March for Science, but Ask Questions

March for Science, but Ask Questions

Like hundreds of thousands across the U.S. and around the world, I marched for science on Saturday. And like most who attended these events, I marched because the Trump administration both denigrates critical research on issues like climate change and has called for massive cuts in research funding. Those cuts could cripple research into climate change, weather forecasting, opioid addiction, the Zika epidemic and more. We must support science against these attacks, but we must do so with our eyes open. At the San Francisco march I attended and in reports from the main march in Washington, D.C. and others around the globe, I heard a few things that made…
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We Will Save America: An Ecosystem Starts to Heal

We Will Save America: An Ecosystem Starts to Heal

Perspective.  We all struggle for it, and for most of us that struggle’s only gotten worse since last November’s election. One way to get some perspective is to turn off the TV, put away the smartphone and detach from the cascade of madness that is the news. Sometimes nature will tell you things you won’t get from Twitter or Facebook or cable news. On Sunday, I went for a hike in the Indian Valley Open Space Preserve outside of Novato.  After years of punishing drought, this winter’s rains have brought about an astonishing transformation.  Instead of the brown, dry desolation California has experienced, the creeks burbled, the waterfalls splashed enthusiastically,…
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#NoBanNoWallNoRaids: Why I Stand with Immigrants and Refugees

#NoBanNoWallNoRaids: Why I Stand with Immigrants and Refugees

I guess I’m lucky. I won’t personally be hurt if the recent ICE raids on undocumented immigrants continue, or if the courts validate the president’s attempt to ban refugees from certain Muslim countries. I’m a citizen. I’m white. I don’t “look foreign” and am unlikely to be mistaken for an immigrant or refugee. But I cannot, must not, be silent as people who look different from me are rounded up. I have undocumented friends, and many more friends and coworkers who have undocumented family members.  I will not just leave them to fend for themselves. I can’t believe I even need to say this, but they are all good, caring,…
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Congress Attacks Low-Income Workers

Congress Attacks Low-Income Workers

In 2011, Greenlining released a reported called “The Economic Crisis Facing Seniors of Color,” which highlighted the disproportionate degree to which people of color lack access to pensions, 401(k)s and other retirement plans. It’s not that they don’t want to save for retirement: Asian Americans, Latinos and African Americans are simply less likely to work for a company that sponsors a retirement plan. Among other things, our report called for passage of legislation that had been introduced by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) to create portable, totally voluntary, state-backed retirement savings plans for workers who don’t have access to such a program at work. The bill didn’t create major…
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De-Fanging Our Heroes

De-Fanging Our Heroes

In an era when open expressions of bigotry, hate and contempt for the less fortunate are on the rise, I find myself wondering how we got here. Lots of factors contribute, but we might want to pay more attention to our national tendency to take our heroes and de-fang and de-claw them – turning them into warm and fuzzy but largely empty shells, cutting the heart out of what they tried to teach us. Many have addressed what some call the “Santa Clausification” of Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we just celebrated. Annual MLK commemorations contain lots of “I have a dream” but shockingly little about King’s fierce and…
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The “Identity Politics” Lie

The “Identity Politics” Lie

Every election produces postmortems.  2012, for example, brought us the famous Republican “autopsy” urging more outreach to voters of color. This year we see hand-wringing mainly on the Democratic side – since, after all, the losers generally feel the most urgent need to figure out what went wrong. In this discussion, some are telling progressives they must abandon “identity politics” in order to appeal to a broader array of voters. NO. The most explicit (and short-sighted) expression of this sentiment can be found in Mark Lilla’s controversial New York Times column, published in mid-November. “[T]he fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press,” Lilla  writes, “has produced a…
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