Getting Real About Racial Wealth Inequities: Reflections & Next Steps


    President of the Insight Center
    Senior Fellow for the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now
    President of the Center for Community Change Action, Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and Co-chair of the Economic Security Project


Friday, February 9th


11:00 AM PT/ 2:00 PM ET


Persistent racial wealth inequity in the U.S. stems from a legacy of deep-rooted, systemic racial and economic injustice. Policy decisions – both intentional and careless – have not only systematically excluded people of color from economic opportunity but have extracted wealth from families and communities over many generations.

Addressing racial wealth stratification has been a key focus of work in the economic security field for more than a decade. Where are we in efforts to tackle racial wealth inequities, and what are our next steps for securing policies that foster equity and opportunity for all?

Join us for Getting Real About Racial Wealth Inequities: Reflections & Next Steps, a virtual conversation presented by the Insight Center in partnership with Prosperity Now.

In a moderated discussion, we’ll explore the latest research on racial wealth inequities, reflect on past and current efforts in the field, and identify strategies and pathways for advancing racial wealth equity, now and into the future.

Dorian Warren, President of the Center for Community Change Action, Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Co-chair for the Economic Security Project, will lead a live virtual exchange with:

The panel will discuss the myths and realities behind racial wealth inequities, consider potentially transformative policy solutions like universal basic income and a federal jobs guarantee, and share perspectives on the best way forward in today’s political and economic climate. We’ll also consider how race and wealth intersect with mass incarceration, tax policy, climate change, and other pressing issues today.

Join us with your questions and input as we take a close look at race and wealth and consider next steps in the movement for racial wealth equity. Click here or use the button above to register.

Have questions for the panel? Submit them in advance to Panelists will also address questions submitted from the virtual audience.

Unable to attend? All registrants will receive an invitation to access the recorded video and podcast.

Episode 11: Insights with Anne + Jhumpa

Listen to Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya reflect on the year’s challenges and accomplishments, and look ahead to the work to be done in 2018.

Anne Price, President of the Insight Center, and Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Director of Racial Equity and Strategy, joined each other on the podcast to reflect on the trials and accomplishments of 2017 and share their hopes for the Insight Center’s work to foster racial and economic justice in the year ahead.

Anne and Jhumpa discussed the major themes that emerged from their collaborative efforts this year, including the heightened importance of Insight’s work in today’s political climate in which issues of race and identity are shaping politics, government and public policy.

In this context, the duo discussed the importance of keeping the topic of race at the forefront of their ongoing work, stressing the need for more research, conversations, and insights to expose and explore the economic security injustices that people, particularly people of color, are currently up against.

Anne and Jhumpa also discussed how they will be expanding their knowledge to build on historical references to shape public thinking and inspire action to ensure that people and communities become and remain economically secure.

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

Resources Mentioned:

Utility Shutoffs Are Keeping Struggling Californians in the Dark


By: Anne Price

Energy is a basic need in a modern economy — some would even argue that uninterrupted energy service and electric power is a fundamental human right. Yet we are witnessing a growing energy crisis that has significant economic and health implications for struggling Californians — utility shutoffs.

In California, nearly 894,000 households live with income at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty level ($10,210 for a family of three) and spend about 25 percent of their income just on utilities. That is five times the 5 percent spent by higher-income households (185–200 percent of the poverty level) for electricity, heating, and cooling. Blacks, Latinos, and renters in multifamily buildings tend to face the highest energy burdens. Make no mistake, this is an economic and racial justice issue.

Home energy is an expense that fluctuates widely and can create a nearly insurmountable financial burden for those who are already juggling household expenses. As a result, last year, utility service was cut off in 868,000 California households — representing 2.5 million people, mostly children, and marking a staggering 60% increase from the 547,000 households that experienced utility shutoffs in 2010.

Changing climate conditions paired with energy rate hikes are wreaking further havoc on families with limited and fixed incomes. Heat waves are more intense in California and last longer. Last year was the hottest year to date on record, and January 2017 was the third hottest January ever recorded.

At the same time, electricity rates were raised three times in the past year, making energy rates for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers an average of 21 percent higher than they were a year ago. And depending on PG&E’s potential culpability in the North Bay fires, consumers could face additional rate hikes to cover the costs of the damage. These kinds of rapidly successive price jumps are too much to handle for many families, and they further limit the impact of assistance programs that are already insufficient.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

Photo: Michelle Hurwitz CC BY 2.0

Opinion: Income program must be paired with honest dialog on race

East Bay Times

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Universal Basic Income — a policy idea whereby people receive unconditional funds to help meet their most essential needs — is making waves in California.

The city of Stockton is set to launch a three-year pilot program. And Y Combinator, which provides seed funding for startups, is designing a pilot project for Oakland.

Click here to read Jhumpa’s full op-ed.

Universal Basic Income: Reclaiming Our Time for Racial Justice


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


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