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.”…
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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…
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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…
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CRA “Reform” Is an Attack on Communities of Color

CRA “Reform” Is an Attack on Communities of Color

By this point, it’s no secret that the Trump administration is in open warfare with communities of color, the working class, and regulations that safeguard our interests. Now, it seems, they’re coming after the Community Reinvestment Act – CRA for short. Heads up: Trump’s administration is going after the Community Reinvestment Act, a bill that helps close the racial wealth gap. CRA, a civil rights law passed by Congress in 1977 to address redlining, is reportedly next on the administration’s hit list. The effects of redlining — the refusal of banks to lend and invest in communities of color and low-income areas for decades – linger today. By enacting the CRA,…
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Why I Don’t Speak Spanish: The Collateral Damage of Prejudice

Why I Don’t Speak Spanish: The Collateral Damage of Prejudice

I wish I knew how to speak Spanish. Not only would it be incredibly useful in my current job here at Greenlining, I can think of hundreds of occasions in the past when it would have helped. But I don’t speak Spanish for precisely one reason: prejudice. In 6th grade – the last year of grade school in my district – we’d learned a smattering of Spanish via a teacher who came into our class once a week, Señora Rosa. Starting middle school the next year (1968, for anyone who’s counting – but please don’t) offered me my first chance to take a foreign language class every day. With a…
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More than Fighting Redlining: The Origins of The Greenlining Institute

More than Fighting Redlining: The Origins of The Greenlining Institute

I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles – Watts — a child of Mexican immigrants. We used to jokingly call it Hollywatts. So I saw first-hand what it was like to live in a community that had been victimized by redlining. My parents didn’t speak English, so I did all the translating for them. My parents always taught me that we should help people, so they’d bring people by the house and I would translate for them. We always had that tradition of service. I also saw tragedy. My brother was shot in a drive-by shooting and didn’t have health insurance, so he was bounced around by…
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25 Years of Fighting for Racial Justice

25 Years of Fighting for Racial Justice

2018 marks an important milestone for us: On March 8, 1993, The Greenlining Institute officially incorporated, making the leap from an informal coalition to an actual organization. This anniversary comes at a moment in our nation’s history when the fight for racial justice has never been more important, a moment when everything we fight for is under more intense threat than we’ve seen in decades. And that fight has never been more crucial. So over the next few months – here on this blog, on Greenlining’s social media accounts and at our Economic Summit on May 24 — we will be revisiting some key moments in our history and reflecting…
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Super Bowl Ads Model Everything Wrong with “Diversity”

Super Bowl Ads Model Everything Wrong with “Diversity”

Like any good red-blooded American, I ate too much, drank too much, and screamed a whole lot on Super Bowl Sunday. Not only did this Jersey girl get to see the Eagles win for the first time (#FLYEAGLESFLY), but my inner Diversity Diva got pelted with one problematic ad after another. Lots of articles today are out about the “Do You Want to Feel Like a Good Person? Then Buy Stuff!” trope that most advertisers followed, but really, Sunday night serves as a perfect example of this nation’s perception on diversity — and why it’s so flawed. For those that opted for the Puppy Bowl instead (yes, it’s a real…
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Saving the Safety Net: Protecting the Sick and Vulnerable on Medicaid

Saving the Safety Net: Protecting the Sick and Vulnerable on Medicaid

On November 7, 2017, Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) spoke to an audience of state Medicaid directors from across the nation. In this speech, Verma outlined her vision for the future of Medicaid, a state and federally funded health insurance program (known in California as Medi-Cal) that covers nearly 75 million Americans, particularly low income families and disabled Americans. This program acts as a vital safety net for vulnerable patients who do not have the resources to afford private health coverage. Unfortunately, Verma’s plan will strip coverage from many vulnerable and sick individuals who currently utilize this decades old safety net program. What is the CMS…
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Fight Climate Change & Join the Clean Energy Revolution with the UpLift Resource Finder

Fight Climate Change & Join the Clean Energy Revolution with the UpLift Resource Finder

Something amazing is happening in California. California has taken bold steps to act on climate change, including regulations to cut our carbon consumption and charging polluters for the carbon that they emit. We put that money from polluters into a fund called the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) where it goes to work promoting the clean energy economy in communities across the state. What’s not amazing is that the infrastructure that California has created is enormously complex and hard to understand, even for someone like me whose job it is to track this stuff. And for the everyday renter, community-based group or local city planner, it can be dizzying to…
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