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SFFD ‘Whites Only’ Policy on Fire Boat

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Firefighters Hawk and Thomas

The San Francisco Fire Dept. was established in 1866 and it took almost 90 years before the first Black firefighter, Earl Gage Jr., was hired in 1955.

By then two of SFFD’s three fire boats had been built, the third in 2016. Docked at Pier 22 ½, they are named the Phoenix, the Guardian, and the St. Francis.

No Black people nor any other people of color have ever truly served on the fire boats, which figuratively have a “whites only” sign for employees.  

Gage was the only Black employee for the SFFD for 12 years. Over the years, more Blacks were hired and David ‘Hawk’ Hawkins would be in their number. Lawrence Thomas dreamed of working on the historic fire boats and when he and Hawkins met, they decided that together they would make Thomas’ dream come true.

Thomas was hired by the SFFD as their first Black marine engineer in 2018 and the first Black to be hired to work on the fire boat.  Hawkins was the first Black rescue swimmer in the history of the San Francisco fire boat and the second Black person permanently assigned to the fire boat.

Thomas initially thought “once I got the job, the battle was over.”  

But he has never been given a shift.

On July 28, 2020, in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco, the law offices of Joseph L. Alioto and Angela Alioto filed a complaint for damages on four grounds:  

  • Race discrimination in employment; 
  • Unlawful retaliation for opposing race discrimination;
  • Unlawful retaliation for opposing race discrimination – hostile environment, and
  • Failure to prevent race discrimination and harassment.

Below is a quote from the preliminary statement of the complaint: 

“Plaintiffs David Hawkins and Lawrence Thomas attempted to break the color line to work on the Fire Boat of the San Francisco Fire Department.  The Fire Boat has been operated by the Fire Department . . . to serve the needs of the Port of San Francisco.  No African American has ever worked as a pilot on the Fire Boat and, until Lawrence Thomas was hired in July 2018, no African American ever worked as a Marine Engineer.  Hawkins was only the second African American to ever set foot on the Fire Boat as a permanent employee.  The Fire Department pushed back on the Plaintiffs’ attempt to break the color line by first refusing to train Thomas and then refusing to give him any work.  The Fire Department then removed Hawkins from the Fire Boat completely.  In effect, the Fire Boat is again, what it has been for many decades; “Whites Only.”  In response, the Plaintiffs’ sue for relief under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.”

At a San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee hearing on diversity among first responders held on July 30 — just two days after Hawkins’ and Thomas’ lawsuit was filed — SFFD Chief Jeanine Nicholson admitted that the department has lost most of the Black battalion chiefs and that diversity was an issue in the SFFD.  

Currently, there are two Black women and 13 Black men out of 200 in the Emergency Medical Services Division at Station 49.

Hawkins was constructively discharged June 30, 2020, from SFFD about one month before the lawsuit was filed.

Hawkins’ and Thomas’ suit is not the first time the courts had to get involved in integrating SFFD. In 1988, a consent decree required SFFD to diversify.  At that time, 83% of the department was white males, now it’s less than half.  

Women first joined the department in 1987 and now comprise 16% of the department.  

Today, the department is 17% Asian, 9% Black, 17% Latino and 5.5% Filipino.

SFFD is not alone. Author Ginger Adams Otis published “Firefight:  The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest” in 2015  

The book documented how in 1919 Wesley Williams integrated the Fire Department of New York and, nearly a century later, in 2014, the city of New York settled a $98 million lawsuit for discrimination.

Attorney Angela Alioto likens Thomas to Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” in that he does not count and has not been offered any work since his hire.  She says that the department’s actions are just the opposite of #BlackLivesMatter. 

Hawkins makes the analogy that SFFD’s actions amount to “flagrant fouls.”  He sees himself as an activist fighting “institutional racism,” and he is rightfully proud of emulating the late John Lewis’ by getting into “good trouble.” 

The battle continues. Hawkins and Thomas continue to speak truth to power.  Alioto adds that race-based discrimination is not limited to the SFFD.  She has 22 lawsuits against the city of San Francisco.

“From the Firehouse to the White House, things must change now!” Hawkins said.

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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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