Who Will Save Journalism?

Who Will Save Journalism?

As both a citizen and an advocate, I’m terrified by what’s happening to journalism in America. We seem to be watching the disintegration of the news business, and no one seems to know what to do about it. Here at The Greenlining Institute, we change policy the old-fashioned way: by doing research, listening to communities, and trying to put what we learn into ideas that will help level the playing field for people and communities for whom the “American Dream” has too often seemed like a distant, improbable fantasy. Then we try to persuade those with power – legislators, regulators, corporate leaders – to put those ideas into action. That…
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Why I Don’t Speak Spanish: The Collateral Damage of Prejudice

Why I Don’t Speak Spanish: The Collateral Damage of Prejudice

I wish I knew how to speak Spanish. Not only would it be incredibly useful in my current job here at Greenlining, I can think of hundreds of occasions in the past when it would have helped. But I don’t speak Spanish for precisely one reason: prejudice. In 6th grade – the last year of grade school in my district – we’d learned a smattering of Spanish via a teacher who came into our class once a week, Señora Rosa. Starting middle school the next year (1968, for anyone who’s counting – but please don’t) offered me my first chance to take a foreign language class every day. With a…
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An Open Letter to the Next Mayor of San Francisco: Confront Gentrification

An Open Letter to the Next Mayor of San Francisco: Confront Gentrification

The sad, sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee shocked not only San Franciscans, but people all over the Bay Area.  As a person, Lee was almost universally liked. His low-key, gentle style came as a relief after the flamboyant personalities of Gavin Newsom and Willie Brown. His policies proved more controversial, but whatever one thinks of specific decisions, there can be no doubt that during Lee’s tenure, San Francisco gentrification went from being a concern to a full-blown crisis. As a 24-year city resident, I feel compelled to offer a few thoughts to the next mayor of San Francisco: Dear Mayor, I don’t know your name yet, or your politics…
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Native American Genocide and American Exceptionalism

Native American Genocide and American Exceptionalism

In 1846, California had a Native American population of about 150,000. Just 27 years later, that figure had plummeted to just 30,000. I didn’t learn that as a schoolkid in southern California in the 1960s; I picked up that and lots of other facts I was never taught from a recent book called “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe,” by UCLA history professor Benjamin Madley. And that got me thinking about “American exceptionalism.” American exceptionalism, explains historian Ian Tyrrell, “refers to the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty.” California’s 19th century Native American…
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Dear White People: We Have to Fix the Trump Problem

Dear White People: We Have to Fix the Trump Problem

If you’ve noticed the photo that accompanies my blog posts, you’ve probably figured out that I’m white. I don’t normally bring that up, but this message is particularly for my fellow white people. We need to face the fact that we caused the Trump problem, and we have to take responsibility for fixing it. We elected Trump, who, according to the exit polls, lost nonwhite voters by over 3-to-1 while carrying whites by a comfortable 20 point margin. Whites – not all of us, but a healthy majority of us – inflicted upon America the torrent of hate, narrow-mindedness, pathological lying and disregard for facts and science that has marked…
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Dreams from My Father: Nazis in America

Dreams from My Father: Nazis in America

My dad fought in World War II, but didn’t talk about it much. As a doctor with the army in the Pacific, I’m sure he saw lots of things he didn’t want to remember. But he did tell me one thing that’s stuck with me vividly: “I was p***ed off they sent me to the Pacific. I wanted to go to Europe and kill Nazis.” That’s no surprise. Though not observant, my dad’s family was Jewish. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be thousands of miles away, seeing what the Nazis were doing to Jews in Europe, and be unable to do anything about it.…
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