“When a copyeditor deletes the capital “B,” they are in effect deleting the history and contributions of my people.” – Lori L. Thompson
Last week, in a step to modernize and commit to greater inclusion, The Brookings Institution, a well-established Washington D.C. think tank, announced that it would update its writing style guide to capitalize “Black” when referencing Black or African American people. For Brookings, this is not merely a typographical change but, rather, an intentional effort to recognize how people’s experiences are represented.
While there’s no standard rule on whether references to race should be lowercase or capitalized, most media outlets and publications that rely on the AP Stylebook refer to Black people in the lowercase. The APA style calls for capitalized Black and White, and The Chicago Manual of Style allows the authors to capitalize Black based on their preference. Major news outlets like The New York Times and the Associated Press both use lowercase black and white.
The question of how to properly refer to Black people in print has deep historical roots. In an 1878 editorial entitled “Spell it with a Capital,” Ferdinand Lee Barnett, husband of Ida B. Wells and founder of a Black weekly newspaper, asserted that the failure of white people to capitalize Negro was to show disrespect to, stigmatize, and “fasten a badge of inferiority” on Black people. In 1898, sociologist, historian, and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois proclaimed, “I believe that eight million Americans deserve a capital letter.”
This is precisely why capitalizing Black also matters…
Last week, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren unveiled a sweeping plan to tackle a $1.5 trillion student debt crisis to address our higher education system that is holding back generations of Americans. Her proposal calls for wiping out student debt of up to $50,000 for 42 million working and middle class Americans. Moreover, 90 percent of those who are burdened with student debt but dropped out of college would also benefit. The proposal makes all public colleges’ tuition and fees free, adds $100 billion in Pell grants over ten years, and creates a $50 billion fund for HBCUs (historically black colleges) and other minority-serving institutions. Senator Warren plans to pay for it with an annual 2 percent tax on families with $50 million or more in wealth.
Warren’s plan is sparking a debate about the scale of federal support needed to address the student loan crisis and surfacing narratives about fairness and deservedness. It also provides us the opportunity to examine how corporate power and anti-Black racism is depriving an entire generation of young people from getting ahead, whether that’s buying a home, saving for retirement, starting a family, or launching a business. Student debt ultimately serves as a multigenerational debt anchor that causes unrelenting stress, financial strain, and a spiraling cycle of debt.
Who carries debt and who defaults on their loans is racialized and gendered. About 11.5 percent of student loans are in default. According to the New York Federal Reserve, borrowers between the ages of 40 to 49 have the worst delinquency rates. It is estimated that in the next five years, 40 percent of borrowers are likely to default.
Take your pick of produce from any grocery aisle in the nation, and it’s likely to come from California’s Central Valley.
The Central Valley contains less than one percent of total farmland in the United States; and yet, the region grows nearly half of the country’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts, carrying a total annual value of over $33 billion. This abundance is achieved through the year-round efforts of the Valley’s agricultural workers — thousands of women, men, and children who toil through scorching days and cold nights, with little pay or job protection.
The conference convened hundreds of data scientists, computer programmers, racial justice activists, and elected officials to discuss the role that data can and should play in Black communities. Click here or on the video below to watch a recording of Anne’s panel discussion.
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 Melkisethianof Flickr Creative Commons
Loy Mulyagonja, CPA, is a Supervising Consultant at FMA and serves as a senior finance consultant to the Insight Center. Loy provides outsourcing services in an array of service areas, from daily accounting and bookkeeping to fiscal staff supervision and training, back-office accounting support, government and private grants management, and monitoring and compliance. She also has experience assisting clients in designing, implementing and maintaining proper and efficient accounting and financial reporting systems, including sound internal controls and policies and procedures.
Before joining FMA, Loy was the Chief Financial Officer at Center for Employment Opportunities where she managed and coordinated all financial and accounting activities including budgeting, monitoring and maintenance of internal controls, ensuring regulatory compliance, and continuously improving processes and systems.
Loy holds a Masters of Public Administration and BA in Business Administration in Accounting from Baruch College.
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a high-potential idea for fundamentally addressing economic inequity, yet current UBI initiatives are missing an essential component: racial justice analysis. We are working to address this gap by building a progressive coalition of Bay Area racial justice organizations to craft a UBI platform grounded in equity, ensuring that the voices and needs of immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, women, and low-income communities are heard and addressed in this and other potential policy solutions.
Opinion: Income program must be paired with honest dialog on race
November 23, 2017
“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.”
Universal Basic Income: Reclaiming Our Time for Racial Justice October 31, 2017
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.
Anne Price was interviewed by Income Outcome, a documentary project that explores the fundamentals of basic income and how this simple idea can help ordinary, struggling Americans overcome a rigged economy to achieve stability, prosperity, and freedom.
She had an illuminating conversation on poverty, racial wealth inequality, and basic income. Be sure to follow Income Outcome on Facebook and Twitter for more details about the film.
October 14, 2017
Insight staff attended the CASH Conference on Thursday, October 19, 2017, put on by the Economic Security Project. Held at the old San Francisco Mint building, the conference brought together activists, policy advocates, artists, economists, and elected officials to understand to explore how basic income can address the needs of our changing economy.
Insight President, Anne Price, was invited to speak on the panel exploring racial justice and basic income. Anne spoke about how our current welfare programs are steeped in race, and how a guaranteed income can help us address how we dehumanize and strip away dignity from recipients of safety net programs.
She also illuminated how Black women lead the way for welfare reform in the past, specifically asking that programs not be tied to work. A concept like Universal Basic Income (UBI) could help us achieve that original goal.
Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs also announced the city’s experiment on a guaranteed income at the conference, generating lots of excitement and hope. The entire day was thought provoking and the Insight team is looking forward to continuing this work with the Economic Security Project.
The relatively old idea of UBI has gained renewed attention in response to increasing economic insecurity and inequality in America. It is seen as an opportunity to level the playing field by providing every individual in a community a regular cash payment without means-testing or a work requirement.
Exclusionary employment practices reinforce cycles of personal and economic alienation, struggle, and despair. We are working with Bay Area legal advocates to strengthen local workforce funding, policies and practices to better respond to the needs of people with arrests and convictions (Note: this work can be expanded to other jurisdictions). With the right support and investments, these individuals can overcome their past struggles to contribute to their communities.
The Fair Chance Workforce System project was initiated by Rise Together, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and Urban Strategies Council through a shared commitment to ensuring all people in the Bay Area have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their family, regardless of race, gender or status. When justice-impacted people are hired, they perform just as – if not better than – their workplace peers. Economic and employment research conf rm that employees with records have better retention rates, more loyalty, and lower turnover (ACLU/ Trone, 2017). Despite these potential gains for employers and businesses, systemic barriers to employment for the justice impacted persist. Click here to read the Excutive Summary.
The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard (Self-Sufficiency Standard) measures how much income is needed for a family of a certain composition living in a particular county to adequately meet its minimal basic needs. It is based on the costs families face on a daily basis – housing, food, child care, out-of-pocket medical expenses, transportation, and other necessary spending – and provides a complete picture of what it takes for families to make ends meet, contrary to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
How much is enough to make ends meet in your county?
To view the methodology for the Self-Sufficiency Standard for California, click here.
To download the full data tables for the 2014 Self-Sufficiency Standard for California (e.g. minimum income levels by county and family type), click here. (Excel, 1.8MB)
To download the full data tables for the 2012 Self-Sufficiency Standard for California demographic analysis (e.g. number and percent of households with incomes below the Self-Sufficiency Standard), click here. (Excel, 770KB).