Unlikely senate duo’s fight for redemption

Unlikely senate duo’s fight for redemption

Here’s something you don’t see every day: two politicians (at least one with serious presidential ambitions) working across party lines to reform the criminal justice system. No, you didn’t misread that sentence. It appears bipartisanship in Washington isn’t dead after all. On Tuesday, Senators Rand Paul (R – KY) and Cory Booker (D – NJ) introduced the REDEEM Act. This bill would, among other things, automatically expunge or seal criminal records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes and restore food stamp and welfare benefits for low-level drug offenders who have completed their sentence. The REDEEM Act is a big win for communities of color. Research shows that people of color,…
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Brownies, Incarceration, and Social Innovation

Brownies, Incarceration, and Social Innovation

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Social Innovation Summit in New York City. Created by Landmark Ventures and hosted by JPMorgan Chase and the United Nations, the two-day conference is best described as a “gathering of the minds.” Business leaders, government officials, and nonprofit leaders from all over the world mingled, networked, and shared ideas on how cross-sector partnerships can solve social inequalities. Meetings like this are rare, but important. Solving inequality is a large task – one that requires significant investment both financially and programmatically. Spreading that investment across industries and sectors creates a sense of shared responsibility and commitment. I believe that shared responsibility and…
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Soda Falls Flat but Energy Drinks are Fizzing Up

Soda Falls Flat but Energy Drinks are Fizzing Up

You may remember my blog post a few months back about San Francisco’s soda tax initiative and how people of color are disproportionately affected by things like obesity and tooth decay, both side-effects of heavy soda consumption. Well, it turns out that America’s obsession with soda may be ‘fizzling out.’ A new infographic from the Health Science Degree Guide shows that soda consumption per capita peaked sixteen years ago (at 54 gallons per year) and has been on a steady decline ever since. Now, in 2014, individual soda consumption is somewhere around 38 gallons annually. Couple this with the fact that per capita water consumption rates have increased 38 percent…
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Why The Current Gender Pay Gap Narrative Is So Problematic

Why The Current Gender Pay Gap Narrative Is So Problematic

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans filibustered a Democrat-sponsored bill that would have made it easier for women to demand pay parity with their male counterparts. More specifically, the bill would have required companies to disclose the salaries of their workers and strengthened a worker’s right to sue their employer for persistent pay and career advancement discrepancies. While the bill did not pass its first legislative hurdle, Democrats hope that this temporary setback will pay big dividends by increasing the number of women who vote in the upcoming midterm elections. But which women are Democrats courting with the gender pay gap argument and whose stories are being lost in the process?…
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Celebrate Womens’ History Month; Sign Up for Health Insurance

Celebrate Womens’ History Month; Sign Up for Health Insurance

Yesterday, as I called to wish my mom a happy birthday, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the role my mother and countless other women have played in my own development. Everything I am, I owe to women: my mom, my aunts, my cousins, my friends. Women are such an integral part of my life, and an integral part of American society. That’s why I’m so passionate about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Thanks to the ACA, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. That’s exciting, considering women comprise the majority of the U.S. population. Health insurance companies can no longer charge women more than men simply because…
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Time is Running Out to Get Health Coverage

Time is Running Out to Get Health Coverage

I’ve been privileged when it comes to health insurance, having never experienced life without coverage. That’s not the case for seven million Californians. For many of them, things like education and affordable housing are important, but so is having access to basic health care coverage. For those Californians, a historic opportunity is now available – but time is running out. For my family, access to care means a lot of different things. For me, access to care means monthly appointments with a nutritionist. For my sister, it means weight-loss surgery. For my mom, it means affordable diabetes medication. Access to care has provided my family with financial and emotional stability…
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San Francisco’s Soda Tax – A Black Issue?

San Francisco’s Soda Tax – A Black Issue?

This weekend I attended the 10th annual Celebration of Black American History Gala in San Francisco and it got me thinking about the state of black life in the United States. More specifically, I started wondering about the health of black people, and where advocates like me should focus our time and energy. I know it’s incredibly hard to organize people, let alone organizations, around a common issue or goal, but a new measure introduced by San Francisco City Supervisors has the potential to do so. I’m referring to the controversial soda tax, and why it’s a good thing for the dwindling number of low-income people and black people who…
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For Too Many Boys and Men of Color, It’s Still Just a Dream

For Too Many Boys and Men of Color, It’s Still Just a Dream

It’s been more than 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” but economic prosperity for black and brown people in the United States continues to be just that – a dream. Yes, we’ve elected the nation’s first black president to his second term, and yes black women are enrolling in college at record numbers. But despite this progress, almost 12 percent of black Americans remain stuck in Great Depression levels of unemployment, and nearly half of black men are arrested by the age of 23, according to a recent study. Somewhere between the civil rights and Occupy movements, our nation broke its core promise…
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Covered California: A (Promising) Work In Progress

Covered California: A (Promising) Work In Progress

I want you to imagine that you’re back in college and halfway through the current semester. In three months there’s a final exam that every student is required to take. Your professor warned you early on that the final would be difficult, and recommended that you start studying early. To assist you in the process, your professor promised additional office hours, easy-to-understand study guides, and a large pool of graduate student instructors familiar with the information. Unfortunately, that large pool of graduate student instructors didn’t pan out as planned, so you were left to your own devices. To make sure you’re prepared for the exam, you attend all the study…
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Celebrate the Holidays with Health Insurance

Celebrate the Holidays with Health Insurance

The time you’ve been waiting for is almost here. No, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m talking about the deadline to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. If you want insurance by January 1, 2014, you have three days – until December 23rd – to submit your application. The original deadline of December 15th was pushed back eight days to make-up for the federal website’s problematic first month. The upcoming deadline might be behind the recent surge in applications at Covered California – the state’s health insurance marketplace. In the past three days, more than 50,000 people have enrolled in insurance plans, pushing total private insurance enrollment…
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