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Three California Black Women-Owned Businesses Get Boosts from Facebook Investments

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Photos left to right: Jasmine Rennie, owner of Gracemade, Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher Black Voice News and CEO of Voice Media Ventures and Jillene Williams, owner of Amethyst Soul Home.

Facebook is making investments in different efforts to address the gathering storm of social and economic problems facing America, particularly the ones hitting African Americans with unequal force.

Through two community-focused initiatives, the Menlo Park-based tech company is shoring up three California businesses owned by Black women with mentoring and promotional opportunity.

“COVID-19 is impacting all businesses. But Black businesses are closing at a faster rate than all other businesses,” said Erica Woods, State Public Policy manager at Facebook.  Woods was forthcoming about the company’s new #BuyBlackFriday campaign.

According to Woods, #BuyBlackFriday is Facebook’s “holiday program that redirects the energy of Black Friday to encourage consumers to support Black-owned businesses throughout the holiday season.”

Woods says the campaign features 60 Black-owned businesses from around the United States. Two of them are based in California — both owned by Black women in the Los Angeles Area: Amethyst Soul Home, which makes scented candles and Gracemade, a clothing and accessory company.

“I am elated for the opportunity for more people to experience SouLuxe Amber Noir-scented coconut wax candles and fill their homes with a sultry fusion of warm amber, sandalwood, jasmine and mandarin,” scents said Jillene Williams, owner of Amethyst Soul Home.

Jasmine Rennie, who owns Gracemade, says she’s excited that more women – not only in California, but around the world – are being introduced to her “faith-driven” brand that designs modest but fashion-forward apparel, including a best-selling jumpsuit.

“A lot of women want clothes that don’t reveal too much but are still trendy, stylish and beautiful. This program will help us reach so many of them and provide the clothing that fits their lifestyles,” Rennie said.

Facebook is inviting all Black businesses across the country to use the hashtag #BuyBlackFriday to support their businesses, beginning now and particularly the day after Thanksgiving when the holiday shopping season unofficially kicks off.

Gracemade and Amethyst Soul Home will both be featured on a show as well on the digital platform’s Black Voices page.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our products,” Woods said. “So many businesses have used our platforms to connect with their audiences. We found that the pandemic was closing doors, that impacts us as well. So, we want to support businesses and make sure that they flourish and grow.”

Earlier this month, the biggest social media platform in the world also announced that it has invited the African American-owned Black Voice News in Riverside as well as 19 other local news publishers from around the United States to participate in the Facebook Journalism Project Sustainability Accelerator Program.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity… This program provides the support and mentorship that Black Voice News can use at this very critical time to be strong and sustainable,” said Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher of the Black  Voice News and CEO of Voice Media Ventures in Riverside.

According to Facebook, the training program will provide “intensive training” to local media outlets. Through the program, industry experts will also coach newspaper publishers on improving their news coverage, growing their audiences and enhancing their technology.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it was investing $5 million in local news organizations that serve audiences in marginalized communities. The company has also awarded $10.3 million to 144 local newsrooms around the country as part of its COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.

The Facebook Journalism project is supported by Facebook but run through the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), an advocacy and support organization that works around the world to grow news media outlets.

About half the media outlets Facebook has invited to participate in the program are Black-owned or Black-led publishers, and about the same percentage are non-profit organizations.

Facebook, which also owns the social media platform Instagram, averages more than 2.7 billion active users a month. In 2019, the company’s revenue was estimated around $70 billion.

Black Voice News

BOE Member Malia Cohen Raises Red Flag on Bank-Breaking Prop 19 Tax Costs

“The challenge is that it was voted upon and the election has been certified. So, it’s the law,” Cohen said during a virtual media news briefing with reporters from across the state on January 29 organized by California Black Media.

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Malia M. Cohen, the only African American member of the California Board of Equalization (BOE), has some critical concerns about the cost homeowners will have to bear because of Proposition 19, a constitutional amendment that took effect on Dec. 16, 2020.

 Cohen, who represents 10 million Californians in 23 counties on the board, is concerned with how Prop. 19 will affect Black and other minority homeowners across California. The BOE is the commission responsible for implementing the law.

“The challenge is that it was voted upon and the election has been certified. So, it’s the law,” Cohen said during a virtual media news briefing with reporters from across the state on January 29 organized by California Black Media.

In her commentary, Cohen discussed the ways the law will impact all property owners.

 “It not only affects our respective Black communities,” she told the reporters. “It affects all homeowners and property owners in the state of California. When people wake up there is going to be a massive coalition (to fight it) — possibly an uprising. People need to know what the real deal is.”

 Cohen said she is planning other events similar to the news briefing she had with CBM. There, residents of California will begin to hear about “the first steps” they can take to become educated about how Prop.19 will hit their bottom lines. This is something she feels was not adequately explained to voters when the referendum was placed on the ballot last November.

 On Nov. 3, 2020, California voters approved Prop. 19, the “Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act.”

 Although Prop. 19 was enacted in December, Cohen warns that a critical part of the legislation will take effect on February 16. Until that date, the state currently allows tax breaks for parent-child transfers. When parents give or sell real property to their children (or perhaps, grandchildren), that heir continues to pay property taxes at the same rate assessed on the home value as the parent.

 After February 16, Prop. 19 will eradicate the parent-child exclusion. Then, parents would still be able to transfer their house to a child, and the child may keep the parent’s assessed value. But the Prop. 19 law has added one critical condition: the child must move into the residence and make the property his or her own primary residence. If not, the property will be reassessed at what the current tax cost is for the home at that time.

 Cohen discussed the immediate property tax implications and how it might impede property owners’ intentions to create generational wealth by transferring their personal residence and other property they own to their children as part of their estate planning.

 BOE Tax Counsel Richard Moon also participated in the briefing.

 “What is required is that a child moving into the home must file a homeowner exemption and that needs to be done within a year of the transfer date,” Moon said. “The child has one year to move into the family home and maintain that family home in order to keep the exclusion. But if they move out after three years, the property would be assessed at that point.”

 Rates of Black homeownership in California and across the country are still far below that of Whites and other minorities. Critics of the law say the fact that Prop. 19 could set up even more barriers to African Americans owning homes – and straddle struggling families with additional financial burdens – is problematic. About 2.2 million Black people reside in California, around 5.5% of the state’s population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of white American homeownership is over 73%, while that of African Americans stands at 41%, Black Enterprise magazine reported in 2019.

 According to data compiled by Lending Tree, the country’s leading online home loan marketplace, Los Angeles is one of the cities with the highest percentage of Black homeowners. Utah’s Salt Lake City, Texas’ San Antonio, Oregon’s Portland, and Northern California’s San Jose are also included on that list.

 African Americans primarily generate wealth through homeownership and home inheritances, according to data included in the Urban Institute’s “2019 Black Homeownership Gap: Research Trends and Why Growing Gap Matters” report.

 “Homeownership is currently the largest single source of wealth-building” among the Black population, the study stated. Between 2005 and 2008, over 240,000 African Americans lost their homes to foreclosure according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

 “The financial crisis triggered a massive destruction of wealth for African Americans,” Alanna McCargo, co-director of the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center told the Washington Post in 2019. “Wealth is inextricably linked to housing, and that wealth gap is evident in figures for Black-owned property in this country.”

 The law, as it is written, would exclude from the term “purchase” and the phrase “change in ownership” for purposes of determining the “full cash value” of property in the purchase or transfer of a family home or family farm, for example.

 Hardy Brown, Publisher Emeritus of the Black Voice News in Riverside says some of the spirit of Prop. 19 may have been positive. The state intended to provide financial cover for the mostly white Californians living in fire- and flood-prone parts of the state in the event disaster happens. But what it ends up doing, he argues, is decimate the wealth of Blacks and other minorities.

 “It doesn’t help,” said Brown. “It might make a quick buck for campaign contributors or help the state to be a good neighbor to some people, but severely harms others in the process. What it really ends up doing is putting another law on the necks of Black people in the state of California. It will choke the breath right out of us.”

 Under its constitutional mandate, the BOE oversees the assessment practices of the state’s 58 county assessors, who are charged with establishing values for approximately 13.6 million properties each year.  

 “We are not talking about $25 million palaces in Malibu. We are talking about humble homes. Middle-class homes,” Cohen said. “I live in the Bay View community (of San Francisco). We’re talking about Baldwin Hills of Los Angeles or Encanto in San Diego and other communities throughout California. Homes that were purchased for $100,000 decades ago that now have a market value of over $1 million. These homes were paid for through hard work and could be potentially lost.”

 

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The Virtual NNPA Annual Conference Features Vital Black Voices

Michelle Snider

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With a theme of trust, hope and resilience, the Virtual NNPA 2020 Annual Conference has been live for two days with a final entertainment performance with appearances from major artists like The Temptations, MC Lyte, Ice Cube, Chuck D and Ziggy Marley tonight at 4:00 p.m. PTD / 7:00 p.m. EST. To view the performances live on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/c/blackpressusatv

For a preview presentation watch here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blacks in Metro Areas across the Country are Dying of Opioid Addiction at Increasing and Alarming Rates

BLACK VOICE NEWS — Although all racial, ethnic and age groups saw significant increases in opioid-and synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths between 2015 and 2017, death rates among Blacks in large metropolitan areas is cause for growing alarm in these communities.

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Between 2015 and 2017 opioid- and synthetic opioid-involved death rates among Blacks in two key age groups have doubled in large metro areas. Those aged 45 to 54 years increased from 19.3 to 41.9 per 100,000 and death rates among those 55 to 64 years of age increased from 21.8 to 42.7 per 100,000. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By S.E. Williams, Contributor, Black Voice News

Middle-aged Blacks are experiencing a concerning rise in opioid deaths from manufactured fentanyl mixed with other drugs.

Although all racial, ethnic and age groups saw significant increases in opioid-and synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths between 2015 and 2017, death rates among Blacks in large metropolitan areas is cause for growing alarm in these communities.

In 2017—the latest year for which complete data is available—nearly 48,000 Americans lost their lives to opioids, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, accounted for almost two-thirds of those deaths.

Although previous reports showed opioid related overdose death rates differed by demographic and geographic characteristics, the level of involvement by racial/ethnic age groups in metropolitan areas had not been fully explored until now.

Between 2015 and 2017 opioid- and synthetic opioid-involved death rates among Blacks in two key age groups have doubled in large metro areas. Those aged 45 to 54 years increased from 19.3 to 41.9 per 100,000 and death rates among those 55 to 64 years of age increased from 21.8 to 42.7 per 100,000.

According to data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation 147 Blacks in California succumbed to opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017.

The CDC reported, “With the proliferation of illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) opioid-involved overdose deaths have increased among minority populations including Blacks and Hispanics, groups that have historically had low opioid-involved overdose death rates.”

According to the CDC, implications of the need for public health to address this concern require “culturally competent” interventions focused on these at-risk populations. Such interventions must include increasing awareness about synthetic opioids in the drug supply, while also working to expand evidence-based interventions including naloxone distribution (also known as Narcan® a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose), and medication-assisted treatment.

The agency further acknowledged, “Comprehensive and culturally tailored interventions are needed to address the rise in drug overdose deaths in all populations, including prevention strategies that address the risk factors for substance use across each racial/ethnic group.”

This article originally appeared in Black Voice News.

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