Author: lafocus

NAACP Settles Lawsuit to Remove False Quote About Prop 26

 

Edward Henderson | California Black Media

A lawsuit filed by the California-Hawaii NAACP Conference on

Aug. 2 to remove an election ballot opposition statement to Proposition 26 attributed to a Los Angeles NAACP branch member has been settled.

The statement will be stricken from ballot materials.

The civil rights organization found the statement “false and/or misleading” because it supports Prop 26. Also, according to NAACP bylaws, a local branch is prohibited from taking positions opposite that of the state group.

The statement against Proposition 26 found on the Secretary of State’s website reads as follows:“We oppose Prop 26 to protect young people from developing lifelong gambling addictions that often lead to ruined finances, relationships, even homelessness and crime.” Minnie Hadley-Hempstead, Retired teacher and President Emeritus of the Los Angeles NAACP Branch 

      The lawsuit named Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber as the defendant because removing the quote from ballot materials, requires a court ruling.

A declaration statement made by Hadley-Hempstead for the lawsuit describes how she was misled by the No on Prop 26 Campaign.

The lawsuit also points out that the position ‘President Emeritus’ does not exist within the NAACP, and the only branch that can clear use of the trademarked term NAACP in support or opposition of any legislation is the state branch of the organization. It also claims the use of the term ‘We’ creates the belief that the NAACP supports a NO vote, which it did not.

“We’re glad the card room casino operators did the right thing and removed the deceptive and inappropriate quote from their “No on 26” ballot arguments,” said Rick Callender, President of the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP. “Despite the California-Hawaii NAACP’s strong support for Prop 26, opponents tried to deceive voters into thinking the opposite. Thankfully, voters will not be provided this false and misleading quote in the official voter guide sent to every voter.”

Prop 26, the in-person Tribal Sports Wagering Act would authorize in-person sports wagering at existing tribal casinos. All bets must be placed in-person at a tribal casino with safeguards in place to prevent underage and illegal gambling.

Proponents of the proposition believe it will help create jobs and economic opportunities that support Indian self-reliance, while benefiting all Californians, generating new revenues for public schools, wildfire prevention and other state priorities.

Opponents of the proposition believe it will force local cardrooms out of business and, in turn, cause the state to lose tax revenue.

A statement from the “No on 26” Campaign, respectfully adheres to the wishes of Hadley Hempstead while standing behind the ballot initiative.

“Californians from across the state have been clear with their objections to Prop 26 which includes a poison pill that will unfairly harm communities of color. We appreciate and respect Ms. Hadley-Hempstead and will honor her wishes to remove her previously approved quote from the ballot statement,” it read.

Also named in the NAACP lawsuit, was Jay King, President of the California Black Chamber of Commerce. He told California Black Media opposition to Prop 26 is justified saying, “With the tribes, they want to oversee what cardrooms do and want to legislate cardrooms. We have a body to do that already. I stand on the opposite side of the NAACP statewide and that’s ok.”

 

Dept. of Education Roundtable Encourages “Summer F.U.N. for Black Students”

 

Austin Gage | California Black Media

As students and parents contemplate how best to be prepared for school after the summer break, engaging in summer education offers a way to recover from the trauma and learning loss caused by the pandemic. To address this vitally important issue, the U.S. Department of Education held a virtual roundtable on July 27th titled “Summer F.U.N. for Black Students: Families Understanding and Nurturing Learning at Home”.

Hosted by Alexis Holmes, Policy Manager at the National Education Association, the virtual panel focused on how Black families can support and provide rich summer learning experiences for their children.

The roundtable participants were Dr. Rosiline Floyd, Chief of Staff at Normandy Schools Collaborative; Kier Gaines, licensed therapist and Job Placement Specialist at District of Columbia Public Schools; Frances Frost, education advocate and the first Family Ambassador at the Department of Education; and Josh Davis, vice president of policy and partnerships at StriveTogether.

The advice provided by the panel stressed engagement of Black students during the summer as valuable to academic success in the fall and for the students’ futures.

Speaking to the roundtable audience, Holmes shared her appreciation with everyone present for understanding the importance of the topic. “We appreciate you taking the time to be here today to talk about something so important, and that is making sure that our students continue to have the out-of-school/summer experiences that they need to support them and to get them ready for a very successful and rich fall and back to school season,” Holmes said.

The panel maintained that Black families must provide support to their children due to its lasting impact on their educational future. Emphasizing this point, Floyd and Davis both agreed that because Black and other marginalized students face steeper challenges in their journeys for higher education, these obstacles must be dealt with efficiently and effectively.

“I started out as an engineer at Purdue, and I noticed that students of color didn’t have the resources that I had to make it to a Division I university, so I started researching why and a lot of what I found was the education level that they were getting inside the schools. They changed the standards to get into universities, but schools didn’t even offer some of the classes that students needed to be able to enroll in universities,” said Floyd.

When asked to identify resources and what they can mean to Black communities, Davis said “When I think about resources, it is the non-financial but oftentimes more important social and political capital that Black families and children do not have with equitable or equal access to those things other communities have that allow them to thrive.”

Understanding the obstacles standing in the way of Black students’ academic potential success was the first step the panelists explored. Next, they discussed strategies to academically engage the students during the summer.

“Try to find that sweet spot in between what some of the children are naturally good at and what they like to do, help them understand that those two things sometimes are two completely different things and then just allow an exploratory nature in introducing them to different options that they might not have had otherwise. Putting kids in the driver’s seat seems to be a really remarkable strategy,” Gaines said.

Regarding specific teaching strategies, Gaines shared that,  “What has been the most effective for me in the program that I’ve been in charge of is finding ways to integrate social media and technology into what you’ve already been doing. Also allow time for breaks. ‘Hey y’all, we are going to work for an hour and then we’ll take a 15-minute break; you can be on your phone, you can go chill, you can do whatever you want but promptly I want us to be back in and back ready.’”

Frost shared a specific strategy of her own regarding making a summer education system effective. “Make sure that your program is a welcoming environment. That’s one of the standards that we have as National PTA [National Parent Teacher Association]. It is summertime, they have been in school for 180 days, they want to do everything but be in school so make it something that they want to come to and things they want to learn,” said Frost.

The main message the roundtable panelists conveyed to the audience was Black families supporting their children was key to academic success.

“Our research shows that children who have parents who are engaged are more likely to show up to school, they are more likely to graduate, they are more likely to be successful in school because you are encouraging your child, you are in contact with their teacher, you understand what’s going on,” Frost said.

Report Recommendation to Cal EDD: Focus Less on Fraud, More on Employees

 

Edward Henderson | California Black Media

A new report by California’s Legislative Analysist Office (LAO) offers recommendations for the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to improve their functionality and timeliness of their Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program. The UI program provides temporary wage replacement to unemployed workers to help alleviate their economic challenges and bolster the state economy during downturns.

The increased volume of unemployment claims (both valid and fraudulent) and challenges out of work people faced caused by the pandemic highlighted the need to rebalance the program. Lengthy review processes and holds on valid claims caused hardship for workers and their families, hindered the state’s economic recovery, and spurred frustration among unemployed Californians with their government.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, EDD delayed payments to nearly 5 million workers and improperly denied payments to an estimated 1 million people.

Chas Alamo, LAO’s Principal Fiscal & Policy Analyst, the report’s author links the UI program’s issues to its basic design which hasn’t changed much since the 1930’s.

UI benefits are funded by employers. Over time, this has created a relationship with the EDD that employees don’t have. While an employee may apply for benefits once or twice during their entire career, employers have become the EDD’s primary customer because they’re interacting with them on a consistent basis.

“There’s no ongoing relationship between workers and EDD in the same way that there is with business and EDD,” said Alamo. “We think this partnership or orientation towards the business community has sort of encouraged the state and the department to prioritize policies that would tend to favor minimizing business costs and eliminating fraud rather than prioritizing getting benefits to workers.”

The LAO’s report features 12 targeted changes for the EDD to make to improve their operations and relationships with employees seeking benefits. The changes acknowledged unemployment workers experience in 3 key areas:

Improper Claim Denials Were Numerous

More than half of the UI claims the EDD denies are overturned on appeal. Overturned denials cause lengthy delays for workers who appeal and raise concern that the state denies many eligible workers. Likely between $500 million and $1 billion in UI payments annually go unpaid each year due to improper denials.

Claim Delays Need to be Reduced

More than half of UI claims were delayed during the peak of the pandemic, for many workers by several months. Between 15% and 20% of workers who apply for UI during normal economic times experience delays.

The UI Application Needs to be Simplified

The state’s UI application and ongoing requirements are difficult to understand and unnecessarily lengthy. Answers to many of the questions asked of employees are already on file in the EDD.

Many of IU’s problem areas were magnified during the pandemic. An estimated $20 billion has been lost to fraudulent California claims, according to EDD estimates. All but $1.3 billion of that total involved claims from federally-funded COVID relief programs, which ended last year. The response to this has made it even more difficult for valid claims to be processed.

“During the pandemic the state was under incredible pressure to cut down on fraud so the department ramped up some of its already high levels of fraud detection efforts. They took several steps that measurably and meaningfully reduced fraud in the federal program. And they should be commended for those steps. But they also took steps that really slowed down the process for otherwise eligible workers and led to these delays.”

In response to the report, the EDD released a statement where they acknowledged changes needed to be made.

“EDD appreciates and will carefully review the LAO’s ideas for further simplifying processes and speeding up the delivery of services to Californians. Many of these ideas, such as limiting improper claim denials and minimizing delays, have been incorporated into EDD actions over the past year. As part of California’s commitment to improving EDD’s customer service, the recently-enacted state budget includes $136 million for EDDnext, a major effort to modernize EDD and further improve the customer experience … We agree with the LAO that “EDD must balance the need to prevent fraud … with the priority to deliver payments in a timely and easy manner.”

While Alamo concedes that some of the reported changes the EDD plans to make will help, he also believes that a large number of the recommendations made in the report go beyond the steps the department has proposed to take.

“The pressure really is on now to begin those efforts so that some of these improvements are in place the next time millions of workers turn to EDD for UI benefits during the next downturn. And if historical precedent tells us anything that’s going to be within 10 years. The clock starts ticking and there really is not a lot of time that the state or the legislature can wait before undertaking some of these improvements,” Alamo said.

Black Farmers Concerned Inflation Reduction Act Will Roll Back Promised Debt Relief

 

 

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌|‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

The National Black Farmers Association is worried that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will roll back debt relief provided Black, indigenous, and other farmers of color in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

When President Joe Biden signs the law, which just passed both houses of Congress, approximately 15,000 farmers of color across the country — including over 400 in California — will be affected, according to the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA).

Of the 70,000 farms in California, less than 1% are Black-owned or managed, while more than 90% are White-owned or managed. In 2012, California had 722 Black farmers according to an agriculture census report released that year. By 2017, the number had decreased to 429. Nationally, 45,508 Black farmers (1.3% of all farmers) were counted in the 2017 agriculture census, making up 0.5% of the country’s farmlands.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan which included $4 billion to help Black and other “socially disadvantaged” farmers  will be replaced with a plan that makes relief funds available to all United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) farmers suffering hardships.

“I’m very, very disappointed in this legislative action,” John Wesley Boyd, Jr., NBFA’s founder and president, said in an Aug. 9 statement. “I’m prepared to fight for debt relief for Black, Native American, and other farmers of color all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m not going to stop fighting this.”

The NBFA is a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families. It serves tens of thousands of members nationwide. NBFA’s education and advocacy efforts are focused on civil rights, land retention, access to public and private loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for Black and other small farmers.

The American Rescue Plan debt relief program was expected to pay off USDA loans held by 15,000 Black, Native American, Alaskan Native, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic and Latino farmers, Kara Brewer-Boyd, NBFA’s Program and Event Coordinator, told California Black Media in a telephone interview on Aug. 12.

“Socially disadvantaged Black, Native Americans, and people of color were automatically approved for 120% debt relief. They were to be paid in full,” said Kara Brewer-Boyd. “Now they won’t get that money at all. It’s horrible. Those farmers were already identified and sent letters that their debt had been paid. These farmers are in a bad situation. Congress put them in a worse situation by telling them ‘You’re gonna get it.’ Now they are telling them ‘You’re not going to get it.’”

Objections raised by non-Black farmers to the debt relief the federal government pledged to Black farmers has put the program in limbo.

Those opponents have filed a dozen lawsuits against the American Rescue Plan Act, including one class action case. The courts are currently hearing the cases.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, the USDA is authorized to provide $3.1 billion to distressed borrowers. Another fund has been established to supply farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who faced discrimination before 2021 with a package of $2.2 billion.

“What they replaced (the American Rescue Plan Act 2021) with is Section 22006 that now states that any farmer can apply to see if they are economically distressed, get their loans written down, or have them restructured,” Brewer-Boyd said. “Now, can you tell me that’s not a big difference? You took $4 billion in debt relief at $120%, put it in a fund of $3 billion, taking $1 billion away, and you opened it up to every farmer.”

Brewer-Boyd said Black farmers from California were approved under the original debt relief program.

“Discrimination at USDA against Black farmers was rampant and severe. Section 1005 Loan Repayment program was a necessary step towards fixing those harms. To acknowledge and correct racism is not unconstitutional or racist,” James Wesley Boyd, Jr., stated.

Last year, Lawrence Lucus, who founded the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, told the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans that racism is prevalent in agriculture, and it is the primary reason why there are just a little over 400 Black farmers in California.

“I’m sorry to say that it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better under the times we are faced with,” Lucus said. “You have White farmers, who own most of the land and get all the benefits from the land, they are the ones now bringing court cases around the country. They are saying that it’s discriminatory to have debt-relief for Black farmers.”

Biden’s Inflation Act Provides Broad Relief for Black Americans With Diabetes and Other Diseases

 

Kisha Smith

Seniors struggling with the costs of insulin and other expensive medications will gain meaningful relief with the passage of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which will serve to cap costs for prescription drugs.

Said Biden, “Seniors are going to pay less for their prescription drugs while we’re changing circumstances for people on Medicare by putting a cap — a cap of a maximum of $2,000 a year on their prescription drug costs, no matter what the reason for those prescriptions are.

“That means if you’re on Medicare, you’ll never have to pay more than $2,000 a year no matter how many prescriptions you have, whether it’s for cancer or any other disease.  No more than $2,000 a year…This is a Godsend.  This is a Godsend to many families and so, so long overdue.”

The Inflation Reduction Act locks in place lower healthcare premiums for millions of families who get their coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but falls short of the broader applicability to diabetes patients who are covered by private insurance.

Still, it is a major win for Biden and a game changer for the more than 8 million in the U.S. who rely on insulin and beginning next year would pay no more than $35 monthly for the costly diabetes drug.

The landmark bill also provides $369 billion to fund energy and climate projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 40% in 2030 and $80 billion in funding to the IRS to beef up personnel and update systems.

Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for privately bought health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Additionally, the bill will direct spending, tax credits and loans to bolster technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal- and gas-powered power plants, and air pollution controls for farms, ports and low-income communities.

“I am confident this bill will endure as one of the greatest legislative feats in decades,” Schumer said, adding that it was “the most important bill we have passed in a long time.”

In the coming weeks, the President is slated to host a Cabinet meeting focused on implementing the Inflation Reduction Act and will travel across the country to highlight how the bill will help the American people.

California Launches Nation’s Largest College Savings Program for Millions of Students and All Newborns

Families of low-income public school students – 3.4 million across the state – can now access college savings accounts created in their children’s names, with seed investments of between $500 and $1,500. The CalKIDS program, launched this month, invests $1.9 billion into accounts for low-income school-age children in grades 1-12 and for newborn children born on or after July 1, 2022.

“California is telling our students that we believe they’re college material – not only do we believe it, we’ll invest in them directly,” said Governor Newsom. “With up to $1,500, we’re transforming lives, generating college-going mindsets, and creating generational wealth for millions of Californians.”

“I am proud and excited to finally see CalKIDS in action,” said Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “My goal with this program was to bridge the gap between wealth inequality and the high cost of education. CalKIDS will expand access to college through savings by providing each child born in the state of California a seed deposit in a ScholarShare 529 college savings account. Furthermore, thanks to Governor Newsom’s investment and expansion of the Program to make college more accessible to low-income California kids, additional deposits will be made for low-income first graders across the state, with supplemental deposits for foster and homeless youth. Our shared vision ensures each child across the state will have an opportunity at higher education.”

In the coming months, CalKIDS will send notification letters to qualifying children and families with more information. To find out now if you’re receiving money, visit calkids.org.

Up to $1,500 for 3.4 Million School-Age Children:

  • $500 Automatic Deposit:Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12.
  • $500 Additional Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12 identified as foster youth.
  • $500 Additional Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12 identified as homeless.

Up to $100 for Newborn Children:

  • $25 Automatic Deposit: Every eligible child born on or after July 1, 2022.
  • $25 Additional Deposit: Those who register on the program’sonline portal.
  • $50 Additional Deposit: Those who link a new or existing ScholarShare 529 account to the CalKIDS account.

African Americans Comprise Disproportionately High Percentage of Monkeypox Cases; Growing Movement Against Making Blacks the Face of the Outbreak

Staff

Data from 43 states compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that Black and Hispanics are the most impacted by the outbreak of Monkeypox in the United States, making up a disproportionate share of the 4,600 cases that were reported through July 22. African Americans comprised 27 percent of monkeypox cases compared to 13 percent of the population.
The CDC noted that Hispanic people accounted for 31 percent of cases while comprising 19 percent of the population.

In Georgia, 82% of those infected by the disease were black, a majority of them residing in the Atlanta metro area.

Additionally, CDC officials reported that areas with high numbers of cases that did not submit case reports are more racially and ethnically diverse.

“As such, the reported data may understate disparities,” CDC officials noted. “Moreover, the share of cases among Black people has risen in recent weeks, suggesting widening disparities for this group.”

A “substantial proportion” of monkeypox cases have been reported among people with HIV, who may be at higher risk of severe illness and while there is no evidence the disease is sexually transmitted, 99% of monkeypox patients were of the male sex (at birth) and the vast majority of cases occurred during some form of sexual contact.

The CDC also said the median age of monkeypox patients is 35 with cases identified between those aged 17 to 76, excluding two pediatric cases.

“Vaccine inequity hurts our efforts to stop monkeypox,” former CDC director and New York City health commissioner Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said on Twitter. “We need to direct limited vaccines to the communities most at risk. Presently in the U.S., data shows Black, Latino and HIV-positive men who have sex with men as being infected at disproportionately high rates.”

As of August 16, the CDC has identified 12,689 monkeypox cases in the United States. Worldwide, there are upwards of 38,000 cases, most in countries where monkeypox had not been reported prior to this outbreak.

Los Angeles County reports 962 cases in a population of about 9.8 million. Of the cases with available data, 37% are Latino, 35% are white, 11% are Black and about 7% are Asian, Pacific Islander, multiracial or other.

The current monkeypox outbreak outside countries in Central and West Africa was first reported in May in the United Kingdom, with cases soon appearing in major cities in Europe, Canada and the United States. While many of these early cases were among white men who reported international travel, the picture has since shifted.

So too has the media coverage of it as there have been growing criticism surrounding international outlets that are using images of Black people to illustrate their stories and tweets about the spread of monkeypox.

“We condemn the perpetuation of this negative stereotype that assigns calamity to the African race and privilege and immunity to other races,” read a statement from a group of journalists who cover Africa for global outlet.

“Is the media in the business of ‘preserving White purity’ through ‘Black criminality or culpability’?”

Some scientists have also been critical of the name “monkeypox” stating that it played into racist stereotypes about Black people, Africa and LGBTQ people — while also falsely suggesting monkeys are the main source of the virus.

“Monkeypox should be renamed for two major reasons,” said Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, a global health equity advocate and senior New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute. “First, there is a long history of referring to Blacks as monkeys. Therefore, ‘monkeypox’ is racist and stigmatizes Blacks.”

To that end, a movement to change the name of the virus is gaining steam. In June, the World Health Organization announced that it would rename monkeypox in the next year or two.

In the meantime, the Biden-Harris administration on Thursday announced it would increase America’s supply of monkeypox vaccine by making an additional 1.8 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine available for ordering beginning Monday, Aug. 22.

Family of Victim in Horrific Windsor Hills Crash Needs Help, Reckless Driver Faces Up to 90 Years

D.T. Carson

Nicole Linton, the 37-year old traveling nurse, charged with six counts of murder and five counts of gross vehicular manslaughter in the deaths of four adults—including an eight and a half month pregnant woman—and an 11-month old toddler, faces up to 90 years in prison, if convicted.

None of that however is comforting to 23-year old Dala Guy, whose brother, Reynold Lester was behind the wheel of the car carrying 23-year old Asherey Ryan and her 11-month old son, Alonzo Quintero, that burst into flames before splitting apart ejecting both Lester’s pregnant girlfriend and her young son.

“A young family was destroyed in the blink of an eye,” Gascón said in announcing the charges against Linton, who is being held at the Century Detention Center. “This incredible tragedy has sent shockwaves throughout Los Angeles and the loss of so many precious lives will have a lasting impact on those that are closest to them.

“Words cannot express the pain I am feeling right now having lost my world,” said Guy.

“At the ages of 3 and 4, Reynold and I were placed in foster care and left to handle this world alone. Growing up Reynold was the most intelligent person I knew, always getting good grades, always tucked away under his covers reading all of the latest Percy Jackson books, and just always being his authentic self. He was always my protector when I needed him the most and I couldn’t have thanked him more for that.”

Lester, who has had a tough time as a foster child, wasn’t as fortunate as his sister to have been adopted. Just before the deadly accident he had been staying with the family of his girlfriend, Asherey.

“He had just contacted me to express how happy he was about becoming a dad,” Guy reported of their conversation a couple of days before the fatal accident.  “He was so excited about the family he was building and the child he had on the way.”

Initially, Lester had been included in the gofundme set up by Asherey Ryan’s family which has now raised upwards of $165,000, with its donors including actress Issa Rae. But Lester’s name has since been removed from the page, leaving Guy once again to fend for herself and her brother.  Thus far, she has raised $9757, but more is needed to cover burial costs.

If you want to help, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/our-beloved-reynold-lester.

Linton, who has been denied bail ahead of her next court appearance on August 15, sped through a red light at upwards of 80-90 miles per hour slamming into multiple vehicles and sending eight people to the hospital. Two women found dead in a second vehicle that was engulfed in the flames have yet to be formally identified.

The toxicology report performed on the ICU nurse came up negative for drugs or for alcohol, but her attorney, Halim Dhanidina reported that Linton suffered from “profound mental health issues” that may be linked to the case.

The California Highway Patrol reported that she had at least 13 previous crashes — including a 2020 injury accident that totaled two cars

Said District Attorney George Gascón, “This is a case that will always be remembered for the senseless loss of so many innocent lives as they simply went about their daily routines.”

 

California Legislative Black Caucus Hosts Leadership Program for High Schoolers

Austin Gage | California Black Media

After a 3-year hiatus, the 12-member California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) held its “African American Leaders for Tomorrow Program” (AALT) on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills CSUDH.

From July 20 to 23, the CLBC brought together high school students from throughout California for a series of workshops and social activities aimed at preparing the next generation of leaders in African American communities in fields such as business, government and non-profit advocacy.

According to the CLBC website, the primary goal of the program “is to “build a bench” of young leaders who will lead California in solving issues of protecting voter rights, increasing access to higher education and career training through dual enrollment, reducing poverty rates, increasing living-wage employment, participating in criminal justice evolution, increasing quality and equity in healthcare, and reducing high infant mortality rates, in the lower-socioeconomic communities.”

Sixty high school students whose applications were chosen to participate in the program were provided an on-campus immersion experience. They lived in the CSUDH dorms and ate in the campus dining common.

State Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and CLBC Chairman welcomed the students to the program and reiterated the reasoning for the program’s existence.

“I learned long ago that your education is the most important investment you make in yourself,” said Bradford, “We hope that our students learn and evolve from this opportunity. That they leave with skills and knowledge that they find useful in their educational and future endeavors. Our commitment is to prepare the next generation of African American leaders for whatever the future holds.”

Also welcoming the students were CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham and California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber. Los Angeles mayoral candidate and Congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents California’s 37th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and actress and comedian Kim Whitley provided video messages to the students.

Actress and dancer Debbie Allen and retired professional basketball player Norm Nixon gave the opening remarks at the program’s dinner to the students.

Six major workshops were held where the students interacted with CLBC members and experienced professionals from corporations such as The Education Trust-West, Snap Inc. and J.S. Held. The workshop topics were civic engagement, dual enrollment, STEM/technology as a career, leadership development, financial education and college knowledge.

Faculty at CSUDH and the Mervyn Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute also played key roles a huge role in the execution the program. Parham along with Dr. Justin Gammage, and other members of the university lectured the students on topics such as mental wellness and selfcare in addition to the workshops and panels. On the last day of the program, students participated in a mock committee hearing about AB3121, the bill that established California’s Reparations Task Force.

CLBC members Assemblymembers Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) and Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) helped wrap up the program and handed out certificates of recognition to participants in the program.

CLBC member Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D- San Diego), reflecting on the program said “For three days, high school students get to stay on a college campus and get immersed in a unique learning environment that will prepare them for successful transition to higher education, job seeking, budgeting and leadership.”

The AALT serves as a cultivating ground for the youth and helps them understand what they may want to focus on for their future careers. Another CLBC member attending the program, Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), shared Weber’s perspective.

“The African American Leaders of Tomorrow program was created to prepare the youth of today for their careers by exposing them to legislative process, encouraging critical thinking and helping them discover their passions,” Holden said.

COVID Vaccines Available for Children Under 4 Years Old as the Start of School Year Nears

Edward Henderson | California Black Media

As parents across California focus on purchasing new clothes, school supplies and technological aids for their children for the coming school year, public health officials and healthcare professionals are asking them to consider the COVID-19 vaccine a back-to-school essential.

In June, COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for children 6 months through 4 years. Consequently about 2.2 million children in California and nearly 20 million children in the United States less than 5 years of age are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Although data from the trials involving thousands of infants and toddlers over the age of 6 months show that the vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to prevent serious health issues for youth and their families, many parents are hesitant to have their young children vaccinated.

Pfizer vaccine trials enlisted roughly 4,500 infants and toddlers over the age of 6 months. They proved the vaccine effective against COVID-19 and showed a strong antibody response in children receiving the vaccine.

Moderna vaccine trials involved over 6,500 infants and toddlers over the age of 6 months. They also proved the vaccine effective against COVID-19 and showed a strong antibody response in children who received it.

Dr. Jennifer Miller, a pediatrician with East Bay Pediatrics, spoke about her experiences with parents in her practice regarding the vaccine during a virtual press conference hosted by The California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“For those families that are hesitant and questioning, I try to understand what their fears and questions are. I try to remind them that we are in this together. I care about the health and wellbeing of their children, and I will always suggest the best possible course for them,” she said. “I let them know that ultimately it is their decision to make, and I am here as a resource. It is normal to be afraid of the unknown and to want to protect your child. With that in mind, vaccination is the best protection around.”

COVID-19 vaccines were only authorized for use in the US after three phases of clinical trials that show the vaccines are effective at protecting against the virus. For the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials with children under 5 years old, infants and toddlers of different ethnicities were enrolled to ensure that the vaccine is consistently effective. Once the trials were completed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined after rigorous analysis that the data meets their high standards of safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality.

Since the vaccines were authorized for emergency use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been using platforms like V-safe and VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) to monitor safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Children 3 and above are eligible to receive the vaccination at pharmacies, while children under 3 will need to see their pediatrician or small community clinics due to federal regulations. The state has purchased enough vaccines for every child in California with the first shipment of 500,000 doses arrived last month.

The Moderna vaccine for children under four is a two-dose vaccine like the dosage for adults, however there will be one month in between doses. The Pfizer vaccine is three doses. The first dose is followed by the second 21 days later and the final dose comes 60 days after that. The Moderna dose is 1/4 of an adult dose, and the Pfizer vaccine is 1/10 of the adult dose. Tests show the side effects of minor fever and pain at the injection site can be stronger for children who receive the Moderna vaccine.

Protecting everyone in the household is a top priority as the new school year approaches. For the first time since the pandemic, vaccines are available for the entire family. Age is no longer a factor. Data has also shown that the vaccine is effective for pregnant women and safe for their unborn children. Additional protections can also be given to them while they are still in the womb.

Dr. Sarah Takekawa, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, is currently raising 3 children under 5. She spoke during the California Department of Public Health’s virtual press conference on concerns pregnant woman may have with the vaccine and its effect on children. Dr. Takekawa was fully vaccinated before conceiving her third child and received her booster while pregnant.

“I have seen first-hand what the COVID-19 infection can do to otherwise extremely healthy young women during their pregnancies. Watching firsthand adults otherwise healthy succumb to the disease, it seems easy to us to make this decision about wanting to get vaccinated and encouraging other parents to have their children vaccinated. But we also understand that it is a discussion that needs to be had.”

You can view the entire Department of Public Health’s digital press conference discussion here and learn more about the youth vaccine. You can also visit Vaccinate All 58 to learn more about safe and effective vaccines available for all Californians aged 6 months and older.


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