On Thursday, February 7th, 2019. Tarana Burke the civil rights activist and creator of the “#metoo” movement, visited Sacramento and gave a speech to many people at a free event at Sac State University.
In 2017, actress Alyssa Milano used the phrase “me too” in a tweet that sparked a worldwide conversation about sexual assault after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein got accused of several of these actions. The “Me Too” movement hit the ground running afterward, however, it was activist Tarana Burke that had started the groundwork for it 20 years prior when she started a non-profit that to help young women of color.
On Thursday, February 8th, she spoke to a room of over 1,000 people of how she started that same non-profit and moved on to see the movement prosper and gain light on its tragic focus. Her crowd was enthusiastic and listened attentively to every word she offered.
One of those most important things she had to say was the overall message of the movement, that at Me Too’s core, it “is not about toppling the careers of powerful men or “naming and shaming,” Burke told the crowd. “It is about helping survivors of sexual violence heal their psychic wounds.”
Tyna Molinaro, an audience member, says “The Me Too movement is so powerful, especially in this current political climate. With someone so bold as the President who’s willing to just say the stuff he does so openly about sexually abusing and harassing women, and with Cavanaugh, it’s such a heavy and important thing that we need talking of.”
In her last few minutes to conclude her last stop in a tour of CSU campuses, Tarana Burke reinforces the truth that sexual assault is a universal conversation that needs to be discussed and tackled together. “I need all of you to get involved and get the work done,” she says. “We need to recognize the urgency of this movement. Let’s work together. Let’s heal together.”
Last March, a deadly shooting made national headlines after two Sacramento Police officers fired 20 shots at an unarmed black man named Stephon Clark. With a $20 million dollar civil rights lawsuit pending and multiple criminal probes into the officers in question, the California Department of Justice began overseeing the Sacramento Police Department’s investigation of the shooting. The California DoJ just issued a report regarding their findings during oversight of the investigation and it includes almost 50 recommendations for changes to Sacramento Police Department policy regarding use of force and the investigation and reporting that follows an incident.
Since the document has been issued, many people in the Sacramento region and beyond have realized how much discretion the officers had when it comes to use of force. The recommendations issued by the DoJ included providing specific instances when an officer can use K9 units or draw firearms on civilians. These policies have many people concerned, especially considering that police brutality
disproportionately impacts people of color.
“The amount of force used by police is completely unnecessary,” said Maxence Downs from West Campus High School. Downs believes that these recommendations must all be taken seriously by the Sacramento Police Department and they must fully acknowledge the incident and hold officers accountable rather than divert attention to Clark’s past.
“The police have to recognize that they cannot effectively do their jobs if the communities they are supposed to serve are terrified of them,” said Eden Getahun from C.K. McClatchy High School.
Sacramento residents have followed the story very closely and the response of the Sacramento PD will be very indicative of how seriously the local officers take the issue of force and how much change will be made, in order to hopefully address their own prejudices and actions in order to better serve their communities in the future.
On Thursday, the 24th, Youth Engagement Action Team held a meeting at the Fruitridge Community Collaborative Center. There, members of various organizations including The California Endowment, AccessLocal, IQ Squad, Sacramento FilipinxLGBTQIA+, The Next Gen Art Society and various other groups were represented. There, the groups worked together to discuss the plan it’s social media-based youth empowerment campaign.
Before planning out everything, the group watched several videos about social issues that were created by youth. The videos were all poetry and music based, focused on problems that plagued communities such as the correlation between soda and diabetes in communities of color, drugs abuse and the schools to prison pipeline as well as the hardships of being a youth in an underserved community. The reason these videos were being shown and discussed amongst the groups was to figure out effective methods for getting impactful messages across.
Another activity that was done by the group was a self-analysis project, that was to look into ourselves as individuals and the work we do to advocate for what we care about. We did this to get a better sense of the content of the social media campaign that was being planned. The main topics that were agreed on by the group were gentrification, systematic oppression, and the participants even agreed that they were against the policies of the current administration.
“The goal is to bring light to the bad things that affect the youth in Sacramento,” One participant said as we were brainstorming. “And also empower them so they know they can have hope.”
Participants from the Youth Engagement Action Team all agreed that the meeting was productive and successful and that there would be another one the coming month.
On Saturday, January 26th, the Sacramento Black College Expo took place at Sacramento State University. There were on-site admissions, resources and a celebrity after-party!
Throughout the campaign and now into his first months as California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom has focused resources on the safety and future prospects for youth. The most recent of these notable reforms is the proposal to scrap the California juvenile justice system as we know it. The juvenile justice system has shaped the lives of many young Californians in a negative way and those that have been affected by it are ready for a change. Kora Spiak from West Campus High School explained “I grew up surrounded by the justice system. My mother is in prison and has been since I was young, and I grew up in an area with countless friends coming in and out of the juvenile system. The current methods of aggressive “rehabilitation” do not work, and make things worse in the long run.”
Newsom recognizes the current failure of the justice system in California and has addressed that in order to make meaningful reform of the justice system, it is crucial to address the juvenile justice system which works as the “feeder system” to the justice system as a whole.
Kora Spiak continues to say “California is one of the 10 states that houses its juvenile justice division under a state corrections agency, and it certainly shows as to how things are dealt with.” Newsom’s proposal would have juvenile justice housed in the agency of Health and Human Services. This reframing of the juvenile justice system is a crucial first step to meaningful reform which clearly values the wellbeing of young people.
As a part of Newsom’s focus on California’s youth, Newsom appointed California’s first Surgeon General, a pediatrician named Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. Dr. Harris was key to the research on adverse childhood experience screenings which can help detect traumas that would risk of substance abuse, suicide attempts, homelessness, and a plethora of other occurrences. Newsom’s plan entails allocating $45 million toward Adverse Childhood Experience screenings which would help direct caregivers and healthcare providers to the resources necessary to address childhood trauma to improve long term health.
Hopefully, these screenings and the total upheaval of the juvenile justice system will help more young people be directed to health resources rather than correctional facilities.
On Saturday, January 26th, in the Valley Hi-North Laguna library community room, a small but dedicated group of people met in support of the Sunrise Movement. The Sunrise Movement, as stated on their website, is “a movement to stop climate change and create millions of jobs in the process.”
The Sunrise Movement started in 2017 and has a vision in mind of getting elected officials to take climate change seriously on their platform and place it at the forefront. A big part of reaching their goal and changing policy on a grand scale is catching the attention of said officials, so Sunrise is gathering thousands of willful, driven young people from around the country to promote the movement and put a stop to harmful policies that perpetuate climate change.
With several hubs stationed in several cities around the country, Sacramento is starting to play its role in the movement with facilitator Dennessa Atiles, who founded this city’s hub. She elaborates on why the organization is youth led by saying, “They’re the ones that most have to endure it. As people age, they have less fight, less skin in the game. So it’s geared towards young people to not only engage them in policy change but to say, “Hey, this is our future, and this is our legacy.”
When asked why Sacramento is a good place to run the movement, she explains, “Sacramento is a great place because we are the capital of California, and California is the most populous state in our nation. It’s the 4th largest economy in the world. And being situated at the capital gives us unprecedented access to legislators that have the ability to affect change on a national scale. When things happen in California, other states tend to follow.”
The topic at the forefront of discussion during the meeting consisted of the urgent necessity to have more people- especially young people- take a lead in Sacramento’s hub, and overall ways climate change has badly affected the Earth. For example, according to Nasa, “Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.”
Climate change affects everyone and it’s important to get everyone involved, but we hear from Atiles on why doing something to spark change is personal to her. She says, “I am Puerto Rican and after the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, I lost two family members. I’ve been a climate change advocate since I was in high school many years ago, and when Puerto Rico was underwater essentially, I lost several family members and I saw how little our government did and how little it seemed that most of the legislators cared and did anything about it. I was really incensed, and so when I found out about Sunrise Movement, I thought it’s an amazing opportunity to engage people in a way that’s really gonna connect to our communities directly.”
To learn more about the Sunrise Movement and to get involved in the fight to prevent climate change, you can visit their website: https://www.sunrisemovement.org
Sacramento is often referred to as the “Farm To Fork Capital of California” but what is often ignored are the people who actually live in it, specifically, those who live in impoverished areas such as South Sacramento.
Based on Sacramento County’s Crime map, parts of South Sacramento see a higher rate of crime than in neighboring communities- especially in parts such as Meadowview. A median household income in Meadowview is around $25,000 with the unemployment rate being 17%. Compare that with a neighborhood close by named Greenhaven, the median household income is at around $100,000 and their unemployment rate is at only 10%.
There are many issues with Meadowview including crime, unemployment, and more. There needs to be something done as many people in the community feel there is a sense of abandonment or ignorance when it comes to having the city help the community.
“No, I don’t think the city is doing enough to help out this community. It doesn’t even feel like they’re concerned about us,” said Trenton Boyd, a resident in Meadowview. “I voted for the Mayor but I think I regret it. He said some promising things and I felt hopeful but I don’t think I should’ve voted for him.”
Many people in Meadowview feel this way but often don’t have many outlets to have their voice heard. Capital Public Radio hosted an event on January 16th at Cabrillo Park in Meadowview to learn and hear more from the residents of Meadowview about their experiences and their issues with the area.
The event had many activities for families to come by and enjoy, including speaking with the Capitol Public Radio journalists, map exercises, a photo booth, and storytelling opportunities.
This is all for a documentary CPR will be producing named “The View From Here” which will bring light to the issues that many residents feel are being unheard. The documentary is a year-long project that will include radio shows and podcasts showcasing community voices.
Please visit http://www.capradio.org/ for updates on their documentary series on Meadowview.