Voters in LA have a little-known election on May 14 that is proving to be another case of underrepresentation of communities of color.
Board District 5 of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is having a special election to replace a former board member who resigned due to corruption charges. Voters in this runoff election will have to decide between two white candidates in a district where 8 in 10 residents are people of color and nearly 90 percent of enrolled students are Latino.
The LAUSD Board will be largely white even though most students are Latino.
The election is occurring in Board District 5 which makes up LA’s lower-income Latino-majority cities. These cities include Maywood, Huntington Park, Cudahy, and South Gate along with the rapidly gentrifying communities of Los Feliz, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, and Silver Lake.
Many voters in the district know want they want in a board member. They want someone who will make the superintendent work harder and who will visit local schools more frequently. Yet, for the heavily Latino district, many also want to see someone who looks like us sitting on the board. They want someone who better understands the needs of the community because they are from the same community.
Unfortunately, that won’t be an option in Tuesday’s election.
Board District 5 is quintessential Los Angeles.
L.A.’s Board District 5 closely mirrors the demographics of L.A. as a whole. More than a quarter of students are classified as English learners, more than 85 percent live in low-income households, and an estimated 2,000 are homeless.
However, Board District 5 topped LAUSD as a whole last year with its graduation rate of 83 percent, compared with 76.6 percent for all other schools. One reason for the higher graduation rates could be that there are a number of community organizations and Latino advocacy groups who partner with local high schools to help students go on to college.
Latinos not being represented is nothing new in politics, even on the local L.A. level.
People are fed up and letting themselves be heard on social media. With Tuesday’s turnout expected to be low (roughly just 10-20 percent of eligible voters), it’s so important that Latinos and all people of color make their voices heard so that we can finally see ourselves represented in all levels of government.
On Saturday, a man allegedly shot a 10-month-old baby in the head after the child’s mom rejected him at a party in Fresno, Calif.
According to the Fresno Police Department, Marcos Antonio Echartea, 23, fanatically followed Deziree Menagh, 18, at a party.
The two had met a week prior, and when he saw her at the gathering, he hounded her every move. Echartea turned down the man’s advances, resisting him when he tried to force her on his lap and leaving the party early to get away from him.
“It was very apparent that he wanted a relationship with her,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Sunday, according to BuzzFeed News.
Menagh left the party with her daughter in the car of a male friend. As the three of them drove off, they stopped while making a U-turn about a block away, when Echartea appeared walking toward them. Near the car, the man reportedly fired three shots into the driver’s side window. The blasts hit Fayth in the side of her head as she sat on her mother’s lap in the passenger seat.
“We have every reason to believe that Marcus knew that baby Fayth was in that vehicle when he fired three rounds into that vehicle,” Dyer said.
The driver rushed to the hospital and called the police. On the phone, a dispatcher informed him there were officers nearby who could care for the baby as they waited for an ambulance.
The baby remains in the hospital, where she is in critical condition after doctors pulled bullet fragments from her head.
“We are hoping and praying that baby Fayth is able to survive this injury, as well as make a full recovery,” Dyer said. “I know the parents are broken. They’re hurting.”
Echartea, who was arrested at his house and charged with three counts of attempted murder, is also a suspect in a similar child shooting “over a female.” On the night of May 27, the man visited the home of his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend and fired his gun numerous times inside. During his attack, he almost hit a one-year-old baby.
“It’s very apparent that Marcos Echartea has no regard for human life, even a baby,” Dyer said.
The man is currently facing additional felony counts, including assault with a deadly weapon, related to the previous shooting as well.
Farmworkers face dangerous and even life-threatening conditions each and every day they’re at work. It’s a seriously difficult job to do but so many of our country’s most at-risk people are the ones doing it.
Our nation’s farmworkers face discrimination, refusal of payment, immigration crackdowns, physical injury, and now – according to an NBC report – an outbreak of valley fever.
This outbreak of valley fever has the potential to be deadly for farmworkers.
A new NBC News report details the story of Victor Gutierrez, who contracted valley fever, a dangerous fungal disease. Victor was suffering from flu-like symptoms – coughing, night sweats, exhaustion, and a strange feeling that he was burning up on the inside. He ignored the symptoms and kept working so that he wouldn’t lose his job but eventually the illness caught up with him and he was struggling to breathe.
The next day, Gutierrez’s lungs filled up with fluid and he felt so sick that he went to a local clinic. This time, they tested him for valley fever, and it came back positive.
He told NBC News: “The nurse called me and told me to rush to the clinic because it was an emergency.” They told him he might only have six months to live.
While Gutierrez managed to beat those odds by taking the antifungal medication fluconazole for more than a year, he has seen valley fever kill many other people he’s known.
The worst of the valley fever outbreak is happening where nearly two-thirds of our nuts and fruits come from – putting a huge amount of workers at risk along with our economy.
In California, rates of new cases rose 10 percent in just one year. The state budget has $8 million for valley fever research, while about $3 million will go to the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center, in the heart of the growing threat.
These figures pale in comparison to the actual costs associated with valley fever. In 2011, California spent approximately $2.2 billion in valley fever-related hospital expenses.
Climate change has been singled out as a possible cause for the outbreaks.
Coccidioidomycosis or cocci (pronounced “coxy”), the fungus that causes valley fever, thrives in dry, undisturbed soil. It becomes airborne when that soil is disturbed – whether it’s by dirt bikes, construction crews, or farmers putting in a new fruit or nut orchard. It can travel on the wind as far as 75 miles away. Years of climate change-fueled drought and a 240 percent increase in dust storms appear to have led to a swift rise in the number of people diagnosed with the illness across the Southwest.
Adding to the threat of valley fever is that 49% of farmworkers are undocumented and unlikely to seek medical care for fear of deportation.
Like 68 percent of the estimated 800,000 farmworkers in California, Gutierrez was born in Mexico. An estimated 49 percent of the state’s farmworkers lack work authorization and most live under the federal poverty line in unincorporated communities with few public services.
Undocumented residents are far less likely to visit a doctor or a hospital, even for urgent medical care. This puts an already at-risk group of people at greater risk of health complications.
Other’s are forced to make a choice between eating or medicine.
Like many farmworkers who contract the illness, Gutierrez found the cost of the antifungal medication needed to treat valley fever totally unaffordable. At the height of the illness, it cost $1,200 for two months of pills because he had to take two to three times as many as one would if they were treating a typical candida infection.
He didn’t have insurance at the time and said his family often had to choose between food and his medication. He still isn’t able to work regularly and his family mainly survives on the money his wife, Maria, makes in the fields.
People took to Twitter to worry about what this meant for the state and its farmworkers.
With more than 800,000 at-risk farmworkers, people who work in the fields to help deliver foods to plates across the country, this is an urgent problem.
Valley fever could leave large groups of the community unable to work.
While some offered up first-hand experience on their battle with valley fever.
Although valley fever is often mild with no symptoms, it has the potential to be deadly – especially in at-risk groups. Symptoms include fatigue, cough, fever, night sweats and can progress to painful skin lesions and fluid-filled lungs.
Thankfully, vaccines are in the works but they won’t be a silver bullet.
Two vaccines are in the works – at the University of Texas and the University of Arizona – but it’s not clear how close they are to being tested on humans.
Three members of Congress from the Southwest last month introduced a federal bill, the FORWARD Act, in an effort to increase public awareness of the disease while “promoting the development of novel treatments and a vaccine.”
Share this story with all of your friends by tapping our little share buttons below!