California Awards Ceremony Celebrates the Best of Ethnic Journalism

Jenny Manrique | Ethnic Media Services

Some 30 ethnic media journalists were honored for their coverage of the epic events of 2020 at a virtual California Ethnic Media Awards ceremony, which took place June 3.

Selected from 235 submissions from reporters working in print, digital, TV and radio (in eight languages), the winners were chosen by judges with language and cultural fluency who know the challenges of working in the sector.

“Ethnic media has quickly become an increasingly indispensable bridge for communicating with diverse populations within our state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the opening ceremony.

“You have worked against enormous odds to make sure our communities were informed about historic news events of the year. You are key to sustaining an inclusive communications infrastructure that knits our communities together when so many forces, as you know well, threaten to drive us apart,” the governor added.

The multilingual awards were sponsored by Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media. Each winner received $1000 in cash. Entries were submitted in nine categories: the 2020 census, the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on ethnic communities, the economic crisis that exacerbated racial and economic fault lines in California, the rights of immigrants, and the movement for racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd, exceptional reporting on the impact of climate change, the 2020 elections, commentary that serves as a call to action for ethnic audiences, and community media innovation and resilience to survive the pandemic.

“Thank you to all the journalists, reporters, editors, photographers and publishers who work long hours without recognition every day. You are committed to telling stories and covering underreported stories that we would otherwise never hear,” said Regina Brown Wilson, Executive Director of California Black Media.

In their acceptance speeches, the awardees recognized the support of their editors, publishers and families, as well as the challenges of covering ethnic communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, racist policies, and hate crimes.

“Words can be deadly, or they can be life affirming. While the idle intellectual elite strive to cancel culture, we are tasked with removing the knee out of the throat of truth and reaffirming and defining journalism in our own image,” said Rose Davis of Indian Voices, awarded for her landmark essay: “The Census and the Fourth Estate,” which advocates for the participation of Native Americans in the census despite centuries of being excluded.

Danny Morrison, winner in the category of English language broadcast TV for his analysis of the Black Lives Matter movement in Bakersfield said that “as an African American man in central California, I’ve always known that we have a lot of work to do regarding the inequities within our ethnicity. That is the reason why my team and I went to prisons, schools, churches, youth groups and more to speak to the underserved and the forgotten because we understand the struggle that in most cases we have lived through.”

 

Jorge Macias, awarded for his digital coverage of climate change for Univision, recalled how in the last four years, “we all suffered from the denial of climate change, and even in moments of terror in California with these devastating fires, the former president (Donald) Trump said that science didn’t know. This prize means a lot because as human beings we have to battle with that absurd view denying climate change.”

 

Hosts for the evening were Odette Alcazaren-Keeley and Pilar Marrero, both distinguished veterans of the ethnic media industry. Some 20 elected officials, community leaders, scholars and writers paid tribute to the sector in videotaped remarks. Sandip Roy, once a software engineer in Silicon Valley, now an award winning author and journalist in India, said if it weren’t for ethnic media giving him a platform, he wouldn’t be a writer today.

 

After presenting awards to Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese reporters for stories on issues impacting Black and Latinx communities, Alcazaren-Keeley announced a special judge’s award for cross-cultural reporting. The winner, Jeanne Ferris of News from Native California, documented how the destinies of two groups of people converged when Japanese Americans were incarcerated in World War II on reservation lands.

 

At the closing of the ceremony, Sandy Close, executive director of Ethnic Media Services, said the coming together of reporters from so many racial and ethnic groups to celebrate not just their own but each other’s work was the real takeaway for the night. “Ethnic media are like fingers on a hand,” she said, quoting

 

Chauncey Bailey, a veteran of Black media killed in 2007 for investigating wrongdoing in his own community. “When we work together, we’re a fist.”

Advocates to Gov. Newsom: Racial Disparities Are a Public Health Crisis

Bo Tefu | California Black Media

Some health advocates are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to treat health inequity in California as a public health crisis – one that is complicated by racism.

Their appeal to the governor comes as California state officials propose a $115 million investment in the state’s budget for the next fiscal year to address health disparities. If approved, some of the money would fund programs administered by community-based organizations.

“The biggest hardship that we’re facing right now is really getting the governor to support investments to community-based organizations to focus on health equity and racial justice interventions within healthcare,” said Ron Coleman, the managing director of policy for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN).

 

Coleman said the state needs to make new investments in public health that will remedy the social determinants that worsen health disparities in the healthcare system.

In the revised May budget, Newsom proposed a $115 million annual grant program for health equity and $200 million for local health infrastructure. He also included $15 million in funds to support underprivileged lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people.

Despite the plan to increase spending on leveling the playing field in health care, a dozen community-based organizations want Gov. Newsom to do more. In addition to CPENH, other organizations include the Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), Black Women for Wellness Action Project, California Black Health Network, California Black Women’s Health Project, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Public Health Advocates, Public Health Institute, Roots Community Health Center, and Roots of Change.

The leaders of these organizations are asking the state to expand support for health programs with funds from California’s budget surplus that are targeted to addressing health disparities that impact vulnerable populations, including low-income Black and Brown families.

In the May budget revisions, “There was absolutely no new investment in the budget for public health, whether it’s the infrastructure, workforce, health equity racial justice, or prevention,” said Coleman.

Coleman specified that the money Newsom is allotting for health equity should go to community-based organizations, particularly for racial justice interventions in the healthcare system.

“We need Governor Newsom to begin treating racism as a public health crisis and make the investments in the community that will help us reduce healthcare disparities and improve health outcomes,” said Coleman.

Gov. Newsom said that the state has partnered with multiple community-based organizations for public outreach and vaccine pop-up sites. The state has also collaborated with “influencers” to implement earned and paid media strategies to counter misinformation related to COVID-19.

“This has been a historic year advancing our collective goals and values. In real-time, we’ve been making historic investments in the budget process,” said Newsom.

The state’s partnerships are important in, “advancing to address real vaccine issues in the state,” he said.

The state has also expanded public messaging to local clinics in ethnic communities to encourage people to get vaccinated.

“We’ve been significantly increasing those efforts with community-based organizations in language outreach and more pop-up sites,” said Newsom.

The state also set up information sites and phone operations with people “answering those stubborn questions that people have about the safety and efficacy of our vaccine efforts,” he continued.

However, health advocates are wary about the efficacy of the state’s public health messaging campaigns as a means to reduce health disparities in ethnic communities that were the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coleman said that public health messaging is a promising start. But ethnic communities still need better access to health care.

“It’s great that they’re utilizing trusted messengers to disseminate information, but the state should actually be making an investment to support these organizations in helping to advance the improvements of health outcomes,” said Coleman.

Community-based organizations have been trusted messengers for the government through the pandemic. Although COVID-19 exposed health inequity, health disparities existed in ethnic communities prior to the pandemic.

A public proposal to the governor health advocates from a dozen community-based organizations stated that receiving government funds is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can dismantle structural racism in California’s healthcare system.

Health advocates stressed that social determinants are major contributors to health disparities that widen the gap of inequality in healthcare. The advocates encouraged the state to prioritize social determinants including, food and housing security, childcare, and environmental justice, as defined by the California Department of Public Health.

According to the recommendations provided by the dozen organizations, the state should implement innovative approaches to achieving health inequity. They include:

1. Partnerships between cities and community advocates to develop community participatory budgeting processes.

2. Disaggregation of data on race/ethnicity to better understand variation in health risks and outcomes.

3. Creating and cultivating racial justice training for government leaders and policy makers so that decisions and program implementation reflect community priorities and advance racial equity.

The recommendations proposed by leaders of the dozen organizations, aim to secure adequate funding for initiatives led by community-based organizations, local clinics, and tribal organizations. The leaders say they plan to use the funds to implement, monitor, and evaluate programs that promote racial justice and health.

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

Culver City Middle School Launches “Just Say Hello Week”

Week-Long Effort Launched to Help Bridge Racial Divisions & Bringing Students Together

Culver City Middle School launched their successful “Just Say Hello Week” during the week of May 24 to bridge racial divisions, explore our differences, and bring students together. The week-long effort at the Culver City Middle School campus was designed to encourage students to speak to, play with, and hang out with students who don’t look like them. 

The Just Say Hello campaign coincided with the celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Month on campus. Teachers and students wore “Just Say Hello” t-shirts, handed out “Just Say Hello” masks and stickers to students as they arrived on campus in the morning. In addition, the students chalked “Just Say Hello” messages in multiple languages on the Culver City Middle School campus. 

“Seeing students actively participate in the “Just Say Hello” initiative is exactly what we want this campaign to do,” said Kerman Maddox, founder of Just Say Hello. “These young people can lead the way towards a future where we can better communicate our differences and bridge divisions.” 

T-Shirts, masks, and stickers are available at the Just Say Hello webstore at www.justsayhello.org with profits supporting the non-profit organization. The program is supported by major funding from both corporate and private sponsors including Amazon, USC, Jamie Montgomery, and Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas. Just Say Hello is also endorsed by Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). 

“Just Say Hello” is a campaign for small gestures with a big message: Say hello to somebody who doesn’t look like you. The campaign is inspired in part by the overwhelming movement to bridge the racial divide after the murder of George Floyd and countless others before him. For more information, visit www.JustSayHello.org 

Getting Back to Church (& What Church Will Look Like Post-Pandemic)

Lisa Collins

A week before their May 23 service—marking Greater Zion Church Family’s first return to in-person worship in more than a year—Pastor Michael J.T. Fisher released 150 tickets (representing the church’s newly configured, socially distanced seating plan) on Eventbrite. Within an hour, 150 tickets had been snapped up and 30 requests for additional tickets were placed in a waiting queue and eventually accommodated. 

“I was good with that,” said Fisher. “But you’re talking to someone who normally saw 1200 people on a Sunday morning” 

And while 180 was a far cry from the 1000-plus members Greater Zion averaged in the four Sunday services he regularly managed before the pandemic, it confirmed for Fisher that his members were ready to get back to church. 

All across the city, county, state and nation, churches are gearing up for a return to physical worship services after being shuttered in March of 2020 by a pandemic that killed nearly 600,000 people in the United States, including a host of both local and well-known faith leaders while becoming the third leading cause of death. 

Some churches have already re-opened their doors. Most are gearing up for a return sometime this summer. Many like megachurch pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes are re-opening in phases, while three of L.A.’s largest megachurches—West Angeles COGIC, City of Refuge and Faithful Central Bible Church—have set July 4th for their coordinated re-entrance. 

It is the culmination of a year that has irrevocably changed the way churches operate. The question is just how quickly parishioners will feel safe enough to return and what will the church look like post-pandemic. 

“Those humongous numbers we saw pre-pandemic, it’s going to be a long while before we see them again in one setting and the days of long Pentecostal slain in the spirit services is going to be for a very small few and forget about in person mid-week services,” Fisher observed. “Before, churches would sometimes have up to three services or as many as five services on a Sunday—even smaller churches might have two services, now it’s like one service—shortened to 60- 70 minutes.” 

From shorter and less frequent in person worship services to less live music, more innovative ways of gathering and accelerated social media platforms, going to church post pandemic will hardly be business as usual. Evening services are going to be more scarce, mid-week services—for the most part—will be online and people will be able to join a church electronically without walking down the aisles. 

“A third of our churches are back,” said Rev. E. Wayne Gaddis, senior pastor of the Greater St. Augustine Missionary Baptist Church and president of the 225-church strong California Missionary Baptist State Convention, Inc. “The rest will be back between now and our annual session in October. 

“We have a lot of churches with quite a few seniors who are not ready to come back. They want to see if there is going to be another spike.” 

To that end when Gaddis does open his church in July, he will place speakers in the parking lot for those seniors who prefer to listen to services from inside their parked cars feet away from the sanctuary. 

“I don’t believe it will ever be the same,” Gaddis continues. “We are going to cut the fat. It’s going to be a more streamline presentation with our services being cut anywhere from 30 -45 minutes every Sunday. People will see that a lot that we did before was unnecessary–the announcements, presentations. Even with the offering, you can place it on your way in and on your way out. We are going to allow room for the Holy Spirit, but a lot of stuff we are were doing was not led by the Holy Spirit. 

“I do not believe that God wants us to go back into our churches the same, but I do believe in being in church,” Gaddis continues. “I believe virtual had its time and place, now I believe it is time to get back to the unity of fellowship. I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the House of the Lord.” 

A very small number of churches Gaddis’ oversees will not be coming back and have permanently shuttered, but such instances, for the most part, have been scarce. 

Both Pastor K.W. Tulloss, who leads the Baptist Minister’s Fellowship of Southern California and Pastor Welton Pleasant, who presides over the 300-member strong, California State Baptist Convention, say that none of their churches have been permanently closed. 

“Many of the small churches,” said Pleasant, “were still able to meet. I was out of the building for 59 Sundays and my church never missed a beat. COVID has made the building virtually obsolete. We always said that the building is not the church, the people are the church and COVID proved it. 

“Personally, I believe Sunday morning in person worship is the only thing we will be doing in the building,” Pleasant continued. “I don’t see us going back during the week for Bible studies, church meetings and auxiliary boards. All of that now can be done on zoom.” 

It is one of the first major changes expressed by a majority of churches. 

“For my congregation, we will always have a zoom Bible study and a virtual option,” said Pastor Eddie Anderson of McCarty Memorial Christian Church. “Being in person on a Tuesday or Wednesday night is not most important as it is just being together in community and that means it more people can join virtually.” 

“This is going to be our new normal,” said Tulloss. “People will gradually come into God’s house as they feel safe, because a lot of people still don’t feel safe. At least 50% of my membership—mostly those 40 and up— have been vaccinated, but some of our younger members remain hesitant.” 

Who is and who isn’t vaccinated is a concern that’s personal for many. 

“Unless we don’t leave our house at all, that’s the world we’re living in,” said Pastor Nissan Stewart of the Lynwood-based, Greater Emmanuel Temple Church. “It’s tough but we have to take precautions. I’m an advocate for the vaccine, but a lot of people aren’t. I’ve taken the vaccine. My wife hasn’t, and for me, losing the churches lead deacon at 46, it’s personal, because we don’t want anyone else to die.” 

Those like Stewart–who has hosted pop up vaccine clinics–are not even sure about asking.
“I’m trying to see is it okay to see who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t and I’m following the lead of the county and the state for which way to go.” 

Antioch of Long Beach pastor Wayne Chaney’s June 27 launch is part grand opening and part re-opening. 

“This is not a return for us,” Chaney said. “It’s going into a place we’ve never been. COVID hit one month before the grand opening of our facility and we wanted to make sure our celebration was impactful.” 

Chaney and his staff conducted a survey of their thriving 1,000+ membership–the largest group of which is millennials– to see how parishioners felt about coming back. 

“We found that 80% are comfortable with coming back to worship. 70% are vaccinated. 15% are in the process of being vaccinated. Still, most of them would like some level of precaution. And while the vaccinated people have not expressed any challenge being around unvaccinated people, we have a section in our balcony that is socially distanced with a separate entrance. 

“While we know gathering is significant and Biblical,” Chaney adds, “we’re processing through inviting people who’ve been out of church for a year and a half and reframing or revisiting their theology around in-person gathering is going to be important. Broadcast never replaced the in-person worship. It’s intangible. We’re just going to have to put a little more effort into the why.” 

“Your message,” says Pleasant, “has to be substantive. 

“People have become more intentional about the time they’re spending in church,” he explained. “They want to leave learning something. The pandemic–especially with all the racial upheaval and the election– made people start thinking and asking questions.” 

McCarty Memorial Christian Church Pastor Edward Anderson agrees. 

“Some of what has drawn people to church has been superficial. COVID has taken that away. 

Church can no longer be a show or about the music. People are no longer coming because they have a legacy in the church. 

“What brings people in the door has changed. Now, you have to actually have a real sense of not only community, but something they can’t get anywhere else that’s unique to their experience. 

“That may mean how are you engaging with community in a different way —helping people find recovery— be it healthcare, justice or financial, in light of the fact that people have lost so much during the pandemic. So, part of coming back to church is going to be the church serving as that safety net for folk on a wider scale.” 

Of course, the biggest change in church ministry is the pivoting of the church to a hybrid model that is both online and in-person Sunday worship. 

“The church has always been behind the times,” Pleasant states. “COVID put the church where it needed to be. I have a saying, if your church is not dot com, it’s dot dead. Pre-COVID, many senior pastors were resist- ant to tech and social media, but they embraced it because they understood that without it, they wouldn’t have a church. 

“Many of our seniors were not tech literate,” he notes. “We brought in a media person, showed them how to use a smart phone, and in some cases brought them computers. Now, we are reaching more people via social media. We were all challenged getting the millennials and Gen z throughout the week, now they are able to participate.” 

While it is different for every ministry, most churches have enjoyed a greater reach through their online broadcasts. 

Said Tulloss, “We’ve invested quite a bit in our online ministry, and it has literally broadened our ministry beyond California. The BMC [Baptist Minister’s Conference] has focused in on pastors being prepared and understanding the guidelines. I was very surprised at how quickly many of our churches pivoted online.” 

Two terms have come to define an emerging trend in what is this new era of ministry–electronic evangelism and digital discipleship. 

“Those things are going to be key,” said Stewart. “Every church has the obligation to create and put intention into that online space. It’s just as equivalent as if you have a building, how you must cut the grass and clean the bathrooms. 

“To me, being a musician and in the entertainment field, it’s an easier transition,” said the pastor who is also a renowned drummer and gospel artist who has served as a musical director to the likes of Jamie Foxx. “It’s getting used to it and learning to be better.” 

What’s more, most churches that transitioned to online found their parishioners to be financially supportive, which alleviated a critical concern for the viability of churches. 

“People found that they could experience church by themselves,” adds Fisher, “but there’s nothing like experiencing church with a community. Greater Zion came back with a stronger appreciation for community and worshipping together. 

“The other thing that has changed is now that people have been used to watching online and having a different schedule on Sundays, they’re not going to want to alter that every Sunday to come to church. Pastors also now get to spend time at home with their families. This new schedule will prevent burnout.

“How the church evangelizes moving forward is how they supply the community with resources,” Fisher maintains. “That is what kept a lot of churches alive. The church that during the pandemic fed and clothed people, and provided other social services and or resources. They are the ones that remained relevant. 

“So, it’s not just Sunday Morning service that’s going to draw people to your church. It’s going to be all the above–are you involved in the culture, social justice, how are you responding to the economic needs of your community. To that end, it’s not just about counting your congregants, it’s about counting your constituents. So, you’re pastoring not only the people who come to church on Sunday but the people you fed all week long even if you never see them. 

“It’s not so much about the megachurch, it’s about mega reach. How many people can you reach versus how many people can you seat.” 

Two challenges remain. The challenge for most will be creating opportunities for intimacy and fellowship. 

“To be sure, there is no substitute for the intimacy of fellowship and the touching of people,” Pleasant affirms. “Every first Sunday I have fellowship with the pastor online. It’s a social conversation for an hour and a half where we just converse and my members get to ask me whatever they want, and it’s hilarious.” 

 

At McCarty Memorial, Anderson is hosting an outside workout class that will double as a worship service for those who can’t come to church on a Sunday or on zoom. 

“We will always be more cognizant of both audiences,” Anderson reports. “Before it was more focused on taking care of the folks who were in the room. But now, our church services have been rearranged to make sure that folks who are virtual and may never return to church, remain engaged. Or members who have joined from other states–making sure that there is a way for them to connect with the church is going to be a part of how church is done moving forward.” 

The biggest challenge remains how to disciple those you can now reach and for Faithful Central, that virtual reach has granted them an audience in upwards of 30 countries including South Africa, Canada and parts of Europe. 

“I’m reaching people in London, in Europe. Those peo- ple will never come to 333 W. Florence,” says Senior Pastor, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer. “The challenge is how do we continue to do ministry and turn those viewers into disciples. No one knows how to do that digitally, because it hasn’t been done. Especially when our model for 2000 years has been gathering and what we do know is that the old model by definition, cannot work, because the old model focused in on people coming into a building.” 

As they venture into that unchartered territory, churches are doing the best they can to make the best of both worlds 

“We have our online platforms and on Sundays we’re back in church,” states Tulloss. “We’re going to continue in our singing while understanding that we can’t control the shouting. There will however be no high fives to your neighbor and the fellowship might be limited after service as people remain very aware that we are still living in the midst of a pandemic.”

Emma Sharif Holds On To Narrow Lead in Compton Mayoral Race

Keith DeLawder

As the results of Compton’s June 1st’s general election continue to be counted, Compton City Councilwoman Emma Sharif has managed to hold on to a narrow lead in her bid to become the city’s next mayor. So far, the 70-year- old Sharif has received 51.31% of the vote against her opponent, the 26-year-old real estate agent Christian Reynaga’s who appears to be closing the gap with 48.69%.  As the results of Compton’s General Municipal Election are expected to be certified on June 14th, Sharif is still waiting to declare victory while remaining cautiously optimistic. 

“Although I am not ready to claim victory, I am extremely proud of our lead after the initial votes have been counted,” Sharif said in a statement. “We will wait for updates from the County Registrar after the vast majority of votes are counted. I am thankful that our message resonated with the voters of Compton and they believed in our vision to create a better quality of life for all residents. I look forward to working with the City Council, staff and community to unify our city and serve all of the residents of Compton once elected. Lastly, thank you to all those who supported me throughout the campaign.” 

In January when the popular incumbent mayor Aja Brown– who at the age of 31 became Compton’s youngest mayor- – announced that she will not run for a third term, the people of Compton had to decide who was right to lead the city out of the pandemic. Despite Christian Reynaga receiving Mayor Brown’s endorsement, a strong showing in the primaries, and vying to become the first Latino mayor in a city that is about 68% Latino, voters so far have favored Sharif’s years of experience. 

Sharif, who has represented Compton’s 4th District on the City Council since 2015 has built her platform on the five key areas of tackling home- lessness, finishing street repairs, eco- nomic development through new business, increasing funding to expand senior citizen programs and increasing public safety by improving the city’s relationship with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

“To me this is a new beginning for this city and this community,” Sharif tells L.A. Focus. “We have a lot of things that we’re looking to accomplish but we need to start with our street repair program, and we also need to address the homeless population in our community, so we are working on and moving forward with our efforts there.” 

If elected, Sharif will be focusing her efforts on projects that will improve the quality of life for residents of Compton while making it attractive for businesses that will spur economic development. 

“We want to get a lot of the things done that the community has been asking for a while now, things like keeping the trees maintained,” says Sharif. “We will be continuing with economic development plans so that people still want to come to our city, and to make sure we’re cleaning up our city. If we focus on cleaning up our city, people will come, businesses will come, and people will move here. We will stay focused on building relationships here so that we can keep crime down in our city and make sure our community is safe.” 

A Compton resident for over 20 years, Sharif raised her children in the city working as a public school teacher and Youth Development Director. As a result of her passion and advocacy for her students Sharif was appointed to the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) in 2001 and would go on to serve as Trustee of the CUSD Board of Directors for fourteen years before joining the City Council in 2015. 

When asked what motivates her to continue serving the people of Compton in the city’s highest seat, her answer is simple. 

“I don’t have any hidden agendas, I’m just here to be of service to the people,” says Sharif. “When I see that I’ve done something to really help this community, that’s what gives me motivation and hope that we can make positive change. And when people see things getting done, that gives everyone hope.”

Dominique Di Prima Exits KJLH for Tavis Smiley’s New Talk Radio Station

Staff

On June 19, Tavis Smiley is set to launch KBLA Talk 1580, L.A.’s first and only “Unapologetically Progressive” Black owned and operated, talk radio station in Southern California. But Smiley won’t be the only one making history.

Dominique DiPrima, long time host of KJLH’s highly popular Front Page, will also make history as the first black woman to host a morning drive talk radio show. The three-hour long show, dubbed First Things First, will air from 6am to 9am weekdays and tackle issues of interest and urgency in the African American community.

“There’s not been a black talk radio station in la and there’s never been a black woman with her own morning drive talk radio show in Los Angeles as far as commercial radio and I’m really excited to be the first one to do it,” said DiPrima.

 

“We all want the opportunity to grow and expand and make history and I think what Tavis is doing with KBLA is historical,” she continues. “When you think about Los Angeles being such a catalyst for change —whether it’s the Watts Uprising or the ‘92 civil unrest or the Black Lives Matter Movement—we are an epicenter of change and black voices and we’ve never had a talk radio station, that’s significant.”

For many of those longtime fans of DiPrima’s work with KJLH’s popular early morning one hour talker, the move is an answer to their prayers.

“For years, they’ve been asking ‘Can you be on later’ or ‘can you have a longer show?’ I would have to explain to them that KJLH is a music station”, said the New York native. “Stevie has dedicated it to the community so it feels like so much more than that, but it is a music format. So, this [opportunity] allows me to do something they’ve been asking me for years.”

Not surprisingly, saying goodbye was hard to do, for Di Prima, who has been at KJLH for 16 years.

“I love Stevie,” declares the five-time Emmy Award winning talk show host. “[He’s] one of the only celebrities I’ve ever met that lives up to his legend. KJLH is like a family. It’s been such a great opportunity.” 

She knows all too well the risk of startups in a city like Los Angeles.

“If it were easy for black people to own radio and television stations, a lot more of us would”, DiPrima says. “L.A. is very particular. These streets know who you are and you’re going to get credential checks whether you know it or not. But Tavis has a long history of educating and uplifting. He has a high standard in terms of the quality of what he does and I think he has an amazing track record.” 

And as DiPrima sees it, the timing couldn’t be better. 

“We’re in the middle of a global reckoning around diversity, equity inclusion, black life, anti-racism”, she observes. ”I feel like this is the moment for it.”

As to what DiPrima brings to the table?

“I think that God has blessed me with the ability to talk to anybody and I like talking to anybody. I like finding out what their story is. I like laughing with them, arguing with them…trying to change their minds.” 

Following DiPrima weekdays will be Tavis Smiley who will be back on the air after a four-year absence. The station lineup will also include Comic and political commentary host DL Hughley, the the season three  winner  of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” Alonzo  Bodden, former radio DJ Don Amiche and Black Lives Matter Melinda Abdullah.

Taraji P. Henson Launches Mental Health Campaign to Help Black Students Recognize & Address Mental Health Trauma

Chez Hadley

Last month, actress/mental health activist Taraji P. Henson expanded her mission to change the perception of mental illness in the Black community—and encourage those who suffer anxiety and mental health trauma— with the launch of its latest initiative, The Unspoken Curriculum.

The six-week program, designed to shape how Black youth view themselves, addresses racial bias in the classroom and other negative experiences that become part of those life experiences that weren’t part of the lesson plan, but have handicapped Black children.

“There’s implicit bias in the education system that clearly disadvantages Black students,” Henson posted of the program that is part of Boris L. Henson Foundation, which she established in 2018 in the name of her late father.

“The systemic bias they experience in schools (including cultural insensitivity, disproportionally harsh punishment, lowered teacher expectations, diminished resources) has the cumulative effect of reducing their enthusiasm, academic motivation, and overall mental health.

According to the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Black students make up 16% of enrolled students, but account for 27% of identified suspects to law enforcement; 31% of arrests and 48% of one or more school suspensions.

Henson says she’s still affected by things that were done to her and biases that happened to her when she was in school.  She believes the Unspoken Curriculum will advocate for meaningful change in the classroom by rethinking and reforming the lessons Black students learn in school and inspiring youth to feel confident and empowered to talk about their personal experiences publicly in the classroom and privately with mental health experts, while also seeking additional support when they need it.

“We’re in a state of emergency right now,” says Henson of the program inspired by the pandemic’s impact on Black communities coupled with racial injustice protests following the killing of George Floyd and other high profile incidents of police abuse.

For more information about The Unspoken Curriculum or to get a copy of The Unspoken Curriculum Disscussion Guide, visit https://borislhensonfoundation.org/unspoken.

Domestic Violence Groups Praise Gov’s Budget, But Ask for More Funding

Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media

Domestic violence (DV) advocates in California are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for allocating $100 million in the 2021-22 budget May revision to support crime victims. But they say the money is not enough to meet new DV-specific demands brought on, in part, by the COVID-19 crisis.

Victim services providers, including DV shelters and rape crisis centers, faced an influx of survivors seeking services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past few years, they’ve also received reduced funding from the federal Victims of 

Crime Act (VOCA), with continued cuts expected in the future.

 

The funding Advocacy organizations ValorUS (formerly the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault) and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV) have released a statement commending Newsom for the funding, without which, they say, services providers would have faced significant cuts beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2022-2023. However, they are also calling on Newsom to expand the funding to include $315 million for services that support victims and $15 million in ongoing prevention funding for sexual and domestic violence.

Victim services funding goes toward essential services for victims of violent crime, including legal assistance, housing and homelessness responses, child abuse programs and programs dedicated to traditionally underserved communities. There has been an increased demand for these services since the pandemic began, with more than three in five DV organizations globally reporting an increase in demand for services in a March 2021 report released by the NO MORE foundation, a national DV resource center.

San Francisco-based Community United Against Violence (CUAV) faced an increased demand for services while working under social-distancing restrictions during the past year. CUAV provides direct services, including advocacy-based counseling, direct cash assistance and temporary housing for survivors in emergency situations. CUAV primarily serves LGBTQ+ people of color who are survivors of intimate partner violence, hate violence and police violence. The nonprofit also supports community organizing in the Bay Area, advocating for transformative justice and alternatives to policing.

Dominique Cowling, Healing Justice Program Manager at CUAV, says the proposed $315 million in funding would help expand the services that CUAV is able to provide.

“It would be incredibly helpful for providing more of the domestic-violence specific work and education that we do, not only with our survivors but in our community trainings, too,” she said.

When we go out and do outreach for our partner agencies, we can really have more staff members that are providing that education,” Cowling continued. “I can also imagine really being able to support folks that are in crisis, and that are experiencing housing [and] financial instability. There are so many things that would be really helpful for this additional funding.”

The Los Angeles-based Jenesse Center offers career services along with housing assistance, which Donna Derden, Chief operating Officer, says is necessary for a holistic approach to victim services that ensures long term stability for crime survivors.

“We do all of the workforce development to guarantee long term success. We don’t want them to have to return to the shelter because they ran out of money, they didn’t know how to pay their rent on time, they didn’t know how to do whatever, and they went back to the abuser. And, then, a year later, they’re coming back to us for more help. Addressing all those issues ensures long term stability and success for the clients,” says Derden.

The specific amounts in the funding requests are based off previous state spending.

 

For the $315 million the groups are requesting for victims services funding, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) had previously projected that amount as the number needed to provide stability over three years. According to John Finley, Policy Manager at ValorUS, the $15 million prevention funding requested from the governor is based on the state’s previous investments in that area.

California had previously allocated $10 million in one-time DV-related funding in fiscal year 2018, and $5 million in fiscal year 2019.

According to Finley, the amount proposed by ValorUS and CPEDV would stave off cuts until fiscal year 25-26. With just the $100 million proposed, Cal OES

projects that victim services providers would face funding cuts starting in fiscal years 2023 or 2024.

If the projected victim services funding cuts take effect, then vital services and agencies for people affected by a wide array of crimes — including domestic and sexual abuse, child abuse and hate crimes — would face cuts.

 

This would disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities. According to a 2017 survey the Alliance for Safety and Justice conducted, people of color are 15 % more likely to become victims of crime.

Finley also points out that the proposal for increased victim services funding also comes at a time when California is estimating that it has a $75.7 billion dollar surplus, which Newsom announced alongside his proposed expansion of the Golden State Stimulus, part of the California Comeback Plan.

“Seeing that decline [in funding] even while we have an enormous state surplus, that is a bit concerning. I would go so far as to say, if we weren’t able to intervene significantly to any cuts to victim services, it would be totally indefensible for us to have this much money and then be cutting the services we provide to victims of violent crime,” said Finley.

Cal Budget, Policy Experts Suggest Revisions to Gov’s 2021 Budget

Bo Tefu | California Black Media

It’s still a long road ahead to economic recovery for the state of California following massive job loss and facing the looming possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic worsening due to variant strains and vaccine hesitancy, say California policymakers and budget experts.

“While the state continues to respond to the pandemic, using tools designed for a budget crisis to support state spending at this time is shortsighted and inadvisable,” said analysts at the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

“The state will need these tools to respond to future challenges when federal assistance may not be as significant,” the analysts said in a report on the budget revisions.

Number crunchers at the California LAO warn state officials that California may struggle to recover from future economic recessions due to an extreme loss in revenues. The state previously avoided cuts to safety net programs in recent years because it took steps in anticipation of a budget crisis. The state’s track record of responsible budgeting before the COVID-19 pandemic helped create the fiscal surplus it now enjoys in its reserves, they say.

“We urge the Legislature not to take a step back from its track record of prudent budget management,” said California LAO analysts.

According to a report by the California Budget and Policy Center, the revised $267.8 billion May budget proposal exceeds the revenues projected for the new fiscal year. Policymakers estimated that the state’s general fund budget is more than $40 billion higher than the January budget prior to the May revisions. The sources of revenue for the general fund include $38 billion in personal income tax and over $8 billion in both sales and corporation tax.

The Budget Center’s report also indicates that the revised budget will exceed the state’s constitutional spending limit. The Gann Limit restricts the amount of money that California’s local governments, including school districts, can spend. The administration projects that the state will exceed the legal limit by $16 billion over the next two fiscal years.

Currently, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes that the legislature reduces — but not eliminates — the impact of the spending limit to accommodate the recent budget revisions.

“State leaders should explore the available options to change the Gann limit, including the revision proposed by the governor,” said Budget Center policymakers.

“Doing so would provide policymakers with greater flexibility to address the challenges 

facing Californians,” the experts said.

 

The LAO also backed claims that the state has limited capacity for new spending and oversight. According to a report by the LAO, some of the funds for new programs can take longer than anticipated due to the limited funds from the state surplus and federal government. Departments will also have difficulty overseeing new spending in a timely and effective manner due to limited funds.

Analysts recommended that the state withholds some decisions due to the time constraint of the budget process and the limited capacity of the administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendations aim to give the legislature more time to develop a detailed plan to implement effective spending practices.

“The Legislature could wait to allocate the federal fiscal relief funds until more is known about what supports and services are needed as more Californians return to work, federal relief winds down, and the pandemic ebbs,” said LAO analysts.

According to an LAO report, analysts provided a list of recommendations to ensure the effective planning and oversight of the new budget revisions.

· Make Funding Contingent on Subsequent Legislation

· Allocate Funding Over Multiple Years

· Include Reporting Requirements Before Releasing Funds

· Delay Implementation

· Make Funding Contingent on Legislative Notification

According to the report by the Budget Center, the leisure and hospitality industry will take a long time to recover most of the jobs lost, seeing that it experienced a critical financial blow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysts predict that the industry will take more than three years to gain financial stability and replace the majority of its workers.

As a consequence of the jobs lost, analysts highlighted that the budget revisions fail to maintain payment rates for workers who need paid time off for their own health or that of a family member beyond 2021.

There has also been a decrease in contributions to the state’s Disability Insurance Fund. In previous years, the state increased taxes to mitigate the loss of funds. However, the recent economic recession restricts the state’s ability to increase taxes for the people of California. Californians.

The report indicated that the state could avoid increasing state and federal taxes to provide a one-time payment into the disability fund, but that was not included in the new budget revisions. However, Gov. Newsom proposed that the state deposit over $1 billion in federal relief funds into the Unemployment Insurance trust fund in order to relieve employers of their obligation in the future.

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

Most Blacks Locked Out of Market as California Median Home Cost Soars Past $800,000

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

The California Association of Realtors (CAR), the California Building Industry Association (CBIA), and Habitat for Humanity California have joined together to urge lawmakers to make additional investments in this year’s state budget to encourage developers to build more homes across California.

This is the only way, they insist, to solve two of the state’s most stubborn problems: a critical housing shortage and a general lack of affordable housing.

Those three organizations, along with a coalition of homebuilders, racial justice activists and homeownership advocates, are also calling for investments in the budget to address the racial gap in homeownership by increasing the housing supply at every income level.

Black and Latinx households are priced out of the market disproportionately, a CAR. representative said. The median sales price of a home in California surged past a record $813,980 in April, and housing production stalled for the second consecutive year in 2020.

“California desperately needs more housing to meet the needs of diverse middle-class and low-income Californians,” Dave Walsh, president of CAR, said during a virtual news conference on May 20. “With a historic budget surplus, now is the time to address the racial divide in homeownership and fix California’s severe housing shortage.”

As home prices in California continue to set record highs, and only one in four Californians able to afford a home priced at the median cost, investments in new housing supply would address severe disparities in homeownership and reverse decades of exclusionary housing policies, CBIA, CAR., and Habitat for Humanity California said in a joint statement.

In February, CAR reported that housing affordability for the average Black household in California is 50% worse than that of their White counterparts. Less than one in five Black California households were able to buy a $659,380 median-priced home in 2020.

“To achieve the housing we need, our state must make the investment in creating housing opportunities for working Californians to access all forms of stable homeownership,” said Michael Gunning, Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs for CBIA. “To close the racial homeownership divide, we must address segregation caused by explicit, historic government policies at the local, state, and federal level.”

That figure is compared to two in five White households in the state who could buy the same dwelling. A minimum annual income of $122,800 was required to make a monthly payment of over $3,000 on a fixed-rate mortgage.

Homeownership is a key element to building generational wealth and it helps to stabilize communities. Homeownership rates are at their lowest in California since the 1940s. Black and Latinx households are twice as likely to rent properties as White Californians.

CBIA, CAR, and Habitat for Humanity California say that the record state budget surplus this fiscal year creates a historic opportunity to address California’s housing crisis and invest in more housing inventory across the state.

Of the $9.3 billion allocated to housing in Gov. Newsom’s proposed May Revise budget, only $725 million, or less than 8%, goes toward expanding homeownership opportunities with programs such as down payment assistance, CAR points out.

“It is time for California to lead through action in Sacramento to address these painful truths about past housing policies and create a new housing future that works for everyone,” Gunning said. “That can start with the budget investments we’re calling for today.”

The groups are requesting for additional budget investments in a number of areas that would create opportunities to expand the housing inventory in the state, including matching grants and tax credits to complement those proposed by the Biden Administration; tax credits for first-time and low and moderate-income buyers; and incentives to increase construction.

“This is about the future of our state. This is about keeping more Californians from being cost-burdened and falling into homelessness,” Walsh said. “It’s about creating true housing equity for all Californians. Let’s come together to prioritize more ownership housing — it’s the right thing to do to ensure the American dream of homeownership doesn’t slip away for Californians who call the Golden State home.”


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