The influence of Samuel Martinez in the Fruitvale District

Samuel Martinez Discusses History and Traditional Healing from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Samuel Martinez is a part of the history Oakland’s Fruitvale district as a therapist, healer, social justice worker, activist, writer and traditional dancer. During the Urban Relocation program of the 1950s, he and his mother were relocated to the Oakland housing projects where they faced racial inequality and discrimination, which he says have “made him stronger.”

After refusing to join the Vietnam War, at 18 years old he became an anti-war activist and joined the Chicano Moratorium. As a parent and organizer he helped create El Centro Infantil de La Raza and served on the board of directors.

Martinez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who contributed to the creation of a mental health department at La Clinica de La Raza. He refers to himself as a “Social Justice Healer offering a Traditional Healing Praxis.” His praxis began with his mother’s traditional teachings of healing and in 1977 he incorporated the theories of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In 1971 La Clinica de La Raza was established in the Fruitvale district in order to provide accessible health care for the neighborhood’s Latino population. La Clinica opened its first mental health site named Casa del Sol in 1978.

In his backyard, Martinez leads community TemesCalli’s or Sweat Lodges for family and extended family alike. Martinez says that the meaning of TemesCalli stems from “Calli” which means home and “Teme or tema is in a prayerful way.” He says that the prayer lodge is “the creation story in our five senses because we are beings of the five senses.”

As an author he has published several books including The Indian Dream: Surviving the American Holocaustand AmeriCaCa—The Sounds of Silenced Survivors: Surviving America’s Campaign to “Kill the Indian, Save the Child.”

Oakland Bullies Say, “Snitches Get Stiches,” But Oakland Schools Create A Culture To End The Problem

A well-known tactic of intimidation amongst the youth of Oakland is the saying that “Snitches get stiches,” which means that if students speak up about wrongs that they know of or are victims of, or “snitch”; they will suffer violent consequences. In the city of Oakland, violence is nothing new, however with increasing attention to the issue of bullying and talks of Federal Anti-Bullying legislation, the Oakland Unified School District is avidly doing its part to put a stop to it.

According to the Huff Post Politics, although 49 states already address the issue of bullying in some way, currently, there is no Federal legislation in place; which is why Senator Bob Casey’s Safe Schools Improvement Act would hold schools accountable for collecting data on incidence and response.

Oakland Unified School District

The entrance to the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, June 23, 2013. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez/Full Sail University)

California is one of the 49 states with Anti-Bullying Laws and Policies in place. Under these laws and policies, federally funded schools are required by law to address and investigate cases of bullying. Troy Flint, Director of Public Relations at the Oakland Unified School District, says OUSDs policy on bullying “is that protection should be more than protection. Students need to be taught to respect difference whether it’s ethnic, religious, people with disabilities, or gender or sexual orientation.”

As a part of their effort to eradicate bullying, the district offers training for principals on how to recognize and prevent bullying, counselors who intervene in bullying cases, and complaint procedures. Flint talks about the opportunity that all middle and high school students were given to attended a screening of the Lee Hirsch documentary, Bully with an introduction and question an answer session with the director. Later the district formed a curriculum related to the film.

When Flint mentions that this issue is receiving increasing attention he also says, “I think attitudes are changing about what constitutes bullying and the impact it can have not only on a child’s social life, but on their affinity for school, and their willingness to learn.”

The fear of “snitches” getting “stiches” may be a real one, but the OUSD is making sure that its students know that they are not alone, they are watching, and they are working to create a culture of respect.