On March 14th, over seven hundred Sacramento Charter High School students walked out of class in protest of current gun control policies in wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass school shooting.
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Four years ago, the Human Rights Society dubbed Sacramento with the title of “Second Worst City in the US for Human Trafficking.”
In December of last year, Elan Seagraves, a soccer coach at John F. Kennedy High School, was arrested on human trafficking charges and for pimping at least two minors.
In early February, 58-year-old Yun Escamilla was booked into Sacramento County Jail on five counts of felony pandering–the act of persuading/forcing someone to become a prostitute. Escamilla housed five young women, constantly transporting them between three different Sacramento residences. It was reported that some of the women being prostituted were from Hong Kong and all were of Asian descent.
“Sex trafficking”, as it is called, is a global epidemic.
Thousands of people worldwide have been sold into, coerced or manipulated into sex-slavery. It has poisoned countless communities, but how big is Sacramento’s human trafficking problem?
“It’s been highlighted that there is more human trafficking in Sacramento than in other jurisdictions, but I think that it is equal to other jurisdictions,” Cindy Stinson, Lieutenant for the Sacramento Police Department and co-founder of Community Against Sexual Harm or CASH, told AccessLocal.Tv in an interview. “One reason that, if there is more human trafficking on Sacramento is because we have lots of freeways that run through Sacramento and there’s something called the circuit, where women will be driven to different cities where the freeways are close.”
Lt. Stinson thinks that another one of the reasons human trafficking in Sacramento is so highlighted is because the city is so informed on the issue and strives to do more about it through nonprofit organizations like CASH and WEAVE.
But is there any way individuals can fight against human trafficking in Sacramento?
“One way we can fight against sex trafficking in Sacramento is to focus on the demand,” Lt. Stinson explained. “So instead of going out and arresting the women or focusing on forcing action on the women who really are the victims, we can really focus on the men who are creating the demands to buy women–who are trolling around looking to buy girls and women for sex.”
“If all the law enforcement agencies in Sacramento got together and decided, ‘Hey, we’re not going to put as much of our effort on arresting the women, we’re going to put a lot of our effort on arresting the men who are pimps, who are trafficking the women, that would have a huge impact. It would also deliver the message that Sacramento is not a place that you want to come to buy women or traffic women.”
If you or someone you know is or might be a victim of human trafficking, please encourage them to call 1-888-373-7888, or text HELP to 233733.
Sacramento tenants have suffered one of the highest rent increases in the country during the past year. Rents in Sacramento have increased nearly 10 percent in 2017, making it the highest rental market of any city in the entire nation.
Renters have had enough. Housing advocate group Organize Sacramento intends to collect signatures to have a measure added to the November ballot that would encapsulate the tempest that has become Sacramento’s housing market.
“How many years can we have nearly 10 percent average rent increases?” said Michelle Pariset, one of the ballot’s authors and a board member with Organize Sacramento told the Sacramento Bee. “Who making minimum wage can deal with 10 percent year-over-year rent increases?”
The measure named the Sacramento Renter Protection and Community Stabilization Charter Amendment, would cap annual rent increases on older buildings at 5 percent, implement “just cause” protections for tenants, and require financial relocation assistance for renters that are forced to move out.
This measure could be very helpful to elevate Sacramento’s growing homeless population, as many of renters, particularly those who are low income, suffered greatly from the rent increase.
However, a lot of landlords feel as if the measure will do more harm than good.
“Rent control is the wrong solution to our shortage of affordable housing in the region,” senior vice president of the California Apartment Association, Jim Lofgren, expressed on the CAA website. Lofgren believes that the measure will only discourage investors and developing companies from building in Sacramento. “We’re sympathetic to the plight of renters, we recognize there is a problem, but this is the wrong solution. We need to attract more investment in housing, and rent control only scares it away. It’s counterproductive.”
Many other California cities have already adopted rent control measures like Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. Organize Sacramento has until May to collect nearly 40,000 signatures to put its proposition on the November ballot.
The NRA and US government couldn’t see it coming.
Never before has youth activism like that seen after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida been this elaborate, efficient, or monumental.
Students are angry, as can be expected, by the horrific shooting that took place two weeks ago. They were further angered to learn that the gunman was able to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle legally and easily.
Regardless the shooters frequent threats of violence, social media posts of him posing with various weapons, and later unveiled allegations of domestic abuse toward his partners, many politicians are preferring to focus on the shooter’s mental health and the United States’ “mental health issue” rather than on gun control. But the survivors of one of the worst school shootings in recent history refuse to allow politicians to ignore the elephant in the room.
“This is something that people can not get used to,” said student David Hogg to ABC News. “This is something that we can’t (let) keep happening. If we do, and we get used to it, it’s going to happen again.“
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students like Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky have worked together to help launch the #NeverAgain movement and the March for Our Lives protest on March 24th to “demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues,” according to their mission statement.
Three million people viewed the CNN town hall meeting in Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas students had their opportunity to talk to Senators like Marco Rubio and ask them bluntly “will you continue to accept donations from the NRA?”
Youth activist groups have never gained publicity like this before but Never Again MSD, founded by Cameron Kasky, have already raised nearly $3 million in just one week for March for Our Lives. And the publicity keeps growing.
On February 10th, the Sacramento Bee published an article about a McClatchy High School student’s controversial science fair project that questioned if certain races were intellectual enough to handle the elite magnet program that the student was currently in, based on their IQ scores.
The project, titled “Race and IQ”, justified the lack of diversity in the schools accelerated Humanitanities and International Studies program because “the average IQ of Blacks, Southeast Asians, and Hispanics are lower than the average IQ’s of non-Hispanic Whites and Northeast Asians.”
Many Students in Sacramento Charter High School’s 12th grade Advanced Placement Literature class, a school with a predominantly Black and Hispanic population, were outraged after reading and discussing the article during class, but few were surprised.
“Not to be blasé about the whole situation but when you’re Black in America, you hear about racist [stuff] you whole life,” Layla Dobson, a 12th grader at Sacramento Charter High School explained on Monday. “It gets depressing and eventually you become numb from it all because racism against Black people, subtle or overt, is an everyday occurrence.”
The empathy gap between races, socio-economic statuses, and religion has always been present, but some believe that, with the current presidential administration, such blatant examples of lack of empathy will only become more common.
“Racism is everywhere. It’s not going to change,” said Jacqui Guzman after reading the article. “The president talks so bad about my race, at this point, nothing that has to do with racism [surprises] me.”
According to a national survey from the Public Religion Research Institute referenced in the Washington Post, Republicans show very limited awareness to discrimination in minority groups. “Less than one-third of Republicans believe [B]lacks face a lot of discrimination in society, compared to roughly two-thirds who say they do not.”
And one can only imagine how oblivious, or blissfully optimistic, the 24 percent who believe that “not any groups (including minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ, etc.) experience a lot of discrimination” must be.
But studies have hypothesized that a person’s failure to empathize with other groups and, or in this case, races, can come from their own implicit bias of that race.
An article in Slate references a study that shows that people, including those in the medical field, assume Blacks feel less pain that other races.
This, obviously, is untrue. Blacks experience the same amount of physical pain as as everyone else. But when participants in the study were asked to rank the pain tolerance of photos of Blacks and White in different scenarios, most ranked that the Blacks were able to endure more pain than others.
This belief correlates with a very common misconception that Blacks and Hispanics are “harder” than other races because of their backgrounds and need stronger discipline than other races. This convoluted way of thinking really sheds light on how racial stereotypes and disparities are created.
Now that the problem has been identified, the next is to figure out what to do about it.
An article in Education Week says that early childhood, specifically through education, is where most people first begin to learn to empathize. Through relationships with their peers and teachers, children learn who they can trust and who and what to value.
The article says it’s up to instructors, and parents, to create a learning condition that teaches students to foster and support empathy of each others.
So while it may be too late for the current generation to learn empathy, it’s not too late for the next one.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously referred to as “Food Stamps”, has been shown through a variety of studies to be associated with lower healthcare costs and better overall health in its recipients. A new study states that SNAP recipients are 23% more likely to consume whole fruits and vegetables than non-participants. The study also suggested that the decline in consumption of healthy foods may be connected with the budgeting constraints and lack of preparation times to cook meals and that SNAP recipients have been shown to consume less sodium and saturated fats than non-recipients.
Food-secure households spend half the amount food-insecure households spend on healthcare, and according to an article written for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there is a strong connection between food insecurity and chronic health problems among children and seniors.
While SNAP relieves only a small monetary burden off its recipients, it is the country’s primary anti-hunger program, having assisted over 42 million Americans in 2017, and is a vital source of nutrition assistance for many families.
“All Americans, SNAP participants, and non-participants alike have work to do when it comes to eating a healthy diet,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon in an article. “The results of this study reinforce the critical role of USDA programs designed to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education among low-income children and families to help make the healthy choice, an easy choice.”
SNAP improves food security which gives families the opportunity to buy more nutritious meals and allows recipients to participate in more health-promoting activities. SNAP can reduce food insecurity by 30% and is shown to be most effective in children whose households have “very low food security”.
Aside from nutrition, SNAP recipients have shown to have better health in other aspects.
According to another article by CBPP, children who’ve had early access to SNAP are less likely to become obese or have heart conditions, pregnant mothers on SNAP are more likely to have improved birth outcomes, and elderly SNAP recipients have a higher medical adherence than non-recipients.
By making nutrition assistance more available to low-income communities, researchers predict, SNAP can continue to improve the health conditions of those who need it.
The term “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as a disorder that can develop in people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous, and overall “traumatic” event. PTSD is most commonly associated with symptoms seen in returning war veterans, but an action brief released on the California Endowment’s homepage redefines the term in a way many services providers seem to overlook. The report explains how PTSD symptoms in boys and men of color are often dismissed as the patients being “too hard” or “unremorseful” while really they are suffering from trauma that cannot be pinpointed to a single incident but are recurring factors in their daily lives.
To begin to understand how PTSD affects BMoCs, you first have to understand trauma.
The National Center for Trauma-Induced Care says that when a victim experiences trauma, an “external threat overwhelms [that] person’s coping resources.” While many people picture trauma as involving violence, abuse, or a disaster, just as many fail to realize is that factors like as poverty, racial discrimination, and incarceration or detention can be equally traumatic. While a form of PTSD is definitely experienced in many BMoCs, the term itself fails to accurately represent the trauma they experience.
For one thing, BMoCs quite often fail to get the help that they need, whether it be from lack of primary care and behavioral health treatment or an absence of emotional support derived from “victim-blaming”.
The brief also claims that because of the mis-definition of trauma, services like schools, healthcare, and law enforcement “will overlook these symptoms in BMoC, considering them “unworthy” of the diagnosis of PTSD” or “consider BMoC’s to be solely responsible for creating the circumstances that led to their trauma will therefore not offer empathy or treatment” which only reinforces the trauma. Aside from that, the empathy gap concerning mental health and poverty of Blacks and Latinos in our society enforces a stigma that BMoCs are “hard” and don’t need support or assume that the victims are at fault for experiencing their trauma and violence.
Often times, BMoCs misunderstand their trauma themselves and internalize their stress as just parts of their lives. Usually, BMoCs will identify their trauma as them just “trippin’ out” or feeling “angry”, many times they refer to physical symptoms like grey hairs or feeling as if they’re “killing [themselves] slowly” with stress, many describing experiencing sleep dysfunction.
In these situations, it’s common for BMoCs to self-medicate themselves with drugs like marijuana or alcohol in order to “be cool” enough to fall asleep, though is only helps reinforce a negative stigma to providers that BMoCs are “drug seeking” and will ignore their complaints, the brief explains.
There are more restorative ways to help with this problem. PRO Youth and Families, an organization in Sacramento, works with youth through Life Skills classes and mentoring programs.
“We get to know the youth we’ve been entrusted to work with by not only focusing on their exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), but also on family, social and community assets that could serve to moderate risk exposures or enhance resilience,” said Dimitrius Stone of Pro Youth. “We also introduce mindfulness, meditation and the benefits of yoga to our youth. Although many are reluctant to try these practices to help cope with anxiety or mental illness, we make sure to share data that shows a correlation between communities with an abundance of fitness clubs/yoga studios and the high life expectancy of its residents, and communities with few fitness clubs/yoga studios and residents with low life expectancies and mortality rates and allow the students a chance to talk about the disparities and draw their own conclusions.”
You can read the full brief for yourself here.
On January 13th, Black Women Organized for Political Action organized a film screening of the movie “The Bail Trap” and panelists discussed the facts of the movie and advocating for SB10, that eliminate money bail in the state.