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Supreme Court Ruling on Affirmative Action: Race Matters, and Justice Sotomayor Knows It

Supreme Court Ruling on Affirmative Action: Race Matters, and Justice Sotomayor Knows It

Coming back to work from a mini-vacation is tough. But coming back to work to disappointing news from the Supreme Court is even worse. Today, the Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in public college admissions. The decision upheld a voter-approved change to the Michigan Constitution that (like California’s Proposition 209) forbids the state’s public colleges from taking race into account in admissions. The court based the ruling on the process by which voters approved the change, shying away from the issue of racial inequality altogether. This ruling is a devastating blow to the many civil rights groups, especially here in California, who work to advance diversity in…
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The Most Powerful Office People Don’t Know About

The Most Powerful Office People Don’t Know About

This year, Californians will have the power to choose the person who oversees the heart of our democracy – the right to vote! That person is called the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State serves as the chief elections officer, overseeing elections across California. He or she actually has a lot of power, and when our communities still face many obstacles to their right to vote because English is not their first language or they have a disability, we need to make sure the Secretary of State addresses these structural barriers. On May 6th in San Diego, we are co-sponsoring a Secretary of State Candidate Forum with the ACLU, California…
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Online Voter Registration Now Available in 10 Languages

Online Voter Registration Now Available in 10 Languages

California first started offering online voter registration in the fall of 2012. Initially launched in English and Spanish, the online voter registration system has now been expanded to allow voters to register online in eight additional languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Thai. To register to vote or update your address, go to http://registertovote.ca.gov/. California has millions of immigrant citizens who are still learning English, citizens we need as full participants in our democracy. This is an important step to help bridge the voter registration gap in communities of color. While 72 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 69 percent of African Americans in California reported being registered to…
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This Week in “What the…?” – Major League Edition

This Week in “What the…?” – Major League Edition

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Once again, some of those claiming loudly that America has become post-racial and no longer needs to worry about racism (hey, we have a black president, don’t we?) have inadvertently proven that racism is alive and well in America. Back in 1974, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record – and received racist hate mail for having the audacity, as an African American, to break a record held by a white guy. Now he gets racist hate mail simply for acknowledging that racism still exists. “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we…
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Leaks, Lies and Your Right to Know

Leaks, Lies and Your Right to Know

One of my biggest frustrations as a consumer advocate is Confidential Information. You see, there’s a lot of information that companies don’t want the public to know, claiming that they need to keep it confidential because releasing it would give their competitors an unfair advantage, or the information is proprietary. These claims are often true, but  I’m increasingly convinced that companies often keep information confidential because if their customers found out about it, we would be outraged. When a carrier files a document containing uncomfortable facts at the Federal Communications Commission or the California Public Utilities Commission, that carrier usually first asks the Commission for a protective order. Under a…
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4 Words Progressives Should Drop from Our Vocabulary

4 Words Progressives Should Drop from Our Vocabulary

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” –Audre Lorde If you’ve been involved in any sort of advocacy or political organizing, you’ve probably heard someone say, “That’s not my issue.” It could be an environmentalist talking about civil rights, or a civil rights activist talking about climate change, or a criminal justice reformer talking about access to health care. The message, in short: “That’s outside of my silo, so I’m not going to worry about it.” I’ve come to believe that this attitude is pretty much always a mistake. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s no need for advocates…
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This Is What The Next America Looks Like

This Is What The Next America Looks Like

“The demographic revolution is here!” We’ve heard the phrase countless times in the past, but what does it really mean? Paul Taylor from the Pew Research Center has published a new book titled The Next America that puts the demographic revolution into context. Some highlights: America is getting grayer. As a result of longer lifespans and lower birthrates, by 2060 there will be as many Americans over the age of 85 as under age 5. And as we take every opportunity to point out at Greenlining, people of color in the United States are becoming the New Majority. By 2060, America will only be 43% white. We’re a country with a very colorful racial…
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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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The Affordable Care Act is Working

The Affordable Care Act is Working

A new Gallup poll reports that the percentage of Americans without health insurance has fallen to its lowest level since 2008, dropping dramatically from its peak last year. While surveys like this aren’t perfect, this one likely underestimates the number of people who now have coverage, since it doesn’t capture the last-minute flurry of signups as the March 31 deadline approached. Notably and importantly, the biggest increase in insurance coverage was among blacks, Latinos, and households with incomes under $36,000 per year. Ideological opponents of health care reform have done much theatrical wailing about a few people who have lost coverage – mainly people who had junk insurance that doesn’t…
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Life with Stop-and-Frisk

Life with Stop-and-Frisk

The white father of a black son, writing in The Atlantic, details his family’s disturbing experiences with stop-and-frisk policies and general police attitudes toward African Americans: When my son was walking home one night during his summer in New York City, two men jumped out of the shadows and grabbed him. Any reasonable person would instantly have been jolted into wondering, “Am I being robbed?” That question demands quick decision-making: “Do I defend myself? Do I break free and try to run away?” However, because cautious African-American men know that they are frequent targets of sudden and unexplained police stops, they must suppress their rational defensive reactions with self-imposed docility.…
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