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White Privilege: The Sequel

White Privilege: The Sequel

Lots of white folks have trouble understanding the concept of white privilege. They don’t feel particularly privileged, and its operation is pretty much invisible to most whites. So a while back I wrote a blog post to try to explain it, “A Case Study in White Privilege,” using my own experiences to show, step by step, how being white gave me advantages that were much less available to people of color. I never thought I would singlehandedly bring enlightenment to white America, but some of the reactions when I shared the piece on social media did make my head spin. The resistance didn’t all come from right-wingers. One Twitter user…
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5 Steps for Electric Vehicle Equity

5 Steps for Electric Vehicle Equity

ICYMI (in case you missed it), last week we launched a comprehensive online toolkit, “Electric Vehicles for All: An Equity Toolkit,” aimed at helping advocates, public officials, and corporate executives throughout the nation bring electric vehicle benefits to communities most impacted by poverty and pollution. Electric vehicles fight pollution and climate change because they produce fewer carbon emissions than gasoline powered cars, even when accounting for emissions from manufacturing and charging EVs. EVs also cost less to fuel up and maintain than conventional cars, helping EV owners save money. These benefits make it important to create policies that help underserved communities access EV technology—because they are hit hardest by transportation-related…
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Sick of the Presidential Campaign? Young Leaders = Hope

Sick of the Presidential Campaign? Young Leaders = Hope

I don’t know about you, but I almost can’t stand to watch coverage of the presidential campaign anymore. Every day it seems to get more toxic, mean and detached from reality – but two events I attended last Thursday give me hope. That morning our Summer Associate class presented the research projects they worked on for their 10 weeks with us. Not only did they teach me things I didn’t know about issues ranging from community land trusts to the discriminatory impact of criminal record background checks for employment, they helped me feel like maybe this country does have a future after all. One of them, Angelo Sandoval, a law…
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Communities of Color: Models for Environmental Justice

Communities of Color: Models for Environmental Justice

These ten weeks as a summer associate have afforded me some of the greatest personal and professional development challenges of my young adult life. While I expected to this summer to be demanding, I was not aware of how much I would grow. When I first arrived at The Greenlining Institute, I was immersed in leadership development workshops. These workshops served as the framework for how I completed my final capstone project. Throughout the process, while conducting my interviews, editing blog posts, and writing drafts of my project, I had to utilize time management, competing priorities, and effective communication. As a summer associate on the environmental equity team, I worked…
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#PhilanthropySoWhite: California Holds Businesses to Diversity Standards; Why Not Foundations?

#PhilanthropySoWhite: California Holds Businesses to Diversity Standards; Why Not Foundations?

Soon, businesses will have to state their plans to promote opportunities for women and people of color if they want to receive tax credits from the state of California. In 2013, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) began handing out millions of dollars in “California Competes” tax credits to companies who can demonstrate that they’re generating quality job opportunities for Californians, particularly in low-income areas. In the past year alone, the committee in charge of distributing the tax credits has awarded 259 companies a total of $160 million. At its last board meeting, GO-Biz announced that in November it will begin asking companies that apply for tax…
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In the Mountains of Death, Staring at Climate Change

In the Mountains of Death, Staring at Climate Change

I just got back from a few days at Kings Canyon National Park in the southern Sierra. The place is awe-inspiring, but I can’t shake something I saw that you won’t find in any tourist guide. The photo to the left was taken on my way up the mountains, at about 4,000 feet.  You can find dead trees like this all over California’s largest mountain range (and much of the rest of the state) right now – 66 million of them. Look carefully at that shot, and especially at the background, and you can just make out that at least half the trees on that slope are brown and dead…
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Social Change Communications Agencies Have A Problem: #PRSoWhite

Social Change Communications Agencies Have A Problem: #PRSoWhite

If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, you should be familiar with the world of agencies that convey their clients’ message to drive masses to action (usually to buy a product). Most people often refer to them as advertising agencies. Besides these agencies that help corporations sell products for profit, there are agencies whose mission is to shape public opinion to drive social change. These agencies integrate strategic public relations, advertising, social media and more to drive issue-driven campaigns that make the world a better place. These agencies usually call themselves social change communications agencies. The two types of agencies I mentioned above have very different missions, but they have something…
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California is One Step Closer to Achieving #Health4All

California is One Step Closer to Achieving #Health4All

On June 10, 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 10, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D – Bell Gardens), which would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance through Covered California. In my short time as a Bridges to Health Fellow, I have seen health reforms passed, such as SB 4, also authored by Sen. Lara, which expanded access to Medi-Cal, our state’s health insurance program for limited income families, to undocumented children under the age of 19. I have also seen initiatives fail, including Sen. Lara’s Senate Bill 1005, which sought to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented adults. This fellowship provided me a crash course in advocacy at the state…
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Demilitarize the Police, Demilitarize America

Demilitarize the Police, Demilitarize America

Every shocking police killing of a person of color brings another wave of sadness and anger through Greenlining’s office. As an organization that works every day for racial equity but doesn’t directly deal with policing or criminal justice, shootings like the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile leave us feeling simultaneously outraged and helpless. Then, Thursday night, the sniper attack that killed five Dallas police officers added another layer of madness and despair. And, like millions of other Americans, we grope for answers. I claim no great expertise, here, but it seems to me that much of the problem lies at the intersection of racism, militarized police culture…
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#PhilanthropySoWhite? It’s Time for a Change

#PhilanthropySoWhite? It’s Time for a Change

What do the Oscars, the Federal Reserve, and philanthropy all have in common? Apart from wielding tremendous power, the answer is simple: they’re overwhelmingly white. We’ve all seen the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite that took off in 2015 when not a single person of color was nominated for an acting award, and that reappeared when 2016 brought more of the same. Now, #FedSoWhite is making its way around social media as over 120 members of Congress have called attention to the fact that 100 percent of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Federal Open Market Committee are white (and 60 percent are men). In the world of philanthropy, made up…
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