About Jazmine Jazmine Justice-Young
Posts by Jazmine Jazmine Justice-Young:
California is a notoriously progressive state.
When Brown v Board was passed and the Supreme Court declared racially segregated schools were unconstitutional in 1954, California had already been integrating schools for almost a decade. California will be among the first eight states to have legalized recreational marijuana in 2018. And California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, passed a bill to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 even though the current state average is $7.25.
But not everyone prospers in California.
Despite its nickname as “The Golden State”, when it comes to creating public policies or institutions, policy makers often ignore the many communities of color that continue to suffer even when California strives.
The California Endowment has sponsored a website that highlights disparities that have for decades been overlooked. Race Counts collected data from all of California’s 58 counties to highlight disparities specific race groups suffer in seven key areas: democracy, economic, opportunity, crime and justice, access to health care, healthy built environment, education, and housing.
Latinos and Blacks make up 22.1% and 9.5% of Sacramento County’s population, but Blacks have the lowest employment rate, lowest median household income, lowest life expectancy, and lowest graduation rate. Latinos have the highest subprime mortgage loans, least income left after housing cost, and the third highest foreclosure rates.
At California State University, Sacramento, 3,000 of its low income students are homeless. Many are forced to sleep in cars and shower at the gym as they continue to pursue their education.
Many attribute this to the increase in housing prices, forcing many low income students of color into homelessness as rents around the university are around 1,000 for small studios or half that amount for a single bed.
“We have had a sharp increase (in homelessness) we attribute to the housing affordability crisis,” Beth Lesen, Vice President of CSUS Student Affairs said. “Rents have skyrocketed.”
Compared to other counties, Sacramento County has a low performance and low disparity rate. But there are still areas that need improvement to make the county equal to all its racial groups.
The California Wildfires have made national headlines.
First, the back-to-back fires north of San Francisco in October became the most destructive fires in California’s history. Currently, the Thomas Fire continues to spread near Los Angeles and is now the largest fire in the state’s history as well, a even more remarkable fact since it sparked in December, an extremely unlikely month for wildfires to occur. Some sources believe the fires might be associated with climate and others believe that fires such as the ones in southern California might become more frequent.
Eight of California’s top ten most destructive wildfires happened within the past 15 years, and six of them were within the past two months.
The most destructive, the Tubbs Fire, happened in October and destroyed around 5,600 structures along with the Pocket, Sonoma, Nuns, and Atlas fires.
The Thomas Fire blazes in Southern California are listed as the largest fire recorded in California’s history after burning 273,400 acres. At 85% containtained as of this writing, the fire is expected to carry out into the new year but the flames themselves pale in comparison to the impact the destruction has caused residents.
Hundreds of families were and continue to be displaced, many of confined to hotel rooms during the holiday season while struggling to find homes during the state’s housing affordability crisis.
Sadly, deadly fires like the ones this season might become a norm, experts say, due to climate change.
“For fires, sequencing is really important,” Alex Hall, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles was quoted in a New York Times article. “The sequence we’ve seen over the past five or six years is certainly very similar to the changes that we project as climate change continues to unfold.”
More frequent variability annually between wet and drought years increase the risk of fires.
The most recent case of this being the being the continuous drought years before 2016’s wet winter climate promoted vegetation growth. Last summer’s hot weather drying up the vegetation and Santa Ana winds essentially made Santa Rosa and surrounding areas the equivalent of a puddle of gasoline waiting for a lit match to set it ablaze. Now, the fires have spread to Los Angeles.
“These fires are not immediately emblematic of climate change,” John Abatzoglou, associate professor of geography and climate at the University of Idaho was quoted as saying in an Atlantic article. “Yes, California did have the warmest summer on record. But the big anomaly here is the delay in the onset of precipitation for the southland that has kept the vegetation dry and fire-prone.”
One of the reasons that this past season was exceptionally flammable are the Santa Ana winds.
These winds’ strong and dry gusts are notorious for setting wildfires in the west coast for two reasons: one, they dry up vegetation, providing fuel for possible fires, and two, they blow debris against power lines or carry open flame to provide the spark. The later in the year the winds blow, the more likely they are to start fire. Alexandra Syphard, a senior research scientist at the Conservation Biology Institute who researches fires, claims that all December fires since 1948 are associated with the Santa Ana winds.
A 2006 study by the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that the Santa Ana winds might be becoming more common and continue happening later in the year.
Though it would be too soon to label the cause of California’s worst fire season on climate change, there are studies that confirm that human induced global warming is the cause for the drought that started in 2012.
Factors like these should be considered going into the new year to be ready for more possible wildfires.
As the January 1st deadline to legalize marijuana distribution approaches, the Sacramento City Council recently discussed the improvements made to the city’s new Cannabis Equity Program and Cannabis Cultivation enforcement.
In March of this year, Sacramento celebrated it’s plan provide business permits to marijuana dispensaries and estimated to collect $6.3 million in revenue over the next three years. The marijuana business is booming, but in order to get a cannabis growers’ permit, there are strict requirements put in place.
All marijuana growers are required to get a conditional use permit and a business permit, a security plan, odor control, business plan, water efficiency plan, lighting plan, energy efficiency plan, a background check, and the security requirements must be written by a professional, specified to every location, be UL certified, and verified by the Sacramento Police department.
“The development of high standards is vitally important,” said Joe Devlin, Chief of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement on November 21st. “But the ability to enforce those high standards is how we will ensure the cannabis industry ultimately reflects the values of our city.”
However, some worry that the strict requirements unfairly marginalize the number of possible marijuana distributors. For example, the licensing fees for indoor grow rooms with up to 5,000 square feet are nearly $10,000 the first year, and close to $30,000 for a indoor grow room up to 22,000 square feet. Also, state and local agencies are able to deny licenses to people with felony convictions, specifically narcotics offenses or other crimes related to the once illegal marijuana business.
“The communities that have most been harmed by the decades-long war on drugs deserve to be at the front of the line to benefit from the legalization of cannabis, done right,” Mayor Steinberg said during a November 28th meeting.
Many other community members shared the mayor’s sentiment including Kevin Daniel, an employee at the Greater Sacramento Urban League and resident of District 2, and Malaki Amen, President of the California Urban Partnership and resident of District 5.
“I’m definitely in favor of some equity and I know Sacramento believes in equity as well,” Daniel shared on November 28th. “It’s important that those communities have access to scholarships to pay for some of the fees, maybe business loans…we have to make sure that our communities get a chance to bounce back from this lucrative industry and not be left behind on the sidelines to watch.”
“Councilmembers, this item presents a greater opportunity to launch Sacramento’s newest industry with decency and with fairness,” Amen expressed. “Today you have the power to heal families and neighborhoods that were disproportionately destroyed by marijuana jail sentences…legally ending institutional poverty and generational racism, this is an honorable way to strengthen our local taxbase and make the city that we love a place that truly works for everyone.”
120 Days is a documentary that is meant to open a discussion about Immigration policy reform in America.It closely follows the personal life of Miguel Cortes, an undocumented immigrant who lived with his family in North Carolina for twelve years, as he counts down his last days in the United States.
Before the movie begins, a North Carolina police pulled over Cortes for a routine traffic stop and arrested him after discovering this immigration status. The police quickly turned Cortes into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, because the 278(g) policy passed in North Carolina permits police officers to operate like ICE officials in order to get “dangerous” immigrants off the street.
Arizona attempted to enforce a similar policy in 2010. S.B. 1070 allowed police to check a person’s immigration status during routine policing procedures, which in turn created problems when lawmakers suspected police were targeting individuals through racial profiling. As a result of the policy, Latino businesses closed and populations plummeted while community trust in law enforcement reacted similarly.
Seeing as law enforcement relies heavily on community involvement to maintain order, policies such as these discourage residents from speaking up due to the fear of deportation, ultimately making law enforcement’s job more difficult.
The Cortes family appears to be the exact opposite of dangerous. Not every immigrant is dangerous like the ones broadcasted on TV. Many are from wholesome, hard-working families, restlessly chasing the American Dream.
Miguel and his wife were prominent community leaders who volunteered for their church’s choir and found time to teach dance classes to children despite their anxiety about Miguel’s departure. Their daughters excelled in school, just as they hoped.
“For me, the United States was always the land of opportunity,” Miguel’s wife, Maria-Luisa, says in the film. “I remember crossing…we risked a lot, wanting a better life for our daughters.”
The Cortes family seem like the “model” example for immigrant families. They have heavy community involvement, excel in school, have never broken the law in the twelve years since living in America. Despite this Miguel is being deported because of a law originally intended to be used on criminals.
The documentary can be seen here.
At the same exact time as shots rung out in Texas during the worst mass shooting in that state’s history, Moms Demand Action was organizing a new chapter in Sacramento to advocate against gun violence.
City Rising is a documentary featuring the effects gentrification has in California cities. Gentrification is the process of revitalizing a lower income area to meet the needs of the middle class, and it is typical that the current residents get displaced because they can’t pay the rising prices.
One of the cities featured in this documentary is Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood, specifically in the revitalized area rebranded the Triangle District.
Oak Park was originally a suburb consisting of predominantly white families and a handful of black and Mexican-American families until the 1940s. After World War II, community growth decreased dramatically, forcing white business owners and families to sell their properties. Minorities quickly settled into Oak Park after that because it was one of the few neighborhoods that allowed non-white homeowners.
By the late 1960’s the California State Fair Commission decided it would be better to move the fairgrounds into northern Sacramento, which was the primary source of Oak Park’s economic activity. The documentary explains how Oak Park’s continued economic decline increases crime rates and police presence and eventually adopted the reputation it had in the 1980’s.
This all changed in the 2000’s when the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency and the St. Hope Development Corporation collaborated in turning downtown into an economic engine, starting with renovating the Woodruff Hotel and Guild Theater into lofts and small businesses.
“This project is a much-needed catalyst that will boost the economy and vitality of the Oak Park community,” said former council member Lauren Hammond.
However, not everyone in the community agrees with that.
The founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento, Tanya Faison, is concerned on how changes in the community will affect its current residents as newer residents begin to flood into the area.
“The area, which used to be mostly, predominantly black… I go there and I don’t even see black people anymore,” Faison expressed in the documentary. “Our mayor has taken it and flipped it and renovated it. People are being criminalized. People are being paid to move out of their apartments.”
Balancing the needs of residents while also trying to stimulate economic activity through a renovation is a struggle for cities, Manuel Pastor, director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity explained. “How can you get in the economic activity that you need to provide to your residents? Public investment is a sign of our public commitment to particular areas and particular people.”
The documentary KCET City Rising: Documentary on Gentrification and Displacement can be watched here.
As a self imposed bookworm, I have no qualms about locking myself in a room devouring a trashy YA series until my eyes dry up. As a matter of fact, it’s become a sort of routine of mine. Though aside from an unhealthy obsession with reading (if you can even call reading an obsession) my mom drags me out of the Batcave every once in awhile to do things like eat and, my least favorite thing, socialize.
Socializing usually comes in the form of school. I’ve had a very unhealthy case of Senoritis since freshman year. Despite sharing classes with these kids for four years, I still point and grunt at whomever I’m referring to in class when I don’t know their name, and they do the same. There was never a need to get to know anyone, so I didn’t. We all were just strangers who had to sit next to each other and occasionally speak at one another, that is, until the clock strikes about 12:45, when my English class begins.
My teacher, Mr. Durant, has a very unconventional style of teaching. In his class, he likes to throw out random provocative ideas and watch his students pounce on them like lions with raw meat. Every day it feels more like a cage fight than a classroom and everyone is on edge to jump up and challenge what the other person has said. So usually, I stay quiet.
One Thursday, Durant had us separate ourselves into different sides of the room.
Left side to agree; right side to disagree. He then turned around and wrote on the board in big block letters, “All love is good love.”
Everyone in the room moved, some of us even climbing over furniture to pick a side, and then we spoke up.
In our little space, we were able to delve into really personal topics. We discussed break ups, domestic violence, self love, depression, family, anything that even touched the topic of love. Most of us laughed, but some of us cried too, though they were quickly comforted by so-in-so who was just a faceless classmate minutes before.
Pretty soon I realized that Mr Durant wasn’t guiding the conversation anymore, but just letting it flow. He threw in the occasional “that’s deep”, to show he was still paying attention but for the whole period the time was ours.
At Sacramento Charter, the students have a bit of a reputation. We are seen as hard and rowdy. We party too hard and get into fights constantly. There are very rare moments though where our culture shines through and despite our many traits, our sense of community outshines them all.