Healing from Trauma Through Policy

Healing from Trauma Through Policy

When I’m trying to really get to know someone, I always ask why they do what they do. If they’re someone with the privilege to choose, the response can tell me a lot about their values and background. Up until recently, I thought I had a good answer. When folks throw the question back at me, I usually answer something along the lines of “As a person of color, I see the role race plays in determining people’s lives. I work on policy to change that.” For all this time I’ve been answering “the why” to racial justice, but never the policy part. People choose to combat racism in tons…
Read More Continue reading


The Conversation on Gun Violence Must Include Black and Brown Youth

The Conversation on Gun Violence Must Include Black and Brown Youth

The Parkland shooting and subsequent student activism have made a powerful impact. Millions of folks from around the country protested gun violence at March for Our Lives events around the country last month and those voices have grown stronger. If we want to end gun violence, our elected officials must stop lining their pockets with NRA dollars and fight for substantive gun control. But while this debate has gone on for weeks, I’ve noticed some really important groups missing from it. I’ve found myself reflecting, particularly, on what safety looks like across the country for Black and Brown youth. That’s why voices like Edna Chavez have been so important. Her…
Read More Continue reading


Outreach at UC Berkeley: Mariachi Luz de Oro Hosts Youth Mariachi at Casa

Outreach at UC Berkeley: Mariachi Luz de Oro Hosts Youth Mariachi at Casa

Born in El Paso, Texas, a tri-border city between New Mexico, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, I grew up surrounded by Mexican culture my whole life. Finally leaving the desert to study chemical engineering at UC Berkeley felt exciting and refreshing. In the sea of faces in my engineering classes and the residence hall, it soon became obvious that I was one of the very few Latinas. This new, unfamiliar feeling of being a minority forced me to analyze my identity as a Chicana with a new lens. In search of a music ensemble as well as this exploration of my identity, I joined Mariachi Luz de Oro despite the…
Read More Continue reading


How to Save a Life: My Story of Health Policy & Empowerment

How to Save a Life: My Story of Health Policy & Empowerment

Nine years ago, I received devastating news: My aunt Michelle had passed away from cardiovascular disease. Michelle was at times a caretaker, other times a third parent, and always a friend. At the time, I was an insecure teen who had no idea what his impact on the world would be, and certainly no clue that I’d be involved in health policy. Michelle’s passing left me wracked with both grief and guilt. The shock of losing such a dear friend worsened my emotional state and forced me to acknowledge my inability to do anything to about it. Michelle’s death initially left me traumatized and disoriented, but it ultimately set me…
Read More Continue reading


Threat to Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Program Could Hurt California’s Resilient Future

Threat to Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Program Could Hurt California’s Resilient Future

Legislators this week started discussions to decide the fate of the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), a program that brings energy efficiency and utility bill savings to low-income California families. The program, whose funding Gov. Brown proposed eliminating in his proposed budget, is financed through the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which directs money collected from polluters through cap-and-trade and invest it in cleaning the environment and encouraging economic growth within the most vulnerable communities. Eliminating funding for LIWP — a program that brings low-income families #energyefficiency and utliity bill savings — would be a step backwards for California. LIWP provides free or deeply discounted energy efficiency upgrades and solar power…
Read More Continue reading


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Racial Justice Tools

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Racial Justice Tools

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are buzzwords we see often. With big companies launching brand campaigns to communicate their commitment to diversity (did you see the Superbowl ads this year?) and job boards seeing an increase in DEI roles, it’s clear that more people and organizations know that DEI work should be a priority. However, the case for DEI has become highly centered around business instead of the communities the concepts were designed to empower. It’s time to reframe diversity, equity, and inclusion as tools that focus on people and racial justice. Enter our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework, which explains how diversity, equity and inclusion can close the racial wealth…
Read More Continue reading


Warning of the 2008 Financial Crisis – and Stopping a New Wave of Predatory Lending

Warning of the 2008 Financial Crisis – and Stopping a New Wave of Predatory Lending

It’s considered rude to say, “I told you so,” but as far as the 2008 financial crisis goes, we did. Now a new wave of financial deregulation could set up a rerun of the predatory lending boom that devastated communities of color and tanked our entire economy. We’d had a fairly cordial relationship with Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan going back to Greenlining’s early days in 1993-94, so we hoped that he’d listen when we told him we were worried about what was going on with adjustable-rate mortgages and subprime lending. As the housing boom started to take off in the late 1990s and early 2000s, something of a…
Read More Continue reading


Brownfields, UC Merced and Fighting for Environmental Equity

Brownfields, UC Merced and Fighting for Environmental Equity

The environment is a key civil rights issue, but when I started to get involved in environmental issues, we didn’t often see other people of color in the room and at times it seemed like mainstream environmentalists were more concerned with saving trout than with getting clean water to low-income children. In the aftermath of the L.A. uprisings in 1992, several Greenlining Coalition members, led by our coalition partners at West Angeles Community Development Corporation and F.A.M.E. Renaissance, started an effort to revitalize their communities that had been torn apart by redlining. They particularly wanted to address the numerous vacant and abandoned sites found in California’s inner cities, called “brownfields.”…
Read More Continue reading


Young People Changing Policy: The Birth of Greenlining’s Leadership Academy

Young People Changing Policy: The Birth of Greenlining’s Leadership Academy

I found out about the Greenlining Leadership Academy during the spring semester of my first year in graduate school at the University of Michigan, where I was working on my master’s degree in public policy. Everyone was finding summer internships, and I really wanted to get back to the Bay Area. A friend of mine saw a brochure for the Leadership Academy and said, “You need to apply for this.” The Academy brought together different elements that I didn’t think anybody else had: policy and advocacy on issues that were important to low-income communities and communities of color, and the brochure made it very clear that this was a, multiethnic…
Read More Continue reading


Taking a Federal Reserve Official on a Tour of South Central L.A.

Taking a Federal Reserve Official on a Tour of South Central L.A.

The Greenlining Institute was still a new organization in 1995. We’d just had our first Economic Development Summit the year before, featuring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and in 1995 we did something that apparently no one had thought of before: We took Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder on a tour of South Central L.A. – the sort of neighborhood where federal financial regulators never set foot, a community totally outside their experience. My day job back then was working for the Urban League in Arizona, where I’d moved two years earlier. I’d been on the board of Public Advocates where Bob Gnaizda was working, and…
Read More Continue reading