilian review of the police. Neither the City Manager who is the boss of the police nor the Worcester Human Rights Commission has a mention in the reports as a means of review by the public of any alleged police misconduct.

The other items in the report regarding education, voting, youth jobs, etc are already being implemented.

There is nothing new in the report.

I am sure all of the city’s politicians, including new political candidates, will be happy with the report, as it relieves them of the responsibility to tell the truth about the lack of transparency in Worcester government.

Some of the city’s right wing politicians will be critical because they do not want to do anything about diversity and are ready to move out to Holden when the Worcester becomes too diverse.

People I like to call “misleaders” who ingratiate themselves with the politicians will be scrambling to take advantages of some of the so-called new ideas in the report. Many of them are now thinking about how they can be hired as the city’s  “Chief Diversity Officer.” Others actually like to be photographed with the leaders to show they have political “juice.”

Main South: Clark U celebrates diversity!

Clark University

950 Main St.

Clark U International Students present Annual Gala, Friday, March 20!

The International Students Association (ISA), a student initiative at Clark University, will showcase a rich variety of cultural entertainment, fashion and music during the annual International Gala!

7 to 10 p.m

Friday, March 20

at Kneller Athletic Center

Held every spring, the International Gala showcases the diversity of Clark through the music, native dress, dance and other customs of the students’ home countries.

The event–among Clark’s most lively and popular performances–is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

This year, more than 30 nations will be represented in International Gala 2015: This is Why

More than 300 students and volunteers involved!

The ISA promotes better relations among students of different cultures through a variety of intellectual, informative and entertaining events encouraging cross-cultural communication on campus and in the Worcester community.

The Feb. 5 Worcester NAACP meeting: WPD, WFD and diversity

By Gordon T. Davis

Each Worcester NAACP meeting I go to seems to have a ton of information and some surprises.

The meeting on February 5, 2015, was no different.

There was a report by the Worcester NAACP housing committee coordinator of a tenants union called the Fruit-Sever Tenants Union which is in a legal battle with a local landlord operating under HUD rules.

Some of the Tenants Union’s members have been threatened with arrest by the Worcester Police, should they enter the building and meet with the tenants who are also members.

Reportedly, this is against HUD rules for HUD associated buildings. The issue is now being worked on by Congressman Jim McGovern who is reported to be clarifying the rules with the Worcester Police.

At least one member of the NAACP expressed criticism of the threats of arrest made by the Worcester Police.

Worcester Police Officers Spencer Tatum and Miguel Lopez, both in the WPD gang unit, gave a presentation of the City’s efforts to diversify the Worcester Police Department.

Officer Lopez is also the Affirmative Action Officer for the Worcester Police Department. Although that position has no job description, he does outreach to the different communities about the Civil Service Examination that applicants for the Police Department must pass.

The Civil Service Exam is given every two and it is used by all of the cities and towns’ police departments to choose candidates. An exam taker must be between 21 and 32 years of age in order for the Worcester Police Department to consider the exam taker for a police officer position. The City’s thinking is that it wants about 32 years of service from each police officer.

There is a form of forced retirement at age sixty-five. It is not clear to me that this practice does not violate anti-age discrimination statutes.  People under 40 are not protected by the anti-age discrimination statutes.

The Worcester Police Department is under a consent decree agreed to in 1980s that require a Worcester police force of 19.9 percent Black and Latino officers.

The Asian population is not included in the consent decree nor are women.

Presently, there are no Asian women on the Worcester Police Department.

During the last Civil Service exam seven Asian women passed the exam, but they were quickly hired by police departments in other Massachusetts divisions.

There are today two Black women police officers in Worcester; both of whom are near retirement.

Veterans passing the Civil Service Exam are by law chosen before other candidates. The military police who served in Guantanamo and who have taken the Civil Service exam will likely be hired first. It is not known how many military veteran exam takers will be White, Black, or Latino. Almost all Worcester Police officer applicants have BA degrees, although this is not a requirement.

The fee for taking the exam is $100.

One member of the NAACP said that he was interested in taking the exam, but he was unemployed. He asked if there were some funds available for test takers like him. Police Officer Lopez said there was a community group that paid for “minorities” who showed need to get money for the fee.

The Worcester Fire Department is also under a similar diversity consent decree as the Worcester Police Department.

When, surprisingly, the Worcester Fire Department reached its goal of 19.9 percent Black and Latino firefighters, it petitioned the courts to be relieved of the consent decree.

Subsequently, the percentage of Black and Latino firefighters in the Worcester Fire Department has steadily fallen.

It was suggested that the “minority communities” again sue the City of Worcester to have a new consent decree for the Worcester Fire Department.

Worcester Public Library Reaches Out to Great Brook Valley and Diverse Communities

By Gordon T. Davis

When I visited the Worcester Public Library branch location in Great Brook Valley (GBV), I did not know exactly what to expect. The trip there has made me more of an optimist about the human condition.

Going up Tacoma Street, I noticed right away the relatively new outdoor stairways of the Curtis Apartments that took the edge off of the more severe look they have.  I also noticed how clean the complex’s streets were and how well-kept the landscape was. The grass was still green!  So impressed were we that my wife and I passed right by the sign for the Worcester Public Library branch, located at 89 Tacoma St., and we had to turn around.

The library is located in a row of apartments, the construction of which reminded me of the barracks that military families used to live in during the 1950s and 1960s. When I saw them previously, they had an ugliness about them. Nonetheless the apartments were functional and efficient.  With the recent faux gabled roofs the row apartments are better looking, almost like town houses.

On the way into the library, its apartment unit was about 20 yards from the street, I waited outside and talked to passerbys about their public library branch. People were friendly and talked freely.

The first person I spoke with was Carol. She told me she uses the branch library, taking out books and going on the computers located there. Xavier, a fifteen year old young man who lived most of his life in GBV, said that he knew of the branch library but he did not have any incentive to go inside. He said he did not understand its draw. He did say that he might check it out eventually.

A teenage young lady and her friend stopped and talked. Angelique said that the library was a good place and she uses it often, but they did not go in. Because of my low vision I asked Angelique to show me which door was the entrance to the library. She seemed surprised. She pointed to the brown door immediately to my right and there was a small green sign on the door that read Worcester Public Library.  The best I can say about the door and the sign is that they were unpretentious and plain. They certainly were not eye catching. Opening the door a wonderful sight revealed itself, a warmly lit room full of children and some adults reading, using the computer, and doing homework.

I was greeted by the staff at the library: Sheila, Marilyn and Polly. Polly is the Head Librarian and she was manifestly proud of the library and its services. The library is open weekdays from 2 PM to 5 PM and to a large extent it is an after-school venue for children. There seemed to be about 40 people in the library while I was there. Polly said that was 40 people is a daily average. Most of the patrons were using the computers or waiting to use the computers.

Almost all of the people using the GBV library were, when I was there,  Black or Latino, reflecting the population of GBV. The staff is mostly White. The air of family and friendliness made me forget about the problems outside of the library. It was a refuge that made me want to stay until closing. There was a nostalgia for the branch library in Philadelphia which I used as a kid.

Among the children, there seemed to be a cooperative educational process going on, as a child computer user would ask his peers about how to accomplish certain computer function. When they ran into a very difficult problem, they would then seek the library staff’s aid. These children were eager to learn and to help each other. I am sure it made the staff happy to help in this process.

The staff also had a Story Time program in which books were read aloud. Two computers had educational program software; one for younger children and another for older kids. I imagine it would be the dream of any elementary school teacher to work there. The role of librarians in the education of children is something that deserves addition print.

Having low vision I wrote in very large letters and Polly noticed. She began to describe the services the main Worcester Library has for blind people. At first I thought she was speaking about the children, then I realized  she was speaking directly to me about my handicap. She said that she finds it satisfying to help people. It was satisfying to interview this kind person. I told her that I would take her advice and look at the services for the blind found in the main library.

The staff said that children also borrowed many books and they pointed to the shelves of books that they were setting up. There was a computer terminal near the shelves that allowed the quick referencing of books. It was all impressive and a delight to see these things in GBV.

The Head Librarian, Polly,  spoke of how books could be ordered region wide from the inter library lending system. The book most often borrowed contemporaneously is a fiction book which is popular among pre-teens.  Polly said that the library does not promote the books, per se, but helps the library users to borrow from the main library or a library in the region. She said that she was not entirely sure how a book becomes popular, but she suspected word of mouth at schools.

Adults also use the library and its computers. A lady, Ada, seemed to be doing research when I asked her if I could take her picture. She said yes, but with a condition. I had to mail her a copy of the picture via the library. I agreed. All users of the library computers are limited to 30 minutes at a time and it is first come first served. Like all library services, the GBV Branch is open to the public.

The library has a good rapport with the Worcester Housing Authority which not only provides the space, but also maintains the property. It performs repairs such as maintaining the water and heating systems. I interviewed Worcester Housing Authority Director, Raymond Mariano, about his support for the GBV Branch Library. He said, as he always does, that he grew up in Great Brook Valley.  He felt that the mobile book truck was inadequate for the residents. The truck only came once a week and it did not have the programs or services that a stationary library branch could offer. It seems that the residents of GBV are being well served by Mr. Mariano’s support of the GBV Branch Library.

The new Head Librarian at the Main Library on Salem Street did not get an opportunity to return my call, but I am sure she was busy learning her new duties and solving other problems. I was able to talk with Messrs. William Coleman and William Belcher, both of whom are on the Worcester Library board of directors. Mr. Coleman and Mr. Belcher gave glowing praise about how the Worcester Public Library is reaching out to the diverse communities of Worcester and about the GBV Branch in particular.  Mr. Belcher added that he supports the good job being done with the book mobiles.

At the NAACP Housing Discrimination meeting on November 19, 2014, Michael Ortiz from the Housing Development Office of the City of Worcester, spoke about how the City of Worcester is developing additional housing for its residents. During his talk he mentioned he grew up in Great Brook Valley, like Mr. Mariano. Mr. Ortiz said that Great Brook Valley is like a gated community.  He meant this in a positive way. Like gated communities GBV has just one main entrance. It has its own health clinic, store, day care, and library.

The gem in that gated community is the Worcester Public branch library!