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LA Mayoral Race: Black Women Leaders Promise to ‘Provide Cover’ for Rep. Karen Bass

Last week, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) announced that she is running to be the first woman mayor of Los Angeles – and the second African American to serve as CEO of California’s largest city. 

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Rep. Karen Bass/Wikimedia Commons

Last week, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) announced that she is running to be the first woman mayor of Los Angeles – and the second African American to serve as CEO of California’s largest city. 

A few days later, an influential group of about 45 civic, political, academic and business leaders called the California Black Women Collective joined hands on a Zoom call for what the meeting’s host Kellie Todd Griffin called “a party” to support the mayoral candidacy of the sitting, six-term U.S. Congresswoman. 

Griffin, the Senior Vice President of Communications and External Affairs at the California Health Medical Reserve Corps, is a Los Angeles area-based organizer and entrepreneur known in California’s political circles for her outspoken advocacy for African American issues.   

“It will be a victory. We are claiming it right now,” said Dezie Woods-Jones, talking about Bass’s mayoral run.  Woods-Jones, a Bay Area political strategist is president of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), the oldest African American political organization in the state. 

“I am really proud of Black women who always make a difference in elections. I like to come back and remind us that sometimes we don’t brag enough about ourselves,” Woods-Jones continued, referring to the fact that African American women are the most loyal voting bloc in Democratic electoral politics across the country. “We should not be embarrassed to say that we have been the people who have, across the board, come to the forefront and made a difference. We consistently show up and show out.”

After praising Bass for her ability to negotiate with her colleagues and build coalitions across racial, ethnic, cultural and other lines that may divide Americans, Woods Jones announced BWOPA’s official endorsement of Bass. 

Looking back at her experience working as Bass’ chief of staff when she was a California Assemblymember representing the 47th District in Southern California, Nolice Edwards praised Bass for her accomplishments, including her election as Speaker of the State Assembly from 2008 to 2010. 

Bass said one reason she decided to run for the Assembly was the fact that there were no Black women serving in the state Legislature at the time. 

Edwards, who has over 30 years of state government leadership experience, is now an independent political consultant based in Sacramento. 

“She is strategic. She is politically savvy. She is a coalition builder,” Edwards continued, describing her former boss. “She is a founder of a community coalition where her advocacy helped to make sure that Black and Brown communities were taken care of and serviced and provided for in the right way.” 

Bass thanked the women on the call for their support. 

“It is all this energy, love and spirit that will allow me to go on this journey and the idea that you will walk with me on this journey – this will be the toughest journey I’ve ever been on, so from the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you enough,” she said. 

Bass went on to explain some of the reasons she is running for mayor. 

“L.A. is in crisis,” she emphasized. “L.A. is in a crisis because we have 40,000 people living on the streets. And, if I include Compton, which is part of the county, there is 20,000 more people. That is 60,000 people who are without shelter on any given night. Unfortunately, in the city of Los Angeles, Black folks are 9 % of the population and 40 % of the people who are homeless. This is a humanitarian crisis.”

Bass, who said she is driven when people are front-and-center in her policymaking, urged her colleagues to implement smarter and longer-term solutions to address stubborn issues like homelessness — instead of opting to adopt temporary quick fixes. 

“It is not OK to arrest our people. That is not a solution,” Bass said. “It is not OK to get rid of the encampments and just move them into areas where the communities do not have the resources to challenge it in court. That is not OK.”

Bass asked, “Why can’t we in the nation’s second largest city — that has the wealth figure out how to house 40,000 people?”

The women on the call also promised to back Bass with their financial support, launching a challenge to each woman to donate $50 per week for 15 weeks. 

“So far, in Los Angeles, this is our Tom Bradley moment,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, referring to the city’s first African American mayor, who was elected in 1973.

“We have not had, in too many years, a Black candidate that all of us can coalesce around,” Mitchell continued. “We have to do this. This is our moment to stand up for a progressive Black woman to lead the second largest city in the country. We have to have her back and provide her cover.”

So far, U.S. Reps Pete Aguilar (D-CA-31), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Mike Levin (D-CA-49), Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40) and Juan Vargas (D-CA-51) have all pledged their support for Bass. 

At least 30 Southern California political leaders have done the same, including Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena); Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles); LA County Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl; and LA City Councilmen Mike Bonin, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price and Mark Ridley-Thomas. 

Before leaving the meeting early to cast votes in Congress, Bass described what her candidacy for mayor will look like. 

“It will be a grassroots campaign that brings the city together,” she said. “Black, Brown, White, Asian – brings everybody together. We are going to formally launch with a grassroots kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 16. Although I’m running to win, it will also be an opportunity to build a movement: getting people excited, energized and involved.”

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Advice

Commentary: Tips for Staying Safe (Emotionally) as Pandemic Drags On

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Delta variant have fundamentally changed many of our lives, the way we live and the manner in which we interact with each other, and how we live, work and play together.   

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African woman meditating sit at desk in front of pc, serene mixed-race female closed eyes folded fingers mudra symbol do exercise practising yoga reducing anxiety stress positive frame of mind concept/iStock

Many of us are tired, stressed and impatient having to live our lives under this seemingly never-ending pandemic. 

In early spring, many of us were hopeful that COVID-19 was coming to an end.  We began making plans for the summer, from visiting family and friends to attending concerts, plays, planning for vacations and special milestones, and basically “just returning to normal life activities.”  

However, as life would have it, the Delta variant appeared. We were again confronted with the inability to control most aspects of our lives.  In fact, most recently, scientists have purported that we may expect additional variants for years to come.

According to the California Department of Public Health, in February 2021, only 2% of Black Californians were vaccinated. However, as of October 5, 4.2 % of all Black Californians have received at least one dose of vaccine. Representing about 6 % of California’s overall population, we as a community remain behind on our vaccination rate.   

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Delta variant have fundamentally changed many of our lives, the way we live and the manner in which we interact with each other, and how we live, work and play together.   

This pandemic has reinforced that there are so many aspects of our lives that we cannot control. And anytime we cannot control our lives and/or our environment, we tend to feel helpless which leads to anxiety and possibly depression.  

So, what can a person do, when life does not go as you planned and are impatient for this pandemic to end?  Here are some tips that have been recommended by the experts:

  1. I know this might sound cliché, but recognizing and understanding your feelings, whether you are sad, angry, stressed, or frightened. Accept, do not negate, how you feel.  
  2. The ability to bounce back and adapt to difficult situations is crucial to wellness.  You have to believe in yourself, your ability to be strong and to try your best – relying on various proven self-care methods — to stay positive.
  3. Try having an attitude of gratitude.  Think about just a few little things or events that are going well in your life daily and in the life of your family and friends.
  4. When you feel overwhelmed…. just breathe…Yes, literally, just breathe in through your nose, hold it and exhale through your mouth a few times or meditate by remembering a verse, phrase, poem, or visualizing a tranquil place for just a few seconds. Still yourself.   
  5. Look back on the good times that you have had and treasure those memories.
  6. Plan a reasonably safe event you can look forward to in the near future that will bring you joy or fulfillment. 
  7. Stop thinking negative.  It’s difficult when life feels as if it’s spiraling out of control but find ways to prove that your negative thoughts are either wrong or that the sky will not fall.  Remind yourself that life and circumstances can and do change.  Turn those negative thoughts into positive affirmations.  Have faith and confidence. 
  8. With so many things going on that are out of our control and often make us feel helpless, focus on what you CAN control in your life.  
  1. Take care of yourself. Exercise, even walking 20 minutes a day, eating healthy, sleep on a regular schedule, turn off electronic devises at least one hour before bed, avoid alcohol and substance use, especially before bedtime, connect with community or faith-based organizations, and/or reach out to your local mental health provider, employee assistance program.

Lenore A. Tate, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Sacramento, California. She specializes in neuropsychology, behavioral health and geriatrics.

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Events

Ella Baker Center Turns 25

Community members will have the opportunity to join the celebration virtually or in person at Restore Oakland at 1419 34th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601.

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Michelle Alexander/Photo via pbs.org

Alicia Garza

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Alicia Garza and Michelle Alexander, acclaimed author of “The New Jim Crow,” will join youth justice leader Xochtil Larios to discuss a collective vision for liberation at the Ella Baker Center’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27.

After 25 years of working to empower Black and Brown communities and fighting for a world without prisons and policing, the event will seek to inspire organizers, community members and changemakers to reflect on past victories in the movement for social justice and imagine how to continue moving toward a world based on justice.

The event will include entertainment by musicians, poets as well as comments by founders of the Ella Baker Center, Dianna Frappier and Van Jones. Community members will have the opportunity to join the celebration virtually or in person at Restore Oakland at 1419 34th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601.

The in-person event will be held outdoors and available to vaccinated guests only. 

To RSVP for the virtual event, please email ashley@ellabakercenter.org by Oct. 14 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Black History

Ambassador Ruth A. Davis Pioneered Diversity in Foreign Service

UC Berkeley Grad Continues to Bring International Economic Empowerment for Women

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Ambassador Ruth A. Davis (left) is meeting with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Ambassador Ruth A. Davis was recently named as a distinguished alumna by the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. 

She also has been honored by the U.S. State Department when a conference room at the Foreign Service Institute in Virginia was named in honor of her service as director of the Institute. She was the first African American to serve in that position.

Davis, a graduate of Spelman College received a master’s degree from UC Berkeley in 1968.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, also a graduate of the School of Social Welfare, now chairs the House Appropriations Committee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. She praised Ambassador Davis as “a trailblazing leader and one of the great American diplomats of our time. Over her 40-year career, she had so many ‘firsts’ on her resume: the first Black director of the Foreign Service Institute, the first Black woman Director General of the Foreign Service, and the first Black woman to be named a Career Ambassador, to name just a few.

“She served all over the world, from Kinshasa to Tokyo to Barcelona, where she was consul general, and to Benin, where she served as ambassador,” Lee continued. “ I am so proud of her many accomplishments. She has represented the best of America around the world, and our world is a better place because of her service.”

During Davis’ 40-year career in the Foreign Service, she also served as chief of staff in the Africa Bureau, and as distinguished advisor for international affairs at Howard University. She retired in 2009 as a Career Ambassador, the highest-level rank in Foreign Service.

Since her retirement, Ambassador Davis has served as the chair (and a founding member) of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC), an organization devoted to promoting women’s economic empowerment by creating an international network of businesswomen.

She also chairs the selection committee for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship at Howard University’s Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center, where she helps to oversee the annual selection process. Finally, as vice president of the Association of Black American Ambassadors, she participates in activities involving the recruitment, preparation, hiring, retention, mentoring and promotion of minority Foreign Service employees.

Gay Plair Cobb, former Regional Administrator of the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor in the Atlanta, and San Francisco offices, was Ambassador Davis’ roommate at UC Berkeley. Cobb said, “Ruth always exhibited outstanding leadership and a determined commitment to fairness, equal opportunity and activism, which we engaged in on a regular basis.”

Davis has received the Department of State’s Superior Honor Award, Arnold L. Raphel Memorial Award and Equal Employment Opportunity Award; the Secretary of State’s Achievement Award (including from Gen. Colin Powell); the Director General’s Foreign Service Cup; two Presidential Distinguished Service Awards; and Honorary Doctor of Laws from Middlebury and Spelman Colleges.

A native of Atlanta, Davis was recently named to the Economist’s 2015 Global Diversity List as one of the Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life and is the recipient of the American Foreign Service Association’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award.

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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