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Racial Slurs Have No Place in Football

The leaves are changing. The scent of pumpkin spice lattes is in the air. In short, it’s football season. And like millions of my fellow Americans, I love football.

But I’m also American Indian.

So for me, football season also means hearing a racial slur all the time. It’s used by sports teams around the country — and by Washington, D.C.’s National Football League team in particular.

You may know that franchise as the Redskins. I refer to it as the R-word.

Natives have been calling on sports teams to do away with the slur for 50 years, along with other mocking mascots and racist caricatures of Natives employed by teams of all kinds. Professional outfits should know better, but so should schools and communities.

So I celebrated recently, along with much of Indian Country, when California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Racial Mascots Act into law. It banned the state’s public schools from using the R-word to name sports teams. Schools in four California counties will soon have to rebrand their buildings, logos, uniforms, and mascots.

“We cannot change history or erase the past,” said Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown, president of Native Education Raising Dedicated Students. “But today, as Native students, we shall celebrate this step in the right direction of improving our educational experiences.”

I agree. Now if we can just convince our nation’s leaders to do the same.

My hope faded, though, when I heard Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush use the R-word not once, not twice, but three times during an interview in October. Then there’s GOP candidate Donald Trump, who proclaimed that Indians are “extremely proud” of the term.

Wrong.

For Native children, the R-word and its associated mascots are demeaning and disparaging, eroding their self-confidence and self-image. Unsurprisingly, peer-reviewed studies have suggested that racist mascots can hurt the performance of Native students.

It’s an additional mockery for an already suffering group of young people whose second-leading cause of death is suicide. And it’s an added insult to people whose treaty rights are still being violated, even today.

Native Americans are regularly confronted with attempts to turn our sacred religious lands over to corporations for profit. In Oak Flat, Arizona, some 2,400 acres of national forest land — protected since 1955 as Apache sacred land — is being handed over to Resolution Copper, a British-Australian mining conglomerate.

Meanwhile Natives continue to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, which would funnel oil mined from tar sands nearly 1,800 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico through multiple sovereign Indian territories. The U.S. government never negotiated with the tribes when charting the pipeline, despite the impact it will have on their lands.

And in spite of long-standing poverty, gross health disparities between Natives and non-Natives, and ongoing discrimination, federal funding for Indian health care, housing, and education programs remains paltry.

Most people have the good sense not to use the R-word to our faces. So why would you plaster it across a stadium?

Dropping the R-word alone won’t solve these deep crises in Indian Country. But it’s a crucial step toward restoring the equity, dignity, and democracy taken from the first people of this land.

At the very least, it’ll let us all get back to enjoying football — without the nasty reminder that the rights of American Indians still aren’t fully recognized.

Judith Le Blanc is the Director of the Native Organizers Alliance and an enrolled member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.
Distributed by OtherWords.org

Report: Racial Health Disparities Magnified in California Under ACA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Contact:
Kathy Mulady, communications director
kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org
(206) 992-8787

Breaking Barriers to Health Care Access in California

“Obamacare didn’t cause the widespread racial disparities we found,
but neither did it solve them.”

More Californians than ever before have health insurance, but coverage isn’t care, and the Affordable Care Act has magnified the deep racial, ethnic and cultural disparities in accessing quality health care in California.

Latino and African Americans especially remain heavily uninsured and struggle to receive health care.

Language and cultural barriers, lack of Internet or an email address, a lack of experience in using health insurance, a shortage of doctors and clinics in poor and rural communities, and high costs are preventing many from receiving health care and medications.

A new report “Breaking Barriers: Improving health insurance enrollment and access to health care in California,” reveals a deep divide between social class, income, culture and ethnicity emerging under the state’s Covered Care.

“It’s unconscionable that so many have been left out of something as basic as the chance to enjoy good health,” said Gary Delgado, author of Breaking Barriers. “Lack of Internet access or speaking another language is not a reason to be locked out of a health system that purports to be open to all.

“Obamacare did not cause the widespread racial disparities we found, but neither did it solve them. Now we have to take them on directly,” said Delgado.

“Breaking Barriers” s a year long study that includes a survey of nearly 1,200 low-income people in 10 states in Spanish, Cantonese, and English. They were contacted at food banks, health clinics, and homeless centers.

Alfredo DeAvila did surveys and interviews for the Breaking Barriers California report.

“If the ACA is going to be successful, we need to help people transition not only into the health insurance system, but also into the health care system,” he said. “We must invest in public education about how to get ongoing preventive care.”

The Korean America community, especially seniors are struggling because of costs, said DJ Yoon, executive director of NAKASEC (National Korean American Service and Education Consortium.)

“California can be a leader in assuring quality health care for all people. We have let people of color again slip through the cracks in our system, we can do better – and here is a roadmap for how we get there,” said Delgado.

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Improve language access. Make provider directories available in multiple languages and list addresses, phone numbers, languages spoken, hospital affiliations, and specialties.
  • Simplify the insurance-shopping experience. Make cost information transparent and communicate clearly about deductibles, co-pays, and preventive services that are included.
  • Covered California should enforce and impose penalties on insurers who do not reduce racial health care disparities within required timeframes.
  • Assure that primary care providers are within 30 minutes driving or public transit time. Enrollees who must travel further should be offered free transportation.
  • Expand school-based health centers, especially in medically underserved communities.
  • Address underlying causes of poor health, especially in poor communities, (mold, infestations, domestic violence) Expand medical-legal partnerships as an avenue toward addressing poor health in low-income communities.
  • Reinforce the ACA-mandated “well-woman preventive” care and provide education about the value of preventive care for all. Ensure that all plans include reproductive health care services.
  • Require that new enrollees are offered a free physical exam, appropriate screening tests and other preventive care within 60 days of enrollment.

Here is the link to the full Breaking Barriers in California report: http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/BBReport_CALIF.pdf

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The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) brings a progressive voice to civil rights and immigrant rights issues and promotes full participation of Korean Americans in building a movement for social change.

The Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network focused on racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced pivotal reports for 20 years on state and national health issues including Medicaid, prescription drugs, and insurance industry practices.

 

Sunlight Foundation

This is part nine in a series of posts that will explore some of the leading organizations from around the country that are engaged in unearthing and combating the influence of money in the political process.

Like MapLight.org, the Sunlight Foundation is a technology-oriented group that connects their own federal data (lobbyists and fundraisers) with other sources such as http://opensecrets.org/ and http://followthemoney.org/. Sunlight does not take positions on campaign finance reform or other issues. They are, however, very interested in training and supporting grassroots groups on the tools they offer.

The Sunlight Foundation provides funding for the creation of “cutting-edge tools to enable the media, bloggers and citizens to sift, share and combine government data in ways that are useful for them.” Read more

MapLight.org

This is part eight in a series of posts that will explore some of the leading organizations from around the country that are engaged in unearthing and combating the influence of money in the political process.

Role in the Landscape

MapLight.org tracks the influence of money in the U.S. Congress as well as in California and Wisconsin. Their research team and free online tools shed light on the connections between political inputs (such as campaign contributions) and political outputs (such as legislation). Their data partners include the Center for Responsive Politics, GovTrack, National Institute on Money in State Politics, and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Read more

Maine Small Business Owners Take on Big Insurance

Big Insurance and its Bag of Tricks

The ink may have dried on the federal health care reform bill, but the health insurance industry isn’t packing up its bag of tricks and going quietly into the night. Instead, insurers actually appear to be stepping up their attempts to game the system, seeking to exploit the window of opportunity before new rules and regulations take effect. They’re scheming  to (a) inflate their rates, (b) kick customers with health issues off their rolls, and (c) employ creative accounting to reclassify costs, all in the interest of maximizing short-term profits. Read more