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Cancer, Cultural Competence, and Good Medicine

Cancer, Cultural Competence, and Good Medicine

A friend’s mom was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Her experience provided a jolting dose of the reality that lies behind the rather lifeless terminology that advocates sometimes use – in this case, cultural competence — and what it means for good medicine. Cultural competence, as former Greenlining Fellow Daniel Cano pointed out, simply means “care that respects diversity and honors cultural factors central to patients’ lives, including language, communication styles, and traditions.” Particularly in a state as diverse as California, good medicine can’t happen without it. My friend and his family are immigrants, having come to the U.S. from Asia when he was a child. He picked up English…
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Who’s Left Out? Leadership, Empowerment and Environmental Justice

Who’s Left Out? Leadership, Empowerment and Environmental Justice

I never learned the term “environmental justice,” much less became interested in it, until college, even though I grew  up in Los Angeles in the early ’90’s. Long before I was born, environmental justice advocates started and continue to fight for healthy, pollution-free communities. I still remember having recess indoors or being barred from going to school on days where the air quality was unhealthy for children. Today, Los Angeles remains one of the top 10 cities in our country with the worst air pollution in every category, but it has gotten relatively better due to environmental policies that focus on cleaning up the air, greening urban areas, creating accessible…
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Trump Administration War on CFPB Is Bad News for Communities of Color

Trump Administration War on CFPB Is Bad News for Communities of Color

Two years into the Trump administration, communities of color — and anyone using financial products, for that matter – are losing hope of finding an independent, dogged champion in Trump’s iteration of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A brain-child of Senator Elizabeth Warren, CFPB was originally designed to protect consumers from fraudulent and abusive financial actors as a response to the 2008 financial crisis. In gutting the CFPB and corrupting its mission, the Trump Administration disregards struggling families, and how the crisis brought our economy to its knees. And Trump’s latest move will make things even worse. According to the Treasury, the crisis cost taxpayers and our workforce approximately $20…
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Tales of White Privilege – Police Edition

Tales of White Privilege – Police Edition

From time to time I’ve written here about my experiences of White privilege – sometimes to incredulous responses from White readers who steadfastly refuse to believe that White privilege exists. Well, it does, and I saw it again during a recent vacation in Utah, when a highway mishap caused me to need help from the police. Though police shootings of unarmed, young,  Black men don’t get the headlines they did a couple years ago, they keep happening – as the family of Antwon Rose knows far too well. White folks like me simply don’t live in the same world when it comes to encounters with police officers, as my recent…
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An Indigenous Woman Finds Environmental Law – and Looks Beyond

An Indigenous Woman Finds Environmental Law – and Looks Beyond

I resigned from my position as Quality Assurance Supervisor at The National Food Laboratory in the summer of 2014.  After years of debating my future and doubting my abilities, I was finally taking the plunge and going back to school to achieve my dream of becoming a lawyer for indigenous people and communities of color. As a bi-racial, low-income, first-generation college student, a move like law school and a tough area like environmental law felt completely out of reach. However, I was fortunate and somehow acquired many different mentors at the food lab — their support and guidance motivated me to pursue a legal career. Law school was incredibly grueling,…
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Nonprofits and Clean Energy Entrepreneurship: Shifting the Norm at CalSEED

Nonprofits and Clean Energy Entrepreneurship: Shifting the Norm at CalSEED

CalSEED has gotten its fair share of applicants looking to bring clean energy concepts to market. However, we see an important group mostly missing from this collection of entrepreneurs eager to advance their hardware or software concepts in energy efficiency, energy generation, storage, electric vehicle technologies and more: nonprofits. CalSEED funds innovations that have a social impact or provide social benefits, but we haven’t had a large number of nonprofits apply. I mean, who better than nonprofits to pitch social good concepts and carry them out? Most of you are already doing it, and let’s be real: Whatever your idea for combining clean energy solutions that have social benefits, it…
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Breaking the ICE Raids: Undocumented Students and Allies Resist

Breaking the ICE Raids: Undocumented Students and Allies Resist

Our undocumented community has been under attack for years and history repeats itself, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to massive ICE raids in 2018. In February, nearly 300 Bay Area residents were arrested by ICE in just one week. On February 6, the UC Berkeley Student Cooperatives sent out an email about an incident in which an individual came knocking on the door of one of the student co-ops, impersonating a delivery person. The person kept trying to get into the unit, but the students denied them permission. Based on what students were able to observe, we can safely suspect that this individual may have been working for…
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Undoing Racism: 10 Steps to Take

Undoing Racism: 10 Steps to Take

NOTE: What follows is actually a collaborative effort undertaken by all of our Fellows — Jordyn Bishop, Jimmy Donelson III, Denzel Tongue and Victoria Paykar — as well as myself and Leadership Academy Director Patrick Brown. One of the main goals of The Greenlining Institute’s Leadership Academy is to develop the next generation of multi-ethnic leaders who are poised to advocate for racial justice in their professional and personal lives. To achieve this goal, we have developed a series of workshops to help participants think through the complex work of undoing racism in theory and practice. As pervasive as racism is in the U.S., we see it as our duty to…
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Racial Equity for the 21st Century

Racial Equity for the 21st Century

Over the last few months, as The Greenlining Institute has marked its 25th anniversary, we’ve been reflecting on our history, accomplishments, and occasional frustrations. And let’s be honest: The 2016 election upped the frustration level, with almost everything that matters to communities of color coming under attack in the past year and a half. And yet I feel increasingly sure that we can achieve racial equity and that California – and Greenlining – will help lead the way. Yes, powerful forces threaten civil rights, the social safety net, organized labor and sane environmental policies, but we must fight the temptation to get into a defensive crouch. That’s not to say…
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What White People Miss

What White People Miss

If you’ve been following our blog for the last little while, you’ll have noticed that Greenlining turned 25 this year, and that we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on our history and accomplishments. I’ve been thinking about Greenlining as an organization, and I’ve also been thinking about my work at Greenlining, and what it’s been like to be a white person who works at a people of color-led organization. The short answer is, it’s been fantastic. Not just the work—which I love—but the opportunities for my own growth and to confront my own privilege.  During all this introspection, I realized that I need to call myself (and other white…
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