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L.A. Activist Set to Become Next Member of the State’s Black Caucus

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office reported that, as of May 21, Bryan was leading with 50.7% of counted ballots (21,388 votes) over his closest opponent, fellow Democrat Heather Hutt. 

Issac Bryan/Twitter

Gov. Gavin Newsom called Los Angeles community organizer Isaac Bryan on Saturday morning to congratulate him for winning the 54th Assembly District special election.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office reported that, as of May 21, Bryan was leading with 50.7% of counted ballots (21,388 votes) over his closest opponent, fellow Democrat Heather Hutt. 

Hutt was trailing Bryan with 24.9% (10,489 votes).

Hutt served as the former state director for Kamala Harris when the current vice president of the United States was California’s junior U.S. Senator. 

Bryan’s projected victory – pending final certification by authorities – would push the California Legislative Black Caucus’s (CLBC) membership back up to 10.

The CLBC – the body of African-American elected officials serving in the state Legislature – recently lost two members. In December, Newsom appointed former Assemblymember Shirley Weber, who represented the 79th District in the San Diego area, California’s 33rd Secretary of State. And last year, after the general election, former state Sen. Holly J. Mitchell resigned to serve on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The race Bryan won was announced after Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) won a special election to represent the 30th District in the upper house of the California Legislature, replacing Mitchell.  

“The governor called this morning. We really did this,” the 29-year-old Bryan posted on his Twitter account, expressing gratitude to Newsom for reaching out to him.

“My name is Isaac Bryan, but my friends call me Mr. Assemblymember- elect,” Bryan tweeted before that in a separate post on May 21.

Bryan’s commanding lead puts him comfortably above the 50-plus percentage mark required to avoid a runoff with Hutt.

The special election was held May 18. By the end of the night, Bryan had locked in 49.62% of the votes. Hutt’s tally stood at a distant second with 24.61% of the vote. None of the other four candidates in the race — Cheryl Turner, Dallas Fowler, Bernard Senter and Samuel Robert Morales — won more than 10% of the vote.

“Can’t wait to have you up here on the green carpet @CABlackCaucus,” Kamlager tweeted, congratulating Bryan and welcoming him as a state lawmaker and new member of the CLBC. Kamlager is vice chair of the CLBC.

Before Bryan’s win, the CLBC welcomed another member, Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Jolla), who won he

ther Shirley Weber’s former Assembly seat in another special election in April. 

Bryan is the founding director of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Black Policy Project (BPP). The BPP is a research initiative housed within the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

The project says its primary focus is producing community-centered research that helps ignite policy change, serving as the bridge between Black scholarship generated at UCLA and the ideas that inform policymaking.

Bryan’s supporters praise him for leading efforts to pass Measure J in Los Angeles County. The ballot initiative now mandates LA County to dedicate no less than 10% of its general fund to spending on racial equity programs, including investments in youth development, supportive housing, alternatives to incarceration, job training, small business development, and more. 

U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Mitchell, and Kamlager all endorsed Bryan. 

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Bay Area

Spoken Word Offers Aid to Black Men Facing Hardships

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

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Image provided by Black Men Speak website

According to a National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019 for the African American community, 6.5 million African Americans had a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.

These numbers don’t compare to the more in depth statistics on those who receive treatment and who do not and how, specifically, Black men are affected. For a lot of Black men and men of color, access to resources that may aid in mental health or substance abuse treatment are slim because of the influence within their own communities and outside of it to turn their backs on things that are perceived as anything less than the strength they should possess as a man, especially a Black man.

Black Men Speak, INC.(BMS), an international speakers bureau, was founded in 2009 through the Alameda Pool of Consumer Champions with this very notion in mind, that the best way to connect to other Black men who were struggling with mental health and substance abuse was through storytelling of their own struggles.

Three years following Black Men Speaks’ foundation, Men of Color(MOC) speaker’s bureau was established, which allowed them to expand their reach in the community.

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

The stories that are told are set in the present day and feature unique challenges of loss, trauma, social and family issues and community violence and the importance of faith on the road to overall wellness & recovery.

Besides aiding their fellow men through connection in storytelling, BMS offers resources that help with employment, housing, homeless prevention, mentoring and peer support and training for presentation and public speaking.

Alongside these resources and mentoring, they make sure to do their part in advocating and assertively addressing other issues within their communities that have a direct impact on the African American community.

Black Men Speak is located in Oakland at 303 Hegenberger Road in Suite 210. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 510-969-5086 or email 1blackmenspeak@gmail.com.

 

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Activism

Jasmine Market Encourage Unity in Marin City

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

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Top: The Jasmine Market at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bottom: Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, Tammy Lai (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The First Marin City’s Jasmine Market was an inclusive, outdoor market celebrating Asian joy and intercultural solidarity in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May.

It was hosted by the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) and was held at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City on May 28, 2021.

A Marin City Librarian read an AAPI story. Sammy Brionnes gave a musical performance. Natalie Nong performed a Spoken Word poem.

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee is the director of Women’s Rights and Peace Bay Area, and a board member for the Asian American Alliance of Marin. She is involved in advocating for ethnic studies in the Marin County School District and is working to spread awareness of the “comfort women” from Korea and other Asian nations. These women were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Tammy Lai is the CEO at Foundation for Justice and Peace (jpf.world).

Damacion, who lives in the East Bay, is the Micro-Enterprise Program Manager at the MCCDC.

During the discussion, Lee says that God created people in his image. We need to treat people in the image of God.

Lee really wants to see Asians, especially women, integrate with the other minorities, such as Koreans, who can become culturally isolated, and spoke to the need to bridge and understand other ethnic groups. “We need to step forward to meet each other halfway, and to reach out to understand each other,” Lee said.

Lai says that we have this opportunity, as we question ourselves in this cultural landscape, to build bridges. Communities become healthier when its members take one step toward one another to understand, listen and to build something better together.

Damacion, who is Filipino and mixed-raced, feels very strongly about building connections that are positive and beneficial to a community. Through her work with the MCCDC, she will work to advance diversity in Marin City, and will shed a light on the beauty she sees in Marin City and how people in the community took care of each other for generations.

Lai’s family immigrated from China to America after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Her family history has brought her a deeper awareness of her identity. It becomes important to carry these conversations forward and share them with others.

“We all have our stories and should be open to tell them. There is nothing new under human history so we should learn to share them. You become much closer to each other,” says Lee.

For more information, go to www.marincitycdc.org/jasmine-market

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Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

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Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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