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.
In honor of National Women’s Day, local organizers put together a march to discus prevelant issues that all women deal with, as well as the women in Sacramento. There was a heavy emphasis on diversity, and inclusion. There also was live music, as well as speeches given by different organizers.
The largest expansion of youth voter access in American history will occur next year. A new bill, known as AB 1407, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, on February 26th, 2018, that will automatically pre-register all eligible sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote when they receive a California Driver’s License or California State ID. This bill will automatically pre-register approximately 200,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote annually. AB 1407 was proposed by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and was sponsored by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
AB 1407 updates the 2015 New Motor Voter Program, which allowed every eligible citizen, who requested a driver’s license or state ID, to be automatically registered to vote. This update will simply include automatic voter pre-registration for youth. Of course, young people have the option to opt out of pre-registration, if they wish.
“AB 1407 will increase voter engagement by removing the unnecessary step of pro-actively registering to vote, increasing the likelihood of a young person voting in future elections,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “We need more young people engaged in the political process and impacting issues like college access and affordability, climate change, healthcare, and housing. Voting is the first step to make a citizen an active part of the political process. This measure will make sure that all voices in California are heard.”
This bill is scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2019.
Meanwhile, on March 5th, Sacramento County’s Department of Voter Registration and Elections hosted an open-house meeting where Sacramento residents were invited to learn about the California Voter’s Choice Act’s effects on available voting options and to experience the new voting system technology that will be implemented in the June 2018 Primary Election. The open-house meeting was hosted at the Department of Voter Registration and Elections building from 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM.
As per the procedure of the California Voter’s Choice Act, all Vote Center locations will be open two weeks before Election Day so that voters may vote on a day that is convenient with their schedule. Voters can visit any Vote Center within the county and staff will be available to provide assistance in multiple languages, help voters with disabilities, and update voter registration information. Of course, rather than attending Vote Centers, voters will have the options to vote by returning their ballots through mail or by dropping it off in the nearest county drop-box.
After the shooting at a Florida high school, students from all accords the United States have decided that they are going to band together and walk out of class on March 14th. But with principals threatening suspensions, some students are worried about how their activism may hinder their academic success. The ACLU put together a livestream video to reassure students of their rights, and what is equal punishment versus excessive punishment, and what you can do to assert your rights.
In the era of “fake news”, youth media organizations from all over California came together for the 2018 Youth Media Statewide Conference to sharpen their skills in journalism. This event was held in Oakland between February 17th – 18th at the Waterfront Hotel and was hosted by Youth Radio, a nonprofit media production company, an institution that prepares young people for the 21st-century digital workplace. The conference consisted of speakers and their experiences as freelance journalists, workshops on topics concerning photojournalism techniques and social media management, and networking opportunities.
So why is it important for young reporters to learn skills about media literacy and journalism? In light of the 2016 election, many American consumers of digital news and social media are aware of fake news and many young reporters in California are working to combat that with training in media literacy and in the production of quality, reputable local news.
“I really enjoyed meeting other youth media programs at the conference,” said Jazmine Justice-Young, a fellow youth media reporter. “I think my team and I learned a lot from the workshops they had that we’ll be taking back with us.”
Various workshops were provided to train young reporters to create quality news content. Erika Aguilar, a Podcast Producer and Reporter of KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, and Laura Klivans, a Community Health Reporter of KQED Public Radio who is also stationed in San Francisco, gave lessons in podcasting – and what different formats they consist of in terms of the level of production – as well as some techniques to ensure maximum audio standards for the audience’s experience.
Noah Berger, a freelance photographer who works for national and international news outlets such as the Associated Press, Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times, did a presentation concerning his experiences, techniques, and ethics of photojournalism. He demonstrated hands-on lighting techniques and discussed the best approaches to covering protests and other potentially-risky assignments.
Annie Yu, an Audience Engagement Editor of the L.A. Times, taught strategies of using social media in journalism to be more engaging to the audience. The basics include making a social media plan for a story, leading crowdsourcing campaigns, and building an audience.
The 2018 Youth Media Conference was overall a success as many youth reporters learned from experienced journalists and the training and support provided by the conference helped to sharpen the skills needed to be a credible, self-sufficient journalist.
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.
Many people believe that laws exist in society in order to keep its citizens safe. When a person commits a crime, they should be penalized accordingly. However, there are some that are questioning if punishment is the appropriate way to keep people safe. After all, if the punishment cripples a person’s ability to return to being a productive citizen, is it really the best option?
According to the Los Angeles Times, community reinvestment is the key to reducing crime and violence. Instead of locking up the people who break the law, they are assigned projects or summer jobs to improve their community.
“Indeed, there is now sufficient evidence to support an entirely new model for countering violence — one driven by investment,” said Professor Patrick Sharkley, the writer of the article Community investment, not punishment, is key to reducing violence.
In Sacramento, organizations such as the California Endowment encourage restorative actions rather than punishment. One reason to choose reinvestment is the much lower cost. According to the New York Times, the average cost of locking up one inmate annually is $168,000, The prison population of California in 2015 was 112,300 people. According to the Orange County Register, California could save half a billion dollars by introducing new rehabilitation programs for inmates and ex-convicts.
In the Sacramento City Unified School District, there are some educators who hold similar views. Often, the teachers and school administrators have to strike the balance between restorative programs and punishment.
“I definitely think that the balance should tip in the favor of, restorative, reinvestment, supportive, as opposed to punishment,” said David Van Natten, Principal of John F. Kennedy High School. “Particularly in the context of school, sometimes a consequence is appropriate but that it’s a much better learning experience and it’s more likely result in long-term change if there is a restorative component.”
The American prison system has become one of the largest in the world. It is up to the people to decide what happens next.
Recently, Hmong women converged on a Sacramento community center to discuss the issues they share and the ways to move forward with power.
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.