|The new school year is upon us. For LAUSD parents, August 15th is the day kids head back into the classroom for the start of another academic year. While parents spend the next two weeks making sure their children have all the school supplies they need to succeed, it’s just as important to make sure they are mentality, emotionally and physically prepared for the rigors of academia and daily life.
Back to School is starting earlier than in years past. You may ask yourself, why? Well, in April of this year, the LAUSD Board of Education voted to lengthen the 2022-23 academic year in an effort to make up for lost in-person instructional time due to the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board approved a new calendar that will see the school year start on August 15th 2022, and end on June 15th, 2023. Four instructional days will be targeted for students that need to catch up. To view the entire LAUSD Calendar, click here.
Updated LAUSD COVID-19 Testing Protocols
Students also will no longer be required to update their health and testing status on the district’s Daily Pass system to access campuses each day. The system will remain to allow students to upload the results of “response testing” or vaccination records. The system will also be used to notify close contacts of a person who has tested positive. To read more about the COVID protocol updates, click here.
Student and Family Wellness Hotline
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Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
School Supply Resources
Voters to decide whether LA hotels should house the homeless
|August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month, which focuses attention on the need for minority blood and organ donors. The focus of the awareness campaign is to increase participation in donor programs in order to save lives. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, communities of color have much higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, all of which increase the risk for kidney disease. Black Americans are almost four times more likely, and Latino Americans are 1.3 times more likely, to have kidney failure compared to White Americans. Despite the higher risk, data shows Black and Latino patients on dialysis are less likely to be placed on the transplant waitlist and have a lower likelihood of transplantation.
As of 2021, the organ with the most patients waiting for transplants in the U.S. was kidneys, followed by livers. Over 100 thousand patients were in need of a kidney at that time. Within the African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, and Pacific Islander-American communities, the need for transplants becomes even more dire. Minorities make up 57% of those on the organ waiting list. Due to chronic conditions, minority patients see an increased need for transplants affecting the heart, kidney, pancreas, and liver.
It is important to note that organ donation is not based on race or ethnicity. Anyone can donate because all organs can save a life. And while the race of blood donors and blood recipients typically do not matter as long as their blood types are compatible, individuals who are Black (including African American or other individuals of African descent) can have unique needs.
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Living donation does not change life expectancy and does not appear to increase the risk of kidney failure. In general, most people with a single normal kidney have few or no problems. Help us spread the word about the importance of minority blood and organ donation.
If you’re a donor or a recipient, share your success story to encourage others to become donors.
L.A. Metro’s Transportation Project To Add 5.5 mile Bike Trail
|Earlier this week city and county leaders gathered for the groundbreaking of L.A. Metro’s Rail to Rail Active Transportation Project, which will transform an unused freight rail corridor into a 5.5-mile bicycle and pedestrian path that connects cyclists and walkers to Metro’s A (Blue) Line Slauson Station, the Silver Line rapid bus station at the 110 Freeway and Slauson Avenue, and the future Fairview Heights station on the K (Crenshaw/LAX) Line. This project will create car-free mobility options, connecting Inglewood and the communities of Hyde Park, Chesterfield Square, Harvard Park, Vermont-Slauson, South Park and Central-Alameda in South Los Angeles.
Rail to Rail comes at an important time. As South Los Angeles recovers from the impacts of the pandemic, the importance of building equitable access to public transit and the essential role of mobility in the lives of people of color has been magnified. Metro officials said that the latest data from the 2020 Census notes that this segment of South Los Angeles has some of the county’s highest percentages of people who rely on transit, biking and walking to commute, with 19% of households in the area unable to access a car.
Lack of infrastructure investments in South Los Angeles has been a barrier for countless low-income workers to accessing jobs, training and other services such as childcare. “Decades of work are made real as we invest and transform these old rail tracks into a corridor that the Slauson community can be proud of,” said Metro Board Member and LA County Board Supervisor, representing South Los Angeles, Holly Mitchell. “We are focused on strategies to ensure these investments help lift our most vulnerable communities and preserve the fabric of communities who live here today.”
The $143 million project received funding from multiple sources, including a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, state Transportation Development Act funds, funds from L.A. Metro’s 2008 Measure R sales tax and a California State Active Transportation Program grant. Amenities and benefits of the project will include landscaping, lighting, security cameras, street furniture and signage.
Requests for concealed-weapon permits skyrocket
LOS ANGELES — The number of people applying for concealed-weapon permits in Los Angeles County has begun to rise following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision easing restrictions on them, the sheriff said June 29, adding that the county could potentially see as many as 50,000 such permits ultimately issued.
Such a number would be a staggering increase over past years, when the county — following state regulations — required applicants to show good cause to obtain such a permit, and the number issued was traditionally a few dozen each year.
Last month, however, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a longstanding New York requirement, similar to California’s, requiring people to show a “special need” to carry a concealed weapon, beyond a simple desire for self-defense.
Gun-rights advocates have hailed the ruling as removing an undue restriction on gun ownership. Opponents said the ruling will lead to more guns on the streets, endangering the public.
Speaking in an online briefing June 29, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Los Angeles County has long adhered to the “good cause” standard when considering concealed weapon permit applications. He acknowledged that some counties have been more liberal about distributing them, operating under the premise that they “shall issue” the permits as long as applicants meet the basic requirements.
“Well, now we are retooling our operation to a ‘shall issue’ standard, so bear with us as we go through it,” Villanueva said. “We’re already seeing an increase in applications being submitted. And we had already moved in that direction since I took office.”
The number of concealed weapon permits issued has been on the rise under Villaneuva’s administration. He said June 28 the agency has already issued easing restrictions on them
“So our output is increasing,” he said. “I think when it’s all said and done, if we’re comparing our numbers to the surrounding counties, they might have anywhere from 8,000-10,000 ‘shall-issue’ permits in a county of maybe 1 million or 2 million (residents). So we’re probably looking at something in the neighborhood of 50,000 … permits in the county for a population of 10 million.”
He stressed that basic requirements are still in place to obtain a permit, including a training requirement and background check.
“You can’t be subject of a restraining order, mental illness or obviously a convicted felon, those type of things that disqualify you,” the sheriff said.
He said the sheriff’s department will be reaching out to neighboring law enforcement agencies to help expedite the processing of such permit applications, possibly through a sharing of personnel to work on reviewing the applicants — “to see how we can work out the logistics of this to facilitate the process for everyone involved.
Newsom Signs $308 Billion Budget, Californians to Get ‘Inflation Relief’ Checks
California Governor Gavin Newsom (Courtesy photo)
Around 23 million California residents will receive “inflation relief” checks of up to $1,050 soon. The aid is included in the new budget deal reached by state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, June 26.
“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” said Newsom in a statement.
The checks are designed as tax refunds and will come from the state’s robust $97 billion budget surplus. The total state budget for the next fiscal year (2022-2023) is $308 billion.
The relief payments are based on income, tax-filing status and household size – similar to the stimulus checks sent to Americans by the federal government during the pandemic.
Single taxpayers who earn less than $75,000 a year and couples who file jointly and make less than $150,000 a year will receive $350 per taxpayer. Those with dependents will receive an additional $350 per child. For example, a couple that earns under $125,000 and has two children qualify for $350 per adult plus $350 for each additional child, up to a total check of $1,050.
Higher-income Californians will receive smaller payments. Single taxpayers who make between $75,000 and $125,000 a year and couples who earn between $150,000 and $250,000 will receive $250, plus the same payment for each dependent, up to a maximum of $750 per family.
Single people who earn between $125,000 and $250,000 and couples who earn between $250,000 and $500,000 annually would receive $200 each, plus the same amount for their dependents. The maximum payment couples in that salary range will receive is $600 per family. Couples who earn above $500,000 and single taxpayers who earn above $250,000 aren’t eligible for the payments.
Checks will be sent via direct deposit or debit cards by late October.
“In the face of growing economic uncertainty, this budget invests in California’s values while further filling the state’s budget reserves and building in triggers for future state spending to ensure budget stability for years to come,” Newsom said. “In addition, California is doubling down in our response to the climate crisis – securing additional power-generating capacity for the summer, accelerating our clean energy future, expanding our ability to prepare for and respond to severe wildfires, extreme heat, and the continuing drought conditions that lie ahead.”
Other hot button issues addressed in the finalized budget include a $47 billion multi-year infrastructure and transportation package, $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services, and funding for education, universal preschool, children’s mental health and free school meals.
Not everyone was excited about the final negotiated version of the budget. Republicans complained about the limited time they were given to review the package for input.
“Where is the information?” Sen. Jim Nielson (R-Yuba City) asked during the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee’s brief hearing on Monday. “What are you afraid of?”
Gov. Newsom signed the budget into law on June 30.
You can view the complete California budget here.
Eso Won’s closure seen as crushing blow to Black culture
By Janice Hayes Kyser
LEIMERT PARK — Residents, avid readers, authors and even competitors say the closing of Eso Won Books will mark the end of an era that leaves behind an indelible mark on Black culture in the city.
“It is heartbreaking news,” said Gina Fields, a Leimert Park resident and chair of the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council. “They are an institution, a bastion of Black creativity and a haven for self-actualization. Eso Won gives voice to the voiceless. I will miss it tremendously and plan to spend as much time as I can there before they close their doors at the end of the year.”
Over more than three decades, Eso Won’s owners — James Fugate and Tom Hamilton — have weathered economic ups and downs, social revolutions and the move to online book sales. Yet, Fugate says “there comes a time when time catches up with you.” And for him and Hamilton, he says that time is now.
“We have been in the book business for more than three decades and frankly we are tired,” Fugate said. “Still, there is no doubt we will miss the community and they will miss us.”
Fugate and Hamilton founded the bookstore, which is one of the oldest independent Black bookstores in the country. Since opening their doors in 1989, they moved locations several times before settling for the long haul in historic Leimert Park Village.
The store’s name means water over rocks in the Ethiopian Amharic language. Dr. Randal Henry, a Los Angeles-based author, describes Eso Won as a place where Black creativity flows and is celebrated. He says he benefited from Eso Won’s promotion of his books online.
He is certainly not alone; countless Black authors have seen their works elevated by Eso Won including a young senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, Maya Angelou, Spike Lee, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Octavia Butler and Toni Morrison, who all held book signings at the store.
“Eso Won represents a mecca of Black people telling our story and that is invaluable,” said Henry, who is an expert on public health issues in L.A.’s historically Pan-African/Black communities and the founding CEO of Community Intelligence, an Afro-centric research and health policy consulting firm.
“We are a strong people and when one door closes, we open another,” said Henry, who is the author of two books on Los Angeles and its Black residents, including his latest work; “Born in South LA: 100+ Remarkable African Americans Who Were Born, Raised, Lived or Died in South LA.”
Jackie Ryan, owner of Zambezi Bazaar, an African-American clothing store and gift shop in Leimert Park, says the loss of Eso Won is impossible to calculate.
“As Black book sellers, James and Tom reached the pinnacle of success sharing with the Black community every inch of Black literature they curated for our people.”
“Thanks to them, my coffee table is overflowing with Black knowledge, pleasure and beauty, Ryan added. “Leimert Park Village has been thoroughly enriched by their commitment and presence. They have instituted a rich legacy for others to follow.
Malik Muhammad, owner of Malik Books with locations in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and Culver City, agrees.
“I have nothing but love for them,” said Muhammad, adding that Eso Won’s owners inspired him to open his book store in 1990. “I am a benefactor of Eso Won. They have created a legacy in our community that will not be forgotten.
“I had a degree, but I didn’t have a knowledge of myself and my people,” Muhammad added. “The books I bought at Eso Won contributed to my spiritual awakening and enlightenment as well as that of many others.”
Knowing that Eso Won made a positive difference for generations has been enormously gratifying, Fugate said. He also takes pride in knowing he and his business partner were able to create a safe space for Black voices.
“We always tried to create a warm and welcoming environment for the community,” Fugate said. “We kept our word; we were there when we said we would be there and we tried to help uplift everyone that we encountered. We had some very meaningful and deep conversations about Black literature and art over the years and made many friends along the way.”
California Senate Gets Second Chance to Pass Prison Slavery Bill This Week
Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media
On June 23, the California Senate rejected a constitutional amendment to remove language in the state Constitution that allows involuntary servitude as punishment to a crime with a 21-6 vote.
A day later, the legislation’s sponsors went back to the drawing board to redraft the legislation for reconsideration.
The number of votes casted in favor of Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 3, the California Abolition Act,fell short of the two-thirds vote requirement needed to move the bill to the ballot for Californians to decide its fate in the November General Election.
The Senate is expected to hold another floor vote on the legislation this week.
Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), who authored ACA 3 in 2021 while serving in the Assembly, said she focused the language in the bill on the slavery ban and vowed to bring it back for a vote when Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, asked her about it June 23.
“The CA State Senate just reaffirmed its commitment to keeping slavery and involuntary servitude in the state’s constitution,” Kamlager tweeted.
Jamilia Land, a member of the Anti-Violence Safety, and Accountability Project (ASAP), an organization that advocates for prisoners’ rights, said she remains committed to making sure slavery is struck out of the California constitution.
“All we needed was 26 votes,” Land said. “But we have made amendments to ACA 3 on (June 24). Now it could either go back to the Senate on (June 27) or Thursday, June 30.”
Five Republicans and one Democrat, Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), voted no against the amendment.
He stated that the issue is “certainly a question worthy of debate” and “can be addressed without a constitutional amendment.”
“Slavery was an evil that will forever be a stain on the history of our great country. We eliminated it through the Civil War and the adoption of the 13th Amendment,” Glazer said in a June 23 statement. “Involuntary servitude – though lesser known – also had a shameful past. ACA 3 is not even about involuntary servitude – at least of the kind that was practiced 150 years ago. The question this measure raises is whether or not California should require felons in state or local jails prisons to work.”
Glazer said that the Legislative Counsel’s office gave him a “simple amendment” that involuntary servitude would “not include any rehabilitative activity required of an incarcerated person,” including education, vocational training, or behavioral or substance abuse counseling.
The Counsel also suggested that the amendment does not include any work tasks required of an incarcerated person that “generally benefit the residents of the facility in which the person is incarcerated, such as cooking, cleaning, grounds keeping, and laundry.”
“Let’s adopt that amendment and then get back to work on the difficult challenge of making sure our prisons are run humanely, efficiently and in a way that leads to the rehabilitation of as many felons as possible,” Glazer added.
The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude with one exception: if involuntary servitude was imposed as punishment for a crime.
The state of California is one of nine states in the country that permits involuntary servitude as a criminal punishment.
Article I, section 6, of the California Constitution, describes the same prohibitions on slavery and involuntary servitude and the same exception for involuntary servitude as punishment for crime.
Certain members of the Senate raised concerns about the financial impact ACA 3 would have on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Inmates earn approximately eight cents to 37 cents per hour while incarcerated.
Kamlager says “involuntary servitude is a euphemism for forced labor” and the language should be stricken from the constitution.
The state’s Department of Finance (DOF) estimated that the amendment would burden California taxpayers with $1.5 billion annually in wages to prisoners, DOF analyst Aaron Edwards told Senate the Appropriations Committee on June 16.
“These are facts that we think would ultimately determine the outcome of future litigation and court decisions,” Edwards said. “The largest potential impact is to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which currently employs around 65,000 incarcerated persons to support central prison operations such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry services.”
Right before the Juneteenth holiday weekend, the appropriations committee sent ACA 3 to the Senate floor with a 5-0 majority vote after Kamlager refuted Edwards’ financial data.
This country has been having “economic discussions for hundreds of years around slavery, involuntary servitude, and indentured servants” and enslavement still exists in the prison system, Kamlager said. She also added that a conflict was fought over the moral issue of slavery.
“This bill does not talk about economics. It’s a constitutional amendment,” Kamlager said. “The (DOF) is not talking about any of this in this grotesque analysis about why it makes more sense for the state of California to advocate for and allow involuntary servitude in prisons. I think (this conversation) is what led to the Civil War.”
Three states have voted to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude — Colorado, Utah, and Nebraska — and in all three cases, the initiative was bipartisan and placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of legislators, according to Max Parthas, the co-director of the Abolish Slavery National Network (ASNN).
ACA 3 is already attached to a report that addresses the harms of slavery. The Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans issued its interim report to the California Legislature on June 1.
The report included a set of preliminary recommendations for policies that the California Legislature could adopt to remedy those harms, including its support for ACA 3. It examines the ongoing and compounding harms experienced by African Americans as a result of slavery and its lingering effects on American society today.
“One of the preliminary recommendations in our report was to support ACA 3,” said Los Angeles attorney Kamilah V. Moore, chairperson of Task Force. “The Task Force saw how that type of legislation aligns perfectly with the idea of reparations for African Americans.”