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Students Struggling With Distance Learning Have Options through Stockton’s VIP- YESS

Founder and owner LaRonna Frazier saw a need for children to have a fun and safe environment in which they could learn efficiently.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning children are struggling to keep up with school and extracurricular activities have been curtailed. V.I.P.- Y.E.S.S. (Vision- Inspiring- People; Youth- Education- Student- Services) is here to help students aged 3 to 17 years get ahead of the curve by offering childcare services, youth education and extracurricular activities. 

     V.I.P.- Y.E.S.S. offers cheer, hip hop, and dance classes as well as mentorship programs for both boys and girls. They also provide assistance to the children who are struggling with distance learning and offer an after-school tutoring program, with math tutors for grades 4th through 12th. A healthy eating program is provided. 

     Founder and owner LaRonna Frazier saw a need for children to have a fun and safe environment in which they could learn efficiently. V.I.P.- Y.E.S.S curriculum was designed to build every child’s strengths and give them the fundamentals to succeed in the future, according to their description in the Visit Stockton directory. 

     Located at 400 N. El Dorado St., Suite B, in Stockton, they are open daily according to their Facebook page for dance classes. If you are interested in the schedule for the other services that they provide, please call 209-910-9021 to find out more information. 

Community

At-Risk Youth Supported by the Children’s Home of Stockton

“It is the mission and goal of Children’s Home of Stockton to provide a means for youth in our program to successfully transition back to a safe living environment which can include reunification, or in some cases transitioning into independent living or a transition housing program. It is our goal to have our youth leave and transition back into the community as young adults and to have the necessary knowledge, skills and support to do so.”

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The Children's Home of Stockton

Oftentimes it can feel as if there are no resources for at-risk youth outside of their immediate home and that can snowball into dangerous outcomes very easily. They rely on their caretakers for direction and that isn’t always the right, or only, answer.

Fortunately, places like the Children’s Home of Stockton exist to offer resources to youth that are at a disposition. Consisting of a 34-bed, short-term residential therapeutic program and more, the Children’s Home of Stockton offers the highest level of care for at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 18.

Established in 1882 by a group of women seeking to offer charitable services to the city of Stockton, this non-profit is now one of the largest social service organizations in Stockton and the only licensed Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program in San Joaquin County serving at-risk youth for the past 139 years.

Children’s Home of Stockton offers three main therapeutic and educational services to aid the at-risk youth of Stockton with their mission statement in mind;

“It is the mission and goal of Children’s Home of Stockton to provide a means for youth in our program to successfully transition back to a safe living environment which can include reunification, or in some cases transitioning into independent living or a transition housing program. It is our goal to have our youth leave and transition back into the community as young adults and to have the necessary knowledge, skills and support to do so.”

To meet their goal of creating an environment that models civility, expects responsibility, and promotes kindness, they have implemented Medi-Cal certified residential services, transitional care, and specialty mental health services. According to their website, the Children’s Home of Stockton provides approximately 150 children and adolescents with comprehensive educational and therapeutic services every calendar year. As quote from their website; “These services include an initial assessment, individual therapy, group therapy, crisis intervention services, medication support and management, intensive care coordination, in-home based services (where appropriate), mental-health rehabilitative services, collateral therapy, family therapy and targeted case management.”

Children’s Home of Stockton is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and is located at 430 N. Pilgrim St., Stockton, CA 95205. To get in contact with their administration office you can reach them at 209-466-0853 or email at jgomez@chsstk.org. If you’d like more information on the short-term residential program, you can reach their residential director, Matthew Nomura, at 209-395-3564 or e-mail him at mnomura@chsstk.org or reach out directly to their intake coordinator, Lena Mayo, at 209-395-3532 or e-mail her at lmayo@chsstk.org. For contact information regarding their transitional aftercare program, you can reach out to their aftercare coordinator, Lisa Jordan, at 209-395-3551 or by e-mail at ljordan@chsstk.org. Lastly, for specialty mental health services you can get into contact with their clinical director, Katelyn Wells, at 209-395-3531 or by e-mail at kwells@chsstk.org.​

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Commentary

Will Alameda’s Rob Bonta Save Assault Weapons Ban and Make His Mark?

Instead of strengthening or fixing the law, federal judge Roger Benitez, a Bush appointee based in Southern California, just declared it unconstitutional on June 4.

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What Is Picture Perfect/ Unsplash

When was the last time you heard about an assault weapon wreaking havoc in California? How about two weeks ago in San Jose when nine innocent lives were lost when they were shot and killed by a disgruntled white male who had a problem with diversity. 

Technically, the weapon used wasn’t an assault rifle, but a 9mm pistol jacked up with a high capacity magazine. Still, it’s illegal in California. The point is, there are laws and there are loopholes. But it’s no reason to get rid of California’s assault weapons ban, the first such law in the nation. 

Instead of strengthening or fixing the law, federal judge Roger Benitez, a Bush appointee based in Southern California, just declared it unconstitutional on June 4.

And now, the ban that Asian Americans as victims brought 32 years ago in California will need the new Asian American Filipino attorney general to show his true mettle to make sure he reverses the judge and stays the law.

Bet you didn’t know there even was such a ban in California? Yep, and in states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, and Massachusetts, as well as Wash., D.C.

There was even a ban in place for a brief time nationwide.

The pro-gun logic of the judge essentially was that since people in other states could get assault weapons and the ban hasn’t stopped mass shootings, what good was the law? “A 30-year-old failed experiment,” said Benitez, who called the AR-15 assault weapons “fairly ordinary, popular modern rifles.” For example, the law allowed those who owned assault weapons before the ban to register their guns. To date, there are 185,569 assault weapons in the state even with a ban.

But popularity doesn’t make them benign.

Benitez even compared the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife as “a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”

That’s such a strange comparison.

I have a small Swiss Army knife that comes with a toothpick and tweezers. I’ve never seen an AR-15 come with either. Does that make the SA knife the superior tool?

Of course, you’re not really looking to pick the spinach off anyone’s teeth, nor pluck a splinter from a finger, with an AR-15. It’s a weapon with one purpose— to kill. And keep killing. Fast.

Not just one, but many. E pluribus Mass Shootings.

That makes the comparison to a Swiss Army anything absurd. But the judge piled it on. He added that knives kill seven times more people in California than rifles do. Maybe. But around the nation, assault rifles are the death-per-minute king.

The AR-15 was used at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016, when 49 people were killed. In Las Vegas, an AR-15 was used to kill 58 people at an outdoor concert in 2017.

Imagine the killings in California if the state ban wasn’t in place. That’s an unknowable statistic. But the most important one. 

Without the ban, is there any doubt deaths by assault rifles would rise? More assault rifles. More incidents. More deaths per minute. 

Asian Victims Brought on Ban

The reason we have the law in the first place was because of a school shooting in 1989 in Stockton when Patrick Purdy killed five children of Southeast Asian refugees and wounded 30 others.

Purdy, a 25-year-old unemployed welder was reported to have said he hated Vietnamese immigrants, whom he believed were stealing jobs from native-born Americans. He was also fond of carrying a book from the white supremacy group, Aryan Nations.

That was his book of choice. But his gun of choice was an assault-style weapon, not the AR-15, but a Chinese-made AK-47. On Jan. 17, 1989, Purdy went to the Cleveland School and fired 106 rounds in three minutes, before taking a pistol and shooting himself in the head.

Because of that crime, the state passed the nation’s first assault weapons ban, signed by a Republican governor, George Deukmejian. What a different time. It seems like such a normal reaction. Nowadays, the deaths at Sandy Hook or Parkland  schools aren’t enough to get any law passed, and we fight over gadgets that make regular guns emulate semi-automatic weapons. 

Bonta to the Rescue?

Enter Rob Bonta, Oakland’s former state Assemblyman, a little more than a month into his new job as state Attorney General. He’s called the decision “fundamentally flawed” and now has 30 days to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. From there, whatever the decision, the case will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the constitutional right to have assault weapons.

I imagine the six conservative justices are dying to inject some steroids into the Second Amendment.

But this could also be the case where Bonta, the pride of the Filipino American community, gets to showcase his mettle on a national scale. After just being appointed, he’s already thrust into campaign mode and has at least one strong victims’ rights candidate, vying for his job.

This could be a big-time moment for him and for us. Let’s hope he’s up for the polarizing fight against a gun lobby that twists the 2nd Amendment and forces us to live with unwanted and excessive violence.

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Art

Artists Partner with State for “Your Actions Save Lives” Campaign

“These accomplished artists are tapping into their culture and creativity to share empowering messages with communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation.

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Jessica Wimbley, a Sacramento-based African American artist, uses her digital art to empower Black people to have agency in their own lives. Photo courtesy of CBM.

More than 20 California artists partnered with the state for the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign. The effort was created to uplift and celebrate the resilience of communities and encourage safe practices that stop the spread of COVID-19 as Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to reopen the state on June 15.

The 14 original art projects included in the campaign range from murals, interactive exhibits, and live performances from artists based in communities highly impacted by the COVID-19, including Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton and San Diego.

“The arts have an opportunity to be uplifting and healing to your emotions,” said Jessica Wimbley, an African American digital artist who collaborated with the state for an advertisement on an Oak Park billboard in Sacramento and a digital art display at Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air to work on this campaign. There’s been so much negativity and divisiveness that’s happening in the world that is heavy on the spirit,” said Wimbley.

“It’s been transformative to work on this project,” she added.

The state partnered with the Center at Sierra Health Foundation in Sacramento for the project which relies on the power of art to communicate the importance of health awareness in addition to getting vaccinated.

“These accomplished artists are tapping into their culture and creativity to share empowering messages with communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation.

“Art has incredible power, and we believe these works will spark important conversations, connections, and inspiration throughout the state,” he said.

Four female artists, including Wimbley, have used the project to tap into their respective cultures to create powerful visual artworks that empower and inform their diverse communities.

The interactive installation, ‘Benevolent Animals, Dangerous Animals,’ by Masako Miki located in Oakland’s Chinatown was inspired by Japanese folklore.

Sunroop Kaur, a classical artist, whose Spring mural is located in Stockton was inspired by her Punjabi-Sikh heritage. In San Diego, the mural ‘Stop the Spread’ by Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio honors her Mexican heritage.

In addition to the art campaign, Newsom recently announced a $116.5 million incentive program that will reward people in California for getting vaccinated. The state allotted $100 million in grocery gift cards worth $50 each for the next two million people who get vaccinated.

The remaining $16.5 million will be awarded as cash prizes to people who have been vaccinated across the state. More than 17 million people in California are fully vaccinated which is about 44% of the state’s population.

The incentive program aims to encourage everyone in California to get vaccinated with a goal to reopen the state by mid-June this year.

State officials say they are determined to fully reopen California schools and businesses in efforts to help the economy recover.

Black and Brown families continue to experience the brunt of the economic blow caused by COVID-19 despite the state’s efforts for community outreach to minimize hardship in their respective communities.

The artists featured in the state’s “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign hope to communicate messages of unity and solidarity through art influenced by their different cultures.

Four local artists celebrate their heritages and draw inspiration from their multicultural communities.

Masako Miki — Oakland

The interactive art installation ‘Benevolent Animals, Dangerous Animals’ by Miki was inspired by the idea of a treasure hunt throughout Chinatown in Oakland. The pandemic forced people to stay indoors, but the public art installation encourages people to explore different shops and restaurants while admiring the art.

The artwork was inspired by shapeshifting animals in Japanese mythology.

“I wanted to make this positive and uplifting because when things are dark and difficult, we need to have more positive images,” said Miki.

The current reality of the pandemic is, “so dark and difficult that we need to have imagery that gives us the ability to envision something positive,” she said.

In Japanese culture the tiger is a majestic animal that is fearless, she says. The cultural message in the artwork echoes notions of toughness.

“Resiliency is our strength,” and the benevolent animals featured in the art are meant to encourage people to, “respect each other and have empathy to get through this difficult time together,” said Miki.

Recent incidents of violence against Asians have fueled racial tension in America, in addition to the violence toward African Americans nationwide. Miki aspires to use her artwork to dispel stigmas related to COVID-19 about the Asian community.

“We have to have this dialogue so that I can introduce my culture in such a way that it becomes familiar and it’s not something that they’re afraid of because they don’t know about it,” said Miki.

Artistic performances and visual displays created by all the artists in the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign have been exhibited since April and will continue until June this year.

Sunroop Kaur — Stockton

Kaur, an artist of South Asian descent, aims to decolonize classical art by using people of color as the center of attention in her paintings.

The large population of Punjabi Sikh immigrants in Stockton is a major influence in Kaur’s artwork. Kaur is intentional about using people of color as the focal point in her ‘Spring’ mural located at JMP Restaurant Supply.

“This mural is a visual celebration of my community and its resilience to not only survive in a foreign land but to thrive,” said Kaur.

The mural draws from the idea of, “decentering whiteness within my work by using people of color is my main fitters,” she said.

“The appropriation of Western classical art canons as a way to decolonize my own body and my culture,” she said.

The artwork includes two people socially distancing and wearing masks depicted through the Italian Baroque portraiture, a 17th-century art style associated with grandeur, movement, and drama.

The body language from the figures symbolizes, “the universal longing and yearning we feel for one another, but also acknowledging the fact that to keep our loved ones safe,” said Kaur.

The mural also includes pastel-colored floral patterns in reference to Spring which represents the reemergence of life following the pandemic. The mural includes royal blue arches as well as pink and malachite with historical pastel pigments that are part of Persian culture.

 Jessica Wimbley — Sacramento

Wimbley, a renowned African American artist, uses her digital art to empower Black people to have agency in their own lives.

The Oak Park Billboard, which is part of a state-sponsored advertising campaign, features Wimbley’s husband as the model. The representation of dark-skinned Black men is important when there have been many incidents of people dying in the media.

The billboard reinforces, “This notion of a Black man living,” said Wimbley.

“It’s really important to bring humanization to the representation of Black people in media. And focus on producing an agency, and empowerment,” she said.

Wimbley’s Masking Series was inspired by the tradition of masquerade which is celebrated in many cultures across Africa. The art series features a still photo of a face with a mask modeled by her husband and a multimedia image with a mask reflecting different visuals.

“The storytelling communicates the important occurrences within the community, I was reflecting on wearing a mask within the masquerade culture and the transformative nature of both putting on a mask and wearing one,” said Wimbley.

Wimbley also wanted to humanize Black and Brown people who were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The added stress of police brutality resulting in the death of African Americans nationwide also inspired Wimbley to show that Black people have agency in their own lives.

Through her art, Wimbley said that she wants Black people, “to be in a place of empowerment, versus, a space of trauma.”

“We are a part of an interconnected story and part of each other’s stories. We have agency in how we move forward, and we can write, claim, and develop what that next phase looks like,” said Wimbley.

The symbolism of the images presented on the Oak Park billboard and the digital display at Arden Fair Mall highlight different codes that have inspired social justice movements throughout the nation. On the billboard, the model is wearing a mask with coded patterns promoting vaccinations and several rings, one with Harriet Tubman.

Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio

In her ‘Stop the Spread’ mural located at Bread & Salt Gallery in Chicano Park,

Mexican-American visual artist Ortiz-Rubio used the image of a Latina woman to raise awareness on COVID-19 safety precautions in her community.

According to national data, Latinos make up about 30 % of San Diego’s population. They were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 because a disproportionate number are essential workers or undocumented people.

“This is truly a message for anyone in the world because a pandemic has affected us all. But it hasn’t affected us equally,” said Ortiz-Rubio.

“In the United States, minorities have been affected because of their race and economic status,” she said.

Muralism was a social movement which helped foster systematic change in Mexico. Ortiz-Rubio said that the Black Lives Movement also inspired her to challenge racism and inequality through her artwork.

“It speaks to everyone, and the fact that it is a Latin American woman speaking to anyone, is also important because usually generalized images are of a White person,” she said.

Being a woman is an integral part of Ortiz-Rubio’s experience creating the mural. She recalled young girls and their mothers witnessing her paint the mural from their backyards which reaffirmed her desire to use a Latina as the centerpiece of her mural.

“It’s very empowering to be celebrated,” said Ortiz-Rubio.

“This will be a message that will take that stigma away,” she said.

The visual artist said that she wants Latin Americans to be represented and celebrated in her art especially when they are the target audience.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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