March 9, 2018: LA WATTS TIMES - State of Black California Brings Legislators, Scholars and Advocates Together
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Written by Niele Anderson
10 years ago, Karen Bass commissioned a report regarding the State of Black California. The report was a data collecting initiative to provide information on African Americans as it relates to economics, healthcare and education.
The California Legislative Black Caucus recently held a day long briefing regarding the State of Black California 10 years later. The daylong event included discussions and status reports on healthcare, education, civic engagement and economics with legislators, scholars and advocates. The day concluded with a panel with African American judges to discuss the judicial system followed by a screening of the film Marshall.
Caucus Chairman, Assembly member Chris Holden stated, “The CLBC’s mission is to make strides towards implementing strategies and solutions that strengthen our African American community and bring about greater opportunities –especially as it pertains to the issues we are discussing at the Capitol.”
The day kicked off with State Senator Holly Mitchell moderating the Healthcare plenary session. Panelist Doretha Williams-Flournoy, CEO for California Black Health Network shared with Watts Times, “I think that we have done a great job at expanding Medi-Cal and making it available to a broader base of people who desperately need healthcare. The challenge that we experience right now is that we need to fine tune the system. The system itself is alienating people who severely need the service, who severely need access and that access is being complicated by the absence of administrative resources, the absence of valuation protocols that look at people who have been dis-enrolled, who don’t take into account special sub-groups such as African Americans and what their challenges may be.” She continued, we need to figure out how to improve the overall system so that we see improvement in quality of care as well as deduction in disparities and we haven’t seen that yet. So, it’s a good thing to have expanded access, we needed that, and we support the Affordable Care Act and all that it represents in terms of providing care to all people.” She concluded, “the challenge is its now time to tighten up the nuts and bolts and actually make sure the people who are receiving the services are get the best quality of service.”
Regarding education Senator Mitchell stated, “Our students are missing out. We have to figure out as a Caucus and community what we can do collectively to support and make sure Black students are aware of the resources California has for them.”
For lunch the Caucus held a “Civic Engagement Lunch and Learn” at the Library Galleria that included Assembly member Mike Gibson, State California NAACP Director Alice Hoffman, Member of Inglewood School Board D’Artagnan Scorza Ph.D and Scholar Shakari Byerly, Managing Partner at Evitarus. The discussion was moderated by Courtney Dempsey.
D’Artagnan shared with the Watts Times, “I’m really excited about us learning and prioritizing the needs of black voters yet what I want people to understand is that black folk are already engaged. We don’t need to be directed we just need the opportunity to demonstrate. Some of the work I do with my young folks helps them articulate the challenges that are going on in our community. They already know what’s happening, they know the issues they live it.” He continued, “we live these things in our community every single day. So, for me it’s a matter of putting the tools in place and putting the resources in place to help lift up the priorities that we believe matter and ultimately transform the conditions around us.”
Alice Huffman wanted to make clear, “what we really should care about is the fact that the Secretary of State has sent vote by mail ballots to every register voter and we need to figure out how to get inside the community to communicate with those who are getting those ballots to get them returned. Then to work on the other people who are not registered to vote.” She continued, “we have a lot of people who still don’t participate in the political process and I think that hurts us even though our overall number of African Americans have diminished we are still an important part of the voting process and need to be counted.”