Open Letter Asks Holly Mitchell To Investigate Anti-Black Racism At DPSS

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A letter was sent to Supervisor Holly Mitchell recently, asking her to investigate claims concerning anti-Black racism at the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS).

DPSS provides employment-related services to CalWORKs participants in Los Angeles County.

The letter details a lack of equity for Black female employees, and the active undermining of Black professionals, in favor of non-Black people that reflect management, or those in charge of the hiring process.

The letter calls on Holly Mitchell to investigate this behavior, and claims that this is happening to Black employee’s across the county.

“In DPSS, men hire men, Asians hire Asians, Armenians hire Armenians, and Black women are overworked underpaid and being used as glorified mammies who do the work and still can’t get ahead. I have lived in this district all my life and this has to stop. Black women are the county’s work horses who get a pat on the head while all the other groups are eating better and living better,” the letter reads.

The letter follows a recent article by the Los Angeles Times, about African-Americans who won the largest race based lawsuit in California, due to anti-Black racism they experienced in the work place by Latino’s.

Read More: https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-08-22/california-racial-discrimination-cases

In addition, citizenship will no longer be required for L.A County jobs.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last month, in favor of allowing the county to waive citizenship requirements for government jobs.

This will only further bury Black employee’s facing discrimination across L.A County, especially if anti-Black racism within institutions and employment continue to be swept under the rug.

Read More: https://slausongirl.com/interview-descendants-of-bruce-family-receive-manhattan-beach-property-stolen-100-years-ago/

The motion was authored by Chair Hilda l. Solis and co-authored by Sheila Kuehl, allowing the county to hire non-citizens except for positions where being a U.S. citizen is required by state and federal law.

In a statement, Solis said as of 2018, an estimated 880,000 non-citizens made LA County their home, yet there are barriers they face for employment in the county.

Read More: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/business/citizenship-is-no-longer-required-for-la-county-jobs/2952796/

In 2019, The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority published their report on Black homelessness, noting that institutional racism was a main driver of Black homeless rates in L.A.

“A theme that cut across the committee’s work was that racism, discrimination, and unconscious bias in our public systems and institutions has contributed to, and remains intertwined with, homelessness,” (LAHSA).


Read the open letter to Holly Mitchell in full below:

08/26/22 “Dear Supervisor Mitchell, I am writing as an anonymous concerned citizen of the 2nd district. This letter is to alert you to the lack of equity happening at DPSS GAIN Region IV, in your district.

There is no equity for Black Female employees at GAIN Region IV.

The new director, Mehran Kohansal has been there a short amount of time and he has promoted 5 GAIN Services Worker (GSWs) to GAIN Services Supervisor (GSSs) within the last few months.

First of all, there are very few Black GSWs in GAIN Region IV, shall we start there?

It has been this way for a long time and he has just exasperated that problem by hiring 5 new GSSs and none whom are Black.

2 Black GSWs interviewed for GSS and 1 wasn’t even offered a second interview, even though she has previous supervisor experience, and some graduate work completed. She is 63. She needs to promote. However, none of the new GSSs have any prior supervisor experience.

At least 4 out of the 5 have no completed or pertinent, graduate coursework at all. The other Black GSW was given a second interview and was not chosen even though she has supervisor experience and completed graduate units, as well.

One non-black woman who was also interviewed for GSS was told although she has supervisor experience, she ‘needs to transfer to an intake unit’ for more experience because she is in a specialized unit. She is 50. She would like to promote. She was not offered a second interview either and then they promoted another woman from the same specialized unit with no prior supervisor experience. This woman is Persian as is the Director and they can be seen meeting in his office speaking in Farsi often prior to her promotion.

The next interviews that took place less than a month later and one of the few GSWs in band 2, who is the same Black woman passed over 5 times for GSS as mentioned earlier. She has completed Graduate units in Public Administration and she was passed over for again, this time for Program Assistant, PSS recently for an Eligibility Worker II (an entry-level position) who piggybacked over all the GSW’s that had pertinent GAIN experience and knowledge (which the job requires).

Oh, not to mention this newly promoted PA just happens to be the son of an HSA I and an HSA III in DPSS and who has previously worked with Mehran Khonsal at another office.

There are a lot of GSWs upset about the newly chosen GSWs because they were not the best candidates and favoritism and nepotism is alive and well in GAIN Region IV. This is not equity.

Black (mostly female, many HH) Eligibility Workers are being held back by this lack of equity.

EWIIs have no other avenue to management except through Eligibility Supervisor (ES) which is the longer less lucrative route. Neighborhood demographics speaks volumes about the disparity inside this region. Black women are good enough to be eligibility workers and clerical support but not to promote. It has been this way at DPSS overall since Antonia Jimenez came to work there. Black people deserve these jobs too. There are very few GSWs and GSSs and that is by design.

The last director, Tuong Van-Nguyen is now the chief and she perpetuated this same environment. Ageism, Croneyism, Favoritism, and Nepotism. That is what rules in Mehran Kohansal’s Region.

In DPSS, men hire men, Asians hire Asians, Armenians hire Armenians, and Black women are overworked underpaid and being used as glorified mammies who do the work and still can’t get ahead. I have lived in this district all my life and this has to stop. Black women are the county’s work horses who get a pat on the head while all the other groups are eating better and living better. This is also being reported to the California DEH. Please have this investigated, ALL of this.

Until this is addressed the county cannot say they are interested an equitable or anti-racism workplace until they clean this mess up.

This is happening throughout the county but this is in your back yard.

It is a slap in the face to ALL Black employees in the county, most of whom cannot afford to live in it because of this type of environment.“ – A Concerned Citizen of District 2.

Read More: https://www.lahsa.org/news?article=514-groundbreaking-report-on-black-people-and-homelessness-released

Photo Credit: California Globe

Slauson Girl is a South Central native who has a love for journalism, history and all things Hip-Hop. She holds a B.A in Critical Race & Gender Theory & a Minor in Journalism. Follow Me on IG @Slausongirl

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