#5SmartReads - March 8, 2023
Hitha on the future of Medicaid, Keyla Monterroso Meija, and hard tacos
Every day is International Women’s Day at #5SmartReads. Amplifying the stories affecting and highlighting women and other underestimated groups is the daily mission of this series. So while we take a moment to honor the many accomplishments of 50% of the population, we also know that a day or a month to honor us is also insignificant if we do not have true equality.
Medicaid has a target on its back (Axios)
Speaking of women, they make up nearly 60% of the 80M Medicaid enrollees, and the pandemic relief packages saw a record high enrollment that provided life-changing healthcare and food access and poverty reduction to these women.
So it’s no surprise that one party wants to cut the program significantly, even from its pre-pandemic levels, instead of finding other options to balance the budget.
It’s also no surprise that women are leading the fight to protect the program (which is far from perfect, like all things, but the improvements being negotiated are focused on reducing its budget instead of increasing its impact).
""It is truly demoralizing, as an advocate and as a family member of somebody who relies on these services for his independence," said Nicole Jorwic, chief of advocacy and campaigns for Caring Across Generations. "But I'm also emboldened that the communities that will come together again to fight to protect [Medicaid]."
The Character Actor Turned Leading Lady (The Cut)
I hope you’ll indulge this random, personal rant of mine.
I cannot stand Curb Your Enthusiasm. I find it so cringey and not funny, and am still triggered when I hear the theme song (jetlagged husband and sharing a studio apartment).
The only season I enjoyed was the most recent one - and that’s solely because of Keyla Monterroso Meija, who left me in stitches. She was spectacular in Abbott Elementary, and I am thrilled to see her take the lead in Freeridge (on Netflix), and to watch after reading this interview.
““The way that it was done makes me feel really proud. I don’t feel like a prop,” she says. “I don’t feel like my culture is just an afterthought. It’s done in a beautiful way, and that was really rewarding, because sometimes it does feel like people want to check the box.” While she maintains that she has never worked on a production where she has felt tokenized, Mejia is all too aware that media has long flattened, or downright ignored, cultures that aren’t white. Sometimes, in an effort to overcorrect, attempts to champion diversity end up just as reductive.”
This was a beautiful piece, and I appreciated Hannah Jackson’s observations of how lack of nuance offered to non-white cultures in mainstream entertainment while shining a light on Meija’s talent.
Pa. Democrats propose $3 billion ‘down payment’ for public schools after judge’s ruling (WHYY)
A criticism I often hear of Democrats (especially at the state level that either have a split legislative chamber or Republican majority) is “well, they don’t do anything.”
That is a narrative that needs to be swiftly deleted. It’s untrue, and it contributes to lower voter turnout.
The Democrats took control of the Pennsylvania House for the first time in 2010 (along with holding onto the governor’s mansion). One of their first significant moves? A massive investment in the state’s public schools, with its lead sponsor advocating for equitable distribution of said funding.
Philadelphia’s schools have long been a target of privatization and charter schools. Mastery Charter Schools have quietly taken over 24 public schools in the city, and continue to receive taxpayer funding. The lack of oversight and their authority to remove students from their school, which harms children and families the most.
Some Mastery schools are converting back into public schools, and this funding will go a long way in serving these communities.
But only if this plan can get through the Republican-held Senate in the commonwealth.
It’s a flicker of hope for the education and safety of our kids and educators, especially given yesterday’s post about the state of schools and school boards in Texas.
A big thanks to Maeve Siu, a teacher in Philadelphia, for sharing this insight of public and charter schools in the city. I’ve also found her videos super helpful to refresh my own math education and help Rho with his homework - give her a follow!
Right-wing conspiracies have a new target: a tool that fights actual voter fraud (NPR)
And now for the flip side - withdrawing from vetted programs that are actively working on the issues you claim to be concerned about.
This is not accidental or due to a lack of misunderstanding. This is yet another battle in the continued war on fair and free elections in this country and normalizing the “voter fraud” claims from the candidates and parties that lose.
The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is a tool that allows states to share secured voter registration data across state lines, and with other government agencies, to help make sure voter registrations are valid and updated in the case of moves and deaths.
Basically, this tool helps make sure voter rolls are accurate and up-to-date.
And when one far-right outlet declared it to be a part of a left-wing election conspiracy, GOP-controlled states began to withdraw its membership.
I’m heartened to see Republicans like John Merrill (the Secretary of State of Alabama) affirm their support of this tool and to continue their membership, but they are sadly drowned out by their more vocal, conspiracy-fueled colleagues who care about this:
"They don't care about actual integrity," [elections expert and former development head of ERIC David] Becker said. "They only care that their side wins. That is the most anti-democratic idea that I can imagine."
An Oral History of Hard-Shell Tacos (MEL Magazine via Pocket)
I was yesterday days old when I discovered the truth about the hard shell taco, which was very much a gateway food in my Taco Bell obsession.
While Taco Bell may have popularized it to the American public, tacos dorados have been around for at least 100 years (per primary source research), and likely much longer.
This is the best history lesson I’ve ever read. And it left me starving. I highly recommend treating yourself to some tacos at a local Mexican restaurant or a Taco Bell visit (not Del Taco, not Taco Time, not Jack In The Box) and dig into your meal while you read this fascinating article.
Re the history of tacos: I work in the historic depot next to the referenced rail yard in San Bernardino. The Mitla is a favored lunch destination. Really enjoyed that article!