By Christina Smith
Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO– The San Diego Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted a forum to address racial bullying in schools, drawing many concerned parents and educators who came together not only to voice their concern, but to discuss solutions. Forum attendees shared personal stories about how their children faced racial bullying or discrimination from other students, and in some cases, school administrators.

Dr. Andre Branch, Chair of the San Diego NAACP Education Committee, was impressed by the number of people who came out and was even more impressed by the responses they had to offer.

“Not only did they have examples of racial bullying, but they were also eager to share steps toward solutions to the problems, bringing people’s heads together, to figure out ways that we can keep our children safe in the schools,” Branch said.

Sam Mason was one of many concerned parents ready to receive advice and also willing to share solutions. He has a high school aged son, and works with special education children, who he says are at a very high risk of being bullied. He doesn’t think the anti-bullying programs that are currently in place in some schools do enough.

“A lot of the time the stereotypical ways of doing a lecture or giving them a speech doesn’t work. So I want to make sure that we’re creative and, again, focusing on the kids,” Mason said.

Phillip Liburd, a member of the NAACP with a long history of activism, said the NAACP is doing everything it can to protect children from the injustices that children of color have experienced in the past.

“We are not going to tolerate that our children in our community are being disrespected, being underserved, and being treated as second class citizens. That era is over,” Liburd said.

It is more difficult to be helpful to students and families if no one ever speaks out, but Branch understands why some families become silent when it comes to bullying and discrimination.

“One of the things we found is that some people are experiencing this, and some people are not sharing it. For various reasons, they’re not sharing it with either the NAACP, or with their schools. Some parents have the experience of telling administrators that their children have been bullied and then having them do absolutely nothing about it. And so they’re tired, they’re discouraged; they don’t do anything about it, “Branch said.

Both Branch and Liburd want the public to know that the NAACP is around to help, and is actively working to make things better for children, parents, and administrators that face racial bullying and discrimination.

“My resolve is that I’m going to do whatever it takes, that this generations is not going to continue being left behind by folks who don’t care, marginalize us, and so our black community becomes less and less relevant,” Liburd said.

“We want the community to know that we are working on it and that they can contact us should they have experiences of racial bullying that they want us to know about,” Branch said.

The San Diego NAACP meets every first Thursday of the month at the Black Contractors Association building on Imperial Avenue. For more information, visit www.sandiegonaacp.org.