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PRESS ROOM: Online Civil Rights and Privacy Act Proposed

THE TENNESSEE TRIBUNE — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Free Press Action release model legislation for Congress this week to consider in its ongoing online privacy debates.

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By The Tennessee Tribune

WASHINGTON, DC — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Free Press Action release model legislation for Congress this week to consider in its ongoing online privacy debates. This bill prioritizes combating civil rights harms from the invasive privacy practices of tech and big data companies.

“Congress needs to prohibit the use of personal data to discriminate in employment, housing, lending, education, insurance, and the right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “Civil rights laws previously addressed these issues in brick-and-mortar commerce. These laws were never intended to omit the digital public square. It is time to update our toolkit for the data economy.”

Commercial data practices have disproportionate impacts on communities of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, religious minorities, and other marginalized communities. By collecting huge swaths of personal information and feeding it into algorithms designed to profile individuals for ad targeting and engagement maximization, tech companies are engaging in and facilitating a new generation of segregation and discrimination.

This bill is a comprehensive data protection act that builds on decades of civil rights law and experience. It prohibits discrimination in economic opportunities and online public accommodations; prohibits deceptive voter suppression; requires audits for discriminatory processing; restricts unfair and deceptive practices; limits the use of personal data to disclosed and foreseeable purposes; grants individuals the right to access and control their own data; establishes clear and thorough transparency and security rules; and empowers robust enforcement at the individual, state, and federal level.

“People need to feel confident that when they go online to shop, communicate, look for jobs and participate in our democracy, their personal information won’t be exploited or used by companies to build tools that reinforce discrimination,” said Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel, at Free Press Action. “Biased algorithms have the potential to further harm people of color and other communities that are already under attack. This legislation enables people to protect their rights and will help us build a more just and equitable country.”

 Free Press Action is a nonpartisan organization fighting for everyone’s rights to connect and communicate.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune

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Building Bridges Beyond Bias in Marin

Registration is required. Sign-ups are available on the MCFL website. For more information and to register to this event, go to marinlibrary.org/blogs/post/building-bridges-beyond-bias/

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From left: Tahirah Dean, Jason Lau, Ph.D., Laura Eberly, Alejandro Lara

The Marin County Free Library (MCFL) and Age Forward Marin is presenting a four-part, on-line series “Building Bridges Beyond Bias” which is designed for Marin County residents from all backgrounds to gain understanding and foster awareness about each other through conversation and connection, and to confront and explore beyond our biases.

Tahirah Dean will be speaking on Wednesday, October 20, and Jason Lau, Ph.D. will be speaking on Wednesday, November 3, for the two remaining programs. The programs will be online via Zoom from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Dean is an Afro-Latina Muslim woman and a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Marin, pursuing her passion for housing justice, and has worked as an immigration attorney assisting asylum seekers and those seeking work visas. She holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of North Texas, and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Lau traveled to the U.S. from Hong Kong in 1997 to further his education. Today, he is the interim associate dean and senior business officer for the School of Extended and International Education for Sonoma State University and chairs the Marin County Child Care Commission and the Marin YMCA Volunteer Board of Managers.

The speakers for two previous programs in the series were Laura Eberly, who spoke on September 22 and Alejandro Lara, who spoke on October 6.

Eberly is the founding director of Mountaintop Coaching & Consulting, which provides diversity, equity, and inclusion services. She holds a B.A. and M.S.W. from the University of Chicago and is ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church. She is a proud alum of Catalyst Project’s Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Training Program.

Lara is a first-generation Latino college graduate from UC Davis, and currently works as the communications coordinator for the Canal Alliance in San Rafael.

MCFL has supported equity measures in the county, offered enlightening educational programming, and has enthusiastically endorsed the Marin County Board of Supervisors’ prioritization of social equity and the creation of the County’s Office of Equity. County departments are working to dismantle inequities and transform systems inherited through centuries of racial, social, and political injustices.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spearheaded the Age Forward Marin. It is a collective effort between County departments and local government, community leaders, and residents including in Marin’s unincorporated areas.

Gloria Dunn-Violin, a resident of Novato, approached HHS Director Benita McLarin with a concept that evolved into the special speaker series. Dunn-Violin teamed with the Corte Madera Library and the Age Forward initiative to design the Beyond Bias program’s purpose and format, to assist in finding speakers, and to share the event with community partners focused on diversity and inclusion.

Registration is required. Sign-ups are available on the MCFL website. For more information and to register to this event, go to marinlibrary.org/blogs/post/building-bridges-beyond-bias/

The Marin Post’s coverage of local news in Marin 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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Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Serving low-income women with cancer

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Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Logo courtesy Organization's website

 In California, over 1.1 million women have been diagnosed with cancer. About one out of three, nearly 400,000, are low-income and cannot afford care. Over the past 30 years, Charlotte Maxwell Clinic has been supplementing thousands of low-income women’s standard cancer care with complementary therapies that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. Services are provided free of charge.

Studies show that integrative care, including acupuncture, herbs, massage, guided imagery, movement, and nutritional therapies, is vital for an improved quality of life and optimal recovery from cancer and its treatment.

Cancer survivor Claudia C. says, “When I came to CMC…my physical health and emotional well-being were seriously compromised. I was going down, isolated and lost. It felt as if I belonged to a different, less valuable subspecies, more like a human waste…. I find myself beyond words to express my gratitude for the extent that CMC has altered and enhanced the life of my family and me. Thank you, Charlotte Maxwell for making such a real, direct and profound difference in our lives.”

 When almost 4,200 normally scheduled in-person appointments were suspended during the pandemic, CMC continued to provide a virtual lifeline, serving women by offering over 400 group wellness sessions online to aid them in stress management, physical therapy and preventing isolation.

CMC’s Medical Director Dr. Mary Lynn Morales, DAIM, says, “We are looking forward to reopening our clinic in October, as well as building on the success of our online services. The restored in-clinic appointments will reflect COVID-19 prevention protocols and allow us to treat 250 current and new clients who are anxious to resume or start 1-on-1 services in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Cancer survivor Jessica Bates says, “I’ve come to understand it was the doctors who took the cancer out of my body and cured me, but it was all of the practitioners at Charlotte Maxwell Clinic that have helped me to heal.”

Integrating complementary therapies in the cancer treatment and recovery process has been shown to help reduce pain, heal the immune system, reduce the harmful effects of chronic stress and trauma, and build resiliency.

“Low-income women may not be aware of the range and benefits of holistic care as part of their cancer treatment, much less be able to afford it,” says Melbra Watts, CMC’s Executive Director. “They also deserve the opportunity to achieve the highest attainable health during their cancer journey.”

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, CWC is hosting “An Evening of Gratitude for CMC” virtual event from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

Donations are needed, appreciated and encouraged.  For ticket, donation and sponsorship information, contact Melbra Watts at (510) 601-7660 Ext 224, or mwatts@charlottemaxwell.org.

The awards show and fundraiser, is open to the public and will honor the organization’s co-founders, Sally Savitz, acupuncturist and homeopath, and Gabriella Heinsheimer, MD, former medical director of CMC. It will celebrate the contributions of long-time volunteers and partners. Heartfelt patient testimonials will also be shared.

The emcee for the event is Janice Edwards, award-winning TV talk show host and executive producer of “Janice Edwards’ TV: Bay Area Vista.”

Proceeds from this event will help rebuild and expand vital integrative care services, both in-clinic and via telehealth, to low-income women impacted by cancer and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Renee Sharpe Follows in Elders’ Footsteps as a Longshorewoman

ILWU Profile: Renee Sharp, Local 10  

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Renee Sharpe

Jobs in Oakland Series

“I grew up in Southern California, then moved to Sacramento as a sophomore in high school. I’m proud to share that I’m a longshore worker and my registration number is 101650, Local 10.

“Prior to working on the waterfront, I was a sign language interpreter for 15 years. I was married to a Sacramento longshore worker, Local 18 and he heard that San Francisco Local 10 was hiring, which had a more expedited hiring process.

“He said ‘Let’s go to San Francisco and apply for this position.’ It was 1999 and I stood in line with hundreds of people, applied and then heard nothing for years and years. Later, when I moved, I made sure to keep up my change of address with Pacific Maritime Association because I didn’t want to miss the job opportunity.

“In 2007, I got a letter to start the interview process, which included strength and agility testing and I waited for training. Then in 2008, the economy crashed, and the hiring process was frozen. In 2012, I got another letter which said they were hiring, and I started training and became a Longshore Worker Casual.

“Initially, I worked with no benefits and at the lowest pay, lashing container ships, doing highly physical jobs and/or signaling. Working on the ship is good exercise; it’s hard work, like cross-fit training. Cross-fit training was the mindset I had to have to physically get through my shift.

“I joined the ILWU Drill Team and did color guard drills for prominent civil rights leaders that passed away. We lead civil rights marches for Juneteenth and other special celebrations. At a Juneteenth celebration in 2020, we escorted Angela Davis to the stage to receive her recognition as an Honorary Longshoreman. In history, she’s the 2nd honorary longshoreman with Martin Luther King, Jr. as the first. It was the biggest honor of my life to escort her and to be a part of that ceremony.

“Currently, I have two step-ons along with other relatives at the Sacramento port. I go to the hall in San Francisco as much as I can and hope to get work, which took three years before my first promotion to getting a B-book which I had for five years.

“I was trained to drive yard semi-trucks to carry containers to/from the ship. Other jobs I’ve had were to drive new cars off ships – export Tesla, Toyota – working the docks, driving trackers – you don’t do just one job. In 2020, I finally received my A-Book and received top-pick operator training where I will stack containers to/from the ship when I pick up that job.

“I believe that ILWU was the best union job that I could attain because of the equality. I can have a job and get paid the same as a man, have top notch benefits and job flexibility and I’m set up for good retirement – even starting as an older person.

“I chose to do this type of work because I was influenced by a good number of people. In 1976, in Sacramento, I had a father figure who was a longshoreman. Oftentimes, I went to the hall with him and watched the process of getting jobs.

“At that time, as a female, I wasn’t allowed to become a longshore worker.  My father-in-law was a walking boss. My maternal grandmother was a “Rosie the Riveter,” where she built airplanes for 25 years. Her work for our country and how she stepped up and did a man’s work motivated me on the waterfront when the work was hard and physical. Because she did it, I know I can do it.

“The Oakland Port will be negatively impacted should the A’s come to Howard Terminal. With truckers and trains coming and going, bringing in cargo — which is a 24/7 operation — is noisy and not conducive for people to live on the working waterfront. The pollution and noise will generate complaints from residents and occupants of the high-rise luxury condos and offices.

“Locals will not be able to afford to live down there and gentrification will continue. I feel, slowly but surely, it will phase out the longshore work and displace our good union jobs. The A’s should give a face-lift to or rebuild the structure where they currently play at the Coliseum. There they have the infrastructure, parking, and a transportation hub; it couldn’t be more convenient.

“Rebuild it and they will come.”

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