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Black Lives Matter, Stacey Abrams Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

“We hold the largest social movement in global history,”

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Patrisse Cullors

Stacey Abrams

Patrisse Cullors

The Black Girl Magic just keeps on keeping on.

Black Lives Matter, founded by  Patrisse CullorsOpal Tometi and Oakland’s own Alicia Garza, won Sweden’s Olof Palme human rights prize for 2020 on Saturday and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with voting rights activist and lawyer Stacey Abrams.

BLM was founded in 2013 after the acquittal of the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who was attacked on his way home from a walk to the local store in Sanford, Fla., in February of 2012.  

Seven years later, after the high-profile killing of George Floyd and others, about 20 million people took to the streets in protest in the U.S. and around the world using the name of the loosely structured organization.

This illustrates that racism and racist violence is not just a problem in American society, but a global problem, Palme prize organizers said.

 In awarding the $100,000 prize last weekend, organizers said the foundation had in a unique way exposed the hardship, pain, and wrath of the African-American minority at not being valued equal to people of a different colour.

Around the same time, BLM was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian lawmaker Petter Eide. In his nomination papers, Eide said BLM deserved the award “for their struggle against racism and racially motivated violenceBLMs call for systemic change have spread around the world, forcing other countries to grapple with racism within their own societies. 

 We hold the largest social movement in global history,” Black Lives Matter tweeted in response on January 29. Today, we have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. People are waking up to our global call: for racial justice and an end to economic injustice, environmental racism, and white supremacy. We’re only getting started.

Eide has since taken some heat from critics who believe BLM is a violent organization. But he reminded them that similar criticism arose when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was nominated and later received the Nobel prize in 1964.

BLM, to Eide, follows in King’s footsteps as well as in those of anti-apartheid freedom fighter Nelson Mandela in 1993.

Eide’s sentiments paralleled those of Lars Haltbrekken, a Norwegian legislator who nominated Stacey Abrams for the Nobel Peace prize on Saturday.

Abrams, the powerhouse who fought the voter suppression tactics that are believed to have led to her defeat in Georgia’s gubernatorial race in 2018, was nominated for the prize for helping to boost voter turnout in 2020 through nonviolent activism.

In a statement released to Reuters, Haltbrekken said, “Abrams’ work follows in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps in the fight for equality before the law and for civil rights.

 Abrams launched Fair Fight, a voting rights movement encouraging voter registration, after she lost the gubernatorial race by 55,000 votes as her opponent, the Georgia Secretary of State at the time, purged thousands from the voter rolls.

   In the wake of the election, my mission was to figure out what work could I do, even if I didn’t have the title of governor,Abrams said at the time. What work could I do to enhance or protect our democracy? Because voting rights is the pinnacle of power in our country.

  Fair Fight was her answer to that question.

   “Abrams’ efforts to complete King’s work are crucial if the United States of America shall succeed in its effort to create fraternity between all its peoples and a peaceful and just society,”  Haltbrekken said.

If she wins, Abrams would join fellow Georgians King and former president Jimmy Carter, who won in 2002, as Nobel Peace prize winners.

Abrams’ declined to comment on the nomination.

Nominating someone is relatively easy, though not taken lightly. Members of national legislatures, universities, international courts of law and former Nobel winners are among those who can put a name to the Nobel committee. Last year, there were 210 individuals nominated and 107 organizations were nominees for the peace prize, which comes with a cash award of$1,145,000.

The Nobel committee will announce the short list of nominees in March.

Reuters, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, BBC News and CBS news are the sources for this report.

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Activism

Reparations Task Force: What to Expect in the Committee’s First Report

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

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Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

The California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans will submit its first report to the California Legislature in June.

The 13-chapter document will detail the committee’s findings so far and include recommendations related to them.

Task force member Donald K. Tamaki said the “comprehensive report connects the dots between past racism and its current consequences.” He also inferred that the report presents a “landmark opportunity” to shape the national conversation around reparations.

“I think the report will not only attract California publicity but will also be looked upon nationally,” Tamaki said before the task force approved the report. “With the report, we can go out to the people to develop an allyship and (generate) support for it.”

As prescribed in Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, the report will establish how California laws and policies have disproportionately and negatively affected African Americans. The report will be available to the public.

The California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Enforcement Section formulated the document based on hearings, expert testimonies, and evidence accumulated since the panel first convened on June 1, 2021.

One of the DOJ’s duties is to facilitate task force consultation with various experts on California history and reparations. The department also provides administrative, technical, and legal assistance to the panel.

The preliminary report opens with an introduction that leads to chapters focused on enslavement, racial terror and political disenfranchisement, among others. It also covers a range of topics documenting historical injustices Black Americans have endured, including housing segregation, separate and unequal education, environmental racism, and others.

Titles such as “Pathologizing the Black Family;” “Control over Spiritual, Creative and Cultural life;” “Stolen Labor and Hindered Opportunity;” and “An Unjust Legal System,” among others, frame the testimonies and historical accounts recorded during the task force meetings.

Task Force Chair Kamilah Moore wrote the foreword. Her introduction is an overview of the task force’s activities over the last year.

“This interim report will catalog all those harms we’ve discussed throughout those two-day virtual meetings since June of last year,” Moore said in an online Blk TLK Platform discussion in April. “It will also have some preliminary recommendations for the legislation to adopt.”

The first report was supervised by Michael Newman, the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Enforcement Section (DOJCRE).

The task force voted to describe the first presentation, the “Interim Report.”

Tamaki said about 10 DOJCRE attorneys — including Deputy Attorney General Xiyun Yang, DOJCRE Legal Assistant Francisco Balderrama and additional DOJ staff members created the report.

In a collaborative effort, the diverse DOJCRE team, Newman added, consulted with the task force to determine edits, make clarifications in terminology, modify corrections, and implement recommendations.

“It was a labor of love for everyone who worked on it,” Newman said during the task force meeting held in San Francisco on April 14. “I also want to thank all of the (task force) members and the community’s input in producing an incredible record.”

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

The group is tasked with studying and developing reparation proposals for African Americans and recommending appropriate ways to educate Californians about the task force’s findings.

After the task force decided on March 30 that lineage will determine who will be eligible for compensation, the panel approved a framework for calculating how much should be paid — and for which offenses — to individuals who are Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States.

An expert team of economists identified 13 categories that would be the basis of the method used to calculate damages and determine what constitutes harms and atrocities. A second report is due by July 2023 when the task force two-year charge is expected to end.

Members of the task force include Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; vice-chair Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s; Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Rounding out the panel are Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley; and Donald Tamaki, Esq. is an attorney best known for his role in the reopening of the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. the United States, which led to the conviction being overturned of Fred Korematsu who refused to be taken into custody during the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

For more information, visit https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121#

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Council Unanimously Declares Oakland a Pro-Choice Sanctuary City

Said Council President Sheng Thao: “The passage of this resolution makes Oakland the first City in California to declare itself a Sanctuary City for Abortion Access and is the first step we will be taking to expand abortion access to anyone who needs it. Healthcare is a human right, and the City of Oakland stands firmly behind anyone exercising their right to reproductive care.

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Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao and council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas. (Photos: City of Oakland/oakland.gov)
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao and council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas. (Photos: City of Oakland/oakland.gov)

By Post Staff

The Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring Oakland a Pro-Choice sanctuary city, backed by Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Nikki Forunato Bas, as well as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and Assemblymember Mia Bonta.

This resolution was passed on Tuesday, May 17, introduced by Thao, Bas, and Kaplan. The resolution puts Oakland on record as a city that celebrates abortion-access and reaffirms the city’s support for Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, and advocates for more state and county funding to be provided to reproductive care providers in anticipation of an influx of out-of-state patients.

Said Council President Thao: “The passage of this resolution makes Oakland the first City in California to declare itself a Sanctuary City for Abortion Access and is the first step we will be taking to expand abortion access to anyone who needs it. Healthcare is a human right, and the City of Oakland stands firmly behind anyone exercising their right to reproductive care.

“This resolution says to women across the country, who are under attack, that your rights will be protected here.”

Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas said, “With this resolution, Oakland reaffirms loud and clear our fierce commitment to our values of freedom, justice, and honoring each person’s dignity and sovereignty to choose what is healthiest and safest for their body. I am proud to co-author this effort and committed to working with my colleagues and urging other jurisdictions not only to protect abortion access, but to significantly expand the inclusiveness, capacity, and quality of reproductive health services for all who need them in our community.”

Vice Mayor Kaplan said, “Make no mistake, the Supreme Court is threatening to turn back the clock. They are threatening our rights and fundamental liberty. The laws that guarantee the right to reproductive freedom are the same laws that ensure the right to contraception, the right for LGBTQ+ people to be allowed to live and love as we choose, and privacy and racial justice. Let us continue to move forward, not backwards.”

Added Dr. Jessica Hamilton, associate medical director of abortion services for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, “The news of the SCOTUS leak has been heart-wrenching for those of us on the front lines. No patient or physician has ever asked for a politician to be in the exam room with them.

“Since SB 8 (the heartbeat bill) went into effect in Texas in September, we have watched California remain a beacon of hope for people seeking abortions. At Planned Parenthood Mar Monte alone, between July 2021 and April 15, 2022, we have provided care abortion care to twice the number of patients from out of state than we did during the same time period the previous year. The reversal of Roe could drive up the number of out-of-state patients whose nearest abortion provider would be in California to 1.4 million! And while no patient should have to travel for care, at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, we have been building capacity and are ready to support this increase in patients seeking care in California, especially in major transportation hubs and sanctuary cities like Oakland,” she said.

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Make Mental Wellness Part of Total Health for Black Communities

The pandemic has propelled health inequity and racism into news headlines and helped spark national conversations about the health disparities that face the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The impact of decisions about the treatment we receive or deserve are often driven by racism and the resulting implicit bias that individuals who have sworn to take care of their patients often harbor. And this affects our physical, mental, and emotional health and ultimately health outcomes.

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These conversations have provided a platform for discussion and opportunities to educate, dispel misinformation and break stigmas. Rhonda Smith, executive director of California Black Health Network.
These conversations have provided a platform for discussion and opportunities to educate, dispel misinformation and break stigmas. Rhonda Smith, executive director of California Black Health Network.

By Rhonda Smith

The next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in California has arrived. As the state begins to implement its SMARTER Plan, protecting ourselves and our communities from COVID-19 and its fast-spreading variants through vaccination can ensure better outcomes for us all.

Despite mask mandates ending, we must continue to spotlight the importance of keeping Black and African Americans healthy and encourage our community to think about being more proactive about our overall health and well-being. We can start by focusing on our whole selves—our physical, mental, and emotional health.

The pandemic has propelled health inequity and racism into news headlines and helped spark national conversations about the health disparities that face the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The impact of decisions about the treatment we receive or deserve are often driven by racism and the resulting implicit bias that individuals who have sworn to take care of their patients often harbor. And this affects our physical, mental, and emotional health and ultimately health outcomes.

A reflection on our historical relationship with the medical community has certainly warranted the level of distrust of the healthcare system, and the many stories of outright racism and discrimination experienced in the past.

One example is Dr. James Marian Sims, who performed surgeries and experiments on Black women without their permission or anesthesia. Another example, which many of us are familiar with, is the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which was administered by the U.S. Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972 to better understand syphilis.

During the four decades, hundreds of Black men in Tuskegee, Alabama, were injected with the disease without giving their consent; and even once penicillin became a common syphilis treatment, they were left untreated.

Our distrust of the healthcare system has been further shaped by present-day experiences, with many Blacks and African Americans saying they have experienced racism during a medical visit or that their physical pain or discomfort is frequently ignored.

Unfortunately, our healthcare system has often disregarded BIPOC patient needs, and systemic racism has morphed into a true public health crisis. Despite this, as Blacks and African Americans, we have persisted. Our individual and cultural resilience equips us to persevere and survive in a system built on a foundation of discriminatory design.

As part of our culture and heritage, we have relied on an oral tradition that passes on stories about how we should care for ourselves and remedies that heal our ailments. I hear many of these stories through our network and I heard them in my own family. We have relied on our own learnings; and in some instances, we have relied on our faith. And through it all, we have found ways to maintain our health and wellness.

However, we are weathered, and enduring resiliency is hard. If we are not whole, we are not healthy. If we are not healthy, we cannot be resilient.

Resilience is an element of mental health, and our whole health comprises elements of physical, mental, and emotional wellness. This means our whole health needs to be a priority, not only one dimension or another. We must invest in our individual health and wellbeing and make it a priority so that our families, community, and all of us will be healthier and live longer.

We must look to the past to inspire a better future so that we can rewrite our heath history here in California. I appreciate the state’s COVID-19 awareness campaign which has sought to address mental health concerns and other issues that impact us by partnering with African American and Black medical experts and advocates for community conversations.

These conversations have provided a platform for discussion and opportunities to educate, dispel misinformation and break stigmas.

We are not strangers to race-based adversity, and its impact on our health and wellbeing. Racism, health inequities inequity, police brutality, and residential redlining each affect public health in its own unique way. Yet we continue to persevere.

Black History Month was a time to remember our past, honor our heroes, celebrate our great legacy of achievement. The theme for the month this year was “Black Health and Wellness”, and it was meant for us to prioritize total wellness and build a healthier history for us now and for generations to come.

For more about COVID-19, including guidance on masking and testing, visit covid19.ca.gov. You should also visit covid19.ca.gov or the CDC.gov more timely, accurate information about the pandemic. To schedule an appointment for a vaccination or a booster, visit MyTurn.ca.gov, or call 1-833-422-4255.

Rhonda Smith, executive director of California Black Health Network

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