Delayed Liberation

By Anne Price

Medium


Last week, Insight hosted its first Juneteenth economic forum commemorating June 19th, 1865, when a reluctant Texas state government finally emancipated a quarter of a million people enslaved in the state two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was put into effect.

As Vann R. Newkirk II at The Atlantic most brilliantly notes, Juneteenth is “the observance of a victory delayed, of foot-dragging and desperate resistance by white supremacy against the tide of human rights, and of a legal freedom trampled by the might of state violence.”

This year, Juneteenth served not only as a rallying call to end the criminalization of economic migrants and the inhumane policy to separate children from their parents at our nation’s southern border, but an opportunity to examine the age-old tactic used throughout our history to control and decimate communities of color for profit. We are reminded, yet again, of how engaging in blatant dehumanization of people of color lays the foundation for state sanctioned violence and criminalization.

The crisis at the border provides space to understand how these historical policies and practices continue to manifest. It also shines a light on how forced family separation is pervasive, long-standing, and universal among communities of color, resulting in both similar and strikingly different economic and life outcomes.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

From left to right: Cat Brooks, Nwamaka Agbo, Mia Birdsong, and Anne Price

Families Belong Together

We at the Insight Center are horrified and outraged at the Trump administration’s inhumane policy to separate children from their parents at our nation’s southern border. From mid-April to the end of May, close to 2,000 children – many of whom are infants and toddlers – have been forcibly removed from their parents and loved ones due to new policy dictated by the current administration. We call for an end to this practice immediately, and an end to the criminalization of immigrants and refugees coming to the U.S. in search of safety, economic mobility, and a better life.

Make no mistake – family separation is an age-old tactic used throughout U.S. history to dehumanize, subjugate, and break communities. Enslaved Africans and their descendants routinely had their children, partners, and siblings stripped from them as a means of control. Native American communities suffered such cruelties when the government forced children into boarding schools far away from their families. The intention was to sever these young people’s connection to their community, culture, and identity, and such a practice has had profound and disastrous effects, both psychologically and economically, on Native communities.

In addition to the fundamental wrongs of family separation, history and common sense tell us that tearing apart families has immediate and long-term social and economic consequences, deeply harming affected families and communities, and our society at large. We at the Insight Center believe that all people, regardless of race, zip code, gender, or immigration status, have the right to economic security, and that security begins with the safety of our families. Family separation clashes at the deepest level with our values and mission as an economic and racial justice organization, and we stand with those calling for an end to family separation and the return of children to their parents and loved ones.

Los Angeles County Can Do Better by Its African American and Latinx Populations

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Medium


A lot happened on election day this week, including the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passing vital legislation to waive all unpaid debt and eliminate county-level administrative fees that are currently charged to people exiting the criminal justice system. Los Angeles County can and should follow suit to help families who have struggled under the burden of a biased criminal justice system.

Introduced by Supervisor and Mayoral candidate London Breed in February, the San Francisco ordinance ends 10 common criminal justice administrative fees that get attached to items like court ordered alcohol testing, emergency medical response, and electronic monitoring.

The unjust nature of fines and fees has gained national attention in recent years since the release of the Ferguson Report. The reality is that the purpose of these types of fees is to raise revenue. Charged to people who have already paid their debt to society, they serve no formal punitive function and cause undue harm to low-income communities and communities of color by pushing them into debt.

Click here to read the full article.

Toward Racial Equity

By Anne Price

Medium


The issue of race, public space, and who belongs was at the forefront this week when Starbucks closed its 8,000 U.S. stores for an afternoon to provide unconscious-bias training to its employees. The large-scale training came about in response to an incident in Philadelphia where two Black men, who were waiting for a business associate without having ordered anything and had asked to use the bathroom, were arrested after an employee called the police.

Some see Starbucks’ anti-bias training as an important first step to address racial profiling. But there is also a danger. Anti-bias or unconscious-bias training rarely goes beyond curbing individual behavior and thus can actually reinforce negative stereotypes instead of exploring the structural nature of racism.

Cyndi Suarez, a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Quarterlyreminds us that “in system thinking language, this would be akin to solving the problem at the same level at which it was created, which, as we know, does not bring systems change, but in fact reinforces the system while appearing, to the white person, to be making change.”

Adding to this conversation, Christopher Petrella and Ameer Hasan Loggins describe how “racial-bias trainings, therefore, often fail to ground their curricula on the historical and contemporary systems, practices, policies, and ideologies that produce, sustain, and legitimize white supremacy.” The better alternative? Anti-racist education, which “seeks to challenge the way white supremacy organizes meaning, access, worth, and history through time, space, and memory,” and, importantly, “understands that history does not pass; it accumulates.”

Implementing a racial equity approach allows us to better address the root causes of racial profiling and race. By focusing on systems rather than individuals, such an approach requires us to reassess and reimagine the rules, policies, and narratives that uphold white supremacy and rob those who are most affected by injustice of their power and self determination. It also challenges us to reexamine how resources are allocated.

Click here to read more…

Photo: Justice Not Jails

Episode 14: Alan Aja

Listen to Anne Price and Alan Aja discuss potential solutions to the crisis in Puerto Rico, racism among the Latinx community, and a sneak peek at a new collaboration coming this fall.


Alan A. Aja is an associate professor and deputy chairperson for the Department of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College. He is the author of numerous publications focused on inter-group disparities, economic stratification, public policy, collective action, and sustainability. Alan has focused much of his work on the exclusionary practices affecting Latinx communities (in specific Afro-Latinxs in relation to white/white-passing Latinxs) to better understand the nuances of this very diverse population.

Anne Price, President of Insight, welcomed Alan on the podcast to discuss his book Miami’s Forgotten Cubans, the current state of Puerto Rico, and the history of racialized treatment of the Latinx community in the United States.

Alan described the current crisis in Puerto Rico as a moral fail by design. He pointed to evidence that shows poorer neighborhoods made up of Black and Latinx residents are most often neglected in natural disasters. He shared this truth, and more historical examples, demonstrating that these populations continue to face open racialized treatment in our country.

Alan stressed that the U.S. has consistently exploited Puerto Rico through resource extraction, military interests, environmental contamination, and other actions. Considering the ongoing crisis, he proposed a recovery plan tied to a Job Guarantee as a solution for transitioning the territory to sustainable energy and economic development and to strengthen the overall health and well-being of the Puerto Rican population.

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


To learn more about Alan’s work,  explore his faculty profile at Brooklyn College or follow him on Twitter, @AlanAAja1.

Resources Mentioned:

The Cost of Being Californian: A Look at the Economic Health of California Families

Drawing on the 2018 Self-Sufficiency Standard for California, The Cost of Being Californian: A Look at the Economic Health of California Families details the precarious economic conditions faced by many families in California, where more than one third of all households cannot independently cover the costs of their most basic needs.

For more than a decade, in partnership with the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington, the Insight Center has provided the Self-Sufficiency Standard for California to gain a realistic and comprehensive understanding of the economic security of Californians. 

An alternative measure to the Federal Poverty Line, the Self-Sufficiency Standard uses a “bare bones” budget to estimate the minimum income needed for more than 700 different family types to meet the essential costs of living across California’s 58 counties. 

While California has a reputation as a progressive policy leader, the 2018 data reveals the alarming extent to which low, middle, even higher-income households and, particularly, families of color face barriers to making ends meet within the largest economy in the United States. 

Click here to view and download the full report

Click here to explore the new 2018 Self-Sufficiency Standard, including family-specific data by county.

What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

By William Darity Jr., Darrick Hamilton, Mark Paul, Alan Aja, Anne Price, Antonio Moore, and Caterina Chiopris

Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development


The racial wealth gap is large and shows no signs of closing. Recent data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (2014) shows that black households hold less than seven cents on the dollar compared to white households.1 The white household living near the poverty line typically has about $18,000 in wealth, while black households in similar economic straits typically have a median wealth near zero. This means, in turn, that many black families have a negative net worth. (Hamilton et al. 2015).

In this report, we address ten commonly held myths about the racial wealth gap in the United States. We contend that a number of ideas frequently touted as “solutions” will not make headway in reducing black-white wealth disparities. These conventional ideas include greater educational attainment, harder work, better financial decisions, and other changes in habits and practices on the part of blacks. While these steps are not necessarily undesirable, they are wholly inadequate to bridge the racial chasm in wealth.

These myths support a point of view that identifies dysfunctional black behaviors as the basic cause of persistent racial inequality, including the black-white wealth disparity, in the United States. We systematically demonstrate here that a narrative that places the onus of the racial wealth gap on black defectiveness is false in all of its permutations.

We challenge the conventional set of claims that are made about the racial wealth gap in the United States. We contend that the cause of the gap must be found in the structural characteristics of the American economy, heavily infused at every point with both an inheritance of racism and the ongoing authority of white supremacy.

Click here to read the full report.

 

 

Surviving American Racism

By Anne Price

Medium


A recent study led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, and the Census Bureau is intensifying the national discussion around income inequality. The findings once again confirm that economic inequality is largely driven by race, not class, and that class status is not permanent among Blacks. Moreover, the report indicates that racial income inequality is not tied to family background or individual effort.

Perhaps the most staggering conclusion of the study is that income inequality between Blacks and whites is fueled almost entirely by the racial discrimination Black boys and men face in their lives.

While these findings are significant, it’s important to emphasize that examining income inequality, particularly with a primary focus on only half the population, can only take us so far in understanding how social mobility is shaped, and how well-being is understood.

Click here to read more…

Fighting at Birth: Eradicating the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap

Fighting at Birth: Eradicating the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap provides a foundation for identifying and understanding root causes of the racial infant mortality gap, with the authors asserting it is necessary to isolate the fundamental reasons why black women in the United States are more likely to have preterm babies. The infant mortality rate is a key national indicator of population health. Despite technological advances in medicine and other health-related resources available to the average American, the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the United States is exceptionally high relative to other developed countries. For black infants, the numbers are devastatingly high. In 2013, the white IMR in the United States was five per 1000 live births —resembling economically advanced nations like New Zealand. In contrast, the black IMR was 11.2 per 1000 live births — a rate closer to that of lower income nations like Thailand, Romania, and Grenada. In fact, black women experience the highest infant mortality rates among any racial or ethnic group in the United States. The black IMR has been roughly twice that of the white IMR for over 35 years. In order to decrease the national infant mortality rate, the authors assert that factors that maintain these disparities must be addressed directly. There is a common perception that racial disparities in IMR are driven primarily by risky behaviors. However, the best available evidence does not support this assertion and indicates that systemic barriers to positive birth outcomes merit further investigation. Co-authored by Imari Z. Smith, Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards, Salimah El-Amin and William Darity Jr. of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, in conjunction with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, this research brief provides an overview of the social determinants that contribute to racial disparities in IMR. It also provides policy and research recommendations to improve outcomes for black babies and their mothers. Click here to view and download Fighting at Birth: Eradicating the Black-White Infant Mortality GapFighting at Birth: Eradicating the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap, a new co-released report from the Insight Center and the Cook Center on Social Equity, provides a foundation for identifying and understanding root causes of the racial infant mortality gap.

The infant mortality rate (IMR) is a key national indicator of population health. Despite technological advances in medicine and other health-related resources available to the average American, the IMR in the United States is exceptionally high relative to other developed countries. For Black infants, the numbers are devastatingly high. In 2013, the white IMR in the United States was five per 1000 live births — resembling economically advanced nations like New Zealand. In contrast, the Black IMR was 11.2 per 1000 live births — a rate closer to that of lower income nations like Thailand, Romania, and Grenada.

Black women experience the highest infant mortality rates among any racial or ethnic group in the United States, and the Black IMR has been roughly twice that of the white IMR for over 35 years. There is a common perception that racial disparities in IMR are driven primarily by risky behaviors. However, the best available evidence does not support this assertion and indicates that systemic barriers to positive birth outcomes merit further investigation.

This report shows that it is time for policy makers to acknowledge this issue and develop strategies that effectively reduce Black infant mortality. The price for inaction is too high and has both social and economic implications for Black familiesFighting at Birth outlines suggested policies, programs, and strategies, catering specifically to the needs of Black women, in order to decrease the national Black IMR.

Click here to view and download Fighting at Birth: Eradicating the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap.

Personhood Before Work

By: Anne Price

Medium


Earlier this month, the Trump administration quietly announced that it will allow individual states to impose work requirements on “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients — those aged 19 to 64 who are not disabled — as a condition of eligibility.

There is ample evidence from other social safety net programs that work requirements do little to help support people in jobs over the long run, and are in fact more likely to push struggling families off the rolls and into deeper poverty.

Despite this evidence, ten states now have work or community engagement proposals pending with the administration, and Kentucky was the first to be approved. Kentucky officials have already hinted that those who qualified under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansion will have to earn dentist and vision benefits by taking financial literacy classes or by getting a GED. Those who are not elderly or disabled will have to pay premiums and report changes to their income or employment status.

Why is there still popular support for work requirements when we know they further penalize struggling families? The answer is troubling, but simple: Americans have strongly held views about the connection of work to personhood.

Much of t­­­­­­he power of “work first” thinking comes from its close connection to people’s sense of what it means to be a Person. Insight’s research on economic security and race reveals that most Americans equate joblessness with a lack of agency, and thus being diminished as a person, or somehow less moral.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.