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Conversations are taking place all over the country about the removal of Confederate statues and names, even in the military where 10 Army bases are named after Confederate officers. Author Nicholas Belardes recently wrote about growing up in Bakersfield and going to a high school steeped in Confederate symbolism. FM89's News Director Alice Daniel spoke with him about his essay which is published in the online magazine Boom California.

Maria

 

Before the pandemic hit, 59-year-old Maria had steady work cleaning houses in Merced and Winston. But COVID-19 changed everything.

“When the governor told everyone to shelter in place, the homeowners called me and told me not to go to their houses until this is all over,” she said.  

That meant a huge loss in income. Maria made pretty good money, about a thousand dollars a week. But she says her clients were all older people who feared contracting the virus.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Local recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, react to the Supreme Court decision protecting their status to live and work in the United States. 

We also speak with writer Nick Belardes. He wrote an essay for “Boom California” about Confederate imagery in Bakersfield which he hopes sparks a discussion around street and school names, including one called Plantation Elementary. 

And we get an update on the COVID-19 outbreak at Avenal State Prison. 

Cecilia Castro

On June 18, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a long-awaited decision that prevents President Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA protects people brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, and allows them to work. Hours after the decision was announced, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with local DACA recipients, some of whom asked to be identified by their first name only.

Robin McGehee

The United States Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision Monday that protects gay, lesbian and transgender employees from workplace discrimination. To learn more about the fight for LGBTQ job protections, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Robin McGehee. She organized the Meet In The Middle gay-marriage rally in 2009 and founded the nonprofit GetEQUAL. She also teaches communication at College of the Sequoias in Visalia.   

Fresno Unified School District Facebook

The Fresno Unified School District announced Thursday that on-campus instruction will resume August 17. 

Superintendent Bob Nelson said based on parent survey results, the district expects 75 percent of kids to return to school in the fall. However, school will be a little different.

Madi Bolanos

The Fresno City Council announced the declaration of an annual Black Lives Matter Day at a street art event in front of Fresno City Hall on Thursday. 

About 200 people filtered in and out of the three hour event; many of them helped paint Black Lives Matter in huge letters on P street in front of city hall. Community Activist DJ Kay Rich, who organized the event, says Fresno residents came to him with the idea.  

Fresno Ethnic Studies Coalition

A coalition of five Fresno Unified School District teachers is asking the district to develop an ethnic studies program for the K-12 curriculum. 

Right now ethnic studies classes are considered elective and are currently only offered in high school. Lauren Beal, an ethnic studies teacher at Edison High School, says the class should be a requirement at every grade level.

Kenneth Froelich

This week on Play On with Rei Hotoda of the Fresno Philharmonic,  we celebrate the work of local composers as we engage in lively discussion with Benjamin Boone and Kenneth Froelich, both professors at Fresno State. We’ll hear their music, as well as work by composer Vivian Fung.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The goal of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, is to better regulate the state’s water reserves. But as the law rolls out, a new study predicts tens of thousands of people could lose their drinking water.

COVID-19 has changed daily life for everyone, especially those of us in the workforce. And while many jobs in today’s economy are relatively easy to do remotely, thanks to advanced technology, others are more challenging – including broadcasting.

City of Fresno Facebook

Nearly a hundred people made public comments Monday afternoon during the Fresno City Council’s budget hearing on the city’s police department. 

Most called for the council to defund the police and redirect the money to other services like mental health. Council President Miguel Arias said thousands more residents expressed their opinions via email. 

City of Fresno Facebook

More racist remarks were made during a public comment session at the Fresno City Council budget hearing on Monday. The council heard similar, vulgar comments last week, and members said they want consequences.

Two Zoom-meeting attendees used the n-word multiple times until they were cut off. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said this is a reason to resume in-person meetings.

“Let’s open up this building and get back in the chamber because these cowards won’t come forward to speak; they do it anonymously on Zoom,” said Bredefeld.

Centro Binancional para el Desarollo Indígena Oaxaqueño

 

 As businesses in Fresno County begin to re-open amid a continuing rise in COVID-19 cases, one community organization is asking county health officials to ensure the safety of indigenous speaking essential workers. 

CA Dept of Corrections

Paul Richardson was in prison in Fresno County in the 1990s when he first heard about valley fever, a mysterious fungal disease that could be caught from inhaling spores in airborne dust. He came to learn, however, that his fellow inmates had their own name for it. “We called it ‘instant AIDS,’” he says. “A-I-D-S.”

It hits people like a brick wall. In rare cases, it kills them. “Within 30 days, you lost about 50 pounds,” Richardson says.

 

California Department of Public Health

As of Thursday, June 11, 20 San Joaquin Valley residents had died of COVID-19 in the past week, bringing the total to 217 fatalities out of 10,304 total cases. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock talks with health reporter Kerry Klein about where these cases are occurring.

For a COVID-19 snapshot in the Valley, check for our daily updates here.

Community Regional Medical Center

As the COVID-19 caseload climbs, it’s becoming clear that some groups are more at risk than others. Early research out of the Fresno region shows one family of diseases may make Hispanics particularly vulnerable.

The family is liver diseases. Dr. Marina Roytman, a liver specialist at UCSF Fresno and Community Regional Medical Center, says people with liver conditions generally can’t handle the disease as well as others. “Clearly…we are seeing the correlation that underlying liver disease is predictive of a more severe COVID course,” she says.

Fresno City Council Facebook page

An inflammatory phrase using the n-word was one of many disruptions to a Fresno City Council meeting on June 11, held online via the videoconferencing platform Zoom.

Dympna Ugwu-Oju

For many African-American parents, part of the responsibility of raising a child includes preparing them for the racism and violence they may experience because of the color of their skin. To discuss what it is like to raise a black child in the Valley, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Isaac Sandifer Jr., a retired educator and brigadier general from Bakersfield, Dr. Edythe Stewart, a general surgeon who practices in Merced, Shantay Davies-Balch, CEO of the Black Wellness and Prosperity Center in Fresno, and Dympna Ugwu-Oju, editor of Fresnoland.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Oliver Baines was the only African American serving on the Fresno City Council during his two terms in office starting in 2010. Prior to that, he spent nearly 12 years as a Fresno police officer. Yesterday it was announced that he will lead a new commission for police reform in Fresno, tasked with making a recommendation to the council in 90 days. FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Baines about his experience with police brutality as a young man, and his vision for Fresno’s future. 

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