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California Black Media News Roundup

The Public Policy Institute of California is reporting that absenteeism is on the rise among all students in California, and Black children are among the top sub-groups of kids who miss school the most. Absenteeism rose substantially for nearly all student groups. However, we do see variation across demographic dimensions. Among racial/ethnic groups, Black, Native American, and Pacific Islander students experienced the highest rates of chronic absenteeism, exceeding 40% in 2021-22,” the report reads.

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Barbara Lee. Wikipedia photo
Barbara Lee. Wikipedia photo.

By Tanu Henry
California Black Media

Report: Black Students Among Students with Highest Absenteeism Rates

The Public Policy Institute of California is reporting that absenteeism is on the rise among all students in California, and Black children are among the top sub-groups of kids who miss school the most.

Absenteeism rose substantially for nearly all student groups. However, we do see variation across demographic dimensions. Among racial/ethnic groups, Black, Native American, and Pacific Islander students experienced the highest rates of chronic absenteeism, exceeding 40% in 2021-22,” the report reads.

Read the full report at: https://www.ppic.org/blog/exploring-the-spike-in-chronic-absenteeism-among-k-12-students/

The report includes both unexcused and excused absences. iStock Photo

The report includes both unexcused and excused absences. iStock Photo

Gov. Newsom Announces $736 Million in Funding for Local Communities

Keeping his promise to fast track solutions addressing California’s stubborn homelessness crisis, last week Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $736 million in grants to be channeled directly to local communities for building or acquiring shelter for unhoused people.

“At a time when more housing is desperately needed, Homekey is proving that we can build faster, and at a fraction of conventional construction costs,” Newsom said.

“My Administration has made available an unprecedented $3.4 billion to date for Homekey to use at the local level to address housing and homelessness. I look forward to seeing more communities use this latest round of funding to boost housing around the state,” the governor added.

Project Homekey is a state government initiative that aims to quickly provide shelter to individuals experiencing homelessness. To date, it has successfully provided shelter for nearly 12,800 formerly unhoused individuals across the state.

Rep. Lee Releases Statement on Trump Indictment

After a New York grand jury reportedly indicted former President Donald J. Trump on more than 30 counts of business fraud last week, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12) said she hopes the action was the “beginning of our justice system holding him and all involved in these crimes accountable.”

“This is the first time a former president has been indicted in American history, and this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Trump’s alleged crimes — before, during, and after his one term as president,” said Lee, an outspoken progressive known for her Left-leaning political stances and a candidate in the competitive race to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the November 2024 general election.

“No one is above the law,” emphasized Lee, the highest-ranking African-American woman in the U.S. House of Representatives.

California Black Elected Officials React to Ridley-Thomas Conviction

Last week after a jury found former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas guilty on corruption charges, California’s Black elected officials issued statements acknowledging Ridley-Thomas’s political leadership, many contributions to his constituents and his track record of unapologetically advocating for policies that advanced racial equity and improved the lives of African Americans in the state.

“I am compelled to share my appreciation for the civic contributions of Mark Ridley-Thomas. Mark Ridley-Thomas has devoted his professional life to serving the people of Los Angeles. He has invested his time and energy to empower and uplift his community and constituents for decades,” said Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus in a statement.

“His relentless commitment to helping improve the lives of others through public service will always be worthy of our admiration and appreciation,” Bradford added.

I believe that this is a sad day for Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who worked with Thomas for more than 40 years. “And I feel that sadness personally,” she added. Bass described Ridley-Thomas as a “a policymaker who made a real impact.”

L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson took to Twitter to express his appreciation for Ridley-Thomas.

“When those in power chose to forget our community, Mark Ridley-Thomas centered and uplifted us,” he wrote.

“I certainly think people are shocked and saddened by what they’ve read. But I’ve also heard people share how much respect they have for the work that Mark Ridley-Thomas has done.”

California Black Media Hosts Dinner Honoring Joe Stephenshaw

Last week, California Black Media hosted a reception honoring California’s Department of Finance (DOF) Director Joe Stephenshaw.

A number of state lawmakers, public officials, Black news publishers, journalists and others attended the event co-hosted by the California Black Freedom fund and held at the Prelude Kitchen & Bar in downtown Sacramento.

“For us, this is one of those moments we deeply treasure when the leaders of the Black Press in California get to officially welcome, celebrate and interact with a top thought leader and decisionmaker in state government in an environment that is intimate and welcoming — no spotlights, no cameras, no fanfare,” said Regina Wilson, Executive Director, California Black Media.

“We exchanged ideas and talked freely about our challenges as we got a firsthand view into how our government is deploying our tax dollars in ways that directly impact the lives of the communities we serve,” Wilson added. “We look forward to working more closely with Joe and the Newsom administration on priorities that advance equity for Black Californians.”

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Stephenshaw to the DOF role. In January, he made his first annual budget presentation as the state’s chief fiscal officer alongside the governor.

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Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

More Segregated Than Deep South: ACLU Releases Report on Calif. Public Schools

The 2024 State of Black Education: Report Card was recently published by the American Civil Liberties Union California Action (ACLU California Action). It states that California is the third most segregated state for Black students.  Co-author of the report, policy counsel Amir Whitaker from ACLU Southern California explained the criteria the ACLU use to rank California during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education held at the State Capitol the day after the Memorial Day holiday.

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Asm. Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) was a guest speaker at the State of Black Education report card briefing at the State Capitol on May 29. CBM Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Asm. Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) was a guest speaker at the State of Black Education report card briefing at the State Capitol on May 29. CBM Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

The 2024 State of Black Education: Report Card was recently published by the American Civil Liberties Union California Action (ACLU California Action). 

It states that California is the third most segregated state for Black students.

Co-author of the report, policy counsel Amir Whitaker from ACLU Southern California explained the criteria the ACLU use to rank California during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education held at the State Capitol the day after the Memorial Day holiday.

“For every state in the Deep South, California (schools) are more segregated,” Whittaker said. “People often think that California is not segregated or unequal as Deep South states and others. The inequalities here (in California) are actually wider.”

New York and Illinois are ahead of California regarding the racial diversity of their student bodies. According to a report May 2022 report by Stanford Graduate School of Education, the Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York City school districts are in the top 10 most racially segregated districts for White-Black, White-Hispanic, and White-Asian segregation based on the average levels from 1991-2020.

In bigger school districts, segregation between low-income (students who are eligible for free lunch) and non-low-income students increased by 47% since 1991, according to the Stanford Graduate School’s report.

“That’s why it’s important to look at this data,” Whitaker said. “When you have millions of people living in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, the urban areas are a lot more segregated than the south. That’s a big part of it.

A number of factors contribute to the segregation of schools in California such as parents sending their children to private schools, others optioning for homeschooling, and other reasons, Whitaker said.

The Brown v. Board of Education case declared that separating children in public schools based on race was unconstitutional. However, Whitaker pointed to cases after the landmark decision that circumvented that federal law.

According to a 2014 report by the Civil Rights Project, in the 1990s, decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court decision ended federal desegregation orders in San Francisco and San Jose. In addition, court decisions in the state that ordered desegregation in the 1970s were overturned by the 1990s. Legally, California has no school integration policy to adhere to.

“This is why we did this report. There needs to be a report just on this issue (of school segregation),” Whitaker told California Black Media. “Right now, there’s no task force or anything addressing it. I have never seen the California Department of Education talk about it. This is a pandemic (and) a crisis.”

ACLU Northern California hosted an overview of the report and panel discussion at the State Capitol on May 29. California Black Legislative Caucus member Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) and Sen. Steven Bradford were the guest speakers. Parents, students, educators, and Black education advocates from all over the state attended the 90-minute presentation at the State Capitol.

School segregation is the No. 1 issue listed in among the report’s “24 areas of documented inequality,along with problematic trends of racial harassment, a continuous decline of Black student enrollment, school closures, connection with school staff, chronic absenteeism, low Black teacher representation, and parent participation.

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California Black Media

L.A. Pilot Program Addressing Asian American Hate Could Be California Model

Californians who are Asian American or Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were the targets of an escalated number of hate crimes and hate incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many AAPI people, particularly the elderly, reported being too scared to leave their homes. Others experienced firsthand hateful incidents stemming from deep-rooted prejudices and stereotypes — such as verbal or physical assaults in public.

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Shutterstock
Shutterstock

By McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

Californians who are Asian American or Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were the targets of an escalated number of hate crimes and hate incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many AAPI people, particularly the elderly, reported being too scared to leave their homes.  Others experienced firsthand hateful incidents stemming from deep-rooted prejudices and stereotypes — such as verbal or physical assaults in public. Yet, too many of them were hesitant to voice their emotions, according to Yu Wang, an associate marriage and family therapist at the Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Center in Los Angeles.

“A space for healing is critically needed,” Wang said, also noting that some Asian cultures don’t put a heavy emphasis on sharing feelings and vulnerabilities. “It makes it difficult to talk about experiences related to racism. Also, many of us lack to the language to express emotions, which exacerbates feelings of isolation and fear.”

The Asian/Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Equity Alliance in collaboration with other Asian American community groups recently launched the Healing Our People through Engagement (HOPE) pilot program in Los Angeles County geared at healing racial trauma experienced by Asian American community members by providing healing spaces and reducing isolation. Based on the successes of the initiative, supporters and organizers believe the “culturally centered” program could become a model for other cities around the state.

Ethnic Media Services hosted an hourlong Zoom press conference on the last day of May, which was AAPI Heritage Month, to allow HOPE program facilitators and allies the opportunity to provide details of the initiative to the media.

HOPE is a healing space for five distinct Asian American communities — Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Korean — created to make sense of their experiences with racism and recent surges in hate crimes. The psychology of the program is radical healing, a framework that has aided Black people in dealing with years of prejudice-caused trauma. HOPE is funded by a grant from the California Department of Social Services. 

More than 11,000 stories of hate have been reported to the California-based online resource, Stop AAPI Hate, since 2020.

AAPI Managing Director of Programs Michelle Sewrathan Wong called HOPE vital and said Asian Americans endured episodes of brutality on a scale not seen in generations.

“They were scapegoated by politicians for transmission of COVID-19, targeted for violent physical attacks, made to feel unsafe and unwelcome in their own communities and bullied and ridiculed by neighbors and strangers,” she stated.

HOPE opened healing spaces in Los Angeles County that offer six two-hour sessions conducted in groups by facilitators, who are staff from partner community organizations.

DePaul University Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Anne Saw said the radical healing framework promotes healing over coping.

“Healing may be lifelong because racism is ongoing, yet a program like ours reminds people of the cultural, community, family, and individual strengths they have to resist racism,” Saw said. We believe that healing in a group can be more powerful than an individual engaging in healing on their own because of the support they receive.”

This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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