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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

#ThisIsNotNormal, it really isn’t and must be reversed

by Jhumpa Bhattacharya | January 25, 2016 – East Bay Times

This is not normal, this is not normal, #ThisIsNotNormal. I can’t even count the number of times I have read or heard this phrase since Nov. 8.

For too many of us, the election of Donald Trump and the ensuing barrage of appalling tweets, press conferences, prospective policy decisions and political appointments feel like direct attacks on our safety and who we are.

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

Research Brief Series: Women, Race & Wealth, Volume 1

Women, Race and Wealth is the first in a series of briefs that summarize patterns of household wealth among black and white women by college education, family structure and age using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Researchers from Duke University and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development analyzed data on assets such as savings and checking accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, houses and vehicles. Debts included credit card debt, student loans, medical debt, mortgages and vehicle debt.

Click here to view and download Women, Race and Wealth, Volume 1.