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CBM & AAC Host Annual Summit and Newsmaker Luncheon

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By California Black Media (CBM)

A statewide media advocacy group, hosted its 5th Annual Summit and Newsmaker Luncheon in partnership with the League of California Cities African American Caucus on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at the Holiday Inn, downtown Sacramento from 11:30am to 2:00 pm. This informative and empowering conference was attended by media publishers, media representatives, entrepreneurs, non-profit representatives, and other dignitaries.

This year’s program focused on African American health disparities and featured an all-star panel including Dr. Bill Releford, Founder of the Releford Foot and Ankle Institute in Los Angeles, Robert Phillips, Director of Health Programs at the Sierra Health Foundation in Sacramento and Lydia Bourne, Lobbyist and Policy Consultant at the California Black Health Network in Sacramento. Dr. Bill Releford is a podiatry surgeon and Founder of the Releford Foot and Ankle Institute. Dr. Releford is also the Founder of the Black Barbershop Health Outreach, a program that visits Black barbershops across the nation to conduct free health screenings including diabetes, prostate and high blood pressure testing. Dr. Releford has made appearances on the The View with Barbara Walters, ABC News, CBS News, and Dr. Drew's daytime television show.

Robert Phillips oversees the development and implementation of the health unit as the director of health programs at the Sierra Health Foundation, an organization that supports health related activities across northern California. Prior to his post, Mr. Phillips was a senior fellow, director, and senior program officer at The California Endowment where he led a number of efforts to improve the health of young men of color including health care reform and health advocacy. Lydia Bourne has served in the health sector as a Registered Nurse. She is also a health educator, program developer and administrator. She currently serves as managing partner of her governmental relations firm, Bourne & Associates. She has met with past California governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis to advocate for better health initiatives on behalf of the African American community and successfully influenced key legislation.

Moderating the African American health panel was Tommy Ross, President and CEO of Pinnacle Strategy Group and producer of the 2011 film “Church: The Movie” starring Darius McCray (Family Matters) and Joseph Phillips (The Cosby Show), which appeared on BET. The panelists disseminated critical information regarding the status of African American health. Dr. Releford spoke about cardiovascular disease and why Blacks are so vulnerable to diabetes. He also spoke about his findings as the facilitator of the Black Barbershop Health Outreach tour. He said he was motivated to initiate the outreach program as a result of the large number of African American limb amputations.

Ms. Bourne analyzed various public policies and legislation affecting African Americans’ access to healthcare and Mr. Phillips spoke about the effect of race and place on African American health. Mr. Phillips made a very profound statement when he said, “Tell me your zip code and I can tell you how long you’re going to live.”

At the conclusion of the program, a special presentation was given to Justice Vance Raye, the Presiding Justice of the 3rd District Court of Appeal of California, Dr. Bill Releford, the Founder of the Black Barbershop Health Outreach and Releford Foot and Ankle Institute and James Sweeney, Principal of Sweeney & Association. These individuals were selected as CBM’s 2012 Newsmakers for their demonstration of quality leadership and their commitment to the communities they serve throughout their respective organizations and associations. For more information about CBM and the 2012 Annual Summit and Newsmaker Luncheon, you may contact Ashley Jones at (951) 682-2664.

Fundraiser For Candidate Has Star Power

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Inland area community leaders gathered this past Saturday to give their support to Cheryl Brown’s bid to represent California’s 47th Assembly District. Candidate Brown told her supporters she is running because she believes this is the best way for her to improve her community. While working with Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter’s office she learned how she may improve people’s lives.

“The government can be responsive to them,” said Candidate Brown. “If you have caring people in the legislature you can help your constituents. My staff will be full of caring people.” Actor Bill Cobbs, who has been in more than one hundred films, including “The Bodyguard” and “Night at the Museum,” lent his support by being the event's keynote speaker. “Cheryl is the right choice,” said Cobbs. “We all need to get behind her.” Cobbs says Brown is the right person for the job and says he will do whatever he can to help her get elected.

Celebrity Chef Mouton prepared a meal to remember for Brown’s supporters. “I have heard nothing but good things about Brown,” said Chef Mouton. The fundraiser also included public officials from all across the inland area. Renowned artists Charles Bibbs and Synthia Saint James donated paintings to the event in support of Candidate Brown. Candidate Brown said her main objectives are “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” Education, and bridging the gap between healthcare providers and their patients.

The primary election is June 5th. More information about the candidate can be found at http://www.brownforassembly2012.com/

“Out Of The Shadows”: Blacks React To Gay Marriage Momentum NAACP joins Obama in support of civil rights for same-sex couples

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By Chris Levister

Reacting to the growing support for gay marriage, like many African Americans 80-year old Lucille Magby of Redlands, is wrestling with a conundrum; a growing clash of values between equality, human rights, and dignity on the one hand, and morality, “natural law,” and God’s law on the other. “As a Christian I believe in what the Bible says about marriage being between a man and a woman but I have a gay daughter whom I will never turn my back on,” said Magby “What would Jesus do?” The NAACP, one of the nation's most influential African-American advocacy groups, endorsed gay marriage on Saturday, with NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous calling it a civil right. Several other Black luminaries, including, Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Jesse Jackson and rapper Jay-Z, have also expressed their support in the two weeks since President Obama became the first-ever sitting U.S. President to personally support gay marriage. When Mr. Obama made his historic announcement Wednesday May 9, reaction in the African American community ranged from “shock, appall and disappointment,” to “bold, courageous, and healing.” “We are your sons and daughters, your doctors, lawyers and hairdressers,” says Shaun Rubinson, a gay San Bernardino hair stylist and beauty consultant. Rubinson says while same-sex couples who are African American won’t be rushing to the altar anytime soon, “choice is the civil rights issue of our time.”

“I deserve full equality much like my forefathers who fought for the right to marry a person of a different race,” said Rubinson. “If you’re going to provide civil rights and equality for everybody, you cannot have separate but equal Jim Crow type laws,” said Rubinson. “This issue is about giving same-sex unions the same legal rights as other married couples. We must respect the dignity and the worth of every human being whether they are gay or straight.”

Gay marriage has divided the Black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70 percent of Blacks opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. Pew Research Center polls have found that African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years, but remain less supportive than other groups. Black support has risen dramatically since 2008, when only 26 percent of Black people favored gay marriage and 63 percent were opposed. A poll conducted in April showed 39 percent of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47 percent of Whites.

From the HIV/AIDS epidemic to the criminal abuse of children by adult predators, the issue of homosexuality has become a symbol of hatred, deception and division in the Black community, says Lillie Lewis of Rialto. “It’s time to come out of the shadows.” Growing up in Louisiana Lewis recalls gay friends and family members who suffered due to intolerance, homophobia, discrimination, exclusion and shaming. “Neighbors who were different from me were forced to hide their sexual identity. They were terrorized, bullied, often beaten and labeled sissy. For a Black person to be "out," he or she was most likely ostracized from the Black community.”

The growing support for same-sex marriage has lit up the political discourse. Nowhere is this more evident than in Black communities where all eyes have turned to the church to see how a community that has long held that homosexuality is an abomination against God will respond. Rev. Dr. Raymond W. Turner, senior pastor San Bernardino Temple Missionary Baptist Church says the church’s response is clear and unwavering: Marriage is between a man and a woman. “You’ve got the media and the world watching to see how the Black church responds to President Obama and now the NAACP’s support of gay marriage. Simply put, God is still in charge.” “It seems there’s an expectation that there will be an epiphany of sorts followed by a mass exodus of Black Christians, because of the Black church’s historic opposition to gay rights.” “If I stand before you as a minister of the Gospel you should expect certain things. If you are a medical doctor you are expected to use a medical manual. An auto mechanic is expected to use an automotive service manual. So why is this issue any different,” explains Turner. “The Bible is our manual as pastors. If the Bible is no longer relevant or reliable, then we need to rethink religion.”

Turner says the over-heated discourse surrounding gay marriage unfairly pits Black religious leaders against gay rights activists.

“You can’t paint the church with a broad brush. We all have homosexuals in our churches, most of us including myself, have homosexual family members. I pray with them, counsel them, include them, and love them, but I won’t compromise. I don’t stand in the way of same-sex relationships or marriage, but I won’t condone the lifestyle these couples have chosen for themselves,” he said. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said Monday he hopes the group's resolution supporting same-sex marriage will encourage Blacks to support marriage equality as a civil right. Jealous struggled to speak while recalling how his White father and Black mother confronted marriage laws that forced them to marry in Washington, D.C., in 1966 because interracial marriage was illegal in Maryland and his mother's hometown of Baltimore until 1967. Jealous noted that the civil rights organization has opposed laws barring gay marriage in the past. “I hope this will be a game-changer,” Jealous told The Associated Press in an interview. “There is a game being played right now to enshrine discrimination into state constitutions across the country, and if we can change that game and help ensure that our country's more recent tradition of using federal and state constitutions to expand rights continues we will be very proud of our work.”

Fifth murder in a week draws anger, criticism Parents confront worst fears, more officers deployed

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By Chris Levister

Twenty-two people have been killed in San Bernardino this year – 5 in a week - 12 in May, a toll on par with the 1990s, when gang-related killings peaked earning the 1977 “All-America City” the nickname Murder Capital.

Police have arrested a 21-year-old Rialto man in connection with the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old San Bernardino man early Tuesday as he visited a memorial where his friend was fatally shot two weeks earlier.

The city’s response to the spate of killings has become the subject of withering criticism from some residents and families of the shooting victims.

After a Rialto woman was gunned down in San Bernardino May 4, Police Chief Robert Handy said, “Anytime there’s a homicide we’re, concerned, but I don’t think we’re at the abnormal pace from last year. It comes in clusters.”

“We have a dysfunctional city with a police department that operates like a turn style saying not enough people have been murdered,” said Wesley Person who was shot in the leg by a gang member in 2009. “How many people have to die before someone gets serious about stopping these thugs?”

“Gang violence is not a new phenomenon in this city”, said Wilson Perris a North San Bernardino businessman, referring to the tragic killing of 11-year-old Mynisha Crenshaw who was killed by a stray bullet in November 2005 while eating dinner with her family in San Bernardino.

“You can’t sit back and wait on this to get out of control then expect a good outcome,” said Perris.

Handy defended the city’s response to the violence saying the department is deploying more officers, despite being understaffed.

“Even though we are not at the level of manpower I would like to see us at, that is not the reason behind the recent rash of homicides plaguing our community,” Handy said. “Officers and detectives have done a phenomenal job and have been very effective in solving crimes.”

The spike in gun violence has prompted the police department to deploy more resources, in so-called gang hot spots including an area that encompasses East Highland, East Baseline, North Waterman and Sierra Way.

Police Capt. Gwen Waters said during a news conference at police headquarters that the entire department is committed to the city’s war on gang crime.

"Homicide cleared two cases in two days and have been working day and night," Waters said. "The other divisions have jumped in too, helping each other out during this time; we're short staffed and overworked."

Sixth Ward City Councilman Rikke Van Johnson cautioned residents not to panic or compare the 1990s when gang violence peaked in the area with the latest rash of killings.

“One murder is too many which is why we are working hard to solve these cases and keep residents safe. By deploying more officers in gang hot spots such as drug houses, liquor stores, after-hours clubs and other hangouts we’re sending a message that we are serious about rooting them out,” said Johnson.

“Gang violence is a nationwide problem. It’s complex and difficult to control. We must remain focused and vigilant. It’s going to take patience and the eyes and ears of everyone in this city to help us get a handle on these killings. If you see something…Say something.”

Parents Confront Worst Fears

At this family gathering in Wildwood Park Monday, the sweet smoky smells of hot dogs, hamburgers and even marshmallows over a fire waft through the air. Under the watchful eyes of parents, children beat the heat as re-circulating water sprays, gushes, dumps and pours from a variety of whimsical devices.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives in our nation's service. But for some gathered in the park the conversation was more about safety and the spasm of gun violence that took the life of a Fontana girl celebrating her 16th birthday.

Ashley Caldera was shot and killed Saturday night while with a group of friends at a Fontana city park. Family members who gathered near a memorial on Sunday evening said the girl and a few friends were on their way to another friend’s house to spend the night. An aunt said Caldera was celebrating her 16th birthday. The shooters were not acquainted with the group, police said.

“You live with that constant fear,” said Star Gibson. “You say to yourself – but for the grace of God, that could have been my baby they killed Saturday.”

Some parents confessed that they monitor their children obsessively in a way not possible a generation ago, tracking their location through iPhones, or calling and texting them repeatedly, even if – especially if – there is no answer.

For Cheyenne Blevins the rules of parenting suddenly seemed flimsy, and the world became a scarier place when her friend Mynisha Crenshaw was killed seven years ago.

Blevins now 19, is still traumatized by the gang related shooting that spawned Mynisha’s Law.

“I have broken sleep which is usually disturbed by really bad nightmares,” said Blevins holding her sleepy one-year-old daughter close to her bosom.

“When she’s near a man or stranger she doesn’t know, she finds it difficult to breathe,” said her husband Botti. “She becomes very sweaty and her heart races.”

With one eye on his six daughters dodging in and out of water sprays and the other on family members gathered around the hot grill, Devon Johnson confronts the threat of violence with road rules of parenting.

“You have to teach children about the dangers that lurk around every corner; self defense, avoid strangers, teen drinking, drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

“Every day you have to put your faith in those rules and send your children, with a silent prayer, off into the world. It is our relation to circumstances that determines their influence over us,” said Johnson.


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Redistricting changes bring challenges and opportunities
By Chris Levister 

When Democrats meet in Charlotte and Republicans in Tampa this summer to nominate presidential candidates, expect to see plenty of local faces in the crowd among the funny hats and confetti. In 2012, California will send a total of 547 Delegates and 46 Alternates to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has submitted to the California Secretary of State a list of delegates he hopes to be seated at the Republican National Convention (RNC). Inland Representatives Mary Bono Mack and Darrell Issa, both early Romney backers, are among the list of 172 potential delegates, as are former San Bernardino County Supervisor Clifford Young, Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and a host of others. The excitement is building, but we fully expect to encounter a negative, costly and close race,” says Linnie Frank Bailey who was elected in April to represent the redrawn 42nd Congressional District at the DNC.

The district encompasses Murrieta, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Menifee, El Cerrito, Corona, Norco, and unincoporated areas near Winchester, including Temecula Wine Country. Bailey, who co-founded Obama Riverside and served as a delegate to the DNC in 2008 is a writer, blogger, journalist, published author and inspirational speaker. She says Democrats are looking to capitalize on remapped Inland districts.

“From our view, the remap of legislative and congressional districts in the Inland Empire is full of opportunities for democratic candidates.” Democratic prospects in California were boosted last year after an independent redistricting commission redrafted the state’s congressional map. The bipartisan group, which was initially proposed by then-GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and later approved by voters, dismantled a system designed to protect incumbents, putting many of them in jeopardy. “I think that the prospects for Democrats look very good,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chairwoman of the California Democratic congressional delegation,” said in a statement. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to win every seat we’re targeting. But we have some pretty poignant options.” An analysis of the state’s new map predicts the 2012 elections could bring as many as five GOP losses in the state, which would turn a 34-19 Democratic House delegation into a 39-14 one. The challenge is favorable voter registration and election statistics in the region which could be overshadowed by Democrats’ longtime struggles to compete in a region where Republicans have dominated for decades.

“The plan is to send a strong message opposing attacks on the civil rights of women, minorities and other groups. Healthcare reform, immigration and voting rights top the list,” says Bailey. The maps include three congressional districts, one state Senate district and three Assembly district in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties that could swing red or blue in November based on voter registration. All eyes are turning to Sacramento where Democrats’ chances of reaching two-thirds majorities in the state Senate depend on winning at least some of the new Inland seats. In Congress, Democratic wins in California could help reduce or end Republicans’ House majority. Bailey says granted California is not a swing state, still no state figures more prominently in Democratic plans to retake the House than bright blue California. The overall mission is three fold: Keep President Obama in the White House; take back seats in the House and secure wins in state and local districts. Bailey is concerned that California’s ‘blue’ state status permits both parties to take the Inland region for granted.

There’s a belief that the Inland Empire is a step child to donor and candidate rich Los Angeles and Orange Counties. “We can’t compete with their deep pockets particularly in Western Riverside County. The supply of well-known candidates is shallow, with most candidates for the November election having suffered multiple election defeats.” “We are still holding out hope that the President, First Lady Michelle or Vice President Joe Biden will help boost local momentum with a visit to the Inland Empire, one of the nation’s most important economies and hardest hit regions.” Meanwhile the Democratic Party’s concentration is getting thousands of people registered and getting them to vote. Bailey concedes topping or even equaling 2008 registration gains will be challenging.

Obama’s 8.5 million-vote margin over John McCain was fueled by a more than 20 percent surge in minority voting. Exit polls showed about 5.8 million more minorities voted in the 2008 presidential election than in 2004, while nearly 1.2 fewer whites went to the polls. Separate opinion polls and election results indicate that an overwhelming majority of African Americans and Latinos backed Obama. The effects of the Great Recession can be felt far and wide, though perhaps no more so than by African Americans and Latinos. While signs point to an improving economy, unemployment and housing foreclosure rates remain a disproportionately significant problem for these communities, Bailey said.

The continued instability that communities of color face in the employment and housing markets is particularly troubling because jobs and homeownership is the best way for these communities to build their wealth and assets. Consequently says Bailey much of the voting momentum and traction made by Democrats in the last presidential election has been lost to hardship. “In a lot of ways this is an even more critical race given that some of those that made it into Congress last November, with a far right agenda have to be stopped,” said Bailey. “It’s exciting, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

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