It’s Bigger Than Bail

By Anne Price, Medium

Our criminal justice system is broken. Reforming, fixing or better yet reimagining how we think about safety and justice in America is imperative in our work toward racial and economic justice. All across the country, grassroots organizations led by communities of color, women, advocates and progressive policymakers are shedding light on how our current system perpetuates racial and economic inequities, and are joining campaigns to eradicate fines and fees, mandatory sentencing requirements and money bail.

What is becoming increasingly evident, is that we must ground our work in a proactive vision of what safety, justice, and liberation means to us versus focusing on ending a specific practice. This week’s legislation to end money bail in California is a prime example of this need.

A few days ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 10 (SB10) to end the heinous system of money bail in California. While this seems like a great win, the legislation actually replaces money bail with racially bias risk assessments and a subjective evaluation process giving too much power to the discretion of judges and prosecutors, who studies show are prone to implicit racial bias. We’ve effectively replaced one terrible practice with yet another one that will continue to harm Black and Brown communities. For more on the problems with Senate Bill 10, read our Director of Policy and Research Jacob Denney’s piece on this matter.

Click here to read the full feature.

SB10 Will Hurt, Not Help

By Jacob Denney, Medium

This week, California legislatures moved forward in passing Senate Bill 10 to eliminate money bail. While eliminating money bail is desperately needed to fix our broken criminal justice system, the bill as it stands now will do nothing to disrupt the legacy of racial and economic injustice that has shaped our state’s criminal justice system. In fact, the bill will likely ensure a continuance of that legacy.

To be clear, we must get rid of money bail in order to address the deep inequities of our current criminal justice system. Money bail disproportionately punishes people with low incomes and people of color. It creates a two-tiered system of justice, one where those who can afford it are released from pretrial incarceration and everyone else is trapped in jail, unable to work, support their families, or assist in their own defense. This system reduces economic stability, particularly for families who are already struggling, and destroys thousands of people’s lives in California every year. Senate Bill 10 is likely to do the exact same thing.

Senate Bill 10 would replace the discriminatory money bail system with a new structure where anyone accused of a crime can be held pretrial, regardless of the circumstances. Dubbed “preventive detention,” this discretionary evaluation process would enable judges and prosecutors to hold people accused of crimes in jail with remarkable ease. This means that more, rather than fewer, Californians would likely end up behind bars while waiting for trial.

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

City Visions | KALW Radio Program

Anne Price, alongside Chris Hoene, Executive Director of the California Budget & Policy Center, and Taylor Jo Isenberg, Managing Director of the Economic Security Project, explored the promise of universal basic income in California on KALW City Vision radio program.

The three shared their knowledge and research to answer the following:

  • Are monthly cash transfers the social safety net of the future — addressing poverty, racial inequity and automation-induced job losses?
  • Or, is basic income just a costly addition to our current, some would say failing, social assistance programs?
  • And more from listeners who called in to ask their specific questions!

Click here to listen to the full conversation.

A True Reconciliation: Addressing Our Nation’s Social Safety Net

By Anne Price, Medium

Last week, remarks from a Minnesota lawmaker surfaced in which he was reported as referring to people receiving public benefits as “parasites” and “scoundrels.” The Congressman also suggested that Black people on public assistance have substituted “one plantation for another.” While stoking fears and fueling divisiveness through degrading and dehumanizing rhetoric have become startlingly commonplace under the current Administration, the blatant use of language that strips the poor and people of color of their basic humanity is long-standing.

Nour Kteily, a psychologist at Northwestern University who studies our ability to see each other as human, found that many people are capable of othering and it’s not uncommon for them to compare other groups to animals or lower life forms than human beings. Both our history and cognitive research show that when we refer to people as “parasites,” “takers” and “animals,” it activates a mental switch in our brains that can provoke hostility and antipathy towards others.

Dehumanization is linked to support for policies that punish or exclude marginalized people in our social safety net system, including programs like Food Stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. A new study from UC Berkeley and Stanford University shows a causal relationship between attitudes to public assistance and threatened racial status. Researchers found that racial resentment increases and support for social safety net declines in selected periods, like after the Great Recession and the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Racial resentment is heightened when whites fear that their population is declining or their status is being threatened, and thus call for deeper cuts in social safety net programs. Researchers discovered that whites also support cuts if they perceive those programs are primarily helping people of color.

Although it won’t be easy, we have the capacity to forge greater compassion and understanding to address our social safety net system protecting those most vulnerable in our society.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

Seeding a Generation with Wealth

An Interview with Anne Price, BlackHer


Building our personal, economic, and political power by getting educated and organized, and taking action for progressive change, that’s what we’re all about at BlackHer!

This week we were thrilled to catch up with Anne Price, president and CEO of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.  The Insight Center is “a national research and economic justice organization working to ensure that all people become and remain economically secure.”

Me:  Anne, I’m so excited to connect with you.  I’m so impressed with your research on the racial wealth gap.  There is so much focus on income inequality in the U.S.  While that is an important issue to address, why we don’t hear more about the gaping wealth gap between Black and white folks?

Anne: Part of the reason that we’ve focused on the income gap and wage disparities for so many years is that data on wages is readily available.

Click here to read the full interview.

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.

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