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Florida’s Unemployment Woes Continue, Anti-Asian Hate, And A Fruitful Mango Season Is Coming

Noris Ledesma is standing in a field of mangos trees using an appliance to cut the fruit down.
Courtesy of Noris Ledesma
Courtesy of Noris Ledesma
Dr. Noris Ledesma is the President of the Florida State Horticultural Society and a horticulturist specialist in tropical fruits.

Did Florida's approach to unemployment fraud deny benefits to those who needed it the most? A conversation about anti-Asian hate, its role in history and the efforts to stop it. And how a bad allergy season could mean a booming mango season.

On this Monday, March 29, episode of Sundial:

Florida’s Unemployment Problems Continue

When COVID-19 hit, Florida’s unemployment system was overwhelmed with applications for benefits. The system, called CONNECT, already had a lot of problems.

“CONNECT was a disaster from the very start, and he [former Gov. Rick Scott] never fixed it. He also rolled out a new anti-fraud system with CONNECT, which seems to have been gamed to kick people out,” said Lawrence Mower, a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald’s Tallahassee bureau.

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New reporting reveals many people who should’ve received benefits were denied because of the state’s aggressive efforts to try and cut down fraud. These efforts included the Department of Economic Opportunity directing its call center workers to flag and hang up on those whose application didn’t match the information provided on the call.

“If you didn't include your middle initial on your application…[then], when you talk to that call center worker about your application and say your middle initial you’d be flagged for fraud. If you put an ‘apartment number’ on your application but said ‘unit number’ on the call, you were flagged for fraud and they were required to hang up on you without telling you why,” Mower said.

You can read more of Mower’s reporting here.

Florida’s Unemployment Problems Continue

Anti-Asian Hate

Violent incidents against Asians and Asian Americans have more than doubled during the pandemic. Researchers at California State University, San Bernardino, found an increase of nearly 150% when it came to anti-Asian hate.

“There is a tendency to not talk about it [racism] outside the home when it comes to people who are being targeted violently, for example, people don't like to report that. That's why we see a lot of underreporting of violent crimes against Asians today,” said Mitzi Carter, a professor of anthropology and interim director of the Global Indigenous Forum at Florida International University.

FIU is hosting a “teach-in” on this topic Tuesday. Carter will be reading a personal essay titled "Nappy Routes & Tangled Tales: A Personal Reflection on Anti-Asian Violence and White Supremacy."

“My reflection piece kind of speaks to the ways that identity is so dynamic. It also deals with the intersections, with the violence and misogynist ideas that are embedded in ideas around Orientalism, and how the idea of Orientalism was shaped throughout history and how that matters today,” Carter said.

Anti-Asian Hate

A Fruitful Mango Season Is Coming

If you have allergies, your sinuses are probably not too happy right now — that's because it’s mango blossom season and that means plenty of pollen in the air and that mango trees are almost done flowering.

So it’s not all bad news — your stuffy nose means this will be a robust season for the fruit.

“I've never seen such a blossom in my 20 years in Florida like this year and we are expecting, if everything goes well, we are going to have mangos everywhere,” said Dr. Noris Ledesma, the president of the Florida State Horticultural Society.

This year’s cold and dry weather has been the key to helping mangoes thrive.

Ledesma shared some recipes to make the best out of this mango season:

Mango Salsa

2 Large Mangos – diced
1 inch piece of Ginger- grated
Cilantro-bunch (about ½ cup)
Purple onion-1/2 large
2 jalapeno peppers-seeded and finely diced
Dash salt
Lime juice-to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve with corn chips

Green Mango Marmalade

This sweet mango preserve is just right as an accompaniment to your favorite bread. Mango selection is key, requiring firm and green mangos. The best cultivars are ‘Nam doc Mai’, from Thailand and ‘Carabao’ from the Philippines.

  • 4 cups of mango
  • 2 ½ cups of sugar
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 tsp. of ginger (optional)

Wash and peel the mangos. Then cut the mango into squares and cook until soft. Add sugar to the mango and leave it at the maximum temperature while stirring constantly. Add the Sure-Jell or pectin source and mix it entirely. If you prefer, you can add grown ginger.

Mango Pickles

Spicy mango pickles are a tradition in Indian cuisine, providing a flavorful accent to flatbreads and savory dishes. Mango pickles can be made from either whole mangos or mango pieces. In addition, removing some of the tiny fruits is a healthy technique for the mango trees, we recommend that you remove up to 25% of these fruits. These are can be used to prepare Pickles.

  • 5 cups of small mangos
  • 3 cups of fruit vinegar
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 5 tsp. of salt
  • Aromatic herbs to taste
  • Jalapenos and peppers (optional)

Wash the mangos to eliminate unnecessary substances. Cut them in vertically in half and take out the seed. In a pan, boil the mangos in water for 3 minutes. After, take out the water and add the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Leave it boiling for 10 minutes more and add the rest of the ingredients.

A Fruitful Mango Season Is Coming

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Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.