California

Legislation that would require more transparency and tracking of mental health services for foster kids in every California county unanimously passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug.18. Senate Bill 1291, initiated by state Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) would institute more stringent annual oversight of county Medi-Cal mental health plans’ services to foster youth, reports the East Bay Times. Services may include screenings, assessments, psychiatric hospitalizations, crisis interventions, case management and psychotropic drugs, among other treatments. But Beall and others believe the data will reveal an over-reliance by counties on psychotropic medications rather than therapy or other services to treat foster youth. The new data, he said, would hopefully address the dilemma and lead to safe and effective treatments. “Rather than just waiting until a kid has a particular problem, it’s better to have a plan for therapy and an array of services,” Beall said. “Just by doing that, you will use less drugs, because you have other options that the kids could use to help them.”


Under a bill in the state legislature, California would no longer prosecute minors for prostitution, a move law enforcement agencies say would make it more difficult to prosecute pimps. Supporters of SB1322 say many children caught selling sex are the victims of human traffickers and that prosecuting them for prostitution is not the appropriate or ethical response. SB1322 passed the Senate 28-10 in June, but faces a tougher vote in the more moderate Assembly, where some Democrats have aligned with law enforcement groups. “Everyone on both sides of the bill is in agreement that these kids are victims, not criminals; where we differ is in how much faith we have in the dependency side of the juvenile system to effectively handle this population,” said Sean Hoffman, director of legislation for the district attorneys association.

Louisiana

Republican candidate Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence went to Baton Rouge to help those devastated by recent floods. Gov. John Bel Edwards, currently responding to some of the worst floods in his state since Hurricane Katrina, previously said to Trump in a statement that, “we welcome him to Louisiana but not for a photo-op. Instead we hope he’ll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of the storm.” Trump went anyway, criticizing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for not being there. According to various news sources, Trump was off his plane for less than a minute, just enough for cameras to catch him handing toys to families affected by the floods.

Maryland

Toya Graham, who came to be known as ‘Mother of the Year,’ when she smacked her rioting son during unrest in Baltimore last year, is now homeless. That’s thanks to her son, who reportedly accidentally burned down the family home. The family’s displacement comes after her 17-year-old son accidentally started a fire in the kitchen, according to multiple news sources. The Baltimore Sun reports that the fire started after the son was frying chicken tenders and walked away to use the bathroom. Graham became famous when she smacked the boy while cameras were rolling, as she tried to stop the teen from participating in the rioting that took place over the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police. She was widely lauded for getting her son off the streets, while at the same time, highlighting the struggle of raising kids without the presence of a father figure. As a result of the publicity, the single mom of five was able to move the family into a larger home, while Michael, the son in the video, was accepted into the Job Corps. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for Graham. At press time, it had raised more than $42,000.

New Jersey

A newspaper in Great Britain is claiming that it has accessed documents that show that massive retailer Wal-Mart is going after comedic actor Tracy Morgan for “overstating” his injuries. Back in 2014, a Wal-Mart semi-truck smashed into Morgan’s limo on a New Jersey freeway, killing one of his friends and severely injuring the “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star. While Wal-Mart settled with Morgan for a rumored $90 million, the insurers are now reportedly claiming that the retail giant overpaid to save face, according to the Daily Mail. In the documents obtained by the newspaper, the insurers allegedly state that they should not cover the “exorbitant” settlements. They’re saying there is “no coverage to the extent which these settlements were paid to avoid adverse publicity.” The company allegedly added that the amount the retailer paid to both Morgan and the other passengers was excessive in comparison to the actual injuries that he experienced. According to the story, the insurers are also saying that Wal-Mart didn’t sufficiently assess investigations into Morgan’s health before settling.

New York

New York’s Jewish community is also concerned about the lives of African Americans. An organization called Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) recently marched and rallied in the name of Black Lives Matter in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, according to BlackNews.com. The organization reportedly held a peaceful rally protesting police violence against people of color during which they demanded police accountability. Yehudah Webster, a member of JFREJ and the leader of another group called Jews of Color, said, “even though we are angry at the injustice of police brutality, we gather here for love, for lost brothers and sisters, our communities and each other.”

Ohio

Lebron James is delivering on his promise to enrich the lives of kids in his hometown of Akron. On Aug. 16, the NBA star hosted 5,000 kids and their families on his annual trip to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, as part of his “I Promise” education initiative. Tailored to fit the educational needs of students, the program offers afterschool activities, mentorship opportunities and provides scholarships to high school graduates. He also announced that on behalf of his Lebron James Family Foundation, he has partnered with the University of Akron to provide full scholarships to 1,100 children who are currently in his I Promise program, starting in 2021.

North Carolina

A university is currently embroiled in controversy over posters that appeared in a busy campus hub, calling on White students and others to “check their privilege.” Students at Appalachian State University can see the posters, located at Plemmons Student Union, which call on White, male, able-bodied, Christian or transgender students to become aware of their privilege. The message has been up since last semester as debate rages on about whether or not it should be allowed. Conservatives are outraged over the poster, which they believe is singling out members of a specific religion and is also an imposition of a political viewpoint in a prominent public area. Originally, the poster appeared in a residential hall but was moved to a more public place. Others agree with the message but believe that the presentation and the placement leave much to be desired.

Virginia

Stafford County Police Lt. Deuntay Diggs, who is White, put together his best choreography and hit the stage at an annual back-to-school expo to collect school supplies for families in need, reports The Grio. His jaw-dropping performance of Beyoncé’s “Formation” solidified his first-place win. Many police officers took major offense to the music video that pictured a police car sinking and some controversial police depictions. Diggs wasn’t offended by the music released by his favorite singer Beyoncé, who he has followed since her “Say My Name” days with Destiny’s Child. Diggs told ABC news, “I want to show the community that, law enforcement, we’re human, that we have feelings and emotions and we’re really part of the community. I know there’s a lot going on nationally, when it comes to law enforcement and the community, so I’m really focused on bridging that gap and listening to people.”

Washington

A kiss between a Black man and White woman enraged a self-proclaimed White supremacist so much that he stabbed them outside of a bar without any provocation. The Washington Post reports that Daniel Rowe, 32, came up to the couple as they left the China Clipper Club Cafe in Olympia and lunged at them with a knife. The man, who sported Confederate flag and “White power” tattoos, babbled about Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump after he was arrested. The 47-year-old Black man, who was stabbed in the hip, was able to tackle the suspect and restrain him on the ground until police arrived. His injuries were minor, as were the woman’s, who was grazed with the knife. According to the Post, police said the man said, “Yeah, I stabbed them. I’m a White supremacist,” when he was arrested. Investigators are treating the attack as a hate crime. Rowe has been charged with two counts of first-degree assault and one count of malicious harassment.

National

McDonald’s USA will televise its 13th annual 365 Black Awards ceremony for the fourth consecutive year on BET. Hosted by actor/photographer Lance Gross, alongside actress/singer Amber P. Riley, the program will initially air Thursday, Sept. 1, and again the following Sunday, Sept. 4. It will also air on BET and on CENTRIC-TV on Sept. 11, and one more time on Sept. 12. Held in conjunction with the Essence Festival, the show featured performances from R&B singer Kelly Price and the Braxton Sisters. The event honored Toni Braxton with a Lifetime Achievement award. Other performers included recording artists Kenny Lattimore, V. Bozeman, Eric Benet, Anthony Hamilton, the Hamiltones, Chrisette Michele, Ro James and Canton Jones. The awards are presented annually to salute outstanding achievements of those who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. In addition to Braxton, this year’s honorees included: football cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman; award-winning actress Wendy Raquel Robinson; educator and historian Lonnie Bunch; and McDonald’s owner/operator Larry Tripplett. Additionally, teen philanthropist Lauren Seroyer and teen social-entrepreneur Donovan Smith were recognized.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.