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After Ferguson

After Ferguson

On Monday night the county grand jury investigating the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael  Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson decided not to indict the officer for the shooting.  For millions of black and Latino Americans, this was no surprise. The story isn’t over, of course. A federal civil rights investigation continues, and it could lead to action against Wilson or others for civil rights violations. Not having seen all the evidence, I’m reluctant to second-guess the grand jury’s decision, but I can’t help wondering whether the outcome would have been the same if Michael Brown had been white. Maybe it’s that over the weekend, another black kid,…
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Happy Illegal Immigrant Day!!!

Happy Illegal Immigrant Day!!!

All across the U.S., families are getting ready to stuff themselves silly on turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie to commemorate the arrival of our country’s first “illegal aliens.” Of course, we don’t say it that way, but it’s true, and it might be nice if we were honest about it – especially given the hysterical reactions to President Obama’s rather modest immigration reforms. Those early English settlers, the “Pilgrims” around whom we’ve constructed an elaborate Thanksgiving story that’s in fact largely myth, seem never to have seriously considered getting permission to settle here, even though it wasn’t a secret that the place was already inhabited. By pretty much all accounts,…
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#GetCovered Round 2: What to Expect from the Upcoming Covered California Open Enrollment

#GetCovered Round 2: What to Expect from the Upcoming Covered California Open Enrollment

The second Covered California open enrollment period starts on November 15. Despite initial glitches and obstacles, California quietly led the charge by enrolling 1.1 million people into qualified health plans with Covered California, the largest of any state by far. This time around, expectations are sky high, with 1.7 million expected to sign up through Covered California this next enrollment period, which ends on February 15, 2015. And where there were problems, Covered California has moved to fix them. For example, as we noted last June, limited-English proficient individuals were inadequately represented, and a large unmet health need remains for this population. Fortunately, the folks at Covered California have listened…
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Closing the Doors to the University of California

Closing the Doors to the University of California

“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” – Victor Hugo “…and as soon as the income of the University shall permit, admission and tuition shall be free to all residents of the State; and it shall be the duty of the Regents, according to population, to so apportion the representation of students, when necessary, that all portions of the State shall enjoy equal privileges therein.” – Section 14, U.C. Charter So, the University of California plans a 5% tuition increase each year for the next five years, UC’s way of staying sustainable and afloat.  UC President Janet Napolitano says this is necessary for the stability of the university, and…
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Hospitals, “Political Attacks” and Straw Men

Hospitals, “Political Attacks” and Straw Men

It’s not a surprise that the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California responded to our recent report on San Francisco hospitals’ community benefit spending and our San Francisco Chronicle column about it with its own column in the Chronicle. What is surprising – and telling – is that instead of addressing the substance of our questions, Hospital Association President Art Sponseller resorted to a series of straw man arguments designed to avoid the issue. Sponseller spends about a third of his column listing good things that SF hospitals do, as if we’d claimed these institutions do no good work in their communities. We said no such thing, of course.…
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Connecting the Dots: Federal Reserve Chair Yellen on Diversity and Policy

Connecting the Dots: Federal Reserve Chair Yellen on Diversity and Policy

I won’t lie to you: Being a diversity advocate in the financial sector can sometimes be maddening. I can’t tell you how many feel-good speeches I’ve sat through, shallow diversity trainings I’ve heard about, or rainbow posters I’ve seen as “evidence” of an organization’s commitment to diversity & inclusion. These intentions, though well meaning, miss the real point: Diversity is more than “brown faces in high places.” Diversity is about integrating a full understanding of the consumer base, typically gained through lived experiences, into decision-making. And when diversity is adequately and strategically realized, all communities equitably benefit —from how a company markets products, to how the government regulates the economy.…
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Greenlining, Hospitals, and Sunlight: Why Transparency Matters

Greenlining, Hospitals, and Sunlight: Why Transparency Matters

It’s not easy to find a direct analogy that describes the work Greenlining has done to hold not-for-profit hospitals accountable to their community benefit promises. To most, these hospitals seem like the last institution you’d want to criticize, particularly in comparison to the predatory behaviors of banks, insurance companies, and large corporations. However, it’s exactly this type of complacency that lulls so many into overlooking the ways in which not-for-profit hospitals don’t hold up their end of the bargain. And that’s where the Greenlining Bridges to Health team comes in. In the fall of 2013, Greenlining published its first community benefit report detailing a lack of clarity, coupled with large…
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We’re All Going to Die!!!!  Ebola, Health and the Media

We’re All Going to Die!!!! Ebola, Health and the Media

Have you heard anything about Ebola lately? Dumb question, I know. As I write this, Ebola stories are at the very top of the page on Google News and on the home pages of Huffington Post, Fox News, NBC News, the Los Angeles Times, and probably every other news site you can name. I’m not saying that the media shouldn’t cover Ebola, which is causing massive misery and death in a handful of West African countries. It’s important and deserves attention, though not the hysteria we’ve seen in some quarters.  But let’s get some perspective here. Ebola has caused, in total, precisely one death in the United States. At present,…
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This Week in “What the…?” – Ebola Edition

This Week in “What the…?” – Ebola Edition

Has the Ebola epidemic, with its origins in three West African countries, generated a racist response in the U.S.? Some observers certainly think so, and given our nation’s troubled history with race, that wouldn’t shock me. If a scary epidemic had started in some predominantly white country — say, Belgium —  would U.S. politicians be clamoring for a travel ban? You can’t help but wonder, even if it’s hard to know. What I do know for sure is that, racist or not, some of the responses have been plain stupid. Take, for example, the recent decision by school authorities in Stokes County, North Carolina to keep an assistant principal from…
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Health4All – Because Caring for Our Neighbors Helps Us all

Health4All – Because Caring for Our Neighbors Helps Us all

On Wednesday, October 8, advocates and legislators came together at a Health4All rally to publicly and emphatically support access to health coverage for all Californians, especially undocumented immigrants. The testimonies at the rally echoed the voices of a majority of California voters, who recognize that we can’t wait any longer to provide health care to our undocumented neighbors and friends. At the rally, the Greenlining Institute joined Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), and several organizations, such as Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE), California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), California Partnership, California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), Young Invincibles, California Health Professional Student Alliance (CaHPSA),…
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