Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Century Race Matters

Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Cen…

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The San Bernardino American

The San Bernardino American

Single-Payer Health Bill Passes Senate But Critics Question How To Fund It

  • Published in U.S.

California has long been a national leader in innovation, and if Senate Bill 562 (which seeks to establish a Medicare-for-all system) passes, the state could change the direction of health care in the nation.

SB 562 is sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA.) According to a CNA press release, the primary goal of the new single-payer system is to save money and provide more efficient health care.

According to a study by University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers, a single-payer system could reduce California's health care spending by 18 percent.

The CNA also argues SB 562 would benefit businesses who currently carry the burden for workers' health care premiums. CNA says small businesses could see a 22 percent reduction in payroll costs, while medium-sized businesses could see a 13 percent reduction.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst study also projects that a single-payer system would cost the state more than $330 billion. (However, a legislative analysis puts the figure at $400 billion.) This would be funded by two 2.3 percent taxes on gross receipts and sales.

SB 562, introduced by State Sens. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego,) passed the Senate and is now with the Assembly.

Lara also extolled the money that could be saved by implementing a single-payer health care system, which would also cover undocumented immigrants.

"More Californians receive their health insurance through public programs like Medicare and Medi-cal than from any insurance company. These programs have low administrative costs and have high patient satisfaction. We have shown that California can do this," said Lara.

However, there are still several concerns and questions that have not been answered. For example, what happens to the private health care industry?

Deborah Burger, president of the CNA, said a single-payer system would effectively kill the private insurance industry. Burger said nurses, who are on the front lines of health care, see the effects of the private health care system every day. Patients have their care rationed and can't afford premiums or medications, she said.

"More and more people are declaring bankruptcy from medical bills," Burger said.

The California Medical Association (CMA,) a state organization that represents doctors, has offered limited support for SB 562.

"CMA has a policy supporting a single payer system provided it meets certain benchmarks -- the most important of which is demonstrating that the legislation would make appropriate investments in health care infrastructure, including providers for California's patients," said Joanne Adams, associate director of communications at the CMA. "Given what we've seen with the proposed raiding of tobacco tax funds we're not confident that the state is currently prepared to commit sufficient investments towards meaningful access to care."

Senate Republicans are also skeptical of the bill. State Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) was concerned about the cost and how it would be funded.

"SB 562 would cost California taxpayers $400 billion, more than twice the size of the entire state budget. It makes sweeping promises to provide health care for every Californian but has no funding plan to pay for it and no guarantees of greater access for consumers. It is a false promise to Californians," said Nguyen.

Sen. Tom Berryhill, (R-Twain Harte,) was also extremely critical of SB 562. He gave a lengthy speech in the Senate outlining his problems with the bill.

According to Berryhill, the Democrats have not offered a clear plan for funding their single-payer health care system.

"If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB-562, we wouldn't even cover half of the estimated $400-billion price tag," said Berryhill.

"Obviously, the state would have to generate a lot of new revenue from somewhere, but the bill has not identified any concrete sources of revenue."

Berryhill also cited the VA, the UC system and the high-speed rail project as other examples of poorly financed and run government programs.

"I'm just worried that single-payer would suffer the same fate as these other projects," said Berryhill.

Nguyen said the GOP favors improving healthcare by fixing Medi-Cal and also improving access to clinics that serve rural and low-income areas.

"We should begin by working to improve access for the 14 million people on Medi-Cal, which is the state's current government run program.

SB 562 is currently being reviewed by the State Assembly. If they don't add any amendments, it goes back to the Senate and onto Gov. Jerry Brown's office. Brown has publicly expressed skepticism about the bill, especially about how to pay for it.

Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Century Race Matters

Maybe it's me, but it seems we who consume news in the many ways we prefer are being exposed to more coverage regarding acts of racism in America. Could it be that media outlets are deciding that it's time to shine a brighter spotlight on this vile plague that continues to try to strike fear at the heart of U.S. citizenry? No matter the cause, people worldwide are able to have access to these reportings. As many a person of color can attest, the United States of America is currently not post-racial. Nor has it been in its recent past as had been reported after the election of former President Obama.

American actor, comedian, and filmmaker Jordan Peele brilliantly depicted his musings concerning race matters in the 2016 box office hit, "Get Out." Get Out is being lauded as a "social thriller" in the same vein as "The Shining" and "Rosemary's Baby," among others. While on the surface this horror film may rightfully scare its viewer with suspenseful music and intermittent jolts from characters on-screen, more deeply imbedded in this movie are greater racial truths as experienced by African Americans.

Oregon-based millennial actor, Seth Rue critically addresses race in 21st century America. "Part of what makes the American iteration of white supremacist patriarchy peculiarly powerful in its destruction is that the mechanisms it employs to constantly assert and reassert its oppressive hegemony have been crafted and honed over hundreds of years to be invisible. These mechanisms all collude to be extremely effective together, and it is incredibly hard to identify them at all, let alone fight to protect against and ultimately break them. It is even more difficult to find any mainstream popular media that is allowed (by the industry) to highlight them. Get Out does this, and in a fashion that is equally stunning and satisfying."

Chicago-based millennial activist and illustrator, Bianca Xunise has this to say about race in America. "I really enjoyed how Get Out portrayed what it is like to see the world as a black person. Often we get told (by white people) that we are exaggerating or that what we see is just us being paranoid, but microagressions are apparent and prevalent throughout our day to day. Though in this film it is pushed to the extreme, it does still capture that overwhelmed feeling." She further states, "Get Out offers a great opportunity to gain some understanding to the plight of people of color and offers those who are curious a moment to walk in our shoes. Plus the movie is also pretty funny!"

Sadly, what is not funny is the reality that people of color do regularly experience aggressive and microaggresive acts perpetrated by the dominant culture which are meant to terrify and subjugate those already marginalized. This is typically done as a measure of control.

Recently Cleveland Cavaliers basketball phenom, LeBron James, spoke out at a press conference intended to address the 2017 Basketball Finals that his L.A. home had been vandalized by someone (or a group of someones) who spray-painted the "N" word onto the side of his property. James soberly stated that "no matter how many people admire you, you know, being black in America is – it's tough."

As an activist and minister for more than three decades, I could not agree more with each of these featured voices. It is tough! Fortunately, there are many people, old and young, who are not fearful to use their platforms to share experiences and truths as it pertains to race in America. What makes me equally appreciative is that American media has become less hesitant to let the world know what is happening in our own backyard. For this willingness, I am grateful.

“I Tell You, It’s time to Separate the Men from the Boys!”

You see the Almighty declared, “I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” [Ezekiel 22:30]. How alarming that God would have to look for a man. How astonishing He could not find a man. This verse is not only amazing, this verse is disturbing. God had to go and search for a man. The words “I sought” carry the idea of diligently going from place to place; from person to person; seeking, asking, and trying to find someone to do His work. Every time I read this statement I think of how appalling it is that God would have to even look for a man, much less “diligently” search for one. You would think that after all that God had done for us that the line to serve him would be so long that it would wrap around Heaven. You would think that we would be ready and willing to be used of God. But most of us, who are doing nothing for God, have become so apathetic to the cause of Christ. Some of the saddest words that you will ever find in the Word of God are right here before us: “BUT I FOUND NONE.” Listen, it is one thing to reject a preacher of the Gospel. It is one thing to have a closed ear and a closed heart to what you hear from God’s Word. However, it is another thing to reject the Lord and Savior of the world. God could not find one man to make up the hedge! No one took His challenge seriously! I tell you it’s time to separate the men from the boys!

So in light of “Father’s Day” [Sunday, June 18th] this message is directed to all men. Listen, I know times are tough. I know that many of you have to work more than ever. I know that some of you have been dealt a bad hand. But do you understand that until you do as the Word of God says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, then and only then, will all other things be given to you.” The Word of Haggai says, “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. …Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came too little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” [Haggai 1:6, 9]. I tell you the hedge has been severed! The gap is widening! The enemy is attacking! It’s time to separate the men from the boys! Listen, God has not sent me here to get on you. God has not sent me here to make you feel guilty. God has sent me here to tell you that He is still searching. My assignment for this hour is to tell you that some of the hedge is down! By the grace of God, is there any man that will say, “STOP THE SEARCH?” For God only needs one person! One who will build up a hedge and hold up God’s holy standard? One who would hold back the tides of judgment? One, who like Shammah will take his stand in the middle of the field, defend it and strike the Philistines down, causing God to bring about a great victory. [2 Samuel 23:12]. I ask you, is there such a man? [2 Chronicles 16:9].

“You know a few years ago I saw a huge familiar billboard it was a lifelike picture of a Marine sergeant. Underneath his portrait were only five words, but they said it all. They said: Wanted: A few Good Men! Not many words but a message it was, indeed. It said, by implication: [1] this was not for everyone. This was not a general call for the average man on the street. The word few indicated that this was an isolated, somewhat specialized opportunity. [2] The word wanted indicated that there was a role to fill, and someone needed to fill it. Not everyone could, but someone must. [3] The request was not limited only by number, but by quality. A few good men meant only those of a certain caliber need apply. [4]The word men meant it was limited not so much because of discrimination, as by specifics. So the call was clear. A specific need existed that could only be filled by a few special men who would have to be a certain kind of man to qualify. I tell you, God is looking for a few good men. A few spiritually qualified men whose lives demonstrate the nature of God with such clarity that they might be like beacons set before the body of Christ to lead it through this age. ‘Mighty Men.’ Men who are of courageous faith. Men who are committed and willing to contend for what God has given them. Real men who make sure they stay close to God, and who are sensitive to His desires for their lives.”

I ask you, is there such a man today? If so, God is calling, “I want you.” Will you heed the call? Will you be like the men in the [Navy] and be dedicated to the Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment to build the foundation of trust and leadership upon which our strength is based and victory is achieved? Will you give Jesus Christ first place in your life? Will you let “Semper Fidelis” be your motto: which will guide you as it does the [Marines] to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to our country [Kingdom of God] no matter what. Will you consecrate yourself to God today? Are you courageous enough today to say with Joshua and Caleb, “Even though the odds are against me; even though it would be much easier to compromise and hang with the crowd; even though it may cost me friendships, family relationships, pleasures, or even my life, I will do what I know is right?” I hear the Lord’s voice, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” [Isaiah 6:8]. Is there one that will say here I am Lord, send me? If so, you are challenged to go forward for the cause of Christ and be a good soldier for Him. [2Timothy 1:6-9] One life to live – One life to give to our Lord and Savior, our Coming King!

Happy Father’s Day!

Marvel Comics Cancels Black Panther Spinoff About Black Women 48 Hours After New Trailer Drops

If you’re like me, you’re still recovering from the life-altering, summer-changing, amazing-ness that was the Black Panther movie trailer that debuted during Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday. The music, the action and the cast of actors look amazing. The costuming alone is about to change the game. Black women are going to dominate cosplay and Halloween. Appropriators of black culture are working overtime as we get closer to this movie. (Watch out for Khloe Kardashian’s new “Woke-Kanda” line from Nordstrom’s—you know she’ll try it! )

Amid that excitement, oh so quietly, it was announced Sunday night that World of Wakanda, the Black Panther spinoff comic that focuses on the Dora Milaje (all those amazingly dressed capoeira-fighting black women in the trailer), was canceled. Many people will feel like this is a gut punch. Marvel’s canceling a Black Panther comic book right after the movie trailer breaks the internet, and just a few weeks after canceling another Black Panther spinoff, smells like a C-O-N-SPIRACY. I’m here to tell you that comic books are a complicated business; there are levels to this. If we’re serious about supporting black art, we’ve got to show our love in dollars and not just tweets.

I’m one of those legitimate comic book fans. I go to conventions, I have thousands of comics in my house, I have the first Black Panther comic from 1966, and I even interviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Root last year, right before he starting writing the new series. So, I also know a lot about the business side of comics and how that differs from what we see on the big and small screen, which is what most people consume. Comics get canceled all the time, and it’s usually just due to poor sales. Look at the World of Wakanda sales over the last six months:

Black Panther: World of Wakanda

11/16 BP World of Wakanda No. 1: 57,073

12/16 BP World of Wakanda No. 2: 45,009 (-21.1 percent)

01/17 BP World of Wakanda No. 3: 25,248 (-43.9 percent)

02/17 BP World of Wakanda No. 4: 17,454 (-30.8 percent)

03/17 BP World of Wakanda No. 5: 15,847 (-9.2 percent)

04/17 BP World of Wakanda No. 6: 14,547 (-8.2 percent)

In the current comic book market, a book is doing well when sales are hovering around 30,000 a month, and World of Wakanda hadn’t been anywhere near that number since the second issue. Some will argue that WoW wasn’t given enough time to gain an audience given the kind of niche storylines the comic focused on.

There’s some merit to this. The comic was centered on adventures in and around Wakanda, the fictional African nation ruled by T’Challa, the Black Panther. As a spinoff, the main characters were rebellious members of the Dora Milaje (Wakanda’s elite guard, all those ass-kicking women in the movie trailer), Aneeka and Ayo, who decided to start a revolution against the oppression of women and the monarch system in Wakanda. Aneeka and Ayo also happened to be very open, very out lesbians, something that was OK in the comic, but which Marvel steadfastly tried to deny in its movie depictions. Maybe those factors had something to do with the comic’s inability to catch on with a wider array of fans, but the truth is, the book sales were cratering faster than Donald Trump’s approval numbers. Some of the people upset now should have been out there buying the book before. A better example of a strange black comic cancellation was Black Panther and the Crew, which was canceled in May.

Black Panther and the Crew, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey was canceled after one issue due to “poor sales,” according to an interview with Coates himself. That seemed awfully premature given the comic debuted over the 35,000 threshold and featured characters prominent in comics, movies and on Netflix. A comic featuring a superhero team of Storm, Black Panther, Luke Cage and Misty Knight doesn’t deserve more than six months to finish out its first story? Maybe Crew was a little too Black Lives Matter for the publisher? Maybe Marvel projected the subsequent issues would fall off with a debut only hitting 35,000? Maybe there just wasn’t an investment in the book. Which brings us to the main title, Black Panther, from which all of these canceled books were spun off.

Black Panther is just now hovering on the 30,000 line of death but there is absolutely no chance that book is going to get canceled before February 2018, when we’re all trading in Beyoncé and National Museum of African American History and Culture tickets to stand in line beyond Barack and Michelle to see Black Panther on opening night. Why? Marvel comics as a staff label and an organization has a vested interest in maintaining the core Black Panther book as a baseline of support for the movie.

However, in the world of comics, books like Black Panther get canceled all the time. Yes, T’Challa has a 51-year history in comics, and an upcoming movie, but other books have that same résumé, such as The Flash, Thor and Green Lantern, and have been canceled dozens of times over the years.

The relationship between comic book movies and comics is a lot like the music industry and radio. People listen to radio or streaming services for free, love a song, but don’t pay to download it. People can cheer for Ryan Coogler putting together an amazing Black Panther movie, but don’t buy the comics, and are shocked when they get canceled.

The easiest solution to the disappointment of World of Wakanda is to simply buy the comic! Buy it for yourself, your cousin or a godchild that needs a new hobby. I bought the main Black Panther comic even though it took Coates a few months to adjust to modern comic-writing. Now I love the book. I bought World of Wakanda, even though it wasn’t my cup of tea, because I wanted to support black art. I bought Black Panther and the Crew because I really liked the storyline. If every black person who watched the Black Panther trailer online or who downloaded “Legend Has It” by Run the Jewels after that trailer (still listening to it in my car) bought a Black Panther comic this week, there’d probably be another spinoff launched by this summer.

Wakanda will be there for us next February. Now, it’s up to us to spend the next eight months making sure we all put down our monthly comic deposits to earn our passports.

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