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Bill to Advance ‘Voting Rights for All’ Introduced to State Assembly

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Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced AB 918, the ‘California Voting for All Act,’ which would be the first of its kind in the country to provide language assistance to limited-English proficient voters.

According to Bonta, the bill would increase voter participation among Asian Americans, Latinos and other minority communities across California by implementing reasonable steps to improve access.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta

The bill is joint authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) – California and numerous voting rights organizations.

AB 918 would ensure that translated copies of ballots be more available and more usable for voters. The bill would also provide training for poll workers on proper handling of these translated ballots.

Although California has voting laws which are stronger than the federal government requires, compliance with these state regulations by counties is not consistent.

Research conducted during the November 2016 General Election by AAAJ found that translated ballots were missing from some polling locations. And those locations that had translated ballots did not post them in a conspicuous location, as required by law.

AAAJ also reported that elections offices do not adequately educate voters and poll workers are not well trained as to their availability.

“This bill will make California a nationwide leader in ensuring access to voting for immigrant voters,” said Jonathan Stein, Voting Rights Program Manager at AAAJ – Asian Law Caucus.

“As the state with the most immigrant voters and the most limited-English voters, California has an obligation to be on the leading edge of providing language assistance in elections.”

Bonta’s bill would require counties to file a public report with the Secretary of State after every statewide general election documenting their performance in recruiting bilingual poll workers.

“Less than 20 percent of Asians who are eligible to vote actually turn out,” said Bonta.

“No American should be denied the privilege and duty of voting because of a language barrier,” he said. “Our diverse voices and viewpoints must be heard.”

Commentary

City Government: Please Do No (More) Harm

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

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First in a Series on Jobs in Oakland

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

City administration professes concern for its residents who need help with access to jobs and training, while at the same time failing to issue contracts to the community organizations that stand ready to provide needed services.

The city council approved these contracts in June. As of late September, they have not been issued by the city administration.

Q: What does this mean? A: Non-profit organizations, operating on shoestring budgets in the best of times, have been required to advance their own funds in July, August, and September to serve the unemployed, with no reimbursement by the city because as the administration says, “Your contract has not been signed yet.”

Another impact: the workers who provide front line job services may not receive their paychecks on time…. creating unnecessary instability in their own households.

And who is responsible for issuing these contracts? Yup…it’s the city…. painfully tone deaf to the needs of the community, particularly those on the economic margins. Most of those served with job help are Black and Latinx residents who consistently suffer double digit unemployment. Many are returning home after incarceration.

And for this level of harmful disregard, the city receives  28 percent of scarce job training funds. Astonishing, since the city provides no direct services to job seekers.

As Oakland struggles with its horrific crime wave, it seems that attention would be paid to root causes, joblessness being paramount among them. Instead, the city administration seems intent on hobbling the very groups who stand ready to help. This happens year after year…. with no apparent consequences to an impenetrable bureaucracy.

Oakland, we can do  better than this.

We must.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

‘A Way Out of No Way:’ EP Honors Black Shipyard Workers

Youth from Marin City created a musical tribute to Black workers from the Marinship Shipyard called “The Marinovators – A Way Out of No Way.”

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Top left to right: Jaliyah Cook, Sarah Williams, Dominiq Austin, Camron McDonald, Raymone Reed, and Tayana Bland. Bottom left to right: Brenda Lara, Bella Lucky, Mykolas Vilatis, Jahi, Mason Le, and Briana Zuniga. Rohan Ayyar is not shown.

Youth from Marin City created a musical tribute to Black workers from the Marinship Shipyard called “The Marinovators – A Way Out of No Way.”

The Marinovators are a group of young people from Marin City and other parts of the Bay Area who came together to lift up the lost stories of Black workers at the Marinship shipyard in Sausalito during World War II, according to their press release.  They created a six-song extended play record (EP) titled “The Marinovators /A Way Out of No Way,” which also featured songs like “Wonder Women Workers” and “Equality” in a “Hamilton-ish” hip-hop style. 

The songs from the EP highlighted Ms. Annie Small, Ms. Rodessa Battle, Rev. Leon Samuels, and Joseph James. Joseph James was instrumental in changing the laws of the union at the Marinship shipyard by going to the Supreme Court with the help of Thurgood Marshall in 1944.

The project will also feature a Virtual Reality experience to be released in October 2021. Oakland-based artist Jahi co-wrote and arranged the EP.  Chris Jeffries engineered, recorded and mixed it at The Marinovation Center in Novato. It was produced by Configa for Configaration Records.

Collaborators include XR LostStories, Performing Stars of Marin, California State Library’s CREi Initiative, The Marin County Free Library, Marin Office of Education, Microphone Mechanics, John MacLeod, Felecia Gaston of  Marin Performing Stars, Anita Gail Jones, Leslie Pelle, and Tim Bartolf.

The sponsors include the Milagro Foundation, the TomKat Foundation, and the Marin County Office of Education.

The EP was released on Sept. 4, 2021 and is available now for streaming on Spotify and iTunes. To listen to the “A Way Out of No Way” video, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyQdXEpRQuA

 

The Marin County Post’s coverage of local news in Marin County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Art

Healing Through Art at West Oakland’s Alena Museum

The Alena Museum is a Black-led, 501(c) 3 non-profit that provides services in health and wellness through experience installations, Black sanctuary gardens, community space access, and an Art Residency (mentorship).

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The Alena Museum/Photo Courtesy of Alena Museum Facebook

Development has come at the cost of Black health, land ownership and belonging.

The Alena Museum in Oakland gives African American residents a way to heal through the medium of art “by providing critical, safe spaces for the African diaspora the Black community can express and cultivate their cultural identity in the face of gentrification. 

The Alena Museum is a Black-led, 501(c) 3 non-profit that provides services in health and wellness through experience installations, Black sanctuary gardens, community space access, and an Art Residency (mentorship).

Through the group’s public art activism, they teach cultural preservation and cultivation with an Afrofuturism ownership model to promote cultural equity with the goal to reclaim urban landscape and gain creative control in real estate development. Through restorative justice art, the Alena Museum educates the community on urban planning; how it works and how to become involved. 

The Alena Museum’s most recent project, “Magnolia Street” began in March of 2020. According to the website, “Magnolia Street is an experiential installation following Alena Museum’s land libration journey. From holding space for African Diaspora creatives, to confronting gentrification in practice, the story of Magnolia Street channels the spirit of Oakland’s Black Resistance movement into the present through Alena Museum’s eyes. Our story roots Black Power into any land we activate, including this one.”

The Alena Museum was evicted from their 8th Street site in West Oakland and is now located at 2725 Magnolia St, Oakland, CA 94607. 

If you would like to reach out to the Alena Museum you can email them at info@alenamuseum.org. To check out the latest, visit them on Instagram and Facebook. If you would like to support their vision, visit the support page.

Information in this article was sourced from the Alena Museum website. 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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