Students at Sacramento Charter High School take part in the nationwide walkout on March 14th, 2018.
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.
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.
After the Trump Administration filed a lawsuit over its Sanctuary State laws, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared in Sacramento for a speech covering his issues with California. This appearance ignited a protest right outside of the Sawyer Hotel in Downtown Sacramento.
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 17th and 18th, there was a two-day conference for youth who are involved in journalism programs throughout the state. The conference had workshops which were lead by professionals from the field, as well as key-note speakers that shared their wisdom about journalism. Young people from all over California came to Oakland for this event, and this video features a taste of how their programs are run.
In January of 2017, President Donald Trump issued a new ethics policy regarding lobbyists. The policy weakens the ethics policy which prevented lobbyists from joining agencies related to where they lobbied before. This change by the Trump administration allows lobbyists such as corn syrup advocates to help the USDA set rules and guidelines about what’s healthy.
For context, let’s take a step back for a moment. In 2009, Barack Obama made an executive order to prevent lobbyists from joining agencies if they had lobbied for something similar within the past two years. Though this ethics policy still remains, it has gotten easier for lobbyists to join an agency as long as they have an “ethics waiver”.
Now, how does all this affect citizens? Kailee Tkacz, a previous corn syrup lobbyist, was given an ethics waiver to serve as a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She lobbied on “education regarding federal food policy”, but now with her new position in the USDA, she can change those very same policies. That could mean that the maximum amount of corn syrup in any given product could rise, and it could mean that corn syrup will be seen as more healthy based on new standards.
“Recently, the World Health Organization recommended that an average adult consume only twenty-five grams of sugar daily,” Bruce Tran wrote in a previous article about health on our website. “However, an average American consumed about three pounds of sugar each week. With two-thirds of American being obese or overweight, there are many scientific studies to support that sugar is strongly linked to obesity.”
Tkacz is just one example of a former lobbyist joining the ranks of a government agency they once sparred with in a professional setting. Since June of 2017, over 30 lobbyists were appointed to Trump administration posts to oversee the same issue area on which they had lobbied on in the two year prior, in an apparent total shift in the Obama area policy.
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.
As time marches on, technology advances. These advancements are meant to provide improvements to the condition of life for everyone. For example, automation makes manufacturing faster and more efficient. Computers and algorithms make sorting millions of data points as simple as the click of a button. However, there may be a downside to technology that many people might not be aware of. Artificial Intelligence may be very advanced, but it does not yet have the strengths that people get from human interactions.
According to Gizmodo.com, the book “Automating Inequality: How High Tech Tools, Profile, Police and Punish the Poor” is exploring how technology affects poor people.
“What the system did was explicitly sever the link between local and caseworkers and the district that they served,” said Virginia Eubanks, author of the book, in an interview with Gizmodo. “The result was [a rise in] denials of benefits for basic human rights like food and medical care.”
In her examination, Eubanks brought up an examination of how statistics collected in during a case in Pittsburg determined abuse or neglect in a household were discriminating against the poor. She claims that the lower incomes families are “over surveils” because they are the one who uses public programs such as welfare, food stamp, etc. Most of the data collected used by the city come from those programs, and there, unfairly assume abuse and negligence are more common in low-income households.
Sacramento had also become more technologically advanced in the recent years. According to an article written by the Los Angeles Time in 2015, Silicon Valley was having increasing present in the Capitol. Even though they were bringing new technologies to Sacramento, they were also bringing lobbyist. For example, Uber and Lyft spent nearly half a million dollar in 2013 lobbying bills that would regulate them like the taxi industry. While technology is making life easier for some, it may also be increasing hardships for others.