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Triggered: Why So Offended?

Triggered: Why So Offended?

Why do you get so offended easily? That’s the question I see in many comments defending the fraternity in Old Dominion University that posted sexually suggestive and demeaning banners in front of their house. The banners caused an uproar especially from survivors of sexual assault. Signs such as those bring back trauma, triggers, into many people’s lives despite what the conveyed intention – excuse – is. Unfortunately, this doesn’t only happen in fraternity houses. This happens close to home. Just recently, I heard about a themed party thrown by people I knew. The theme was called “trigger-themed” and from what I heard, there were signs posted on the wall of…
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Don’t Laugh at Donald Trump

Don’t Laugh at Donald Trump

A lot of very smart people on the progressive side of the political spectrum think Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is a joke. The trend began a month ago, when Ryan Grim, Huffington Post’s very sharp Washington bureau chief, announced that the site would cover Trump in its entertainment section, not its politics page, because Trump’s campaign belongs “next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.” (Full disclosure: Ryan and I once worked together; I like and respect him – a lot.) More recently, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, who has done truly heroic reporting about Wall Street malfeasance and the unfairness of our criminal justice system, has taken to…
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#BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter

Many years ago, I applied for a job at a nonprofit that dealt with a particular aspect of health policy. One of the interview questions was, roughly, “Why do you think this issue is more important than any other?” I’m reasonably sure my answer took me out of contention for the position. I said, “I’m not sure it is. There are lots of injustices in the world and lots of problems that need fixing, and this is definitely one of them. But I don’t believe in pitting one cause against another in some sort of hierarchy and saying, ‘Mine’s more important than yours.’” I thought of that old interview yesterday…
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President Obama’s plan for clean power and equity?

President Obama’s plan for clean power and equity?

President Obama unveiled a plan today that puts the country on a path to severely cut planet warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants.  The environmental regulations announced today will ultimately transform America’s electricity industry and will be remembered as the President’s boldest environmental action during his tenure. I commend the President for his leadership on environmental issues and for helping our country to transition away from coal-fired power plants to renewable sources like wind and solar power.  A few months ago, The Greenlining Institute and The Asian Pacific Environmental Network submitted a comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to use California as a…
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“Second Chance” for the Incarcerated Is Really a First Chance

“Second Chance” for the Incarcerated Is Really a First Chance

It’s not being given a second chance. It’s being given the chance that was never given at all. Today, July 31st 2015, the Obama administration announced a pilot program that would provide Pell Grants to some incarcerated individuals who are set to be released within five years. The program, called Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, aims to reintegrate formerly incarcerated people to their communities through an affordable education. This is groundbreaking. Greenlining has long argued that the formerly incarcerated must be able to reintegrate into society, from jobs to voting rights. Other than overwhelming data showing that incarcerated folks who participated in education programs are much less likely to return…
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Sometimes You Win

Sometimes You Win

The news has been really depressing lately, from mass shootings to the still-not-convincingly-explained death of Sandra Bland. When you work in public policy, you get used to the fact that you fight lots of battles and lose a fair number of them. But sometimes you win. And those wins make a difference. Last year, my colleagues on our Environmental Equity team worked with a coalition called the Charge Ahead California campaign to pass a law called SB 1275, designed to put a million electric cars and trucks on California roads by making them more affordable to low- and moderate-income Californians. Now the benefits of that law are becoming real. Last…
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Woah! Is the FHFA using a Racial Equity Framework?!

Woah! Is the FHFA using a Racial Equity Framework?!

When you sign up to become a racial justice advocate they should really give you a helmet. Not for combat (we are hippies, mind you) but for all the times you end up banging your head against the wall. Why all the self-pity? Because all of my time is spent trying to think of different ways to say these three truths—1) people of color are treated differently in this world, 2) that difference is unjust, and 3) our society can and must put an end to these practices. In many ways, that’s all I do. But even with top access and media coaching, it’s an enormously difficult message to break…
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Tech’s Diversity Problem: Can We Talk?

Tech’s Diversity Problem: Can We Talk?

The tech industry knows it has a problem with diversity. Representation of  Blacks, Latino/as, and Native People at leading companies unfortunately fluctuates between zero and seven percent — not at all representative of the U.S.’s shifting racial demographics. The companies have even said this is a problem, but what are they doing about it? This summer, I’m trying to find out. I am conducting an assessment of the diversity and inclusion initiatives, workforce diversity, and supplier diversity, at 11 of the nation’s leading technology companies: Google, Intel, HP, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Square, Lyft, Uber, and Pandora. As racial equity advocates, Greenlining doesn’t want to shame companies on their lack of…
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Kaiser Responded to Clarify! – RE: Kaiser Permanente’s Sponsorship of the Warriors May Not Be So Golden

Kaiser Responded to Clarify! – RE: Kaiser Permanente’s Sponsorship of the Warriors May Not Be So Golden

A few weeks ago, I published this piece about nonprofit hospital community benefit, which called into question Kaiser Permanente’s sponsorship of the Golden State Warriors. I wondered whether Kaiser might be counting this partnership (along with fancy commercials like this) as part of the community benefit spending they must do in order to receive huge tax breaks as a nonprofit hospital. This post garnered a considerable amount of attention and since then, a few exciting developments have occurred: 1) The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2015 NBA Championship! … but more importantly… 2) Kaiser Permanente reached out to us to clarify that, in fact, they did…
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A Case Study in White Privilege

A Case Study in White Privilege

Watching the online discussions about police shootings, the massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Confederate flag reminds me that a lot of white Americans haven’t the faintest clue about how privileged whites have been and still are in U.S. society. It’s easy to say “I don’t see race” if you’re part of the politically and economically dominant racial group, but if we’re to heal this nation’s wounds, white people need to see race. As a small step in that process, I herewith offer a small case study in white privilege. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll base it on the life of someone I know pretty well: me.…
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