Episode 10: Gabriela Sandoval

Listen to Anne Price and Gabriela Sandoval discuss utility shutoffs, unfair billing practices, and their impact on the health and wellbeing of California families and communities.


Gabriela Sandoval is the Research Director for the End Shutoffs Campaign, a project at TURN – The Utility Reform Network that seeks to address the health and housing impacts of utility shutoffs. TURN is a consumer protection organization that advocates for affordable, environmentally responsible, and quality utility services for California families and communities, particularly those struggling to make ends meet.

Gabriela joined Insight President Anne Price to discuss her work to develop a better understanding of where and why utility shutoffs occur, how shutoffs impact the health and wellbeing of families and communities, and how to prevent them.

Gabriela discussed the causes and impacts of the growing number of utility shutoffs in California, her organization’s ongoing work to identify and map the communities most affected by shutoffs, and the different types of unfair billing practices that can harm consumers.

Gabriela also discussed the need to give greater attention to the structural causes behind shutoffs in the public conversation, and she shared tips for energy conservation, protection against unjust billing practices, and how consumers can speak out and get involved to create a more equitable and accessible utility market.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


To learn more about Gabriela’s work and the mission of TURN, visit turn.org.

Episode 9: Sandhya Anantharaman

Listen to Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Sandhya Anantharaman discuss the history, promise, and ongoing debate around Universal Basic Income as a policy solution for economic and racial inequity.


Sandhya Anantharaman is a Co-Director of the Universal Income Project, a California-based advocacy organization working to educate, build support, and organize around Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a “radically common-sense” policy solution for economic and social inequity.

Sandhya joined Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Director of Racial Equity and Strategy, on the podcast for an in-depth discussion of UBI, including its history, potential, and the many questions and misconceptions surrounding current debates of this progressive policy proposal.

In describing the transformative potential of UBI, Sandhya discussed case studies of UBI and similar cash transfer programs, including the pending UBI pilot in Stockton; the role of UBI in complementing the existing social safety net; and the need to shift the national discussion of UBI away from issues of technology and automation to focus on economic and racial equity.

Sandhya, who is also the Data Scientist at the national, racial justice organization Color of Change, also spoke about the need to complement the “incredibly clear” data behind basic income with more trust-building stories of how it can radically change lives, and society, through its testament to the “unconditional value” of each and every person.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


To learn more about Sandhya Anantharaman and her work at the Universal Income Project, visit universalincome.org, and follow her on Twitter and Medium.

Episode 7: Ellen Wu

 

Listen to Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Ellen Wu discuss intersections of race, nation, and policy-making as they examine Asian American history and the creation of the model minority stereotype.


A self-describedAsian American history detective,Dr. Ellen Wu is an associate professor of history and director of the Asian American Studies program at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Director of Racial Equity and Strategy, welcomed Ellen on the podcast to discuss her groundbreaking research on 20th century Asian American history, which she approaches with a critical eye on race, immigration, citizenship, and policy-making.

Ellen’s first book, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority, details the sociopolitical context for the stark transformation of Asian American stereotypes in 20th century America, when fears of the “yellow peril” gave way to an embrace of the “model minority.

In exploring the intricate tensions and contradictions of this history, Jhumpa and Ellen discussed how politics, race relations, and other factors informed the development of the “model minority” myth, and they considered its ongoing implications for racial equity and opportunity in the U.S.

They also looked ahead to Ellen’s next project, a “sort of sequel” to The Color of Success that will provide a critical history of race-making, policy-making, and migration in the U.S. since the 1960s.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


To learn more about Dr. Ellen Wu’s research, view her faculty profile and follow her on Twitter.

 

Episode 6: Aurora Martin

 

Listen to Anne Price and Aurora Martin discuss PopUp Justice, a community building and social innovation collaborative with branches in social justice, technology, art, and popular culture.


Aurora Martin, former Executive Director of Columbia Legal Services in Washington State and an inaugural 2017 American Bar Association Innovation Fellow, recently left a long career working for justice in legal aid to launch a new social innovation startup that sits at the intersection of technology, art, justice, and popular culture.

Aurora joined Insight Center President Anne Price to discuss this new venture, PopUp Justice, which offers a bold, creative vision of social justice and innovation grounded in community, culture, and technology.

Reflecting on her professional and personal experiences from nearly two decades in the legal aid field, Aurora discussed the motivations behind PopUp Justice, the power and potential of digital technology and social collaboration, and the need to re-envision justice as a community-centered experience shaped by culture and communication, not just the inner workings of the legal system.

“Having worked for justice as part of a statewide legal aid program for many years, I realized I wanted to imagine justice differently – beyond the courtrooms, beyond the halls of power, and into the communities we serve,” said Aurora.

She also described her work on the Rural American Digital (RAD) Lab, an initiative of PopUp Justice, Heritage University, and Whitman College that seeks to harness digital tools and innovations to invest in rural communities, amplify hidden voices and talent, and spark a shift in our national dialogue.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


To learn more about PopUp Justice, connect with Aurora Martin on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, and stay tuned for the launch of her new website: popupjustice.org.

Episode 5: Darrick Hamilton

 

Listen to Anne Price and Darrick Hamilton dissect the myths and misperceptions regarding the racial wealth gap and discuss potential policy solutions for addressing racial economic inequity.


For this episode of Hidden Truths, Insight Center President Anne Price welcomed Darrick Hamilton, stratification economist and professor of economics and urban policy at the New School for Social Research, to take a hard look at the path, pitfalls, and way forward for efforts to close the racial wealth gap.

Delving into the key drivers of racial economic disparities, Anne and Darrick discussed public policy, intergenerational wealth transfer, the changing nature of work, and how prevailing narratives draw attention away from the structural factors behind racial wealth differences. They also considered bold policy ideas like a Federal Job Guarantee, baby bonds, an economic bill of rights, and other proposals that could foster systemic change for racial economic equity.

“It is a moral imperative for us to try to facilitate a society that allows all individuals to have the capacity to build up their economic security and also to define what is important to them,” said Darrick.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


Click here to learn more about Darrick Hamilton’s research, including his joint work on baby bonds and a Federal Job Guarantee with William Darity Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.

Click here to read the June 2017 research brief, Returning to the Promise of Full Employment: A Federal Job Guarantee in the United States, co-authored by Darrick Hamilton of The New School for Social Research, William Darity, Jr. and Mark Paul of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, and Anne E. Price of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

Click here to read Insight Center President Anne Price’s related post, Where We Went Wrong with the Racial Wealth Gap.

Returning to the Promise of Full Employment: A Federal Job Guarantee in the United States

Returning to the Promise of Full Employment: A Federal Job Guarantee in the United States outlines the socioeconomic case for establishing a Federal Job Guarantee to fundamentally transform the U.S. labor market through the promise of inclusive economic opportunity.

Co-authored by Darrick Hamilton of The New School for Social Research, William Darity, Jr. and Mark Paul of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, and Anne E. Price of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, the report traces the history of job guarantee proposals in the U.S., and details the disproportionate impact unemployment has on significant segments of the population, including people of color and other historically marginalized groups.

To eliminate persistent involuntary unemployment and underemployment, the authors call for the establishment of a National Investment Employment Corps that would empower workers, invest in infrastructure and socially beneficial services, and improve the economic well-being of millions. Read the report to learn how a Federal Job Guarantee would reduce poverty, remove unjust and discriminatory barriers to work, and create a stronger, more inclusive economy.

Click here to view and download Returning to the Promise of Full Employment: A Federal Job Guarantee in the United States.

Driving Into Debt: The Need for Traffic Ticket Fee Reform

 Driving Into Debt: The Need for Traffic Ticket Fee Reform is a detailed report highlighting the flaws and inequities of California’s current traffic fine and fee system and offering specific recommendations for reforms that would promote sustainable system funding and the fair administration of justice for all Californians. Authored by Annette Case and Jhumpa Bhattacharya of the Insight Center, the report describes a current system that all too often leads to spiraling debt, license suspension, and unequal justice for the poor and communities of color. Read the report to learn how low-income, Black, and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by California’s fixed fine and fee system, and how we can bring fair, practical, and sustainable reforms to serve all Californians.

Click here to view and download Driving Into Debt: The Need for Traffic Ticket Fee Reform.

 

 

Being a sanctuary city is more than proclamations, rhetoric

Being a sanctuary city is more than proclamations, rhetoric

East Bay Times

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Sanctuary: a place of refuge and protection — Merriam-Webster dictionary.

In February, I had to travel to Birmingham, Alabama for work. I’m a fairly seasoned traveler and normally have no qualms taking trips to places I have never been. But post-election and particularly with the travel ban, I found myself feeling apprehensive about traveling to the South.

To read Jhumpa’s full op-ed, click here.

Episode 3: Alicia Walters

 

Listen to Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Alicia Walters discuss Echoing Ida and its work to amplify the voices and hidden truths of Black women and non-binary people. 


Alicia Walters is the co-founder of Echoing Ida, a national program of Forward Together, that helps amplify the voices of Black women and non-binary people. Inspired by the work of civil rights activist and journalist Ida B. Wells, Walters began Echoing Ida in 2012 to position Black women in media as the experts they are. “In many ways, Black women were at the bottom of the heap – when it came to health, when it came to wealth,” said Walters as she described how the project came about. “And when you turned on the TV or listened to the radio we weren’t being called upon as experts in our own lives.”

Echoing Ida teaches Black women how to hone in on their lived experiences and expertise to become change makers and go-to thought leaders. Echoing Ida writers, or Idas, draw on their distinctive perspectives to provide effective and trusted analysis on issues impacting their communities.

“We know as Black women and non-binary writers we come from a really strong legacy of truth tellers, of freedom fighters, who busted open and exposed issues like Ida B. Wells did with lynching,” said Walters. “We wanted to honor that legacy and also show that it’s not just a legacy, it’s living…There are those of us who continue in this work and are committed to being truth tellers for our communities.

Fueled by its growing network of more than 25 writers, Echoing Ida has published over 275 articles through more than 65 media outlets across the country. Idas not only publish articles, analysis, and anecdotes; they also present at conferences and provide trainings to other organizations to spread the mission and spirit of truth telling across diverse groups and communities. “This isn’t about exclusivity,” says Walters. “This is about making sure that this legacy is embodied by as many people as possible – of every race, of every gender – to be exposing these hidden truths.”

Digging into the root causes of inequity in the U.S., Walters discussed how many public policies, from education to welfare reform, policing, and sentencing, are based in anti-Black racism and efforts to keep Black communities poor, undereducated, and repressed. By giving voice to these and other vulnerable communities, Idas, and others like them, can not only expose these hidden motives and mechanisms of power – they can identify solutions that serve their communities as well as the common good.

“We miss so much of the story and so much of the solution…when we exclude folks who really live at this intersection of race, gender, income, economic status, immigration status – when we miss those intersections, we miss very real communities that are deeply impacted,” said Walters. “When the solutions come from those places, they actually benefit everyone. We often say when Black people win, everybody wins. And winning is not in terms of this scarcity model. It’s really in terms of what does it take for those who society deems to be at the bottom to actually thrive? What does it mean when Black trans women thrive? What does that open up for everyone else?”

Rather than excluding or marginalizing certain groups socially and economically, communities that draw on their full resources through inclusivity, equal opportunity, and investment can become centers of prosperity rather than struggle. Empowering the hidden voices in these communities to share their truths and expertise can be the first step to actualizing this vision.

While Walters is encouraged by the growing visibility of Black women and non-binary voices in today’s media landscape, she stressed that the challenge remains in translating that increasing (but still unequal) visibility into real influence and power.

“We still have a ways to go when it comes to who our elected officials are, who are people in places of power, what decisions we are actually able to influence, so that [our work] goes beyond punditry. It’s not just about being a talking head; it’s actually about putting forth solutions and having the power and agency to enact those solutions.”

On a personal level, Walters described her day-to-day work, and that of fellow Idas, as a constant struggle against stereotypes, stigmas, and self-doubts – but one that is ultimately validating and even healing. As they negotiate these barriers and fears through their work, Idas can increasingly shift and take control of the narrative for themselves and their communities.

Walters would like to see her fellow Idas, and the advocacy space as a whole, further reframe the narrative around Black women, non-binary people, and other marginalized groups in a way that asserts their humanity and vision rather than defining them through oppression or struggle.

“We’re both uncovering what’s missing from the conversation and also asserting these beautiful narratives of who we are that other people can connect to and feel represented by and breakthrough some of the silencing or isolation or shame or stigma that comes along with that.”

In these ways and others, Echoing Ida is drawing on the strengths and perspectives of Black women and non-binary writers to provide thought leadership in both the policy realm and the cultural realm – all driven by a fundamental commitment to giving voice to hidden truths.

The original Ida would, without a doubt, be proud.

To listen to the full conversation, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


Echoing Ida is a program of national organization, Forward Together. You can learn more about Echoing Ida by visiting their website, echoingida.org, and following them on Twitter. Be sure to join their mailing list to become part of their truth teller network and stay up-to-date on activities and opportunities, including their recruitment of a new cohort of Idas for 2018!

Taking a Lesson from History to Provide True Sanctuary for Our Immigrants

Taking a Lesson from History to Provide True Sanctuary for Our Immigrants

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Sanctuary: a place of refuge and protection — Merriam-Webster dictionary.

I had to travel to Birmingham, Alabama for work last month. I’m a fairly seasoned traveler and normally have no qualms taking trips to places I have never been. But post- election, and particularly with the Travel Ban, for the first time in a long while I found myself feeling a bit apprehensive about traveling to the South. I expressed my concern about “traveling while Brown” to my partner and he responded, “Birmingham just passed a resolution to be a sanctuary city!” and to his credit, I did feel better about going. I took comfort in knowing that the city government had taken this stance.

Shortly after that conversation, news of massive ICE raids broke. Federal agents raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, tearing apart families and sparking terror in millions of people. I was terribly confused. How could raids be happening in cities that proclaimed themselves to be sanctuaries? What were city officials and city police doing to prevent these from happening? “What are you expecting?” my partner asked, “Law enforcement to fight law enforcement?”

Click here to read her full op-ed on Medium.