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California Voice - San Francisco Bay View

Hip hop and culture: ‘High Power’ by Grand Opus

SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW — In the African American community, hip hop serves as a musical culture and an instrument to voice the struggles and hardships of the African American race in the United States, such as discrimination, poverty and other social injustices. This implies that hip hop goes beyond the music level like other songs whose focus is on amusement.

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Centric and Joc Scholar of Grand Opus in Richmond

By Chinyere Egu

In the African American community, hip hop serves as a musical culture and an instrument to voice the struggles and hardships of the African American race in the United States, such as discrimination, poverty and other social injustices. This implies that hip hop goes beyond the music level like other songs whose focus is on amusement.

Therefore, it is a cultural propagating tool that allows refreshing of the memory of Black Americans long after slavery was abolished. As a culture, hip hop has a massive influence on the Black community and many other people around the world through sharing knowledge and the rich history of African Americans. One conscious hip hop group that changes and influences the way of life of the Black community is Grand Opus, which is the dynamic duo Joc Scholar and Centric.

In fact, you can never talk about hip hop music and neglect the contribution that Grand Opus has made into the hip hop music industry. Grand Opus has managed to go further and explore areas that have not been seen for a long period of time.

Grand Opus composes music that is informational, supportive and contains African American culture that educates and informs many people, especially in their community. Grand Opus released a conscious album in 2018 called “High Power” that contains their culture and informative messages to inspire and help many Black people to chase their dreams and change their community.

Centric, the producer of Grand Opus from Oakland, California, has been making beats since 2004 and has experience and knowledge producing music that inspires many people. Joc Scholar, the emcee of the group, from Fresno, California, who has been writing rhymes since the age of 9, also has put out multiple albums, like “Kold Krush,” “Water from the Nile” and “Freedom Song.”

Scholar uses his rhymes to make hip hop songs that have a West Coast style and a powerful message that includes the hardships and struggles of the Black community. Grand Opus express their opinion on matters that are important to society, such as fighting against police brutality, homelessness and other social evils, that encourages many people to continue to pursue their dreams and success.

Since the late ‘70s, hip hop culture has been an instrument of empowerment for communities without a voice to fully express themselves via the language of art. Grand Opus’ sophomore album “High Power” contains a perfect blend of thought provoking lyricism and hard hitting beats that make hip hop come alive and communicate a powerful message of empowerment and hope to the Black community.

Grand Opus invited some of the youth they performed for in Berkeley backstage after the show.

In addition, Grand Opus hip hop songs contain messages of self, people and unity, emphasizing that knowledge is light. It is possible to believe that such an emphasis must have contributed a lot to the enlightenment that is currently growing very fast amongst the African Americans.

The songs contain knowledge that helps Black community to build their society and fight for their rights and dreams. Grand Opus’ “High Power” album contains major hits such as “Black Rose,: “The Times,” “The MC,” “Be Free” and “High Power,” which speak up, stand up and defend the history and struggle of the Black community. Other hip hop groups with nothing positive to say deserve criticism.

Though I feel that independent artists are underrated, some artists like Grand Opus give to their community in their music with their powerful words, communicating their message to a wide audience. Grand Opus targets adults, youths and all American people who want positive music that inspires and spreads culture to the world.

In addition, Grand Opus believes that no matter how hard life gets, it is important to always strive to do better and keep your head up until you succeed. Their mantra is to provide a positive message to the Black community and act as a voice to speak up for the voiceless and less fortunate.

Grand Opus uses hip hop and culture to spread powerful messages of peace, unity and empowerment to the Black community. With their new album, “High Power,” the group will be out on tour educating minds through their music in mid-2019. Dates can be found online at Grandopusca.com and on Twitter @Grandopusca. “High Power” can be found at all digital stores as well.

Student editor Chinyere Egu continues to promote positive hip hop from the Bay Area and can be reached at chindog7@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared in San Francisco Bay View.

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California Voice - San Francisco Bay View

California Hotel tenants fight for their human right to housing

SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW — Holding signs saying “Protect our right to stay” and chanting “Housing is a human right,” residents of Oakland’s California Hotel, the stately old five-story brick landmark at 3501 San Pablo Ave., demonstrated July 14 against being unlawfully kicked out of their homes. The owners attempted to intimidate the 72 remaining residents of the 150-unit building into moving by having property manager the John Stewart Co. threaten to stop paying the property’s utilities and security bills.

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Community elders tell many stories about parties held at the once lavish landmark, the California Hotel, which is now affordable housing for 72 residents. The property owner stopped renting out new units last year and is now trying to intimidate those remaining into abandoning their homes even though no other affordable housing can be found in Oakland.

By Reginald James

Holding signs saying “Protect our right to stay” and chanting “Housing is a human right,” residents of Oakland’s California Hotel, the stately old five-story brick landmark at 3501 San Pablo Ave., demonstrated July 14 against being unlawfully kicked out of their homes. The owners attempted to intimidate the 72 remaining residents of the 150-unit building into moving by having property manager the John Stewart Co. threaten to stop paying the property’s utilities and security bills.

However, last Friday, an Alameda County Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order requiring the owners, Oakland Community Housing Inc. (OCHI), to keep the gas, water and electricity on, according to attorney John Murcko.

“When we are removed by what is called urban renewal, we call it what it really is: gentrification.”

Oakland Nation of Islam Minister Keith Muhammad

“The tenants want to stay here,” said Murcko, who also represented the tenants in two previous lawsuits over deplorable conditions at the property. “A lot of them have been here over a decade. Most have no place else to go.”

Murcko stated that OCHI is under contract requiring them to manage the property as affordable housing to very low-income tenants. That is a stipulation of the low-cost 30-year government loans OCHI used to buy and maintain the hotel.

Residents initially received a letter June 18 stating, “The John Stewart Company will no longer be the management agent for your community effective July 15, 2008.” As if to add confusion and insult to injury, the letter continues, “It has been a pleasure working with you and we wish you the best.”

A follow-up letter dated June 20 states, “Cahon Associates, Inc., the owner of the building, cannot afford to hire another management company to operate the California Hotel or subsidize the operating deficit that exists at the property. In addition, local and state law require onsite management for buildings the size of the California Hotel. If the owner does not replace the onsite manager, the building will be out of compliance with local and state law.” Cahon Associates is a subsidiary of OCHI.

The letter continues, “As a result, the building may close down shortly after July 15. Tenants should begin to look for another place to live and plan to vacate the building on or before July 15th. Eden Information & Referral (Eden I&R) will be available to provide some tenant assistance to help in your search for new housing.”

The City Council approved a little over $893,000 for relocation assistance for residents of properties owned by OCHI. However, as reported in the materials presented to the Council, the scarcity of affordable housing stock has contributed to the difficulty of tenants relocating.

“The closing of seven affordable rental properties will have significant negative impacts,” according to the June 17 City Council agenda materials. “Foremost is the tremendous negative impact on the 215 current residents who will have to relocate in a rental market that is already tight.”.

“There’s nothing available,” California Hotel tenant Robin Menefee said. “There’s nowhere to go.” Menefee will stay after the John Stewart Co. abandons the property.

OCHI subsidiary Cahon Associates claims it is broke. “They own 13 buildings probably worth $130 million,” said Murcko. “This is a fraud on the city and a fraud on the people of Oakland.”

Since informing the city, OCHI has received a $1.5 million subsidy to cover management and other operating costs for their numerous properties in Oakland, with most going to the California Hotel, according to the Oakland Tribune. But residents don’t feel the money was invested in improving their living conditions. There were many complaints of infestation. Even a major lobby window on the ground floor on San Pablo was broken and boarded up.

The company received $5.1 million from the City of Oakland in the ‘80s to buy the property and has since received tens of millions in state and federal monies.

The Oakland Tribune reported that Sean Rogan, deputy director of the city’s department of Housing and Economic Development, attributes the failure of tenants relocating to bad advice from outside agitators. “It’s unfortunate and counterproductive that other organizations are urging the tenants to not sign anything and don’t take the tenant relocation assistance,” he said.

However, residents attribute their determination to stay to the lack of available housing and their resentment at being forced to move out of their homes. Although they’ve consistently paid rent, they’ve never reaped the improvements they’ve been promised.

“They want me to get the hell out,” said Lee Jenkins, a 60-year-old resident who has lived in the building for 16 years. “I don’t want to go nowhere. They haven’t given me an eviction notice, so I’m going to fight it.”

Jenkins, like many of the elderly or disabled living in the building, who are either low income or no-income, has nowhere else to turn.

Oakland Nation of Islam Minister Keith Muhammad, who spoke at the rally, put the events in context of the larger land grab taking place in Oakland:

“When we are removed by what is called urban renewal, we call it what it really is: gentrification,” said Muhammad. “They want to turn West Oakland into East San Francisco.”

The minister also saw a relationship between the removal of tenants and the recent so-called “Nutcracker” sting in June, which resulted in 50 arrests. Muhammad suggests the raids, resulting in the seizure of 40 weapons but no arrests of any actual weapon suppliers is “managed mayhem” that will allow the plan to force low-income people, especially African-Americans, from their homes to escalate and intensify.

“When this property hits the open market, no one who lives here now will likely be able to live here again, because we will not be able to afford it,” Muhammad added.

When asked by television reporters, “What happens if property management leaves,” Murcko responded, “The tenants will step up.” And they have.

On IndyBay.org in an update, Lynda Carson reported that “George Stringer, a long-time tenant of the California Hotel … stated that the John Stewart Company packed up and moved today, shut down the front desk and left by around 5-6 p.m.

“‘The John Stewart Company packed up to go, and left behind a security guard to keep an eye on the place, and the rest of us that are holding out are doing just fine, so far,’ said Stringer. ‘These people tried to force us out as though we do not have any rights as tenants in Oakland or California, and we’re staying as long as we can. The rents are too high for us to try and move anywhere else at this point, and we are better off staying put and exerting our rights as tenants.’”

Stringer, born in Monroe, Louisiana, and raised in Oakland, knows the rules. He managed the Exodus House in Oakland until he moved to the California Hotel three years ago. There he pays $400 a month for a single room with bath and shares a kitchen with other tenants on his floor.

“The California Hotel is just the first building,” said Robbie Clark, an organizer with Just Cause Oakland, who led the chants and rallying cry with tenants and supporters Monday. “There will more than likely be others. We have to come together as a community and prevent the displacement of residents.”

Cahon Associates also owns six other affordable housing developments in Oakland, including Marin Way, San Antonio Terraces, James Lock Court and Slim Jenkins Court. One property, Drasnin Manor, is facing foreclosure by Washington Mutual. Foreclosure would possibly eliminate any affordable housing restrictions, according to City documents.

All six are scheduled to be closed down and turned into transitional housing with the eviction of the residents in the future after the California Hotel is shut down.

A June 5 report from the Redevelopment Agency and the City of Oakland warns that at least 537 tenants in 11 out of 14 properties owned by OCHI are at risk of losing their housing. OCHI owns about 638 units of affordable housing and all of their tenants are at risk of losing their homes in the coming months, according to the report.

OCHI did not respond to requests for comment but will have to face tenants in court July 30 at 2:30 p.m. at the Hayward Hall of Justice, Department 510, 24405 Amador St. in Hayward. For more information, contact Robbie Clark at Just Cause Oakland, (510) 763-5877, email Robbie@justcauseoakland.org or visit www.justcauseoakland.org.

Reginald James is editor-in-chief of the Laney Tower newspaper at Laney College in Oakland. Email him at reggiegeneral@yahoo.com. Housing rights advocate Lynda Carson contributed to the story. She may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com or (510) 763-1085.

This story is published as part of SFBV’s Bay View Archive project, made possible by the San Francisco Foundation. For more information, click here.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

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California Voice - San Francisco Bay View

Last NY Panther in prison, Jalil Muntaqim draws strong support for 11th parole hearing in 48 years

SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW — A group of prominent academics, lawyers and activists published an open letter on May 21 calling for the release of political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim (aka Anthony Bottom), the only remaining Black Panther incarcerated in New York. He was arrested 48 years ago, when he was 19 years old, and is scheduled for his 11th parole hearing in September 2019. Signers include Professor Angela Davis of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Professor Cornel West of Harvard, actor and activist Danny Glover, musician and filmmaker Boots Riley, author Michelle Alexander and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors.

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Jalil Muntaqim (Photo Courtesy: Bryan Shih)

By the Center for Constitutional Rights

New York – A group of prominent academics, lawyers and activists published an open letter on May 21 calling for the release of political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim (aka Anthony Bottom), the only remaining Black Panther incarcerated in New York. He was arrested 48 years ago, when he was 19 years old, and is scheduled for his 11th parole hearing in September 2019. Signers include Professor Angela Davis of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Professor Cornel West of Harvard, actor and activist Danny Glover, musician and filmmaker Boots Riley, author Michelle Alexander and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors.

The letter reads:

“We the undersigned offer our strongest support for the release of Jalil Muntaqim (aka Anthony Bottom) on parole. We also ask that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commute his sentence to time served. Jalil was arrested in 1971 when he was only 19 years old and a member of the Black Panther Party. Forty‐eight years later he is the only Black Panther prisoner who remains incarcerated in New York State prisons. It is time for this father, grandfather and great-grandfather to come home.

“Over the decades, Jalil has consistently demonstrated his commitment to sustaining family relationships, pursuing educational advancement and providing service to the community, inside and outside of prison. He has served as a teacher, mentor and role model for hundreds of other incarcerated people. He stands as an example of the potential to reflect, change and grow despite the many challenges of the prison environment.

“Jalil is scheduled for his 12th parole hearing this coming September. One of his co‐defendants, Albert ‘Nuh’ Washington, died in prison in 2000. The other, Herman Bell, was released in April 2018 after serving almost 45 years in prison. There is no justification for Jalil to be held in prison any longer. He should be released at his next parole hearing when he will be 68 years old.

“We believe in the principles of restorative justice. While we understand the serious nature of the crimes for which Jalil has been convicted, a life sentence should not be a death sentence. Forty‐eight years is long enough. After all this time, Jalil Muntaqim belongs with his family and his community.”

See the letter here.

To contract CCR, go to https://ccrjustice.org/home/who-we-are/contacting-center-constitutional-rights.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View

Center for Constitutional Rights

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Art

PRESS ROOM: Steppenwolf Theatre Company welcomes new associate artistic director

CHICAGO CRUSADER — Steppenwolf Theatre Company is thrilled to welcome Leelai Demoz as its new Associate Artistic Director. Leelai Demoz has had a varied career in the arts, on stage, in front and behind the camera. He is a founding partner of Small Ax, a digital production company/agency based in Venice, CA.

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Leelai Demoz
By The Chicago Crusader

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is thrilled to welcome Leelai Demoz as its new Associate Artistic Director. Leelai Demoz has had a varied career in the arts, on stage, in front and behind the camera. He is a founding partner of Small Ax, a digital production company/agency based in Venice, CA. Demoz produced the award-winning film DIFRET (2014 Sundance World Cinema and 2014 Berlin Panorama Audience Awards). He was nominated for an Academy and Emmy Award for the documentary film On TipToe, which is a profile of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and was directed by ensemble member Eric Simonson. His other work has been seen on MTV, Discovery, Travel Channel and BET. He also directed a set of ‘get out the vote’ public service announcements for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, featuring LL Cool J and Alicia Keys.

As an actor, he has appeared at several Chicago area theaters as well as The Kennedy Center, The National Theater of Great Britain and Broadway. His first professional stage production was at Steppenwolf Theatre in The Grapes of Wrath.

Outside of the arts, Mr. Demoz has consulted with the United Institute of Peace and served on a working group for a project with The William Jefferson Clinton Foundation’s Rwanda Initiative. He is a board member of The Schoolhouse Foundation and of Action Civics California (Mikva Challenge).

“When I was a young actor growing up in the Chicago area, acting meant only one thing: Steppenwolf Theatre. The members of the ensemble epitomized the craft and art of acting. So to be cast in The Grapes of Wrath and playing the National Theatre in Great Britain as a 20-year-old was a life-changing experience,” shares Leelai Demoz. “Now, after a career as a film and television producer in NY and Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to be considered for this job. I can’t think of a better place than Steppenwolf to be collaborating with so many artists who are asking fundamental questions about our community and our world. I look forward to bringing my experience, energy, passion, naivete, and unbridled enthusiasm to my new position. I thank the Board, the staff, David Schmitz, and Anna Shapiro for this incredible opportunity. When I was acting, I was always asking the question ‘Who am I?’ Now I am most interested in the question, ‘Who are we?’ To quote Anna, I’m ready to ‘get in here’.”

As Associate Artistic Director (ADD) Leelai Demoz will oversee and facilitate the day-to-day artistic operations of the theatre while assisting the Artistic Director in maintaining the highest possible administrative and production standards for the company. He will create and maintain communication channels within the organization and will work closely with both the artistic staff and all other departments to manage flow of information, allotment of resources and calendar management for the season. Demoz will also serve as a consistent public face of Steppenwolf Theatre both locally and internationally. Reporting to the Artistic Director, the ADD will serve as a member of Steppenwolf’s senior management team and work closely with the Executive Director, General Manager, Director of Production, Director of Marketing & Communications, Director of Development, Education Director, the Artistic Associates, the Ensemble and the Board of Trustees. Demoz will lead a sophisticated and talented group of artistic administrators, including Artistic Producers, a Casting Director and Director of New Play Development.

Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro comments, “I cannot stress to you all how happy David and I are to have been able to re-imagine this position and then to have been able to fill it with someone as accomplished as Leelai. A true associate AD is necessary for the health and productivity of any theatre that is as committed to excellence, continuity and growth. As Steppenwolf continues to chart its course for the next many years, we know that adding Leelai to our family helps guarantee a stable and exciting future.”

“Leelai Demoz is a talented producer, administrator, artist and filmmaker. With his variety of professional experiences, he will immediately add value to the range of projects happening at Steppenwolf at any given moment. As a department head and leader of the artistic office at Steppenwolf, he will be collaborating throughout our organization and our community, and I am thrilled that he is joining our talented staff,” adds Executive Director David Schmitz.

Year of Chicago Theatre Steppenwolf Theatre Company is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers, and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. Book your next show today at ChicagoPlays.com.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County  and Pass Over—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programming includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees.

For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader

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California Voice - San Francisco Bay View

Food insecurity increases in the Bayview

SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW — We all need access to healthy food. Food insecurity, not knowing where your next meal will come from, contributes to multiple risk factors: low birth weight babies and childhood learning difficulties; and hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions in adults.

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A committed community can achieve food security so that all children have all the delicious, nutritious food they can eat. (Photo by: Guardian of Nigeria)

By Judy Goddess

We all need access to healthy food. Food insecurity, not knowing where your next meal will come from, contributes to multiple risk factors: low birth weight babies and childhood learning difficulties; and hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions in adults.

Food insecurity has been a persistent issue in San Francisco. A 2013 report by the Food Security Task Force (FSTF), found that one in four San Franciscans were considered “food insecure.” After reviewing that report, the Board of Supervisors pledged to “end hunger by 2020.” “Food is a basic human right; everyone needs access to proper nutrition to support health and well-being,” they declared.

In mid-December 2018, the FSTF issued an updated report. The new report found that rather than food insecurity lessening, more people are food insecure. In 2018, close to one in three San Franciscans are at risk of food insecurity. In other words, more San Franciscans are at risk of food insecurity today than were five years ago.

Federal poverty guidelines determine eligibility for federal nutrition assistance. These guidelines are determined on a national level and do not vary with the local cost of living. “As the cost of living in San Francisco increases and income inequality grows, this national measure of poverty becomes increasingly inadequate as an eligibility threshold for federal nutrition programs.”

In 2017, the federal poverty level for a family of three was placed at $20,420 a year. Based on the cost of housing, transportation, food and other consumer goods in San Francisco, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development has estimated that it takes three to five times the FPL to survive in San Francisco; in other words, in 2017, it took from $61,240 to $102,100 for a family of three to adequately meet its minimal basic needs.

Because the FPL is so far below what it takes to make it in San Francisco, the FSTF report focused on residents with incomes two times that level, or $40,840 for a family of three. Using those figures, 227,000 residents were considered at high risk of food insecurity. Within that group, 110,000 residents make less than $20,420 a year and are at highest risk of food insecurity.

“Because of their increased vulnerability, food and nutrition programs are especially critical for pregnant women, children, seniors, people experiencing homelessness, immigrants, and people who have physical and mental health conditions of all kinds. Additionally, due to concentrated poverty among these groups, transitional aged youth (18-24), people with disabilities, African Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders are also at high risk for food insecurity.”

City government and local community groups have increased their efforts to address this gap. But, despite allocating an additional $48 million in city funds to expand and develop new programs and extensive fundraising by local nonprofits, the City is still far from reaching the goal set by the Board of Supervisors in 2013.

Food insecurity in the Bayview in 2018    

Some basic facts about the Bayview as outlined in the 2018 Food Security Task Force report:

• 37 percent of Bayview residents (27,094 people) live on less than 200 percent of the FPL ($40,840); 19 percent (13,935 residents) live in families with incomes at or below the $20,420.

• 47 percent of Bayview children from birth to 17 years live in families with incomes less than $40,840; 32 percent live in families with incomes at or below $20,420.

• 46 percent of Bayview youth 18-24 years live in families with incomes at or below $40,840; 24 percent live in families with incomes at or below $20,420.

• 61 percent of Bayview seniors (65+) live in families with incomes at or below $40,840; 15 percent live in families with incomes at or below $20,420.

• 66 percent of Bayview adults with disabilities (ages 18-59) live in families with incomes at or below $40,840; 34 percent live in families with incomes at or below $20,420.

No one agency or organization bears sole responsibility for ensuring that San Franciscans have access to healthy food and do not go hungry. Food and nutrition programs are offered by six different departments.

Over the next several issues, I will describe the various food programs available to provide a food safety net in the Bayview. Please send questions, concerns and your tips for making it to judygoddess@gmail.com.

Judy Goddess, a journalist who is herself a senior, writes about issues important to seniors.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

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Books

COMMENTARY: ‘Poverty Scholarship,’ THE book to read if you care about poverty

SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW — As a professor with UC Berkeley’s Global Poverty and Practice Program, this is the book I have been waiting for, and that I want all of my students to read. I am so grateful for the effort that has gone into the writing and publishing of this essential book.

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Poverty Scholarship: Poor People-Led Theory, Art, Words, and Tears Across Mama Earth by Lisa Tiny Gray-Garcia.

By Cecilia Cissell Lucas

As a professor with UC Berkeley’s Global Poverty and Practice Program, this is the book I have been waiting for, and that I want all of my students to read. I am so grateful for the effort that has gone into the writing and publishing of this essential book.

In programs like the one in which I teach, we often talk about notions of “expertise” and about the need for those who experience issues most directly to be central parts of designing solutions. Too often, however, when it comes to poverty, the voices of poor people are only presented through the ventriloquism of academics, professional activists, and service providers. This book, by contrast, is an act of self-determination.

This book contains deep theory regarding the origins of poverty and current homelessness crises, as well as case studies describing solutions being designed and implemented by poor people, in collaboration with those who have access to greater material means. The word “collaboration” is key here; the solutions being modeled involve horizontal approaches, not inconsequential “participation” or “input” on strategies being determined by those with more money and more power.

In addition to theories and solutions, this book is also a work of art, full of creative writing, creative thinking, and descriptions of creative doing of all kinds. One of the subsections of the book actually focuses specifically on Art and Cultural Work, as this work is central to POOR Magazine. Other areas discussed include Media Production, Education, Healthcare and Social Work, Employment, Activism and Advocacy, Housing Provision and Community Reparations as an alternative to charity and philanthropy.

It is easy to despair at the enormity of the problems that exist. This book, however, in its description of the work being done by the authors, is hope in action.

I have also had the privilege of experiencing the teachings of POOR Magazine live, as well as visiting Homefulness, the self-determined solution to houselessness they are creating, and can say without hyperbole that the work they are doing is not only cutting-edge, it is absolutely fundamental to the kinds of personal, interpersonal, cultural, institutional and societal changes we need to make if we truly care about poverty.

I cannot overemphasize how much I urge everyone to read, learn from and be moved to action by this book. If you live in or are visiting the Bay Area, I also recommend coming to meet the authors and check out the work they are doing on the ground. But I am so grateful that this book now exists so that those who are not able to come in person can still learn from the enormous wisdom, experience and expertise of these magnificent leaders.

Cecilia Cissell Lucas is a faculty member at UC Berkeley, teaching in the Global Poverty and Practice Program and co-teaching a course on Art and Activism. She is also the co-founder of Creating Freedom Movements: more justice, more joy. She can be reached at cecilialucas@berkeley.edu.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View

Cecilia Cissell Lucas

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California Voice - San Francisco Bay View

SF Board of Supervisors unanimously passes Jeff Adachi Youth Rights ordinance

SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW — Youths ages 17 and below who are detained by San Francisco police officers will now be guaranteed to have an attorney present during their Miranda advisement.

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A fierce fighter for youth, Public Defender Jeff Adachi rails against gang injunctions, a civil penalty applied mainly in public housing developments that drive from their homes and families young men reputed to be involved in a gang. Here he speaks at a rally in front of City Hall on July 12, 2007. In poor neighborhoods, Jeff Adachi had more credibility than any other public official and would often be sought out to speak on issues too hot for others to handle. – Photo: John Han, Fog City Journal

by Katy St. Clair

San Francisco – Youths ages 17 and below who are detained by San Francisco police officers will now be guaranteed to have an attorney present during their Miranda advisement, and the authorities are required to have a parent or guardian present during their questioning, Juvenile Division Manager for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office Patricia Lee announced Feb. 27.

Ordinance No. 181217 has been named for late Public Defender Jeff Adachi and was passed unanimously. The “Jeff Adachi Youth Rights” ordinance is the first of its kind in California, and Lee hopes that similar guidelines will soon be implemented throughout the state.

“Our youth are incredibly scared and vulnerable when they are asked to talk to the police, and many of them cannot understand what their rights are,” said Lee. “I’ve represented 12-year-olds who don’t even understand what a lawyer is or what the courts do. This ordinance ensures that they will have an advocate for them who will make sure that they understand what is happening.”

The right to waive legal counsel will not be allowed to be applied to youth, as well. As of Jan. 1, 2018, youth 15 and under were required to have an attorney present, but now thanks to the Board of Supervisors the ordinance will apply to all youth 17 and under.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen led the charge for these changes and posted on her Facebook page that this ordinance “creates the strongest law in the country protecting children and youth in police custody.”

The Public Defender’s Office is currently in mourning at the sudden death of Jeff Adachi, who was just elected to his fifth term as public defender.

“We are so excited to have this important legislation be named in honor of our fearless visionary leader, Jeff Adachi, who championed the rights of youth and provided a level of resources not only to our juvenile unit but to the communities in San Francisco where our youth and families reside,” said Lee. “Through this ordinance, Jeff is still championing the rights of our youth. This decision will have a far-reaching impact on youth in SF and hopefully soon in the rest of California and the nation. Rest in power, Jeff Adachi!”

Katy St. Clair, public information officer for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, can be reached at Katy.StClair@sfgov.org.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View

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