Voter Suppression – It Just Gets Worse

Voter Suppression – It Just Gets Worse

Here in California, we live in a bit of a bubble. While our system isn’t perfect by any means – the ballot initiative process, for example, is too dominated by wealthy special interests and not sufficiently open to ordinary citizens, especially those whose English is less than perfect – the right to vote is relatively secure here.  Voters in other states aren’t so lucky. Last night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow did a blistering segment on North Carolina’s latest push to suppress voting by poor and minority residents. The newest wrinkle is particularly disturbing: what seems like a deliberate push to make it nearly impossible for students at historically black colleges…
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Designing Paths to Success for Filipino-American Youth

Designing Paths to Success for Filipino-American Youth

A few months ago, two of my friends pitched a project to me that turned out really exciting. We wanted to address the lack of resources and guidance that Filipino-American youth and young professionals have access to in navigating their career paths. I felt a strong personal connection with this issue: Being a first-generation college student, I never really knew what the next steps were after graduating from college. I knew that I had to get a job, but the process of getting one was never really clear to me. As an immigrant and manual laborer, my Dad couldn’t offer me much advice regarding my career interests. Instead, I had…
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Don’t Censor Martin Luther King

Don’t Censor Martin Luther King

Later this month, pundits and politicians from President Obama on down will mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, delivered  at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. To all involved, I have a simple request: Please don’t censor Dr. King. Don’t remember just the warm and fuzzy parts of his legacy. Honor the side of King that was challenging and provocative and radical. We like to look at beloved historical figures through a soft glow that blurs out uncomfortable details. For Dr. King, that means embracing the things he said that no one would dare disagree with today,…
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Why the CA Department of Insurance Rocks my Socks

Why the CA Department of Insurance Rocks my Socks

As usual, I’m back again to blog about why this country desperately needs diversity. Typically, I’ve focused on the need to have people of color  in positions of influence. While it’s true that diversity of representation is a key component to empowering our communities, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Another crucial step is making sure that we benefit financially and get the dollars in hand necessary to grow and strengthen our communities. While the Rick Santorums out there may think I’m advocating for more black people to go on welfare, I’m really talking about creating more opportunities for businesses owned by people for color to get contracts from…
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Saving YOUR Home

Saving YOUR Home

While the recent foreclosure crisis devastated communities of color across the nation, Californians were especially hard hit. Since the mortgage meltdown, we have heard countless stories of borrowers mistreated by fraudulent lenders, loan modifiers, and peddlers of phony foreclosure relief. These scammers targeted low-income and minority consumers who have been historically denied access to the American Dream. But it’s rare that we hear these stories directly from the families affected. Over the next couple weeks, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) will release a series of videos in which clients tell their stories. HERA is a California-based nonprofit legal service and advocacy organization that works to ensure that everyone is…
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Guarding the Human Environment

Guarding the Human Environment

At a family gathering a little over a year ago, my oldest sister-in-law asked, “Are you still working for that environmental group?” I attempted to explain to her that our focus is actually on racial and economic justice and opportunity, but I recently discovered – much to my dismay – that my explanation didn’t take: She still thought of Greenlining as a “green” group in the traditional sense. As someone who puts words together for a living, there’s nothing more unnerving than to learn that my carefully crafted explanation utterly failed. So I’m going to try again. Yes, we are an environmental group, but not in the way most people…
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Stop California from Penalizing Poor Families

Stop California from Penalizing Poor Families

Cross-posted at Repeal CalWORKs Maximum Family Grant and California Partnership — Thanks to a decades-old law called the “Maximum Family Grant,” California’s CalWORKs program punishes babies for being born poor and, by extension, punishes their entire family. CalWORKs is California’s welfare-to-work program, and its cash grants allow families to survive while adults seek work. It’s this survival money that’s at stake. Under the Maximum Family Grant rule, a CalWORKs family who has been receiving aid over nine months can’t receive additional aid upon having a baby—unless the mother can prove that she was sterilized, using an IUD, or on the Depo Provera shot. The message there is loud and clear:…
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Too Important for the “Free Market”

Too Important for the “Free Market”

Yesterday, my esteemed colleague Stephanie Chen published a rip-roaring op-ed in Capitol Weekly, the online publication geared to Sacramento politicos, laying down the facts about a legislative attack on LifeLine telephone service. This is an important issue, but what’s disturbing is that it’s part of a larger pattern. LifeLine was born out of the understanding, formed nearly a century ago, that telephone service was no longer a luxury, but a necessity – something that everyone had to have access to in order to function in modern society. And so, we decided to enact a policy that guaranteed access to this vital service, even for those with very little money to…
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This Week in “What the…?” – Florida Edition

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

Is it a crime to be in your own car outside your own house? Apparently some sheriff’s deputies in Escambia County, Florida, think it is. Roy Middleton was reaching into his car to grab a cigarette, in front of the home he shares with his mother. A neighbor, who didn’t recognize him, called the police to report a possible burglary. Nothing wrong so far – indeed, most folks would be glad to have the neighbors keep an eye out for suspicious activity on their property. And once the cops arrive it should take no more than a minute to establish that the person reaching into the car is the vehicle’s…
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