Posts tagged with "community"

Decrease in Violence Following NYC Crisis Management Efforts

Labor Day weekend typically reflects an increase in violence in New York and other cities, yet this past weekend saw a dramatic decrease in shootings within areas patrolled by members of New York City’s Crisis Management System (CMS). Some CMS zones, including that of Southeast Queens, reported zero shootings. In Brooklyn, a coalition of over 100 people patrolled the streets in orange together to prevent violence.

New York City has experienced an outbreak of gun violence – an uptick of over 210 shootings in the past 28 days. Recent shootings have occurred primarily in areas outside of the 24 zones with CMS-affiliated organizations operating.

“Violence is a public health epidemic and our neighborhoods have been destabilized by COVID-19 and job loss. At the beginning of this year, CMS anticipated an increase in violence and we requested an additional $200 million from the city to increase the size and scope of the CMS system. The city approved an increase of $10 million, which will allow us to add four new sites to the network. It is good but not nearly enough,’ says Erica Ford, CEO of LIFE Camp, Inc. and one of the architects of the New York City Crisis Management System. “The work we do is the solution, we need to invest in what works.”

The community-based organizations and partners that make up the crisis management system are the secret ingredients making a difference and this weekend’s results have proven yet again that our presence and contribution to the public safety of New York is very important. We create opportunities for our community members to take a proper seat at the table in all the discussions that impact them and their neighborhoods. With the proper funding, we can cover more precincts and the City can feel more confident about a path to bringing violence to an all-time low.”  AT Mitchell, Man Up, Inc. and one of the architects of the New York City Crisis Management System

For reference, the Independent Budget Office estimates that the NYPD will exceed its overtime cap by $400 million this fiscal year, bringing the city spending on overtime hours to $668 million in the 2021 budget. Overall, the CMS receives roughly ⅓ of a penny for every dollar the NYPD receives. 

The Crisis Management System is a network of 24 community sites working in collaboration with 60+ community based organizations and ten city agencies to co-produce public safety in New York City.

Gabrielle Marchan illustrates Dianne Morales for 360 MAGAZINE

Dianne Morales

As of late, one of our team members had the opportunity to sit down with New York City mayoral candidate Dianne Morales for an interview. After eight years under Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will see someone new in the position in 2021, and Morales, a member of the Democratic Party, is jumping at the opportunity.

360: What are the major points of inspiration throughout your life, so far, that have led you to where you are today?

Morales: At my core is a commitment to community, and I learned community at home. I am the youngest of three girls and the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. My mother, a secretary for the Leather Workers’ Union, and my father, a building manager on the waterfront, created a working-class life for us in Bed-Stuy. But our home was not just for me and my sisters. My grandmother, Mami, lived with us my whole childhood. In fact, she and I shared a bed until the day that I left home for college. Our home was a resting place, a layover, a transition point for whoever needed it. There was always someone new sleeping on the couch or joining us at the dinner table. Whether they had just arrived from Puerto Rico, were in between jobs, had just returned from the military or from being incarcerated, there were always other people staying with us while they “got back on their feet.” My parents opened their arms and their front door to whoever needed it. I never questioned this way of life. I was taught, “If you have, then you provide.” We took care of each other. I saw, firsthand, the opportunity created when we each take responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors and for our communities. This belief has spurred me on through 30 years in the public sector, as an educator, a foster care worker and a leader of nonprofits.

As I established my own home in Bed-Stuy as a single mom, my children and I recreated the dynamic my parents had built. We always have a few extra people living in our home – whom we often refer to as our “chosen family.” These extended family members have filled my home with love and reciprocal support. In a twist of fate, since the pandemic hit, I have shared my home with my parents and my children. I envision a New York City where we take care of each other, where everyone is welcome to the dinner table, where neighbors provide more support than extra sugar and all of us have a warm place to rest our heads. Although NYC is vast with diversity, we are all inextricably bound together and are only as strong as our most vulnerable link.

360: How can a mayor, as opposed to any other civic official, lead unique positive changes for equity?

Morales: Over the past several months there is a mantra I have been repeating consistently: a budget is a reflection of our values. The mayor has executive power over what gets funded in the city and by how much. Funding for services that contribute to true public safety (access to housing, medical/mental healthcare, economic stability, job training, education) will provide access and opportunity to those who have historically been left behind by our elected officials. Line by line, the budget reveals the values of a city and government. The NYC budget passed in June was a failure. It failed the residents of NYC, who have been raising their voices in protest and demanding a divestment from law enforcement since May 29. It failed those whose lives have been lost at the hands of the NYPD. It failed communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by violence and brutality.

The budget highlights the need for NYC leadership to put New Yorkers first by investing in communities. The NYC Mayor also has the ability to work to desegregate public schools and impact the quality of education provided to over 1.1 million students, many of whom are students of color living in poverty. This alters the course of a student’s life and provides an entry point to economic mobility and a true career trajectory. New Yorkers deserve a bold, transformational leader who is unapologetically committed to prioritizing justice in the budget’s bottom line. I fundamentally believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution. Our city needs a mayor that is in tune with her people and provides a vision for and direction for what is possible.

360: What are some of the most pressing or urgent issues that need attention within New York City, and how would you address them?

Morales: New York’s problems all stem from structural oppression by Race, Gender and Class, so our solutions must go deeper, all the way to the root causes. Too many New Yorkers are living in a time of scarcity, and that’s been going on since long before the virus hit. The are working two jobs, just barely surviving and always one misfortune away from losing everything. Instead of this “Scarcity Economy,” we need a “Solidarity Economy,” and that requires bold action. First, transforming public safety in the city by providing access to the same critical resources found in wealthy communities will be a critical step toward creating the long-term change we need for all to live in dignity. True public safety includes ensuring that every New Yorker has access to “life essentials,” like quality transportation, affordable housing, excellent and equal education and human-centered healthcare. All New Yorkers deserve access to these fundamental resources in order to live in dignity, and it is the necessary floor needed to break through glass ceilings.

Next, we must enhance and overhaul vital infrastructure requiring multi-part, creative solutions that address the deeper issues embedded in the fabric of NYC. To break the racist cycle of poverty that divides our city into the “haves” and the “have-nots,” we will establish a guaranteed minimum income. We will push for universal healthcare and eliminate inequities in the health system faced by women, and especially women of color. We will work to address the persistent segregation of our schools and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by replacing school safety officers with trained mental health professionals. The driving force behind all policy initiatives is the experiences, needs and voices of women of color. Particularly, Black women. As the Combahee River Collective wisely wrote in its 1977 statement, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” We know that if New York does right by Black women, the entire city will be better for it.

360: How can you use your personal experiences with serving as a single mother and observing the many other challenges that face New York City residents to enact policy reform?

Morales: So many of New York’s problems have impacted me directly, and so much of who I am and what I know comes from being a mom. My greatest joy is being the mother of my two children, Ben and Gabby. They constantly push me, teach me and nourish me. As a single parent, I share experiences with hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers. A 2018 study found that single-parent households are the second largest household type in New York City. I navigated New York City’s systems – economic, health and education – on my own. I balanced a budget for my family each month, figuring out how to make it work. My greatest challenge was parenting my children through the NYC education system. The rigid and unforgiving education that my children received did not allow any space for their learning differences. They did not see themselves in the white-centric curriculum and we struggled to find support during their developmental years. Advocating for my children was a full-time job on top of my paying-full-time-job. Again and again I have stood with parents for a more equitable and life-affirming education for our kids. It is with this same community spirit of coalition building, advocacy and bettering of our social safety nets that I will push for policies that support all types of families in NYC.

360: What is one of the most significant components of your background or experiential knowledge that separates you from any other candidate?

Morales: I am, in so many ways, the average New Yorker. I was born and bred in Bed-Stuy. I am an Afro Latina single-mom of two children who survived the New York City public school system. I am a first generation college graduate who came back home to my city after school. I am a woman of color who discovered that I was not being paid the same as my white male counterparts. I’ve watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen Starbucks replace the corner bodega, and I have spent my weekends marching side by side – 6 feet apart – with my fellow New Yorkers demanding justice for those killed at the hands of a racist policing system. Because I am the average New Yorker, my voice reflects the voices of thousands of others. We share our lived experiences, frustrations and joys. I love New York City because I see our full potential for all of us.

360: How does your previous extensive work with social service nonprofits inform your motivations and goals to serve as Mayor?

Morales: For decades, I worked within the community to address structural inequities burdening communities of color. I worked alongside those experiencing the symptoms of our broken system most acutely – poverty, lack of access to education, homelessness and mental health services. I witnessed firsthand the day-to-day struggles of New Yorkers that are perpetuated by cycles of poverty and oppression. I worked from the ground, up and from the inside, out. But as I hammered away, I recognized these structural and institutional barriers, and began to ask, “So how do we burn them down?” It felt as though I was only tinkering around the edges of the problem and providing Band-Aid solutions to deep, deep wounds. The core, perpetuating issues were centralized and foundational. I realized that if I want to create lasting, effective change, I must address these systemic and political problems at the root. As Mayor, I would carry with me the voices of those I have served.

360: In outlining your points of action and reform for New York City, how does the COVID-19 pandemic affect any of these potential strides for change?

Morales: As we know, COVID-19 is a catastrophe that illuminates all of the cracks and splinters in our broken systems. At first, many claimed the COVID-19 was a “great equalizer,” affecting all people, regardless of race, class or gender. Instead COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities. This is not a coincidence or personal failing, but rather the direct result of racist systems, putting structural oppression in stark relief. While some New Yorkers are able to escape crowded areas, arm themselves with personal protective equipment and work remotely, others, namely people of color, are on the front lines providing essential services to our city.

As COVID-19 has had devastating consequences that will leave a lasting impact for years to come, it has also provided us with a unique moment. As we saw after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, being homebound and isolated forces us to pay attention. We have paused. We have slowed down. With fewer distractions and a center of focus, folks all across the country have had the veil lifted. People are noticing the interconnected webs of oppression I have lived with and that I have been fighting to dismantle my entire life. In this moment, we need leaders in office who are of, by and for the movement for social change. There is a momentum and hunger for justice that can no longer be ignored. As we overcome the challenge of the disease, I will never let the city forget who is truly essential. Together we will create a world in which front-line workers are truly valued as indispensable. A world where we accompany our applause and platitudes with a livable wage, unquestionable dignity and real community power.

360: What are some of the most rewarding takeaways you have gained from leading several momentous organizations?

Morales: I’ve learned firsthand about the barriers and challenges that people have to overcome in order to gain access to opportunities that are alleged to be available to everyone. I also have watched as community members care for one another to bridge the gaps in access to those opportunities. This is testament to the power of our communities to be true partners in determining the solutions they face when given the resources to do so. Finally, I have been able to bear witness to what is possible when people finally gain access and opportunity and how that has the potential to change the trajectory of people’s lives and transform families and communities.

360: Regarding the national and global movement, Black Lives Matter, how will you utilize your unique identity to empower minorities in the City of New York?

Morales: Like many people of color, I have lived years of my life trying not to take up space. I have seen the ways that my identities – my Blackness, my Latina roots, my politics, my womanhood – make people, namely white people, uncomfortable. In these spaces I would constantly ask myself, “Do I seem too opinionated, too articulate, too aggressive?” I would contort and deflate myself to fit into tight corners and small boxes. I would shrink myself so that others could feel big. When making the decision to run for Mayor of NYC, I decided it was important for me to run as my full, unadulterated, unapologetic, multi-hyphenated self. There would be no more shrinking, questioning or self-doubt. I recognize that by the very nature of stepping into this space, I am opening up a path of possibility. As the first Afro-Latina running for mayor of New York City, I recognize the awesome responsibility I hold. I know that when I speak, unfairly or not, I am representing all Afro-Latina women. Missteps become mass stereotypes. Accolades become communal achievements.

This is both beautiful and deeply terrifying. But in moments of fear, I am guided by a greater purpose to bring with me those whom have been devalued and made to feel small, as I have been; to elevate the voices of those with shared experiences and claim our rightful place in democracy and representation in leadership. People like me, individuals and communities of color, women of color, we must be at the forefront of our politics and policies. I am deeply committed to divesting from racist systems and investing in Black and Brown communities. I am committed to reimagining public safety on our streets and in our schools. I am committed to shifting wealth opportunities to those who have been historically marginalized. I am committed to redressing and repairing the wounds of oppression that scar our city. I am in this race to stand taller in the face of a world that tells me to shrink. I am here to tell them that Black lives are beloved. We matter today and every day forward.

360: To all of the NYC citizens following your efforts to better numerous communities, what are some of the best ways individuals can support your campaign?

Morales: The best way to help me is to join the campaign with a small contribution. I am not a career politician, and unlike other candidates, I have not spent decades cultivating a war chest of people, networks and resources to kickstart my run for mayor. I want to be responsive to the people, not the special interests.. My campaign was born out of my home in Bed-Stuy, out of conversations with my neighbors, friends and colleagues. Our campaign is 100% powered by the people, not the 1%. We are an intersectional coalition of Black and Brown, Latinx, LGBTQIA and working class New Yorkers. We are backed by the people being hit the hardest at this moment in time. I am so incredibly humbled that in the middle of a pandemic, without employment, people are finding a way to donate to our campaign. I know what is at stake and the choices they have had to make to do so. If donating to our campaign is not possible for you during this financially uncertain time, we understand. Visit my website, dianne.nyc, for information and volunteer opportunities. Spread our mission to your fellow New Yorkers. Reach out to join our team. Remember me in November 2021.

To learn more about Dianne Morales, you can click right here. To learn more about her stances and solutions, you can click right here. To support Morales through donations, you can click right here. You can also support her on Twitter and Instagram.

Jaden Smith illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Jaden Smith × Vote for the Earth

Future Coalition, the creators of Earth Day Live, one of the largest digital mobilizations in history held in April 2020 that garnered 5 million views worldwide – announced the “Vote For the Earth” livestream series. The series unites Black and Indigenous youth leadership and calls on young people to tackle systems of oppression by turning out the vote in November. In partnership with Earth Guardians, We Stand United, Hip Hop Caucus and the International Indigenous Youth Council, the event will air on Future Live, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. 

Vote For the Earth will reach a broad audience and leverage the best civic engagement technology and frontline and digital tactics to register new voters. It will encourage voters to access absentee ballots and to Vote For the Earth to build a sustainable future for the next seven generations. 

The livestream series features stories of power, resilience and movement-building on the ground from frontline community members, along with musical performances and speakers such as Jaden Smith and Van Jones. Speakers will share messages on the intersectionality of social justice and climate justice, while also sharing the many resources available from the climate movement. 

Vote For the Earth aims to contribute to a 55 percent youth voter turnout in the November election, while also aiming to reach 2 million Black and Indigenous youth eligible to vote. The series will also facilitate partnership building with Black and Indigenous organizers to diversify the climate movement and allow for partnerships with universities and organizations to register voters.

“Protecting our communities from systemic racism and violence and the climate emergency go hand in hand,” said Thomas Lopez, Partnerships Coordinator of the Climate Strikes with Future Coalition. “The youth vote is critical to turning the tide in the November presidential election, and Vote For the Earth will help us accomplish that.”

The 2-hour livestream will start at:

5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday, August 12

To tune in, sign up at https://votefortheearth.us/

Featuring musical and spoken-word performances from artists involved in climate activism and social justice movements, including:

  • Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
  • Leala Pourier
  • Portugal the Man  
  • Zakaria Kronemer
  • Jasilyn Charger
  • Tokata Iron Eyes
  • Cody Looking Horse
  • Anjelah Johnson
  • The Grand Alliance – Sur Ellz , Kayla Marque & Crl Crrll
  • Van Jones
  • Simone Johnson
  • Reverend Lennox Yearwood
  • Kaylah Brathwaite
  • Jaden Smith
  • UMI
  • Supaman
  • Ayoni
  • Antoine Edwards & Nattaanii Means

The second and third livestreams of the series will air on September 16 and October 14. For more information, visit https://votefortheearth.us/

About March On: March On is a political organization composed of women-led political activist groups that grew out of the women’s marches of January 21, 2017. They have come together as a united force to take concrete, coordinated actions at the federal, state and local levels to impact elections and take our country in a better direction. March On is not affiliated with Women’s March, Inc. For more information, visit wearemarchon.org

About Future Coalition: Founded by youth activists for youth activists, Future Coalition is a network and community for youth-led organizations and Gen Z and young millennial leaders from across the country that came into being as a project of March On in the fall of 2018. The Future Coalition works collaboratively to provide young people with the resources, tools, and support they need to create the change they want to see in their communities and in this country. For more information, visit futurecoalition.org

About Earth Guardians: Earth Guardians began in 1992 as an accredited high school in Maui, Hawaii, focusing on environmental awareness and social justice issues. Seeing the need to empower and amplify the voice of a wider audience,Since then, Earth Guardians has become a global movement providing a platform for hundreds of youth crews in over 60 countries to engage in some of the greatest issues we face as a global community. Earth Guardians continues to inspire and train diverse youth to be effective leaders within the climate justice and environmental movement worldwide. For more information, visit https://www.earthguardians.org/.

About International Indigenous Youth Council: The International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) is a social justice non-profit that serves Indigenous and POC youth in their journeys as young leaders. IIYC provides education-based resources and training in direct action, resistance art, spiritual practice and civic engagement. IIYC was started and led by womxn and two-spirit peoples during the Standing Rock Indigenous Uprising of 2016 while peacefully protecting the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2017 IIYC extended the reach of the organization through a chapter model which serves youth across Turtle Island in areas including Chicago, Denver, New Mexico, Southern California, South Dakota, Texas (Yanaguana Chapter), Twin Cities Minnesota and Washington DC. The IIYC is a completely youth-led organization serving young people up to the age of 30. For more information, visit https://indigenousyouth.org/.

About We Stand United: We Stand United is an organization of award-winning artists, activists, political strategists and communications experts working together to protect our democracy and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice across the United States. https://wsucampaign.org/.

About Hip Hop Caucus: We link culture and policy to make our movements bigger, more diverse, and more powerful. We exist for everyone who identifies with Hip Hop culture to come together for positive change. Being part of Hip Hop Caucus means you can use your cultural expression to shape your political experience. For more information, visit https://hiphopcaucus.org/.

Follow Jaden Smith: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Kicking a Soccer Ball illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

U.S. Soccer Foundation – 300 Mini-Pitches

300 Mini-Pitches from the U.S. Soccer Foundation Bring Soccer to Underserved Communities Research shows youth sports improve physical and mental health as well as academic performance in communities hit hardest by COVID-19 July 27, 2020 U.S. Soccer Foundation As a traumatic pandemic continues to grip much of America, particularly communities of color, efforts are underway to ensure that children and families across the country have positive recreational opportunities to look forward to when they return to school and play. 

The U.S. Soccer Foundation, with the support of its partners, this week reached an important milestone with the installation of the 300th mini-pitch in underserved communities nationwide since 2015. Through a collaborative effort with local governments, youth organizations, school districts, and companies of all sizes, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has continued installing mini-pitches during the pandemic, fulfilling a long-term commitment to children living in underserved communities. 

These communities are the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and will be the slowest to recover, which underscores the importance of these investments. “The trauma that young people in underserved communities face from this pandemic, from the loss of lives to family member’s loss of jobs to the closure of schools and community centers, has been profound,” U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon said. 

“This is an unprecedented escalation in the already challenging circumstances that young people live with, day after day.” “The U.S. Soccer Foundation and our partners are sending a very real message to young people and their families through these projects: We are here for you. We continue to ensure that when communities are ready, more mini-pitches will be there for play.” The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s mini-pitch initiative is responding to a significant challenge faced by youth in underserved communities—a critical shortage of safe places to play.

Since 2015, the Foundation has worked with partners to install mini-pitches in more than 200 communities across the United States and more mini-pitches are on the way. The Foundation plans to install more than 100 in the next year, with a goal of creating a total of 1,000 mini-pitches coast to coast by 2026. With safe surfaces and high-quality lighting, these mini-pitches serve as an ideal place for both pick-up games and free play, as well as high-quality programming, including the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program. 

Mini-pitches fit into urban environments or other areas where space is at a premium, providing a safe place for kids to play and for community members to gather right in their neighborhoods. Corporations including Target, Adidas, and Major League Soccer and its clubs are national partners in this initiative and have partnered with the Foundation on hundreds of mini-pitches to date. Last September, Musco Lighting partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to update the mini-pitch with a new modular system including lights, fencing, and goals. On average, these lighted mini-pitches add 2.75 hours of playing time per day on each pitch. 

Although participation in youth sports is associated with better health and academic achievement, more than 80 percent of children living in households making less than $25,000 miss out on the benefits of team sports. Furthermore, one in three Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk from home, leaving too many kids without access to a soccer program or safe place for free play. To address these barriers, the Foundation and its partners have committed to increasing access to quality youth development programming and creating 1,000 new mini-pitches nationwide. In addition to providing access, the creation of mini-pitches has lasting community benefits: 98% of communities report that the people in their community are more active and feel safer with the addition of a mini-pitch. 

Further, soccer mini-pitches serve as neighborhood gathering places for families, and nearly one-third of the kids who come to play on them are new to soccer. To learn more about the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s work to make soccer everyone’s game, visit itseveryonesgame.org

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Follow U.S. Soccer Foundation: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Octavia Spencer illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Octavia Spencer × Ruderman Family Foundation

Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer today joined the Ruderman Family Foundation in calling on the entertainment industry to increase the casting of people with disabilities, including in on-screen roles that portray characters with disabilities.

“Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities,” Octavia Spencer says in a new public service announcement with the Ruderman Family Foundation

Appearing in a newly released public service announcement, Spencer recounts Hollywood’s long history of inauthentic representation and exclusion of marginalized populations — from men playing women until 1660; to white actors playing Black, Asian, and Native American characters; to LGBTQ stories getting left out of film and television until the last two decades.

“All of these communities of people had to endure not only their stories being told inauthentically, but also seeing themselves portrayed inauthentically,” says Spencer in a message filmed for the Ruderman Family Foundation. “But nothing can replace lived experience and authentic representation. That’s why it’s imperative that we cast the appropriate actor for the appropriate role, and that means people with disabilities as well. Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities.”

She continues, “I am joining with the Ruderman Family Foundation to call on the entertainment industry to increase casting of people with disabilities. There is no reason that we should continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Together, we should and can do better.”

Spencer’s call amplifies the Foundation’s series of initiatives to foster greater inclusion in the entertainment industry.

Last December, the organization circulated an open letter calling on studio, production, and network executives to pledge to create more opportunities for people with disabilities, and to make more inclusive casting decisions. Among those who signed the pledge were Oscar winners George Clooney and Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar nominees Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston and Mark Ruffalo, Golden Globe winner Glenn Close, Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly, accomplished actress Eva Longoria, and acclaimed filmmaker Bobby Farrelly.

A separate Foundation-initiated pledge to commit to auditioning more actors with disabilities was signed by CBS, while the BBC pledged to implement more authentic and distinctive representation of people with disabilities on screen. The Foundation also released a white paper showing that half of U.S. households want accurate portrayals of characters with disabilities, and despite that only 22% of characters with disabilities are authentically portrayed on television.

“As an Oscar-winning actor, Octavia Spencer embodies Hollywood’s vast potential to serve as a powerful catalyst for positive social change if studio, production, and network executives commit to more inclusive and authentic representation,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We are gratified that Ms. Spencer has joined our call and we look forward to have other actors and actresses, filmmakers, producers and studios continue to create unprecedented momentum that brings about greater casting of people with disabilities.”

To view Octavia Spencer’s video message in full, please see here.

Follow Octavia Spencer: Instagram | Twitter

Follow Ruderman Family Foundation: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Groceries illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Feed Your City Challenge L.A.

The Feed Your City Challenge – founded by retired NBA star, Ricky Davis, and music industry legend, Tony Draper – will make the fifth stop on its nationwide campaign to combat the COVID-19 pandemic July 25th in the parking lot of the Baldwin Hills Mall at 2 pm PST. LA natives, Grammy award-winning multi-platinum producer Mustard, platinum-selling singer Jhene Aiko and Grammy award-winning artist Roddy Ricch, alongside local city leaders, will help serve the community fresh groceries and PPE items until supplies run out.   

Feed Your City Challenge has provided fresh groceries and essential PPE supplies for up to 10,000 community members via non-contact drive-thru lanes, following all CDC social distancing guidelines. The organization has produced community-driven events in cities across the country and served tens of thousands of people impacted by the coronavirus. Los Angeles will join the growing list of cities receiving support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

With a simple mission statement, ‘to serve underserved communities, ‘Feed Your City Challenge’ will continue feeding those in need and challenge more cities to join. Previous events around the country included Norfolk, VA with recording artist Pusha T; Petersburg VA with recording artist Trey Songz; Brooklyn, NY with music executive Steven Victor in honor of Pop-Smoke; and Oakland, CA with Grammy award-winning (and Oscar-nominated), producer/singer/songwriter Raphael Saadiq. 

Challenge is focused on providing underserved and underprivileged community members with healthy fresh groceries, meat, and essential PPE supplies. The organization plans to produce these challenges throughout the country and spread their message for the betterment of families.  

July 25th at 2 pm PST at Baldwin Hills Mall (3650 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008) 

Follow Feed Your City Challenge: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Follow Mustard: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Follow Jhene Aiko: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Follow Roddy Ricch: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Community illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Renewal Award Winners 

A global pandemic. Racial injustice. Extreme political polarization. In an incredibly challenged moment for the country, extraordinary people in communities across America are working tirelessly to light the way forward. Community-based organizations have become essential lifelines, which is why five nonprofits that represent the brightest lights were chosen as recipients of this year’s Renewal Awards.

The Renewal Awards, presented by The Atlantic and Allstate, is a national competition recognizing organizations that use innovative solutions to create lasting change in their communities. This year’s winners are the 5th class of award recipients and were selected from more than 13,000 nominations. Each winner receives a $40,000 grant to amplify their mission of helping others, along with national recognition that elevates their profile and awareness for their work.

Despite facing significant funding and staffing challenges in this unprecedented year, the winning organizations continue to stay relentlessly focused on the most pervasive and systemic challenges affecting society—homelessness, educational equity, skills and job training, and children and families in need. Each organization serves different needs, but all are united by a core belief that defines our times—no matter who we are, we can lift each other up in times of need.

2020 WINNERS

  • Choose 180 (Burien, WA): Engages youth in critical moments and empowers them to make positive changes in their lives, especially when facing jail time or school expulsion. *Allstate Youth Empowerment Award Winner.
  • College to Congress (Washington, D.C.): Levels the playing field and fosters bipartisanship for congressional interns, providing both financial support and mentorship across the aisle.
  • Facing Homelessness (The BLOCK Project) (Seattle, WA): Integrates 125-square-foot detached accessory dwelling units in residential backyards to reduce homelessness.
  • Hello Neighbor (Pittsburgh, PA): Supports recently resettled refugees with mentorship, educational training, and community events.
  • More Than Words (Waltham, MA): Empowers youth who are in foster care, court-involved, homeless, or out of school by helping to run a bookstore.

The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein writes about the work of this year’s winners, and the larger story they tell about the country, in a piece published today: “Real Reform Comes From Civic Stamina”. “We are proud to continue this critical partnership with Allstate, especially during the unprecedented events dramatically affecting all communities across the country,” said Hayley Romer, The Atlantic’s Publisher and CRO. “The generous spirit and relentless work modeled by these community leaders is inspiring and driving the progress we need.”

“2020 has changed our way of life, yet these five organizations continue to find ways to serve others despite the enormous challenges they face,” explained Stacy Sharpe, Allstate’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Brand. “These amazing community leaders should remind us all that anything is possible when you know your purpose and have the passion to create a lasting impact.”

Finalists were selected by The Atlantic’s editors and writers. Winners were evaluated by a panel of judges who include former Mayors Rahm Emanuel (Chicago) and Karen Freeman-Wilson (Gary, IN); Anne Marie Burgoyne, managing director of social innovation at Emerson Collective; Kate Nack, director of The Allstate Foundation; former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Florida); and two past Renewal Award winners, Juedy Mom, director of The Compton Initiative, and Pamela Urquieta, CEO and Executive director of Let’s Innovate Through Education. Allstate selected the Youth Empowerment Award winner.

Started in 2015, The Renewal Awards spotlight grassroots solutions to challenges faced by communities around the country and the people making a positive difference. The awards are the flagship initiative of The Renewal Project, The Atlantic and Allstate’s broader partnership that covers innovation and celebrates change-makers in local communities. With this year’s award, 31 organizations have received more than $800,000 in funding from The Atlantic and Allstate to further their work. To learn more about the awards, and read about past winners, please visit TheRenewalProject.com.

Follow The Renewal Project: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Sing Illustration by Mina Tocalini

Virtual Music Festival

Cincinnati Music Festival presented by P&G (CMF) won’t skip a beat in 2020. Through a marathon of new and previous music content, consumer engagement opportunities and digital presence, CMF is creating the #FEELSLIKECMF Virtual Weekend Experience, July 23-25. The innovative free event, to be available on cincymusicfestival.com, will focus on celebration, community and local impact and is also supported by AARP.   

“Music provides hope, comfort and determination during uncertain times,” said Joe Santangelo, producer of CMF. “Leading up to and during #FEELSLIKECMF Weekend, we will strategically work to uplift our neighbors, support local black artists and musicians and drive commerce to local Black owned businesses and restaurants. This event promises to grow awareness of regional organizations that support the African American community, and share the positivity and history of our Cincinnati Music Festival presented by P&G.” #FEELSLIKECMF.

Schedule of Events

THURSDAY, JULY 23  

Triiibe recorded live at Corporate  

Aprina Johnson recorded live at Black Coffee 

 DJ Vader recorded live at Revel DJ Ellery    

Special appearance: The State of Black Culture featuring Rev. Al Sharpton from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

FRIDAY, JULY 24 

Lauren Eylise recorded live at Paul Brown Stadium 

Kathy Wade & Joe Santangelo 

DJ Baby Rome recorded live at Paul Brown Stadium 

Regina Belle   

Special attraction: Cincinnati Music Festival Outdoor Art Museum at Washington Park    

SATURDAY, JULY 25

DJ DNICE LIVE from Club Quarantine Additional weekend entertainment will include shout-outs from The O’Jays’ Eddie Levert, Biz Markie and more. 

The Cincinnati Music festival presented by P&G returns to Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, July 22-24, 2021. The lineup features multi-talented singer-songwriter Janet Jackson and will also include an expanded and exciting Thursday lineup at the Andrew J. Brady ICON Music Center at The Banks. Tickets are on sale at CincyMusicFestival.com

Cincinnati Music Festival: Largest Tourism Weekend of the Year in Cincinnati A recent study conducted by the UC Economics Center and commissioned by the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau shows the Cincinnati Music Festival presented by P&G provides a $107.5 million economic impact to the region, making it the largest annual driver of tourism in the tristate. 

Cincinnati Music Festival began in 1962 and is one of the largest music festivals in the United States attracting over 90,000+ people from around the country with its roster of leading R&B, jazz, soul and hip-hop artists creating an economic impact of $107 million for Cincinnati. CMF is held at Paul Brown Stadium in partnership with the Cincinnati Bengals. Procter & Gamble is the presenting sponsor for the Cincinnati Music Festival. 

Follow Cincinnati Music Festival: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Zakat Foundation Food Relief

Zakat Foundation of America will deliver nearly 35,000 pounds of farm-fresh produce into food-insecure East Oakland for free distribution Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Masjidul Waritheen, 1700 47th Avenue, the city’s oldest mosque.

The food relief for hurting families comes after weeks of near-total shutdowns, impelled by violent police crackdowns on diverse anti-racist protestors outraged by ongoing rampant police brutality against African Americans, ignited by the public police-lynching of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

The protests and ensuing police action have come in the wake of months of deadly pandemic disruptions, particularly for perennially underserved African American communities locked in health care and food deserts.

“True faith is more than belief in the heart. It is to act quickly with humane empathy and mercy on behalf of the vulnerable,” said Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation’s executive director, “We want to put a little bit of love in the hearts of people, bring some healing to our nation.”

Believers in Humanity Abound

Demir’s quest of compassion has resonated deeply with a growing, diverse array of eager religious and nonprofit groups.

More than 30 organizations under the Northern California Islamic Council (NCIC) umbrella — including Lighthouse Mosque, CAIR-CA (Council on American-Islamic Relations), SABA and others scattered throughout the Bay Area — will help pass out crates brimming with colorful fruits and vegetables to some 7,000 people in urgent need of the fresh nutrition.

“The Prophet Muhammad, on him be peace, said, ‘He is no believer who sleeps at night while his neighbor goes hungry.’ So we want to be sure we live by that, that we take care of all our neighbors,” said Hatem Bazian, chair of NCIC, “Each and every human being has a right to quality food, clean water, health care and shelter, and blessed are those that make this possible.”

Jewish Voice for Peace’s Bay Area chapter is also set to volunteer. In a statement, the JVPBA quoted the Torah, which says “Tzedek tzedek tirdof,” translated as “Justice, justice shall you pursue.”

Relief workers from the international humanitarian agency, headquartered in Bridgeview, Illinois, near Chicago, have packed each produce box with 25 pounds of farm-fresh tomatoes, apples, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, carrots, asparagus, onions, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables.

Bazian, who is co-editor and founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal, director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, and a senior lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley, quickly points to where credit for the food project should go.

“NCIC’s partnership with the leadership of the Black Muslim community has made the efforts to address immediate food insecurity in the Bay Area possible,” Bazian said.

He lauds, as well, “the resourcefulness of Zakat Foundation of America. They’ve responded to the growing humanitarian needs in East Oakland, in particular — one of the heaviest hit with COVID-19 in Alameda County.”

Standing Up to Stand Together

But Bazian, too, has his eye on the larger societal picture.

“Our hope is that this is a first step of many toward building a healthy and more inclusive society,” Bazian said.

Organizers plan to follow the upcoming food giveaway with a socially distanced communal prayer.

Amna Mirza, the global charity’s head of marketing and communications and cornerstone liaison for the event, laments how “COVID-19 and recent curfews have forced us to stay indoors and keep away from family and friends. A sense of loneliness has overcome many of us, which is ironic because we live in an ever-connected world.”

So Mirza set Zakat Foundation’s fresh-food support for America’s downtrodden and pandemic-wearied in motion after Floyd’s murder. She’s now seen her idea spring to life in food distributions from coast to coast — including in North Carolina’s Triangle Region, coronavirus-battered New York, refugee-hub St. Louis, and protest epicenter Minneapolis.

“For two decades, Zakat Foundation has stood with the oppressed, providing aid to underrepresented communities throughout the world. Now is no time for us to stay silent,” Mirza said, “This is what Zakat Foundation stands for. To truly feel connected to each other. To understand the plight of our neighbor. To feel empathy. To understand it’s our humanity that connects us. It’s putting our common humanity above what divides us.”

For more information on Zakat Foundation, click here.

Follow Zakat Foundation on Instagram here.

Rita Azar, 360 MAGAZINE

Defund the Police

Defund the Police: What does it mean?

By Emmet McGeown

In John Le Carré’s 1963 spy novel, “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” the character Control, a prominent member of the British intelligence service, describes the duty of law enforcement as follows: “We do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night.” The role of policing is often depicted in this light. There exists a prevalent view that the police exist in order to do things that civilians have neither the ability nor stomach to do, whether this be subduing suspects or dispersing delinquents. Yet, what if this didn’t have to be the role of police? What if the police were viewed more as a public service as opposed to a pseudo-military presence?

This is the idea presented by the “defund police” movement. Over the past few weeks, since the unwarranted and horrifying murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there has been a significant push for police forces all around the country to receive less money in municipal budgets and federal grants. It’s a controversial plan.

Law enforcement is a sacred pillar of post-9/11 American society. To be a police officer is to be part of an institution, an illustrious and insular institution where prestige and eminence are vigorously upheld in the name of justice. The lionization of American police forces has coincided with their increasing militarization. To question the splendor of law enforcement is to express doubt in the American experiment; at least that’s how many would regard it. This is evident in the fact that even leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi are eager to distance themselves from the potential consequences of defunding the police. Veteran Senator, Dianne Feinstein, when asked, expressed, “I just don’t believe in that as an answer.”

Furthermore, Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, anxious to appease moderates, released a plan last year that would actually add $300 million to the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) which, since 1994, has invested over $14 billion dollars in local police departments to hire and train local police officers. There is no reason to believe that he intends on revising this plan in the wake of nationwide protests.

So, besides defunding, as its moniker quite blatantly advocates, what else is the “defund police” movement aspiring to achieve? Well, a concomitant effect of defunding would be extra money to potentially invest in other community programs. San Francisco, Portland, Denver and Nashville are among the many cities that are already debating diverting police funds to other first responders, schools, and community initiatives. The movement is gaining traction. In America’s second most populous city, Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti shifted $150 million from police budgets to education, healthcare, and housing in communities of color. Fueling such actions is the belief that poverty is a catalyst for crime thus tackling impoverishment is a way to reduce instances of police brutality. This is an interesting concept. In fact, a report by the Bureau of Justice released in 2014 revealed that from the period 2008-2012 persons in households living at or below the federal poverty line had more than double the rate of violent victimization than those in high-income households. More so, Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis conducted a study that revealed that areas with higher rates of unemployment and few social services also tend to have higher crime rates. In the city of St. Louis, according to the same study, firearm assault rates per 1,000 residents are more than six times higher in high-poverty neighborhoods than in low-poverty neighborhoods. Thus, alleviating poverty through allocating more money to social services, employment schemes, and public education may have a profound effect on crime rates therefore could minimize the need for heavy-handed police tactics.

This idea doesn’t seem so radical when elaborated upon. Indeed, a 2008 Yale study of the relationship between welfare and crime rates concluded that frequent welfare payments that are sufficiently large would be associated with lower levels of crime. Yet, the slogan “defund police” lacks the syllables to encapsulate sufficient nuance. Those advocating for defunding the police may want to sacrifice their snappy maxim for detailed proposals if they wish to create meaningful change.

The third aspect of the “defund police” movement is arguably the most agreeable. Many activists in the movement have outlined that police officers respond to an overwhelming number of situations for which they are not equipped nor qualified. These include dealing with people suffering from mental health issues, domestic disputes, disobedient school children and drug addiction. Activists argue that the police have become the remedy to every societal problem regardless of the magnitude. Even ancient Rome divided the role of the city’s police force into the Vigiles, Praetorian Guard, and Urban Cohorts, each being responsible for maintaining a certain type of public order. Yet, in modern-day America, 911 can be dialed in the event of a murder or because a birdwatcher asked someone to put their dog on a leash. This imprecise prophylactic policing trivializes policing as we now rely on officers to resolve even the most miniscule of disputes. This contributes, not only to wasting police time, but also to the perpetual escalation of the insubstantial into the inexcusable. After all, George Floyd was initially interacting with the police for using a counterfeit $20 bill, a crime hardly worth an arrest never mind public suffocation.

Even so, there are still many obstacles in the path of those aspiring to defund the police: “Sixty percent specifically oppose reducing the budget for police to reallocate it to other public health and social programs, while 39 percent support that move,” said ABC News.

For many Americans, the police are untouchable. This attitude is expressed eloquently, albeit brashly, by conservative political commentator Heather MacDonald in a City Journal article titled “Why We Need the Police.” Here, Ms. MacDonald decries the notion that better-funded social services would ameliorate crime rates in cities. She argues that New York City is a prime example because “No city spent more on welfare, yet crime continued to rise.” Ms. MacDonald outlines that “fewer cops and depleted NYPD funding mean longer response times and less training.”

One must concede that there is a logic to this argument. Indeed, research by Dr. June O’Neill and Anne Hill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and food stamp benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men. So, one could argue that an increased reliance upon social services in impoverished neighborhoods will actually result in an increase of crime.

Lastly, many are weary to openly endorse defunding the police because it appears to be a tributary feeding a more radical river: abolition of the police. Abolishing the police, much like the movement to abolish ICE, is a policy idea expressed by the fringes of the left wing. The belief system undergirding this viewpoint is that the American police force is chronically racist. Its members, thus their actions, are discriminatory and perpetuate the racial inequality admonished by those calling for the abolition of the police. A NYT op-ed, written by Mariame Kaba, argues that since policing has roots in slave patrols and union busting the asphyxiation of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin is an expected and unsurprising corollary of an organization that has been marinating in a mélange of classism and racism since its genesis.

For those advocating police abolition, “reform” is viewed as insufficient. It is seen as a bromide used by moderate politicians to avoid a tangible restructuring of policing thus immortalizing the status quo. Reform is a more palatable dish in suburban dining rooms. Abolition, derived from the Latin infinitive abolere literally meaning “destroy,” makes many middle-class voters twitch as they imagine a future in which the thin blue-line restraining mayhem is snapped, unleashing a cascade of crime. Yet, the push to abolish the police may have its merits…

“Why did you have to shoot? I mean that’s the only question that matters right now. Why did you kill my son?” asked William Schultz, father of Scout Schultz who was a Georgia Tech student suffering from depression shot by Georgia Tech police in 2017. In the now infamous video, Scout can be seen holding a multi-purpose tool walking toward two police officers. After Scout’s death questions were asked as to why lethal force had to be used. Contrast this with an incident in Camden, NJ, where a knife-wielding individual threatened customers of a fried-chicken joint then walked down the street refusing to obey cops demands for him to put down the knife as he thrashed erratically. For 5 minutes, over a dozen police officers formed a loose semi-circle around the suspect, following him as he walked down the street. After repeated warnings, the man was tased, disarmed, and arrested. No death. What was the difference? Advocates of abolishing the police would argue that because the latter city had disbanded their police department and rebuilt a new, community-focused county force, violence was avoided.

In May 2013, the Camden City Council approved several resolutions that eliminated the city police department and established a new one under county control. The remaining city cops were all laid off and had to reapply to work with the county, under far less generous nonunion contracts. The Camden police was now bigger. By cutting salaries, the county was able to hire more officers, increasing the size of the department from 250 to 400. Plus, the officers were no longer rewarded for the number of tickets they had written, or how many arrests they had made. No longer would officers be the “arbitrary decider of what’s right and wrong,” Camden police chief, Scott Thomson, announced but rather consider themselves as “a facilitator and a convener.” A result of this structural innovation has been a 72% drop in violent crimes over 7 years.

It is clear that something has to change. However, this change should not be limited to the police. In order to prevent more George Floyd’s, one must approach the problem of policing as though it were a rock formation consisting of multiple compressed strata, preserved in time, now requiring excavation and examination. Such attempts have been made in the past, most notably by the presidentially appointed Kerner Commission set up to analyze the cause of the civil unrest in the late 1960’s. In the Commission’s landmark 1968 report it concluded: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal…White society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” It’s time we stopped ignoring the inequality which persists in this nation. Poverty and policing are inextricably linked, defunding police might feel good for the Left and defunding welfare programs may feel good for the Right but what will work?
We still don’t know.