Crenshaw High School Panel Dorsey High School PanelDisney A.N.T. Farm's Carlon Jeffery at Dorsey
Actor & Author, Brian White at Crenshaw
Actress, comedienne, and film director, Maija Digiorgio emceed the summits
The Beverly Hills NAACP and Verizon bring the important national issue to local schools with the help of many organizations, officials, specialists and celebrities.
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
Last month, Verizon and the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP (BHNAACP) hosted multiple teen summits on bullying in the South L.A. area. As a part of the “Stop The Bullying“ Campaign, the teen summits were held at Dorsey High School on October 21 and Crenshaw High School on October 27. In partnership, both Verizon and the BHNAACP sponsored the events, which brought a host of local and city officials, domestic and abuse specialists, and celebrities.
Many local organizations and groups attended the events including APLA, L.A.P.D., 2nd Call, P.A.C.E., Gang Alternative Program and counselors specializing in various abuse and addiction programs.
The event entitled “Addressing Teen Domestic Violence “Stop the Bullying” Summit was supported by the LAUSD Board of Educators and included partners such as councilmembers Bernard Parks and Herb Wesson Jr., Assemblyman Mike Davis, and former congresswoman, Diane Watson.
The NAACP hope to raise awareness and act as a bridge to the LAUSD about addressing the problems facing youth today. Teen domestic violence, bullying and cyber-bullying are growing epidemics in schools throughout the nation. It is the BHNAACP and Verizon’s hopes that by engaging youth in open and public conversation, a resolution will be reached by all involved.
“I feel that every child that comes to school should not be bullied by anyone, [because of their] race, gender, creed, color or ethnicity,” said Eddie Jones, president of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association (LACRA).
“I’m glad that this is getting started here today with all the people that will come here from all over the community.”
BH NAACP president and area director, Ron Hasson echoed much of Jones’ sentiments about the summit. He agreed that the beginning stages in changing the hostile climates in schools starts with understanding the problem.
“We can begin to establish dialogue with high school students dealing with this worldwide issue of bullying,” said Hasson. “Bullying is something that is not new in the sense, but it is something that is beginning to reach a proportion that is affecting many students, many young people in their lifestyles.
“It’s important that we begin to help our young people understand the dynamics of what bullying is all about.
“The NAACP wants to be a part of helping to educate our young people.”
“It’s really to raise awareness around teen violence, dating violence, bullying [and] have some conversation with our young people [to] raise awareness,” said Julia Cooksey, Verizon Director of External Affairs.
Cooksey hoped that the summit will help youth find steps to better navigate the issues that they will encounter in school.
Specialists on the subjects of violence, bullying and abuse came to talk to the students in break-out sessions before the main panel. Many of them agreed about the importance of educating youth on how to deal with social issues that would help defuse bullying. Some highlighted the true essence of bullying as being an internal issue on the part of most bullies.
“This event is really just the tip of the iceberg about poor interpersonal relationships,” said Dr. Lewis King, Senior Scholar of the Bradley Foundation. “Bullying is really a symptom of insecurity.
“It’s those who want to feel power; their attempt to control and dominate those they perceive as less than them.”
Individual, couple and family licensed counselor, Jon B. Pease, explained the importance of summits for youth and schools throughout the country.
“This is critical for the success of really changing the tide of awareness in society,” said Pease. I mean, if we don’t have this, the kids think we’re not paying attention and they all get lost.”
“We’re pleased that we have a team of experts to come in to facilitate discussion,” said Hasson. The summits’ success was instrumental on all the educated and professional men and women who came to talk to the youth about problems and issues in schools today.
“To be able to help [youth] deal with those issues, to educate young people so that they can educate other young people, so we can start the process of helping them to deal with bullying.”
Celebrities were present among the panels and participated in both school summits with information about how to deal with bullying and overcome the odds. All star celebrities included director and actor Mario Van Peebles; actors, Brian White and Quinton Aaron; actress and vocalist Michole Briana White; actress Porsche Coleman, Basketball Housewife reality TV star, Gloria Govan; actor and rapper Daniel Curtis Lee; Disney A.N.T Farm’s Carlon Jeffery; musical artists Ray J, The ReJ3ctz, Sunni Black, J McCoy & MLKN and other notable guests. Actress, comedienne, and film director, Maija Digiorgio emceed both summits and facilitated the discussions.
“We want to be able to shrink that,” said Black about bullying. “I think that it’s important for the stronger people to come together and support the weaker people, bring them up and make them stronger.”
[Youth] get to see a lot figures that they may look up to, and may inspire them and comparing their stories about bullying and how to stop bullying,” said artist McCoy. “[It] opens the doors for so many others to change their ways… and try to stop bullying.”
“Nobody wants to be bullied in school,” said Jeffery. “Everybody just wants to come here and learn, and have their situation be positive.”
“It’s all about uplifting each other,” said Ray J. “Let’s protect each other, let’s help each other, let’s love each other.”
Michole Briana White spoke on the panel about her experience with bullying in high school. She also participated with the students at Crenshaw High during the question phase of the summit. She shared her feeling about bullying and participating in the Crenshaw Teen Summit.
“People that bully other people don’t always realize how you can affect somebody’s entire life,” said White.
“It can change who you are completely, so it is an extremely important event and I’m really, really glad to have been a part of it.”
“Failing schools equal successful prisons,” said Peebles. “What neighborhoods provide us the most prisoners—look to what neighborhoods have the worst schools.
“There is no time for bullying. As I said to the kids, minimum effort now means minimum wage later. We need to support our youth…I think it’s super important to teach that next generation what’s poppin’.
“I got to pass it on.”
Actor and author Brian White was another panelists at the Crenshaw High summit who talked about empowerment and education. White is calling for a return for positive role models for the youth.
“I’ve had the benefit of having a lot of great role models my entire life from my parents and grand parents on down to my coaches, educators and mentors,” said White.
“I feel it’s a communal responsibility to then pass on those pearls of wisdom, those lessons to younger people, so that they can replicate success.
“Because what I’m seeing, is younger people looking at TV, Reality TV, music videos for the examples they should be getting from us. “
“It should not be a one-time event,” said Hasson. “[It’s a] beginning of a process to educate our young folks in how to deal with some of the issues in life.” Dorsey students at Bully Summit Crenshaw students at Bully Summit All photos by Brian W. Carter