Los Angeles Bans Sale of Menthol Cigarettes, Similar National Ban from FDA in the Works

 

Kisha Smith

On June 1, the L.A. City Council voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco within the city limit, with the exception of certain hookah lounges. The ordinance—which passed in a unanimous 12-0 vote—goes into effect on January 1.

The ban does not include the possession or use of flavored tobacco for people 21 and over. Instead, L.A.-based tobacco retailers will no longer be able to see either flavored or hookah tobacco. Smoke lounges, however, will be able to sell hookah products for on-site or off-site consumption.

“Our hearts are full as we stand with the great city of Los Angeles to get on record that we will no longer sell these deadly products in our communities to our children, particularly the African American community that has been so perniciously and racistly targeted by the tobacco industry for decades,” said Carol McGruder, of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and Black Leaders Against Tobacco Injustice.

McGruder has tirelessly advocated against the tobacco industry that she says has aggressively targeted young people and African Americans. In November, Californians will vote on whether or not a statewide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco should be repealed.

Meanwhile, a similar plan to ban menthol cigarettes is reportedly in the works from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA’s prospective rule to ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars was proposed as a remedy to settle a lawsuit brought by the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the National Medical Association (NMA) asserting that —contrary to the duties imposed by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act— the FDA has failed to act on banning menthol cigarettes.

This week, the groups dismissed their lawsuit.

“As African American physicians, we are thrilled with the FDA’s proposed rule to ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars as a remedy to settle our lawsuit,” said Dr. Rachel Villanueva, President of the National Medical Association. “This proposed rule will save lives and improve health within Black communities. This would not have been possible without the leadership and assistance of our co-plaintiffs and attorneys, whom we wish to sincerely thank.”

“The FDA has finally taken a major step forward to protect the health of Black Americans but the work is far from done. We will not stop until no more Black Lives are lost due to the predatory marketing of menthol cigarettes and flavored little cigars,” promised Dr. Phillip Gardiner, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC).

Even as FDA action is in the works, activists continue to encourage local advocates to keep pursuing local menthol bans.

The lawsuit, they maintain, brings them one step closer toward preventing the deaths of 39,000 African Americans every year from tobacco-related diseases. What is does not mean is that their work ends. Instead, they say they will not stand down until an effective rule is in place.

New Breath Test Could Detect COVID in Less Than Three Minutes

 

Kisha Smith

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of diagnostics and drugs to test and treat it have led a revolution in medical research and a deluge of new therapies in the pipeline. Among them is a breath test that can detect the coronavirus in less than three minutes.

Yesterday (April 14), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer that must be performed by a qualified, trained operator.

“Today’s authorization is yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19,” said Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The FDA continues to support the development of novel COVID-19 tests with the goal of advancing technologies that can help address the current pandemic and better position the U.S. for the next public health emergency.”

The test was found to have 91.2% accurate in the identification of positive test samples and 99.3% accurate in correctly identifying negative samples which is expected to increase testing capacity by approximately 64,000 samples per month.

It will take time for the devices to be produced in mass quantity, but they are projected to hit the market by mid-summer.

CDC Recommends Additional Booster for Those Over 50

 

Chez Hadley

The Centers for Disease Control have updated their recommendations to allow certain immunocompromised individuals and people over the age of 50 who received an initial mRNA booster dose at least 4 months ago to be eligible for another mRNA booster to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19.

Separately and in addition, based on newly published data, adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

“Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals. Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

“Boosters are safe, and people over the age of 50 can now get an additional booster 4 months after their prior dose to increase their protection further,” said CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19 as they are the most likely to benefit from receiving an additional booster dose at this time. CDC, in collaboration with FDA and our public health partners, will continue to evaluate the need for additional booster doses for all Americans.”

The expanded eligibility acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease in certain populations including those who are elderly or over the age of 50 with multiple underlying conditions, along with the currently available data on vaccine and booster effectiveness.

Further, emerging evidence suggests that a second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 is not associated with new safety concerns. The action applies only to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and the authorization of a single booster dose for other age groups with these vaccines remains unchanged. The agency will continue to evaluate data and information as it becomes available when considering the potential use of a second booster dose in other age groups.

State Senator Sydney Kamlager Announces Campaign to Succeed Karen Bass in Congress

Kisha Smith

Just ten months, after winning a landslide victory in her race for the 30th Senate District seat previously occupied by now L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, State Senator Sydney Kamlager has announced a new race.

“I am running for Congress to continue Karen’s legacy of fighting for justice reform on the national level,” Kamlager has declared. “I’m prepared to jump into the fight to stop voter suppression that is spreading across our nation and will continue my track record of leading on job creation, economic justice, access to health care, and clean air and water for all.”

Kamlager entered the race at the urging of Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is currently one of the frontrunners in the race for L.A. Mayor. In addition to Bass, Kamlager has amassed a broad coalition of support, including Supervisor Holly Mitchell, L.A. Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Congressmember Ted Lieu, State Senators Steve Bradford, Maria Elena Durazo, and Ben Allen, Assemblymembers Chris Holden, Luz Rivas and Mike Gipson, Culver City Mayor Alex Fisch, Culver City Councilmembers Yasmine-Imani McCorrin, Culver City School Board Member Summer McBride, and many others.  

Kamlager, who serves as the Vice-Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and Chair of the Los Angeles County delegation, has authored landmark legislation in the areas of criminal justice reform, health care equity, and affordable housing – including the most transformative probation reform law in the country and legislation requiring implicit bias training for health care professionals and court employees.

What’s more, Kamlager secured close to $400 million in state funding for our public health care systems, affordable housing, infrastructure, the arts, and other projects across the district. She has been a staunch supporter of economic investments in and across South L.A. and wants to take that fight to Washington. She views the role in Congress as a continued opportunity to make sure “we leave nothing on the table and keep our communities front and center.”

To her credit, Kamlager currently represents 83% of the voters in the 37th District, which was revised during the redistricting process. The new South L.A.-based district extends just beyond Century Boulevard at its southernmost point and Olympic Boulevard at its northernmost – and also includes Arlington Heights, Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, Culver City, parts of Downtown, Harvard Heights, West Adams, Hyde Park, Jefferson Park, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, Mid-City, Olympic Park, Palms, South Robertson, Southeast L.A., University Park, View Park, Wilshire Vista, and surrounding neighborhoods. 

Faith Leaders, Elected Officials and Celebrities Respond to Guilty Verdicts in Ahmaud Arbery Case

 

Kisha Smith

A Brunswick, Georgia jury of eleven whites and one black returned guilty verdicts in the cases of three men— Travis McMicheal, Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan — for hunting down and killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who had been jogging through the Satilla Shores area in coastal Georgia. 

The nation had been watching and waiting for the outcome in the trial of the men who had committed what was viewed in the eyes of many as a “modern day lynching”, sparking national outrage and protests. That coupled with the racist dog whistle tactics employed by the defense and the recent acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse only added to the tension surrounding the case and a national outcry for justice.

The chorus of unanimous verdicts in all but four of the 27 counts, led to an outpouring of reactions from faith leaders, elected officials and celebrities. Here are just some of them.

Al Sharpton: “Let the word go forth all over the world that a jury of 11 white people and one Black person in the Deep South stood up in the courtroom and said that Black lives do matter.”

Kamala Harris: “These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do. The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics. Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice.”

Stacy Abrams: “A jury believed the evidence of their eyes and saw the meanness in the killers’ hearts. May this verdict bring a small measure of peace to #AhmaudArbery’s family and loved ones.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: Thank you, God. Remember him #AhmaudArbery. Sending prayers to the family of #AhmaudArbery. Thank you God for their courage and strength. Honored to stand with them while in GA.

Actress Viola Davis: “As it should be. To Wanda….Ahmaud Arbery’s mother….. your son mattered. His life mattered. I pray this brings you a tiny shred of peace. To the jurors…..huge gratitude for doing right. The pendulum of justice swung in the right direction!!!!!!!”

Pastor K.W. Tulloss (President, Baptist Minister’s Conference): “It’s a beautiful day when justice is given to a family whose child has been tragically taken for unjust reasons.  Anything less than guilty would have been a miscarriage of justice. I’m so happy that an majority white jury —with the exception of one black— got it right and hopefully this sends a message across America that justice has to be equitable to all.”

Pastor Michael J.T. Fisher (Greater Zion Church Family): “This could be the beginning of an awakening within our judicial system that maybe we are moving away from a model that protects the privileged and disrespects the marginalized.”

Pastor Geremy Dixon (Center of Hope LA): “A victory for justice anywhere is hope for justice everywhere. This moment is is much larger than this individual victory. It embodies the long argued notion that people of color also share in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This jury rightly determined that these self appointed vigilantes must be held accountable for the malicious way in which they robbed Mr. Aubury of that right…and to this, we say Amen!”

D.L. Hughley: “Thankful for the verdict! But let’s not forget 3 prosecutors saw that same video and thought #AhmaudArbery’s murder was justified!”

Pastor Eddie Anderson (McCarty Memorial Church): “Today’s decision is accountability for the modern day lynching of Ahmaud Arbery. It is a result of prayers and organizing by families and advocates and gets us one step closer to justice, although justice would be our brother Ahmaud Arbery being with us and black men not fearing for their lives while doing everyday tasks.”

The Democratic National Convention: “While this verdict does not make Ahmaud Arbery’s loved ones whole again, his killers have been held accountable and healing can begin. No American should be afraid to go for a jog or for a walk in the United States because of the color of their skin…

“While today we applaud the justice system working for Ahmaud Arbery, we know it has too often failed so many, and so we must continue to act to dismantle systemic racism and ensure equity and accountability for all under the law.”

And from Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery: “It’s been a long fight, it’s been a hard fight, but God is good. To tell you the truth I never saw this day in 2020, I did not think this day would come … Thank you for those who marched. Thank you to those who prayed. He [Ahmaud Arbery] will now rest in peace.”

Voting Rights Is the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

Mark Hedin, Ethnic Media Services

It’s the “civil rights issue of our time,” voting rights advocates say, but three different proposals to strengthen and create nationwide standards on voting are all stalled in Congress.

“Democracy is facing challenges unlike any we have seen in modern time,” said Wade Henderson, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, at a press briefing hosted by Ethnic Media Services and LCCR on Nov. 5.

Already this year, in 19 states, legislators have passed 33 laws that will make it harder to vote. In all, 425 new voting rules have been proposed in 49 states.

Generally, where it’s been challenging to vote, the new laws have made it harder, Henderson noted. In Florida and Georgia, for example, giving water or snacks to people waiting in lines to vote is now a crime.

This “torrent” of new rules (https://tinyurl.com/New-2021VotingRules) on voting across the country is due to two recent Supreme Court decisions gutting the 1965 Voter Rights Act, combined with the “Big Lie” frenzy stoked by former president Trump, still trying to overturn the 2020 election.  

“We still have tools available to us, but fewer than we once did,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, of Brennan Center’s Democracy Project.

And even in those two recent rulings that gutted the Voting Rights Act – 2013’s Shelby v. Holder and July 2021’s Brnovich v. DNC — the Supreme Court acknowledged Congress’ ultimate responsibility for setting federal voting standards, Morales-Doyle pointed out.

  “We actually do have two pieces of legislation that would help us get us past this moment,” Morales-Doyle pointed out. “The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

On Nov. 3, Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, was the 51st “yes” vote for discussing the proposed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Jacqueline DeLeon, of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), noted that Murkowski was elected, in part, thanks to native Alaskan voters traveling long distances to get to polling places to vote in the pitch-black dark in the snow after learning how to spell her name to support her write-in election in 2012.

But filibuster rules in the Senate meant that 51 of 100 possible votes was not enough.  Because of the filibuster, it takes 60 votes to do most things. There are currently 50 Republican senators, two Independents and 48 Democrats.

But 51 votes would be enough to change that filibuster rule, for example, by making an exception for voting laws, similar to the exception made for Supreme Court nominations in 2017.

“All eyes are on Congress and the Senate,” Morales-Doyle said.

Meanwhile, in Indian Country, change is long overdue.

DeLeon described how some reservations have no polling places at all, forcing impoverished voters to drive 100 miles on dirt roads into sometimes inhospitable, racist border towns to exercise their voting rights.

Lousy mail service, too, can make registration and absentee voting difficult-to-impossible, she said.

“Natives vote if they’re provided a fair opportunity, but they’re too often not given that fair chance.”

“We need to get away from the framing that the voting rights is a Democratic ask,” she concluded. “This is about protecting American citizens from racist abuse and denying them their right to participate in the American political process.”

John C. Yang, of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, also emphasized the nonpartisan importance of seeing that everyone’s voice is heard.

“Then we have an argument on the values, on the issues. We try to persuade the voters that our policies make sense. That’s the beauty of democracy.”

“Our community is quite diverse,” he said. Asian Americans have become the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country. “We have individuals of all different political stripes.” 

“For us, it is about making sure that every citizen that has the right to vote has the opportunity to do so in a most efficient and effective manner.”

He described how voter-ID laws sometimes run afoul of language barriers. And once a person has secured their right to vote, having multi-lingual voting materials and mail-in voting is also important.

“It is about having communities not feeling that they are less of a citizen because of their immigrant status or because they have limited English proficiency, or because they have different socio-economic means that don’t allow them to vote during a 9-5 period.”

Henderson pointed out how 13 of the same senators who stopped the Lewis Act last week, such as John Conryn of Texas, had all previously voted in favor of continuing the VRA.

“We have to take the fight to them,” he said. “This is a right and we should demand it and we should generate the political heat necessary to obtain it.”

The Leadership Conference has prepared 14 reports documenting the state of voting rights in 13 states (tinyurl.com/Votingreports) across the country: Alabama (second Alabama report), Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

“The way forward is through Congress, and Congress needs to be told that over and over and over again,” Morales-Doyle said. 

In the meantime, he and other voting rights advocates are using what tools they still have to take the battle to the courts.

The Justice Department recently joined a suit by the Brennan Center, Mexican American Defense and Educational Fund and others against new rules in Texas.

“None of the work stops while we’re waiting for Congress to act, but we still need Congress to act,” Morales-Doyle said.

“Apart from suing, we need to keep up the work to change the public narrative on this. And people do want an expansive democracy!”

Michael B. Jordan and Serena Williams Unite for Million Dollar HBCU Giveaway

Staff

Actor Michael B. Jordan, and tennis great Serena Williams have joined forces to provide HBCU entrepreneurs with the chance to win up to one million dollars in cash to assist in their business ventures.

HBCUs are an integral part of our educational ecosystem and have long been centers of entrepreneurial excellence,” said Alison Stillman, general partner at Serena Ventures, in a press release. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Michael B. Jordan and MaC Ventures on highlighting the brilliant student and alumni founders”.

Participants will be able to submit investor decks and business proposals through Nov. 18 for the chance to be awarded up to $1 million in structured safe investments from both firms. To apply, visit: https://prucenter.com/legacy-classic-startup-pitch.

Both Jordan and Williams will be on hand to make the presentation to winners during the halftime of the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic Basketball Showcase Finals, on December 18 in New Jersey.

“Talent is ubiquitous but access to opportunity is not,” said MaC Venture Capital General Partner Michael Palank. “Two of our partners are HBCU alumni and we could not be more excited to uncover and support the amazing entrepreneurial talent we know is thriving at these universities.”

Executives from MaC Ventures, Serena Ventures, Invesco, Thirty Five Ventures, Harlem Capital Partners and Cake Ventures will all continue to advise the winning founders after the competition to ensure longtime success.

Dave Chappelle Hits Back at Controversy and Asks, ‘Am I Canceled or Not?’

Stacy Brown/NNPA Newswire

Comedian Dave Chappelle said he’s been disinvited to film festivals, and no company or studio will entertain his new documentary because of the fallout from his controversial Netflix special, “The Closer.”

And while he’s willing to meet with the transgender community and Netflix employees who voiced outrage over his act, Chappelle made it clear that he wouldn’t kowtow to anyone.
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me,” Chappelle said in a video released early Tuesday.

“I am not bending to anyone’s demands,” he insisted.Chappelle double-downed on his remarks from The Closer in which many in the LGBTQ community called homophobic. “I said what I said,” Chappelle declared.

He also clarified reports that he has sought meetings with transgender Netflix employees angered by his special.

“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix, and I refused. That is not true — if they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about,” Chappelle remarked in the viral video.

“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”

Chappelle also said he believed any controversy stemmed from corporate interests, and that he’s received support from the LGBTQ community.

Washington Informer Editor D. Kevin McNeir, who is openly gay, has said he didn’t have an issue with Chappelle’s remarks in The Closer.

“I listened closely to what he said and then listened to his explanation for the subjects he had chosen and his rationale for his perspectives. And he made sense. I understood. And I was not offended,” McNeir wrote in an op-ed for the Informer.

Chappelle admits that when he takes on a group of people, making them the focus of his jokes, that he’s also examining himself, seeking the similarities which he shares with the “targets” of his musings and working through the human process of better understanding those who walk along different paths, McNeir stated further.

 “I applaud him for that. And I thank him, too,” the editor wrote, noting that, as a “same-gender-loving man of color, I have often found myself being unfairly critical of the ‘T’ portion within the LGBTQ community.”

 “I cannot understand why those who make up the transgender community would go through so much pain and oppression because of how they feel inside. But I’ve had my own pain to address and hurdles to overcome. In addition, I’m still dealing with male privilege notions and my own prejudices. This is my truth and my cross to bear,” McNeir insisted.

In his video, Chappelle said he wants everyone to know that even though the media frames it as Chappelle versus the transgender and LGBTQ community, that’s not the case.

“Do not blame the LBGTQ [sic] community for any of this [mess]. This has nothing to do with them. 

“For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”

Chappelle also spoke about his upcoming documentary about his summer 2020 comedy tour, claiming that it has now been excluded from film festivals.

“This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States and some of those invitations I accepted. When this controversy came out about ‘The Closer,’ they began disinviting me from these film festivals,” Chappelle relayed.

“And now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”

In the video, Chappelle asked the audience: “Am I canceled or not?”

Newsom Signs ‘George Floyd Law’ 

Staff

The nation watched in horror the video of three police officers doing nothing to stop former Minneapolis police officer (now convicted felon) Derek Chauvin from snuffing the life out of George Floyd with a knee to his neck.

Thanks to Assemblyman Chris Holden’s police reform legislation, AB 26, such actions—or better put, inaction— will not be tolerated in California.

AB 26 establishes clear guidelines for police responsibility and accountability when witnessing excessive force by another member of law enforcement.

“Derek Chauvin was charged for killing of George Floyd, but justice for George Floyd doesn’t rest in Chauvin’s conviction alone – there were three additional officers simply stood by and watched him die,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “I thank Governor Newsom and everyone who supported AB 26 that will make it crystal clear in our state law what is a peace officer’s duty to intervene when witnessing excessive force.”

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 26, dubbed the ‘George Floyd’ Law.

To be clear, California law required police officers to intercede when observing another officer using force that is beyond that which is necessary, but there were no universal measures used to determine that am’s Policing Advisors released their recommendations which included legislation to “Require officers to intervene to prevent or stop other officers from engaging in excessive force, false arrest, or other inappropriate conduct.”

“Today’s signing is a big step forward for police responsibility and accountability. Instituting these core values are paramount to building public trust that has eroded between law enforcement and communities across California,” said Holden.n officer has in fact interceded. 

With AB 26, police officers would be required to intercede when witnessing excessive force —including physically stopping the excessive use of force, when in a position to do so —under updated guidelines and to report the incident in real time to dispatch or the watch commander. The officer’s due process will be protected as the employing agency would review evidence and determine if the offending officer met the standard for intervention. Retaliation against officers that report violations of law or regulation of another officer to a supervisor is prohibited.

Last year, Governor Newsom’s Policing Advisors released their recommendations which included legislation to “Require officers to intervene to prevent or stop other officers from engaging in excessive force, false arrest, or other inappropriate conduct.”

“Today’s signing is a big step forward for police responsibility and accountability. Instituting these core values are paramount to building public trust that has eroded between law enforcement and communities across California,” said Holden.

Black in School: Why Do CA Black Students Face Half a Billion Dollar School Funding Gap Amid Resurging Coronavirus?

Dr. Margaret Fortune — President/CEO of Fortune School

I cannot aptly describe just how complicated running a school has become in the era of COVID-19.  New categories of jobs have been created in schools just to contact trace, test, and track the escalation of the virus as it spreads.  The county health department gave our school a one-page “decision tree” last year to guide our response when we got a COVID case.  Now the document is literally called a “decision forest” and it’s three times as long.  

Quarantining people who become infected has an eerie effect in schools. A person who is at work today, can disappear tomorrow into quarantine leaving the function they once performed to go undone for ten days at a time because there is nobody to replace them. These staffing gaps impact the ability of schools to consistently provide the services we take for granted.  

The reality is before the pandemic 67 percent of Black kids in the Golden State could not read or write at grade level, while 79 percent were below state standards in mathematics and 86 percent in science. Our fight at Fortune School, to successfully educate children, particularly Black children is California’s fight.

However, there is a problem for Black kids going back to school in California. Our state funds public schools based on student demographics, giving more money to the schools that serve kids lawmakers say need more support.  Right now, 80,000 Black kids don’t qualify for extra support because they are not low-income, foster youth or English learners.  If they were, the schools that serve them would get $7,000 more per child.  That adds up to a $560 million funding gap for California’s Black students. 

We need a school funding formula that provides more support for all Black students because as a group, our children are in crisis. 

The California Democratic Party (CDP) Black Caucus is calling attention to these inequities in a special series of hearings called Black in School on the state of Black students in California public schools and powerful ways to improve the Black experience. The CDP Black Caucus is right to call for change.  

As a public school educator, I encourage parents and guardians of Black children to become partners with their schools. This must happen now more than ever. From understanding achievement and funding gaps, to learning how to advocate for your child, we need to be here for each other – teaching, learning, and lifting ourselves as we continue to navigate together in these unprecedented times. Support the CDP Black Caucus as they continue to fight for the rights of all Black students who attend public schools in California. Together we can create the systemic changes that are critical for our children’s futures.

For more information about the Black in School series, visit https://cdpblackcaucus.org/.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Margaret Fortune is the President/CEO of Fortune School, a system of nine, K-12 public charter schools with over 2,300 students focused on closing the Black achievement gap by preparing students for college.  She is a State Delegate on the California Democratic Party (CDP) State Central Committee where she also is an elected member of the Executive Board of the CDP Black Caucus. Fortune is Treasurer of National Action Network (NAN) Sacramento and has been an education advisor to two California Governors.  She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley and Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.


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