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To Be Equal: Summer Jobs Pay Future Dividends



Marc Morial

By Marc H. Morial
NNPA Columnist


“Your first job brings you more than just a steady paycheck – the experience teaches young people life and work skills that serve them long after the job is done. But as our nation continues to recover [from] the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future.” – White House, “We Can’t Wait Initiative” Statement Release, January 2012

I can still remember my very first job – and the valuable lessons I learned from it that continue to inform my career to this day. I got my first taste of entrepreneurship as one-third of a three-man janitorial company I started with two childhood friends. We mowed lawns, washed cars and cleaned windows. If it needed fixing or cleaning, we were the ones to call.

At the age of 15, I earned my first steady paycheck as a copy boy for a local newspaper. Like so many millions of teens before and after me, I had the chance to be exposed to the world of work at an early age. And I earned more than money from the experience. With work came important lessons about responsibility, effective communication, time management, interpersonal skills and more. Today, as our nation continues to recover from the crippling impact of the Great Recession on our economy and job market, the ability of teens to jump-start their future careers, as they were once able to, remains in jeopardy.

Not only did jobs disappear during our nation’s economic downturn, summer jobs – widely acknowledged as the traditional means of entry into our nation’s workforce for teens and young adults – became scarce. Competition from older workers for those entry-level jobs once reserved for teens increased as the labor market weakened, and with states slashing budgets to make ends meet, state and federally-funded summer jobs placement programs were either underfunded or cut.

But teen employment matters for their future and for our nation’s. It not only gives young people something productive to do during the summer months, that job in the retail store, library or the local newspaper is money in their pocket and money being spent within the community. Studies have also shown that those who work when they are young are more likely to be employed in the future and will earn higher salaries.

After a high of 27.2 percent teen unemployment in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for workers ages 16-19 is now down to 17.9 percent. As is the case with adult workers, teens are beginning to find jobs as the market recovers, but unemployment remains high for young people—disproportionately affecting low-income youth and Blacks and Hispanics. The national unemployment rate stands at a staggering 30.1 percent for Black teens and 19.2 percent for Hispanic teens. The groups of teens who need the work most in order to help themselves, and very often make a significant contribution to their family’s budget, are not finding the jobs.

Our nation’s answer to this dilemma has been a fractured portrait of private and public initiatives and success. Cities and states have cobbled together money – when it’s in the budget – and have funneled it to local groups or agencies that connect youths to jobs or job training. In 2012, the White House launched Summer Jobs+ as part of the “We Can’t Wait” initiative. The project brought together the federal government and the private sector to create 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth.

At the National Urban League, we work with at-risk youth to introduce them into the workforce through a comprehensive set of services through the Urban Youth Empowerment Program. While all of these efforts are laudable and have changed many lives and communities for the better, it is not enough. Our nation needs to expand summer job programs and create year-round employment for our young people. We need a commitment that says yes to teens and to their future. Our nation needs a comprehensive jobs solution for young people, because piecemeal solutions will only deliver far-flung pockets of success.

Investing in our young people is an investment in the continued strength of this great nation and its workforce. Young people need the formative workplace skills they can get in those entry-level jobs to move on to greater career success and higher salaries in the future. Our nation, and its local economies, benefit when teens spend their disposable income. Surely there are tax loopholes, corporate or otherwise, that can be closed, bringing additional dollars to the table to invest in our young people. The financial cost of not investing in teens, not creating opportunities for future success, is what will cost this country, and our future in the fast-paced global economy, the most.


Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.



Rise in Abductions of Black Girls in Oakland Alarms Sex-Trafficking Survivors

Nola Brantley of Nola Brantley Speaks states, “America’s wider culture and society has consistently failed to address the abduction and kidnapping of Black girls in Oakland and across the country, and this lack of concern empowers and emboldens predators.”



Nola Brantley and Sarai Smith-Mazariegos
Nola Brantley and Sarai Smith-Mazariegos

By Tanya Dennis

Within the last 30 days there have been seven attempted kidnappings or successful abductions of Black girls in Oakland.

Survivors of human trafficking who are now advocates are not surprised.

Nor were they surprised that the police didn’t respond, and parents of victims turned to African American community-based organizations like Adamika Village and Love Never Fails for help.

Advocates say Black and Brown girls disappear daily, usually without a blip on the screen for society and government officials.

Perhaps that will change with a proposed law by state Senator Steven Bradford’s Senate Bill 673 Ebony Alert, that, if passed, will alert people when Black people under the age of 26 go missing.

According to the bill, Black children are disproportionately classified as “runaways” in comparison to their white counterparts which means fewer resources are dedicated to finding them.

Nola Brantley of Nola Brantley Speaks states, “America’s wider culture and society has consistently failed to address the abduction and kidnapping of Black girls in Oakland and across the country, and this lack of concern empowers and emboldens predators.”

Brantley, a survivor of human trafficking has been doing the work to support child sex trafficking victims for over 20 years, first as the director for the Scotlan Youth and Family Center’s Parenting and Youth Enrichment Department at Oakland’s DeFremery Park, and as one of the co-founders and executive director of Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY, Inc.)

“It really hit home in 2010,” said Brantley, “before California’s Welfare Institution Code 300 was amended to include children victimized by sex trafficking.”

Before that law was amended, she had to vehemently advocate for Black and Brown girls under the age of 18 to be treated as victims rather than criminalized.

Brantley served hundreds of Black and Brown girls citing these girls were victims so they would be treated as such and offered restorative services. “To get the police to take their disappearances seriously and file a report almost never happened,” she said.

Then Brantley received a call from the Board of Supervisors regarding a “special case.”  A councilman was at the meeting, as well as a member of former Alameda County Board Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s Office who had called Brantley to attend.

“The child’s parents and the child were there also.  They requested that I give my full attention to this case.  The girl was white and there was no question of her victimization,” Brantley said.

Brantley felt conflicted that of all the hundreds of Black and Brown girls she’d served, none had ever received this type of treatment.

Her eyes were opened that day on how “they” move, therefore with the recent escalation of kidnapping attempts of Black girls, Brantley fears that because it’s happening to Black girls the response will not be taken seriously.

Councilmember Treva Reid

Councilwoman Treva Reid

“I thank Councilwoman Treva Reid and Senator Steven Bradford (D) for pushing for the passing of the Ebony Alert Bill across the state so that the disappearance of Black girls will be elevated the same as white girls. We’ve never had a time when Black girls weren’t missing.  Before, it didn’t matter if we reported it or if the parents reported the police failed to care.”

Senator Steven Bradford

Senator Steven Bradford

Sarai S-Mazariegos, co-founder of M.I.S.S.S.E.Y, and founder and executive director of Survivors Healing, Advising and Dedicated to Empowerment (S.H.A.D.E.) agrees with Brantley.

“What we are experiencing is the effects of COVID-19, poverty and a regressive law that has sentence the most vulnerable to the sex trade,” S-Mazariegos said. “We are seeing the lack of equity in the community, the cause and consequence of gender inequality and a violation of our basic human rights. What we are seeing is sexual exploitation at its finest.”

Both advocates are encouraged by Bradford’s Ebony Alert.

The racism and inequity cited has resulted in the development of an underground support system by Brantley, S-Mazariegos and other community-based organizations who have united to demand change.

Thus far they are receiving support from Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, and Oakland City Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas and Reid of the second and seventh districts respectively.

For more information, go to

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The Case Against SB357: Black, Vulnerable and Trafficked

on April 25, the committee approved Senate Bill 14 which would make human trafficking of minors a felony and strikable offense forcing exploiters to serve 80% of their sentence.



Nola Brantley is the co-founder of MISSSEY. Photo courtesy of Nola Brantley.
Nola Brantley is the co-founder of MISSSEY. Photo courtesy of Nola Brantley.

PART 8 – Come Back to Humanity

Although California Senate Bill 357 was intended to alleviate arrests of willing sex workers under anti-loitering laws, The Black, Vulnerable and Exploited series has established that passing SB 357 and other similar legislation harms Black communities, one of the most vulnerable and traumatized groups in America.

Over the past several weeks, overwhelming evidence against SB 357 has been presented showing why sex trafficking disproportionately impacts the Black community and how decriminalizing sex buying and exploitation will further harm vulnerable Black communities.

By Tanya Dennis and Vanessa Russell

One year and one day after Blair Williams had killed herself by walking into traffic on a busy freeway, her sister, Brianna Williams, testified before the California Senate Public Safety Committee on the horrors of sex-trafficking.

Soon after, on April 25, the committee approved Senate Bill 14 which would make human trafficking of minors a felony and strikable offense forcing exploiters to serve 80% of their sentence.

Passed with bi-partisan support in the committee, the bill means a lot to people who have been trafficked as it shows that the punishment for trafficking will be equal to the crime.

Currently, exploiters who receive 10 years for trafficking a minor may be able to get out in as little as two years. This practice of letting someone out after selling a child has created apathy among survivors who wonder if anyone understands the pain and torture they endure. The unanimous acceptance of this bill in committee is helping survivors to feel protected and valuable.

Led by Senator Aisha Wahab, the committee, which included senators Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, Steven Bradford, Senator Scott D. Wiener and Oakland’s Nancy Skinner, unanimously passed the bill written by Senator Shannon Grove.

At the hearing, Brianna Williams, a Black 28-year-old woman who was sex-trafficked in Oakland at the age of 13, shared the story of her sister Blair, who was terrorized, raped, and tortured by her exploiter.

Suffering a mental break, Blair walked onto a freeway where she was instantly killed on April 24, 2022.

Williams described Blair as a beautiful young lady, who was an avid reader and creative who loved to play with her niece and nephews and aspired to be an attorney. Blair died at the age of 23. Many senators teared up as they contemplated the torture Blair endured.

At the age of 17, Williams was able to exit with the help of nonprofits and churches who invested in her life, providing workforce development, education, mentoring, and legal help.

To address the harm that is being done to vulnerable people such as Black girls, anti-trafficking organizations are asking leaders and legislators and even proponents of full decriminalization for sex work to ‘come back to humanity’ and reconsider an ‘equity model’ that decriminalizes the exploited but maintains accountability for the buyers and exploiters.

The equity model would also provide funded exit services including mental health, housing, workforce development, and legal services for the exploited. These services would provide an opportunity for the trafficked to start again, an opportunity that 76% of women, men and transgendered people are asking for.

However, making buyers and exploiters accountable does not mean applying blanket life sentences.

Human trafficking cannot be ‘criminalized’ away, supporters of the new bill say, and instead they call for thoughtfulness and empathy regarding the intentions of those involved and ask tough questions.

Many exploiters have been abused and groomed into becoming exploiters in the same way the exploited are.

There are early intervention diversion programs that can help first-time sex buyers and exploiters take ownership for the harm they have caused, process the root of their behavior, and begin to heal and change.

Giving buyers and exploiters a platform to be accountable and make amends improves their lives, the lives of the families they are also harming, and hopefully bring some healing to the harmed.

Nola Brantley, a survivor, co-founder of Motivating, Inspiring Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY), and CEO of Nola Brantley Speaks says, “As service providers, we must unite and support one another because this is very important and hard. We can’t do it alone. We need each other and the community needs us to be in solidarity!”

For more information, go to ResearchGate and Layout 1 (

To get involved, join Violence Prevention Coalition for a City Wide Peace Summit on June 24th from 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. at Laney College in Oakland. To register, go to

Tanya Dennis serves on the Board of Oakland Frontline Healers (OFH) and series co-author Vanessa Russell of “Love Never Fails Us” and member of OFH.

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COMMENTARY: NYC DA Alvin Bragg’s Unsealed Jabs No Knockout Punch, but Just the Beginning of Trump’s Woes

Don’t be fooled by the Republican spin. The historic indictment, arrest and arraignment in New York City of the twice-impeached former President Donald J. Trump was not, as one might say, “weak sauce.” You try defending yourself from 34 felony charges and see how weak the rule of law is.



Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at

By Emil Guillermo

Don’t be fooled by the Republican spin. The historic indictment, arrest and arraignment in New York City of the twice-impeached former President Donald J. Trump was not, as one might say, “weak sauce.”

You try defending yourself from 34 felony charges and see how weak the rule of law is.

Trump, the one-time leader of the free world, who still has an illogical hold on the Republican Party, was welcomed into the criminal justice system just like any run-of-the mill Oakland gang member.

And as he sat in court with his attorneys, a tough looking, COVID-mask wearing African American woman police officer, with gloves and handcuffs at the ready, made sure the disgraced president made nary a false move.

All he had to do was scowl and enter his “not guilty” plea.

And that is the point of the entire exercise. He was treated as no different from you or me. His executive privilege, his white privilege, offered him no comfort. No one held the door open as he passed during his “mini-perp” walk into the court.

Before the law he was just a guy with a funny hairdo.

Trump would not be in this predicament if there was no reason to believe he broke real laws in the state of New York. District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the evidence was voluminous.

“It is 34 business records, 344 statements … that were concealing criminal conduct,” Bragg said at a news conference. “Why did Donald Trump repeatedly make these false statements?” Bragg asked rhetorically. “The evidence will show that he did so to cover up crimes relating to the 2016 election.”

Bragg said the felonies center on Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels that kept “damaging information from the voting public.” He said it was part of an illegal scheme that exceeded the federal campaign contribution cap, and then were mis-characterized as income to Cohen rather than as hush money to Daniels.

After the hearing, Trump said on social media that “nothing was done illegally.”

But did it interfere with the 2016 election?

When it comes to the BIPOC community, AAPIs are among the Trumpiest of them all.

Let’s look back at 2016.

Trump got 34% of the Vietnamese vote; 35% of the Chinese vote and 28% of the Filipino vote, according to the Asian American Voter Survey.

The hush money payments to the porn star came days after that damning Access Hollywood tape was released in October. Would another sex scandal have ended Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton?

Trump and his backers hold their nose and insist no crime was committed. But even if he survives the New York indictment, there are at least two or three more indictments to come out of the Georgia voting irregularities case, the Florida documents case, and his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. All are independent of one another and promise a walloping combination that could catch Trump off guard.

Frankly, I would have indicted Trump for his use of the ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung Flu’ slurs that resulted in nearly 12,000 instances of hate transgressions from major to minor against AAPI during the pandemic.

But those aren’t indictable crimes. Just his unindictable crimes against humanity. Still, as an overall BIPOC community, it’s safe to say we have seen enough of his recklessness firsthand.

As the former president makes history today, the larger question is why would any of his supporters continue to back him? Time to move on for the good of the country.

Even Trump at his height of powers would say, “I prefer my political leaders not to be indicted.”

What about those who say Trump’s “innocent until proven guilty?”

Merely a legal standard that applies to those who may serve on one of the specific juries. But it doesn’t necessarily apply to you, the average citizen, says MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

I tend to agree. We’ve seen with our own eyes Trump in action. We didn’t need this week’s throwback to the OJ/White Bronco caravan on Monday. Nor did we need to follow the minute-by-minute of Trump’s nascent perp-dom.

Americans should blow out the Trump gaslight now. We can still be fair-minded when the trial or trials actually begin and we can watch the rule of law in action in our democracy.

Then we’ll see if Trump is innocent without his spin, lies or bluster.

His new role? The disgraced former president, the forever defendant.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at

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