5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: April 7

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience.

1. Sexual Assault Awareness Month Campaign Focuses on Building Safe Online Spaces 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year’s campaign from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) focuses on “Building Safe Online Spaces Together.” 

The organization’s 2021 campaign message was “We Can Build Safe Online Spaces” and 2022’s “Building Safe Online Spaces Together” is a continuation of that message, which calls on people to “practice digital consent, intervene when we see harmful content and behaviors, and promote online communities that value safety and respect,” NSVRC said. 

With technology and screens connecting people around the world, harassment, cyberbullying, sexual abuse and exploitation have become far too common in online interactions. 

Through the campaign, NSVRC aims to foster online communities that are respectful, inclusive and safe, and that take harassment, abuse and assault seriously. The organization said taking these steps could help build communities that thrive online and in the real world. 

“Together we can make a difference to build inclusive, safe, and respectful online spaces,” NSVRC said. “We invite you to join us this April in making respect the norm everywhere, taking action to promote the safety of others, and showing survivors they are believed and supported.”

Statistics show that one in five women in the U.S. have experienced rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives while one in 71 men have also experienced this at some point in their lives. Approximately 32.3% of multiracial women, 27.5% of American Indian/Alaskan Native women, 21.2% of non-Hispanic Black women, 20.5% of non-Hispanic white women and 13.6% of Hispanic women have been raped during their lifetimes.

2. Florida’s Legislature Passes Bill That Would Force Employers to Rethink DEI Programs 

Florida’s legislature last month passed the “Stop Wrong to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act,” which restricts how race, gender and discrimination are discussed in workplaces and classrooms in the state. 

The bill is now headed toward Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk, who has been a vocal supporter of it.

When the bill was announced in December 2021, DeSantis said he wouldn’t allow tax dollars in the state to be “spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other.”

“Finally, we must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure [critical race theory]-inspired ‘training’ and indoctrination,” he added. 

If the bill is passed into law, many workplaces in Florida would have to change their DEI strategies. Businesses with at least 15 employees would not be able to conduct training and courses that teach employees that an individual’s “moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex or national origin.”

The bill also states that employers cannot teach concepts that suggest that a person should feel ‘guilt or anguish” based on their sex or race or that “racial colorblindness” is a bad thing. 

The bill has received strong reactions from some people. For example, Cathryn M. Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has urged DeSantis to veto the bill as it restricts honest conversations around systemic racism.

“Anti-equality legislators in Florida must stop advancing discriminatory bills that attack marginalized groups,” she said in a statement. “Injustice on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and racial identity exists, despite any attempts by the state legislature to sweep it under the rug. The so-called Stop WOKE Act will have negative consequences across the state of Florida, not just for individuals but also for businesses.”

3. Los Angeles County Votes to Suspend Official Travel to Florida, Texas Over LGBTQ Policies

In other Florida-related news, Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to suspend all official travel to Florida and Texas because of the states’ controversial LGBTQ policies. 

The motion was started by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis and would only apply to travel for the conduct of county business that is paid for by L.A. County taxpayer dollars. 

Kuehl said in Tuesday’s meeting that travel bans have been put in place in the past “where states have enacted some egregious laws that contravene everything that we have done in L.A. County and in California.”

“We’re not gonna spend our money going to your states and it sends a message that we won’t support this egregious behavior,” she said. 

This travel ban is in response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing of an order that tells the Department of Family and Protective Services in the state to investigate transgender teens’ parents for child abuse. 

4. New Jersey Governor Calls on Mayor Who Used Racial Slurs to Resign

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has called on Clark Township Mayor Sal Bonaccorso to resign after he used racist and misogynist comments that were caught on secret recordings to which he confessed and apologized in a video, the governor’s office told news outlet NJ Advance Media. 

Mahen Gunaratna, the governor’s communications director, said Murphy believes “Mayor Bonaccorso should resign immediately.”

“His hateful language has no place in society and his behavior has irreparably damaged his ability to lead Clark Township,” Gunaratna added. 

It’s been reported that the township paid more than $400,000 to conceal the secret recordings under a settlement in 2020 after a lawsuit was threatened by a whistleblower. 

Bonaccorso initially denied using racial slurs, but he, Clark’s police chief and an internal affairs sergeant were recorded using racial slurs toward Black people and women in law enforcement. He acknowledged the slurs for the first time in the apology video mentioned above, in which he said he was sorry for his “hurtful and insensitive language,” adding that it was “wrong” and he was “embarrassed and ashamed.”

Tom Kean Jr., who is running for Congress and has campaigned with Bonaccorso in the past, said last week that the allegations were disturbing and that “we cannot tolerate racism in public service.”

5. Inaugural Inductees of Black Movie Hall of Fame Announced

The Black Movie Hall of Fame – set to open in the Kansas City area in 2023 – announced its inaugural inductees. 

Shawn Edwards, the creator of the Black Movie Hall of Fame, said the first inductees were selected because of their connection to the Kansas City area. Some of the inductees include: 

  • Oscar Micheaux: Referred to as the “Grandfather of Black Cinema,” Micheaux was the first Black person to direct and produce a feature film, which was “The Homesteader” in 1909. He is buried in Great Bend, Kansas and produced more than 40 movies. 
  • Hattie McDaniel: McDaniel, of Wichita, Kansas, was the first Black person to win an Oscar. She won in 1940 for best-supporting actress in “Gone With the Wind.” 
  • Gordon Parks: Parks, of Ft. Scott, Kansas, directed “Shaft,” which made the Blaxploitation genre popular. 
  • Janelle Monae: Actress and singer from Kansas City.
  • Chadwick Boseman: Boseman played Jackie Robinson in the movie “42.” Robinson started playing baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs before he broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier. 

Portraits of the first 10 inductees were created by local artist Warren “Stylez” Harvey and will be displayed in the Black Movie Hall of Fame, which will be located in the renovated Boone Theater.