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OP-ED: California Must Reform Discriminatory Gang Suppression Scheme

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — “These laws create a separate system of justice for communities of color, with criminal charges that don’t require actual wrongdoing, and lead to longer sentences, restricted fundamental freedoms, and a tilted playing field in the courtroom. The legal consequences are clear: more Black and Brown bodies pulled from their families and communities, locked up, and forgotten. But these legal consequences are just the beginning. The truth about California’s gang suppression scheme is that it’s not just putting people in prison, it’s stripping entire communities of their futures. And because of that, it’s making us all less safe.”

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The current gang suppression scheme only exists because it is politically expedient. It makes it easier for prosecutors to rack up wins, even if those wins are wildly unfair and result in wrongful incarceration. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Khalid Alexander (Courtesy photo)

Khalid Alexander (Courtesy photo)

By Khalid Alexander, The Los Angeles Sentinel

Thirteen years ago, I moved to a heavily-policed neighborhood in Southern California. I realized things were different when suddenly I was pulled over by the police three times in one week. I’d been pulled over before, but something other than the frequency of these stops stood out to me. It was the first time police asked me if I was a gang member.

What I have learned since then, as the founder of Pillars of the Community and a father of two young men of color, is that this questioning about “gang affiliation” is a part of a long history of law enforcement’s attempt to label, criminalize, and abuse people in Black and Brown communities. What those officers were really trying to figure out was whether they could get away with violating my rights as a human being and constitutional protections as a citizen.

Recent years have brought new attention to the real impact of California’s gang laws. We’re at a strange inflection point: There are truly dangerous criminal gangs within law enforcement, who continue to act with impunity thanks to the inaction of prosecutors (L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, for example, is known for failing to prosecute bad police, and refusing to even exclude known bad cops from building bad cases). Those same police are maintaining a database of supposed gang members that’s so flawed, it includes the names of kids under one year old.

These laws create a separate system of justice for communities of color, with criminal charges that don’t require actual wrongdoing, and lead to longer sentences, restricted fundamental freedoms, and a tilted playing field in the courtroom. The legal consequences are clear: more Black and Brown bodies pulled from their families and communities, locked up, and forgotten. But these legal consequences are just the beginning. The truth about California’s gang suppression scheme is that it’s not just putting people in prison, it’s stripping entire communities of their futures. And because of that, it’s making us all less safe.

Contact with the criminal legal system can permanently destroy a person’s economic mobility. A criminal record is damaging enough, but add gang allegations and it becomes almost impossible for a person to transition out of prison, successfully find work, reconnect with family, and succeed. Research has shown that stable work and family relationships are the key to lowering recidivism and improving community safety. The more connected and engaged people are to their communities, the less likely those people are to end up back in prison. Factors that harm re-integration–like “reintegrative shaming” and labeling formerly incarcerated people as part of an out-group–create a self-fulfilling prophecy and have been linked to increased criminal activity. In other words, the very deliberate way in which gang suppression laws label, separate, and oppressively monitor people makes those people less able to succeed and more likely to cause future harm. Documented gang members are often barred from visiting or living with family members, prohibited from returning to their neighborhoods, and prevented from participating in any type of civic engagement in the communities they belong to. Rather than encouraging positive reentry into society, they are excluded from it.

California has already begun to recognize this. But what current conversations on reform fail to realize is that the most biased, unfair, damaging aspects of these enforcement schemes could be stopped with a single decision by powerful local prosecutors. County DAs can choose not to use gang enhancements, documentation, guilt by association, and potentially-unlawful gang allegations in their practice. And that choice would be one of the single strongest choices they could make for public safety. In fact, in San Francisco, voters just elected Chesa Boudin, a DA candidate who promised to end the use of gang enhancements, and noted their racist application.

The current gang suppression scheme only exists because it is politically expedient. It makes it easier for prosecutors to rack up wins, even if those wins are wildly unfair and result in wrongful incarceration. To embrace gang policing, allegations, and enhancements, is to sacrifice the public good on the altar of cheap victory. The right move for public safety is to stop using outdated laws that fracture communities and perpetuate crime; to step back away from gang enforcement schemes that have destroyed Black and Brown communities. Any prosecutor who truly cares about the public good will make the smart choice to stop relying on gang documentation, allegations, and enhancements to put communities of color behind bars.

Khalid Alexander, founder of Pillars of the Community, an advocacy organization based on faith, positivity, and a need to build a better world.

The post California Must Reform Discriminatory Gang Suppression Scheme appeared first on Los Angeles Sentinel.

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IN MEMORIAM International Soccer Icon Pelé Dies at 82

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Sometimes called “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”), Pelé became a Brazilian national hero. According to Britannica, he combined kicking power and accuracy with a remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves. 

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Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Pelé, the international star who was instrumental in three World Cup championships with Brazil across three decades and who energized U.S. soccer with the New York Cosmos in the 1970s, has died.

The 82-year-old legend had been hospitalized since November, and his doctors reported that Pelé’s cancer had advanced, requiring care related to renal and cardiac dysfunction.

He has been receiving regular treatment since doctors removed a tumor from his colon in 2021.

“Father. My strength is yours,” the international star’s son, Edinho, posted on social media.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.

He led the Brazilian national teams to World Cup glory in 1958, 1962, and 1970.

In 1956, he joined the Santos Football Club, where he played inside left forward, winning nine São Paulo league championships and, in 1962 and 1963, the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup.

Sometimes called “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”), Pelé became a Brazilian national hero. According to Britannica, he combined kicking power and accuracy with a remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves.

“After the 1958 World Cup, Pelé was declared a national treasure by the Brazilian government to ward off large offers from European clubs and ensure that he would remain in Brazil,” Britannica researchers wrote.

On Nov. 19, 1969, in his 909th first-class match, he scored his 1,000th goal.

Pelé made his international debut in 1957 at age 16 and played his first game in the World Cup finals in Sweden the following year.

The Brazilian manager was initially hesitant to play his young star. But, according to Britannica, when Pelé finally reached the field, he had an immediate impact, rattling the post with one shot and collecting an assist.

He had a hat trick in the semifinal against France and two goals in the championship game, where Brazil defeated Sweden 5–2. At the 1962 World Cup finals, Pelé tore a thigh muscle in the second match and had to sit out the remainder of the tournament.

Nonetheless, Brazil went on to claim its second World Cup title.

Researchers said rough play and injuries turned the 1966 World Cup into a disaster for Brazil and Pelé, as the team went out in the first round, and he contemplated retiring from World Cup play.

Returning in 1970 for one more World Cup tournament, he teamed with young stars Jairzinho and Rivelino to claim Brazil’s third title and permanent ownership of the Jules Rimet Trophy. Pelé finished his World Cup career, scoring 12 goals in 14 games.

Pelé’s electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals made him a worldwide star.

His team Santos toured internationally to take full advantage of his popularity. For example, in 1967, he and his team traveled to Nigeria, where a 48-hour cease-fire in that nation’s civil war was called to allow all to watch the great player.

Pelé announced his retirement in 1974 but, in 1975, agreed to a three-year $7 million contract with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League and to promote the game in the United States. He retired after leading the Cosmos to the league championship in 1977.

Pelé was the recipient of the International Peace Award in 1978. In 1980 he was named Athlete of the Century by the French sports publication L’Equipe, and he received the same honor in 1999 from the International Olympic Committee. In 2014 the Pelé Museum opened in Santos, Brazil.

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COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips

THE AFRO — Although it cannot be medically diagnosed, burnout can lead people to lose their sense of self and feel as if they are not accomplishing enough. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association found that the risk of burnout has increased for workers due to extra stress, increased household demands and longer working hours. 
The post COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Megan Sayles | AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
msayles@afro.com

We’ve all heard the age-old saying that “hard work pays off.”  But, sometimes, working too hard can do more harm than good.

“Burnout” is a form of work-related stress in which an individual experiences physical, emotional or mental exhaustion caused by their job’s demands. It can also make workers feel distanced from their jobs and engender negative feelings about them, according to the World Health Organization.

Although it cannot be medically diagnosed, burnout can lead people to lose their sense of self and feel as if they are not accomplishing enough. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association found that the risk of burnout has increased for workers due to extra stress, increased household demands and longer working hours.

This makes it even more important for people to know the signs of burnout and the strategies to combat it.

Natasha Charles is the founder and CEO of Intuitive Coaching with Natasha Charles, a comprehensive life coaching and consulting firm. She created the business after gaining 20 years in senior administration roles.

Charles was motivated to open the firm in 2018 out of a desire to create a business focused on inspiring continuous improvement. There, she works with individuals and executives to create lives that they love and offers them personalized solutions to address critical work and business challenges.

“It’s really about thinking about you, the person, and all that you are,” Charles said. “People tend to be very focused on one aspect of their life, and a lot of times, it’s about their career, so it’s really about making space for all of your goals and all of your dreams.”

When someone experiences burnout, Charles said they could be actively doing their job while simultaneously worrying about their other responsibilities and priorities, whether personal or work-related. She also stressed that burnout can be experienced no matter what profession you are in and what you are being paid.

Aside from the physical and mental impacts of stress, burnout can impact finances if it causes an employee to take extended periods of time off or miss work, according to Charles. It can also reduce their productivity.

In the beginning of 2022, the term “quiet quitting” emerged, and for some, it’s being used as a method to avoid burnout. It involves individuals meeting the minimum requirements of their job descriptions, investing no extra time or effort than what is mandatory.

For Charles, quiet quitting is a signal that a person is not fulfilled by their job and may need to think about changing workplaces or careers.

“I get that people are not always able to up and quit, and it can take time to find what that next role is,” Charles said. “I would come from a space of encouraging the person to start thinking about what that is. What is it that you ultimately desire to be doing in your life and seeing your work?”

One of the most important steps in reducing and preventing burnout is educating yourself about the syndrome, so you can be aware of the warning signs, according to Charles. She also said it was crucial for employers to talk to their employees about it.

Awareness can help prevent the shame and guilt that comes with burnout and allow people to give themselves grace.

After a person has weighed whether they are experiencing burnout or not, they should think about how they want to confront it. This could include engaging in self-care, asking for extra support at work or home, and creating stronger boundaries between their personal and professional lives.

When burnout is impacting your performance, it’s time to consider making a career change, Charles said.

To ensure your work life does not invade your personal life, Charles said people need to assess the goals they have for all areas of their life. Once you’ve set goals, it’s easier to devise a plan and set the necessary boundaries to achieve them.

Charles also said it’s important to carve out time for yourself where you’re not constantly checking your phone or email for work reasons.

“There is life beyond your work. There is an entire world out there to be discovered,” Charles said. “There’s a world within us to be discovered as well, and I encourage everyone to invest in discovering those pieces.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

The post COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting 

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The case fired up social media and highlighted the misogyny that still reigns in hip hop. Many on Twitter routinely attacked Megan, accusing her of lying among other vicious vitriolic comments.
The post Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting  first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Canadian rapper Tory Lanez faces more than 20 years in prison and deportation after a jury in Los Angeles found him guilty in the 2020 shooting of hip hop star Megan Thee Stallion.

Lane, 30, was found guilty of three felony counts, including assault with an unregistered semiautomatic weapon, carrying a loaded gun, and discharging a firearm in a vehicle with gross negligence.

The case fired up social media and highlighted the misogyny that still reigns in hip hop. Many on Twitter routinely attacked Megan, accusing her of lying among other vicious vitriolic comments.

The 27-year-old Megan, whose real name is Megan Pete, testified that Lanez offered her hush money and didn’t care about her injuries and pain suffered because he shot her.

Lanez, who declined to testify, claimed there was another shooter, Pete’s friend who was also arguing with the hit maker as they drove home from a party.

“[Lanez] told me to dance,” Pete told the jury, adding that he also cursed at her following the shooting.

Sentencing for Lanez is scheduled for Jan. 27.

“You showed incredible courage and vulnerability with your testimony despite repeated and grotesque attacks that you did not deserve,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said, referring to Pete.

“You faced unjust and despicable scrutiny that no woman should ever face, and you have been an inspiration to others across LA County and the nation.”

The post Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting  first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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