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Jeannie Mai Fights Against Human Trafficking

Mai first learned about human trafficking eight years ago when she visited a close family friend in Vietnam who was sold into prostitution by her uncle to work at a brothel. Mai took care of her, helped her pay off the debt, and connected her with housing and resources provided by a group that aids human trafficking survivors.

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Jeannie Mai speaking, via zoom, at the 2021 Annual San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking’s Teen Power Summit Award Ceremony which took place on Feb. 24, 2021.

Jeannie Mai, 42, an Emmy award-winning host, is also an international activist working against human trafficking in the United States and Vietnam.

She was born in 1979 and was raised in San Jose, CA. Her mother, Olivia, is Vietnamese, and her father, James, is Chinese-Vietnamese.

Mai is a style expert and producer, have co-hosted the syndicated talk show “The Real,” and is a sideline correspondent for ABC’s extreme mini-golf competition series “Holey Moley.” Mai recently competed on Season 29 of the hit series “Dancing with the Stars.”

Mai was abused as a child and was traumatized. She went through therapy to heal from her trauma when she was 22.

Mai first learned about human trafficking eight years ago when she visited a close family friend in Vietnam who was sold into prostitution by her uncle to work at a brothel. Mai took care of her, helped her pay off the debt, and connected her with housing and resources provided by a group that aids human trafficking survivors.

Mai began signing up on different mission trips through Asia to learn more about human traffickings, such as living for six months in a shelter that protected women in Taiwan. She also lived, with two undercover girls, inside a brothel for about two months to learn about prostitution. 

“It just stopped me dead in my tracks because I had no idea something like this could even exist, and when I probed more into it, I found so many more heart-wrenching facts happening all around the world,” Mai told NBC News.

A few years later, Mai produced “Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex Trafficking,” a documentary that investigates the international crisis of human sex trafficking, especially in Vietnam, from a deeply personal point of view in 2017. Mai decided to work to end human trafficking, speaking about it on TV and hosting events supporting anti-human trafficking organizations.

Mai is an ambassador for the Milpitas-based Pacific Links Foundation, an organization committed to rescuing women and children from sex trafficking and slavery in Vietnam, providing employment and vocational opportunities; and for empowers them by improving their life skills, raising their self-awareness.

Mai also worked for Step Up, which propels girls from under-resourced communities to fulfill their career potential. She has served as a missionary and ambassador for organizations such as Nightlight International, Not for Sale, and Heartbeat Vietnam.

In 2016, Mai was honored as a 2016 Women of Empowerment by Ciroc, Variety, and Women’s Wear Daily.

To learn more about Mai’s story, go to one of her YouTube videos “My Fight Against Human Trafficking.”

Activism

Juneteenth ’22: California Legislature Recognizes Reparations Task Force

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

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While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media

Several members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans received a standing ovation from constituents of the State Legislature last week for their work over the last 12 months.

During the opening of legislative sessions at the State Capitol in Sacramento on June 16, members of the Senate and Assembly participated in the gesture that coincided with the kickoff of the state’s official Juneteenth 2022 commemorations.

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

Bradford, who was appointed to the task force by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, made his remarks on the Senate floor after fellow task force panelist Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) delivered similar comments in the Assembly chambers.

Seven of the nine task force members and staff from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) were recognized at the event.

Task force members attending the ceremony were Chairperson Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; Vice Chairman 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; Dr. Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Attorney Don Tamaki, Esq., an attorney best known for his role in the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States and the only non-Black member of the panel, was also in attendance.

Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon met briefly with the panel.

Task force members Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego Councilmember and Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley, could not make the trip due to prior commitments.

Several members of the CLBC attended the function, which coincided with the passage of resolution in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday in the Assembly.

Assemblymembers Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Akila Weber (D-La Mesa), Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and CLBC vice-chair Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) showed up to support the task force members’ efforts.

The Task Force first convened on June 1, 2021, to conduct an examination of the lasting consequences of discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants.

Under Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, authored by then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who is currently Secretary of State of California, the nine-member panel is charged with making recommendations for how the state can compensate Black Californians who are descendants of enslaved African Americans.

On June 1, the task force released its first interim report, a 483-page document compiled by the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section.

“The information in the interim report reveals uncovered facts about incidents that disproportionately and negatively affected Black Californians in California for 170-plus years and the country for the last 400 years,” Grills said.

“Until we have a reckoning with the truth, we cannot understand who we are as a nation. When we then begin to have that kind of reckoning, I think the specific manifestation of the harm will be easier to deal with and we will actually have an opportunity for transformative change,” Grills continued.

Over the next 12 months, Moore told California Black Media (CBM) that the task force will focus on bringing increased awareness for the interim report, community engagement, and formulating a framework of how California should compensate around 2 to 2.6 million Black Californians.

“It’s important that the California Legislature understand how important this effort is,” Moore told CBM. “This past year we’ve been working incredibly hard. The next (12 months) I categorized it as the development stage where the nine-member task force has substantive and intentional conversations about what reparations should look like.”

Video link of Sen. Steven Bradford and Dr. Cheryl Grills at the state capitol in Sacramento:  .California Task Force For Reparations at State Capitol 6.16.2022

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Activism

COMMENTARY: The Plan for Transforming Public Safety and Policing in the U.S.

One transformative public safety plan is currently moving forward in Ithaca, New York. It will replace the current police department with a new public safety department that will include armed officers and unarmed crisis intervention specialists. It would allow police officers to be more focused and effective while minimizing the chances that police-civilian interactions will spiral unnecessarily into violence. 

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Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

By Ben Jealous, President of People For the American Way

Communities all across the country are facing public safety crises.

Crime is rising in ways that leave many people feeling unsafe. At the same time, police violence and killings of unarmed civilians demonstrate that pouring more money into more-of-the-same policing is not the answer.

Here’s some good news. There is a new road map for public officials who are eager for solutions. And there is a growing network of mayors and other officials who are ready to do what it takes.

“All Safe: Transforming Public Safety” is a game plan for transformative change. This massive policy blueprint just published by People For the American Way is grounded in real-world data and the expertise of local elected officials, law enforcement experts, clergy, and other community activists.

There are two truths about authoritarian policing. They do not contradict each other. In fact, they point us toward the possibility of building coalitions that are broad enough to make change happen.

One truth is that Black Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color pay a disproportionate price. Black Americans are more than twice as likely as white people to be shot and killed by police officers. Racial profiling is experienced by communities of color throughout the U.S.

A second truth is that people of color are not the only victims of authoritarian policing. As with so many other issues, Black and Brown communities are the canaries in a much larger American coal mine. White people make up the second-largest group in our prisons, disproportionately low-income white men, and they make up a majority of people killed by police each year.

Four years before George Floyd died under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a white man named Tony Timpa called Dallas police to ask for help during a mental health crisis. He was handcuffed and zip-tied and killed by an officer who pressed his knee into Timpa’s back for 14 minutes while Timpa cried, “You’re gonna kill me!”

Every community is put at risk by systems that resist accountability for those who abuse their power.

Every community is put at risk by a police culture that promotes and tolerates an aggressive “warrior” mentality among law enforcement officers.

Those problems are compounded by communities’ over-reliance on police. Over the decades, we have added additional burdens to police officers that distract them from their primary purpose. That leaves all of us underserved and less safe.

Transforming public safety requires policy change in four major areas: restructuring public safety systems to ensure communities’ underlying safety and social needs are met; holding unfit officers responsible and accountable for their actions; removing unfit officers, particularly those with a demonstrated history of violence, aggression, or other misconduct from police departments; and recruiting well-trained public safety personnel committed to serving and protecting their communities.

One transformative public safety plan is currently moving forward in Ithaca, New York. It will replace the current police department with a new public safety department that will include armed officers and unarmed crisis intervention specialists. It would allow police officers to be more focused and effective while minimizing the chances that police-civilian interactions will spiral unnecessarily into violence.

The “All Safe” roadmap for transforming public safety demolishes the false narrative often promoted by police unions and their political allies to resist change and accountability. They claim that public safety reform is incompatible with effective crime fighting. In reality, the opposite is true.

The system of authoritarian policing that we have inherited from our past is not aligned with our national ideals of equality and justice for all. It is a threat to our people, our communities, and even our democracy. And it is not working to keep us safe.

Making America safer and more just requires a commitment to address root causes of criminal activity and violence, including unjust laws, discriminatory enforcement, and insufficient effective investments in individual and community wellbeing. And it requires a lasting transformation in the U.S. public safety system, including mechanisms to hold officers accountable for excessive use of force.

We know what kind of change is necessary. Let’s make it happen.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

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School Board Candidate is Mayor’s Staffer with Privatizer Connections

Mungia’s work on behalf of Mayor Schaaf’s education agenda is part of what troubles school advocates. Schaaf, a longtime supporter of charter schools, has spoken forcefully in the media in favor of closing as many as half of the city’s public schools.

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Kyra Mungia
Kyra Mungia

By Ken Epstein

The candidacy of Kyra Mungia, one of nine applicants who wish to fill the vacant District 6 seat on the Oakland Board of Education, has raised concerns from public school advocates about her connections to pro-charter school organizations and school privatizers.

The school board was faced with filling this vacancy when Board member Shanthi Gonzales recently resigned. The six remaining school board members are scheduled to vote before the end of June to fill the seat until January, when a new board member, elected in November, will take office.

According to Mungia’s resume, she has worked in Mayor Libby Schaaf’s Office from June 2016 to the present, currently serving as the mayor’s Deputy Director of Education.

However, a search of payroll records from 2016-2021 on Transparent California does not show Mungia as a payee by the City of Oakland for her job in the Mayor’s Office.

In a reply to questions from the Oakland Post, the Mayor’s spokesperson replied that Ms. Mungia’s salary is paid by a non-profit organization.

“Her employee position (and salary) is funded by The Oakland Public Education Fund. Ms. Mungia, like all Office of the Mayor staff — regardless of their salary’s funding source — [is] required to fill out public disclosure documents, including Form 700, and abide by all rules and regulations required of a city employee,” said the mayor’s spokesperson Justin Berton.

Form 700 lists Mungia as a Lee Public Policy Fellow. Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) is tied to a charter school advocacy group.

Mungia’s work on behalf of Mayor Schaaf’s education agenda is part of what troubles school advocates. Schaaf, a longtime supporter of charter schools, has spoken forcefully in the media in favor of closing as many as half of the city’s public schools.

Mungia has a considerable history with organizations that have a reputation for support for charter schools and from privatizers, including several that paid for a series of fellowships in the Mayor’s Office.

She began her career in Oakland as an elementary teacher for three years in East Oakland, working at least part of the time for Teach for America, which is tied to privatizers. Also, while working as a teacher, she served as a GO Public Schools Fellow.

GO is a charter-friendly organization that has spent $1,112,526 in Oakland school board elections since 2012, predominantly funded by out-of-town billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, Arthur Rock and Stacy Schusterman.

She was paid by the Oakland Public Education Fund (Ed Fund) in 2019-2020 for her work on Oakland Promise, the Mayor’s nonprofit, according to the Ed Fund’s IRS filings.

According to Ms. Mungia’s public LinkedIn resume, her career in the Mayor’s Office started in June 2016 with a three-month fellowship paid by Urban Leaders, an organization with a list of partners that includes KIPP (charter school chain), Educate78 (a charter expansion organization), GO Public Schools, and other pro-charter groups.

She continued in the mayor’s office with another fellowship through June 2017 paid by Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), an organization whose political arm gave $25,000 to the Power2Families PAC in 2000, which then bankrolled the candidacies of Austin Dannhaus for the OUSD District 1 seat, and Maiya Edgerly for the OUSD District 3 seat. Both candidates lost their races — despite record spending by Power2Families and other school privatizer organizations — to Sam Davis and VanCedric Williams.

In 2019, Mungia was a Surge Fellow in the Mayor’s office, a Black and Brown leadership development program, funded by wealthy backers of charter expansion, including the Walton Family Foundation and Michael Bloomberg.

Rochelle Jenkins, A District-6 parent, said she wanted the school board to pick a district representative who would speak for parents’ and families’ interests. “I hope the school board will choose a candidate who will represent our students and families first, and not Mayor Schaff and out-of-town billionaires.”

“In 2020, monied charter school interests tried to defeat a parent running in District 1 by spending big against him, but voters rejected that. It is incumbent on the school board to select a parent who will genuinely represent D6 families, and who won’t be given a leg-up because they intend to run in November,” said OUSD parent Rachel Latta.

In addition to seeking the temporary appointed position, Mungia is running for a four-year term in November as the District 6 representative.

Along with Mungia, the following eight candidates have applied for the vacant appointed position. They are:

Azlinah Tambu is a mother of two OUSD students at Parker Elementary. Since the announcement of intended school closures, she has been a leader in the fight to keep Parker open. She has lived in District 6 for eight years and in Oakland for 14 years.

David (Joel) Velasquez is an Oakland parent, an engineer and a business owner and has been involved with the district for 20 years. He has lived in District 6 for eight years.

David Correa, a former middle school teacher in OUSD for 10 years, currently manages the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco. He has two children in elementary school and has lived in Oakland for 12 years.

Janell Hampton has lived in Oakland for almost 40 years, including 10 years in District 6. She works for the California School Employees Association (CSEA), which represents food service workers, custodians, groundskeepers, para educators, bus drivers and security officers. She is a graduate of Skyline High School.

Julie Mendoza worked as an English teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland. She has lived nine years in Oakland, including four in District 6.

Kim Davis, a district 6 parent and long-time education advocate in Oakland, is a leader and founder of Parents United for Public Schools. She has lived in District 6 for 19 years.

Natalee Kēhaulani Bauer is professor and chair of the Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies department at Mills College She taught in OUSD schools from 1997 to 2005. She has lived in District 6 for 3 years and in Oakland for 27 years.

Tamecca Brewer (Anderson) was a math teacher in OUSD from 1995 to 1999. She now serves as an assistant manager for the Alameda County Library system.

She has been a District 6 resident for 22 years. As a student, she attended OUSD schools.

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