Universal Basic Income: Reclaiming Our Time for Racial Justice

Medium

By Anne Price, President


It’s been 40 years since we witnessed a Women’s Convention challenging our nation to take up equal rights of women in education, work, and in their personal lives, but this past weekend nearly 5,000 people, mostly women, gathered in Detroit as part of the inaugural Women’s Convention with the theme of Reclaiming Our Time.

Inspired by Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ highly esteemed mantra “reclaiming my time,” convention speakers echoed the need to restore human dignity across a wide range of social, political and economic issues.

The Women’s Convention lifted up the role that social movements led by women of color have played in shaping current proposals and actions to address discrimination, alienation, and exclusion. At the same time, the gathering recognized that the Women’s Movement has never amply included, let alone prioritized, Black women’s oppression and experiences in the struggle for gender justice.

We are in an important moment for women to exercise their moral agency to reclaim dignity and humanity in our economy and draw upon the legacy of historical movements. One of the most compelling ideas for reimagining our nation’s economic policies through this vision is Universal Basic Income (UBI), a progressive policy proposal that is gaining traction in the national conversation.

The basic tenet behind UBI is to give every American a stipend so that all children and families have the funds to meet their most essential needs — with their dignity and self-efficacy intact. The most common UBI proposal is to give people unconditional cash grants of about $12,000 per adult annually, with variances for true costs of living. This amount would help families create an income floor to meet basic needs like shelter, food, and transportation.

While UBI has gained mainstream attention as a possible solution to automation and job loss, when it comes to the full promise — and historical roots — of UBI, we have some reclaiming to do.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

Organizers and volunteers from the National Welfare Rights Organization, marching to end hunger in 1968. Source: Anna Julia Cooper Center, Wake Forest University

Episode 8: Dr. Zoe Spencer + Anthony Jackson

 

Listen to Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Dr. Zoe Spencer and Anthony Jackson discuss state sponsored violence and police brutality against communities of color, and the theory of “post traumatic slave master syndrome.”


Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Director of Racial Equity and Strategy, welcomed both Dr. Zoe Spencer and Anthony Jackson on the podcast to further discuss their ideas and research presented at the Association of Black Sociologists (ABS) Conference in Montréal, Quebec.

Currently teaching at Virginia State University, Dr. Spencer describes herself as “a Black woman activist and scholar from the projects of Washington D.C.”, who has dedicated her life to transformative action. At the ABS conference, she discussed black women’s resistance in a presentation called, “Sassy Mouths, Unfettered Spirits, and the Familiar Policing of Black Women’s Resistance.” Her presentation also introduced the theory of Post Traumatic Slave Master Syndrome. Dr. Spencer explains the theory occurs “when a black woman’s resistance prompts a violent and aggressive response from state actors who are predominately white males, who have been conditioned and cultured by police departments who have a history of lynching, to discriminate against people of color.

Jackson is a scholar-activist, and graduate student at Howard University working towards building unity between academia and the streets for a transformative working class movement. Jackson and Dr. Spencer presented, “Screaming Genocide: A Theoretical Analysis of State Violence, Mass Incarceration, & The Declining Significance of Black Labor.” In this presentation, Jackson discussed state sanctioned violence, police brutality against black and brown people, and the decline in the need for Black labor. These topics were based on research he conducted to complete his thesis, “The Crisis of Black Labor in Relation to State Policy and Practice in the United States from 1960 – 2015: A Historical Materialist Analysis,” that provided a critical analysis of the root cause of increased police discrimination and violence against communities of color. “Police are agents of the state that carry out the ruling class agenda. If the agenda is created to protect and serve the leaders of the state, the police will follow this rule. Police are here to protect and serve, but who are they protecting and serving?

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


To learn more about their research, review the following article: 

Opinion: Environmental legislation leaves low-income behind

East Bay Times

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

The passage of two environmental bills — AB 398 and AB 617 — has been a hot topic these past weeks. The legislation extends California’s cap and trade program and aims to improve air quality in polluted communities.

Backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the new statutes have drawn mixed reaction in the environmental justice community. As they stand, they also retain a regressive, flat-rate pricing system that places an unfair economic burden on low-income families, who will continue to pay a higher percentage of their earnings toward energy costs in comparison to higher-income households.

To read Jhumpa’s full piece, click here.

The End of DACA

The Insight Center is appalled by the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A cruel and heartless decision, it puts over 800,000 Americans who came here as children in jeopardy of deportation, an act that tears families apart and forces people to abandon a life they have worked hard to create.

This un-American decision goes against everything Insight stands for, and is in direct violation of our vision of a society where all people can fully participate in the economy and have the freedom to bring their full selves to our diverse nation regardless of zip code, race, gender, or immigration status. DACA gave so many of our young people hope, peace of mind, and a sense of safety – basic human rights. It showed us that our government saw young, undocumented immigrants as human beings, and recognized the countless contributions they make to our society. With this reversal, our nation’s humanity is at stake. We urge Congress to step up and take action in passing the DREAM Act to stand against tyranny and hate.

We stand with Dreamers and will fight to ensure they are protected, safe, and have access to the basic human rights they deserve.

Photo courtesy; Susan Melkisethian of Flickr Creative Commons

Fifty is the New Forgotten

Medium By Anne Price, President
From Charlottesville to Hurricane Harvey to removing DACA, this past month has repeatedly reinforced one of the primary drivers of Insight’s work — the absolute necessity of focusing on the needs of communities who are almost never included in our policymaking and are almost always left short changed. We must remain vigilant in our fight to ensure the voices and needs of people of color, immigrants, low-income communities and women are front and center.

This includes the often overlooked women of Generation X, now in their 50s.

Women are often the glue that holds families and communities together, too frequently sacrificing their own financial stability and emotional well-being for their family and friends. Increasingly, the economic security of today’s families rest on the shoulders of women. Two thirds of mothers play a significant role in the financial well-being of their families. Yet women are paid less, are crowded into certain occupations, and work in jobs that lack wealth escalators, consequentially hurting families and communities.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA

Living in a World They Didn’t Make: A Look at Millennial Women

Medium

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

The United States has a storied history of strong, fierce women fighting for equal rights and opportunity. Every mother hopes her daughter will fare better than she, facing fewer obstacles and less discrimination, and benefitting from a more equitable society.

As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day and commemorate the adoption of the 19th amendment, it’s important to acknowledge our progress toward equity. But it is equally important that we acknowledge that, for Millennial women — those born from the early 1980s through the early 2000s — the gains have faltered.

Coming of age during the Great Recession and the push for mass incarceration, these women grew up in troubling economic and social times.

To read Jhumpa’s full piece, click here.

Photo courtesy; Jovan J of Flickr Creative Commons

Opinion: Level the college playing field for black women

East Bay Times

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Dzifa is a hard-working, immigrant woman who overcame some serious odds to recently get her Ph.D from the University of California, Los Angeles, in Public Health. Highly educated and gainfully employed with a coveted post doctoral fellowship position, Dzifa is closer to achieve her dream of conducting research to make a difference in the lives of women in her home country, Ghana. It seems Dzifa is winning at life by most standards.

Yet, Dzifa’s accomplishments also come at a huge price. Financing her education on her own, she carries more than $100,000 in student debt. As a result, she lives on an extremely tight budget and grapples with finding side gigs to help her with the high cost of living and making her way out of this enormous debt. Rather than taking on research she knows can make a difference, she takes on projects that are stable and adequately funded.

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

Reimagining Justice and Legal Advocacy

Medium

By Anne Price, President

Originally published in Insight Center’s June 2017 Newsletter.

There has never been a more critical, more insistent time to reimagine access to justice. The demand for legal assistance for Americans striving to make ends meet is at an all-time high. Only half of those seeking assistance from federally funded legal aid programs can be served, and fewer than one in five low-income individuals gets the legal help they need.

These are the outcomes of a system in which funding for individual legal services is significantly constrained, as is the range of permissible services that programs can provide. Presently, the national Legal Services Corporation, the largest single funder and lifeblood of the civil legal aid system across the country, is one of the many programs the Trump Administration slated for complete elimination in its draft budget.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

Where We Went Wrong with the Racial Wealth Gap

Medium

By Anne Price, President

Originally published in Insight Center’s May 2017 Newsletter.

Before the Great Recession and the Occupy Wall Street movement, leading minds on economic issues came together from diverse communities of color to set an audacious goal: closing the racial wealth gap. It was a bold proclamation not just in its enormity, but also because an intentional focus on race and wealth inequality represented a significant departure from greater calls for class-not-race interventions at the time.

The call to close the racial wealth gap drew upon the pioneering work of numerous researchers and thought leaders. These pioneers got it right when they claimed that racial wealth inequality is not a natural occurrence or a law of nature, but a man-made choice.

From the Homestead Act to the G.I. Bill to Social Security, millions of people were locked out of opportunity due to a legacy of intentional and inadvertent policies that not only restricted communities of color from building wealth, but also facilitated the extraction of wealth from people of color to directly benefit Whites. The result has been ever-widening wealth differences between Whites and people of color that ultimately weaken democratic institutions, lower wages for all workers, undermine public health outcomes, and contribute to the disinvestment of entire communities.

To read Anne’s full piece, click here.

Opinion: Is it unfair for state to suspend licenses for unpaid tickets?

East Bay Times

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Close to 20 years ago, I received my first traffic ticket speeding on Interstate 5. I can still remember the sheer panic I felt when I heard the siren and saw the flashing lights. I received a reckless driving ticket for going 86 mph, 30 miles per hour above the speed limit and was mandated to appear in court.

A few weeks later in court, I plead guilty and the judge told me that I could go to traffic school to avoid impacting my record. I was relieved until they told me that my fee was $360. My only option was to use a credit card and pay over time. One year later I finally paid off the fine plus interest, totaling close to $420.

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