From Silence to Power

From Silence to Power

Content warning: This post contains language and description of violence, harassment and abuse. The first language that I learned was an intergenerational literacy that has kept the members of my family hollow. The language that I speak of is not English or even Spanish. It instead is an embodied literacy taught to marginalized populations— Silence. Growing up in my Mexican family I was always told to shut up, to be more obedient, to hide secrets that no child should hide, and to pretend that abuse that occured in my life never happened. I was expected to be silent, that was my birthright as a mujer, as a mexican womxn after…
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Algorithmic Bias:  How Algorithms Can Limit Economic Opportunity for Communities of Color

Algorithmic Bias: How Algorithms Can Limit Economic Opportunity for Communities of Color

Racial and gender bias in algorithms impacts communities of color in disproportionate and frightening ways. The urgency of addressing this issue cannot be stressed enough. Algorithmic bias goes beyond privacy and surveillance issues that we have seen in the past. Biased algorithms can determine my access to healthcare, jobs, loans, and broadly, economic opportunity — and yours, too. As a young person of color who relies heavily on technology, I worry about the ways inequality is becoming automated, normalized and worsened through computerized decision-making systems. I have first-hand experience of what happens when we leave discrimination unchecked. As a Muslim raised post 9/11, I have seen Islamophobia continue to increase.…
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City of Oakland Unanimously Passes Resolution Backing Community Reinvestment Act

City of Oakland Unanimously Passes Resolution Backing Community Reinvestment Act

For the first time in 40 years, the federal government could weaken a little-known but important law encouraging bank lending, services and investments in underserved communities: the Community Reinvestment Act. Advocates like The Greenlining Institute do not expect changes proposed by the Trump administration will bode well for communities of color, and cities and mayors across the country are rising to support a strengthened CRA. With the passage of a CRA resolution on February 5, Oakland became the second city in California and one of dozens of cities in the nation calling for the preservation of the CRA’s mission: requiring banks to meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income…
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Transitions: A Letter from Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar

Transitions: A Letter from Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar

Dear Friends and Allies, My passion for public service stems from my upbringing in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. My parents came to this country as undocumented immigrants seeking better economic opportunities. My birth in Los Angeles in 1974 provided a path to legal residency for my parents. Approximately seven years after their residency, they became U.S. Citizens. Both of my parents worked extremely hard in working-class jobs while my two older siblings and I attended local public schools. Together we spent the first 18 years of my life in the same two bedroom apartment in The Wyvernwood Gardens, an apartment complex with over 10,000 residents. There,…
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Clean Energy Technology for All through CalSEED

Clean Energy Technology for All through CalSEED

The green and clean energy economy is emerging, but who is at the forefront? What comes to mind first may be those who can afford to buy into the green economy. However, those who do not have access to financial wealth, can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods or own Teslas typically use less water, electricity, and gas. These folks — often people of color — already conserve the most natural resources and would like to do more, but are overshadowed by the White-dominated environmental narrative and miss out on clean energy technology. Since income remains a key limit on access to clean energy technology, low-income folks of color have…
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Our Car-Addicted Transportation System Blocks Climate Progress

Our Car-Addicted Transportation System Blocks Climate Progress

The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last September sparked a flurry of states, cities, and companies to announce commitments for climate action. California Governor Jerry Brown, signed SB 100, legislation that puts California on a path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. While SB 100 is a huge victory, it’s not enough to get us to a just, fair, and sustainable future. Our car-dependent transportation system not only impedes climate progress, it makes many of our other problems worse. Transportation is responsible for nearly 50 percent of California’s total greenhouse gas emissions and they are on the rise. A report by the California Air Resources Board found…
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Safety, Liberation, and Racial Justice at #FacingRace2018

Safety, Liberation, and Racial Justice at #FacingRace2018

What’s it like to be 3,500 racial justice organizers deep? It feels like home — and liberation — when you’re at Facing Race. Before I even arrived at the Cobo Center in Detroit, I stopped in Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the largest Muslim population in the country. I saw storefront signs with halal written on them, hijabis were on every street corner. I felt safe, I felt belonging in a place I’ve never been to. To feel that connection is so meaningful, especially in a time when the Ohlone land I was born and raised on often feels alienating. As a first time attendee at the Facing Race Conference,…
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Why Don’t We Riot Over Wealth Inequality?

Why Don’t We Riot Over Wealth Inequality?

Tell people their gas taxes are going up and they will riot, literally.  Tell people that 62 individuals hold the same amount of wealth as the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population and we don’t blink an eye. Okay, maybe we do a hard blink but we certainly don’t riot.  Or perhaps gas tax riots are actually severe wealth inequality riots in disguise? France has been embroiled in mass and violent protests to proposed diesel and gas tax increases that have forced France’s government to suspend its plans to increase taxes and to also immediately freeze prices on electricity and home heating fuel.…
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White Supremacy + Capitalism = Climate Change

White Supremacy + Capitalism = Climate Change

The morning after the United Nations IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) dropped its “Global Warming of 1.5°C” report I felt almost every emotion available: angry, scared, frustrated, heartbroken, distraught. The report calls for “rapid, far reaching, and unprecedented systems change” in order to maintain a global temperature rise of no more than 1.5°C in the Anthropocene — the era of human-caused climate change. 1.5° global temperature increase is key because the catastrophes the world would experience between 1.5° and 2° are stark. Coral reefs would almost entirely disappear with 2° of warming, with just 10–30% of existing reefs surviving at 1.5°C. Our behavior, from the industrial revolution to the…
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The Climate Change Denial Suicide Cult

The Climate Change Denial Suicide Cult

A recent encounter on Twitter with a bunch of climate change denial types sent my memory flying back nearly 20 years to my days as a reporter and an eerily parallel run-in. Now as then, I realized, we’re face-to-face with a suicide cult. Climate change threatens us all, of course, but it’s of special concern here at The Greenlining Institute because low-income communities of color have the fewest resources to deal with its effects and often suffer most from the toxic air pollution generated by our fossil fuel economy.  In addition, these communities most urgently need the jobs and investment that the clean energy economy will bring – or at…
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