During Latinx Heritage Month, LA Social Science interviewed Brisa Smith Flores, a UCLA graduate student in World Arts and Culture, and Ky’tavia Stafford-Carreker, a recent UCLA pre-med graduate, about the contributions of Afro-Latinxs in the U.S. They discuss the genesis of the first Afro-Latinx student organization and undergraduate course in Chicana/o & Central American Studies at UCLA. They, also, discuss their own Afro-Latina identity.

Interview Chapters:

:05 – Intro

4:43 – What has been your experience as an Afro-Latina on the West Coast?

7:53 – How did you come to identify as Afro-Latina? And what that means to you?

11:29 – How did you establish the first Afro-Latina/o student organization at UCLA?

18:20 – Paper on anti-Blackness in Mexico using art history.

 

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UCLA Anthropology alumnus and Professor Robert B. Lemelson has made a generous gift to establish The Study of Black Life and Racial Inequality Program Fund that will provide critical support for graduate and undergraduate students who share a commitment to the study of Black Life and Racial Inequality in Anthropology.

As part of Anthropology’s commitment to ensure ongoing financial support for transformative positive social change, as well as provide much-needed material support for students engaged with these issues, Professor Lemelson’s gift will pave the way for more sustainable future support from alumni and friends who share Anthropology’s vision of impactful research and social justice.

To build on this vision, the Department of Anthropology is excited to support a student-initiated group focused on academic engagement, mentorship, and the professional development of Black graduate students in Anthropology. The Department will also offer a new mentoring course for diverse undergraduates led by the student group to be inaugurated in the Winter of 2021. Undergraduates in the course who are also interested in pursuing independent research will be encouraged to apply to the Department’s prestigious undergraduate Lemelson Anthropological Honors Program to further develop their research and professional careers.

The Department of Anthropology is deeply grateful to Professor Lemelson for his support of this vision and his generous gift, which will ensure the program’s success in years to come.

We invite the community to join us in this important initiative to support the study of Black Life and racial inequality by making an online gift HERE. If you are interested in making a gift by check, please contact Lisa Mohan at lmohan@support.ucla.edu. We appreciate your support of this important program.

 

Two UCLA alumni experts explain the importance of Proposition 16. Professors Maria Ledesma and OiYan Poon give a full account of the importance of Affirmative Action and how the elimination of this policy in California heavily decreased opportunities and access for minorities and women. They further explain how critical it is to vote in the upcoming election and specifically address the positive impact of passing Proposition 16 in California.

Interview Chapters:

0:04 – Introduction

1:40 – Why was affirmative action needed?

6:20 – Why did voters originally pass Prop 209 (that eliminated affirmative action) in 1996?

11:32 – What are some additional myths about affirmative action?

19:50 – What was the impact after Prop 209 was passed in 1996?

22:19 – Why is Prop 16 so important today? And how will it make California strong?

28:25 – Conclusion

 

Register to vote in California (Deadline Oct. 19, 2020) and other official information on voting: https://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/voter-info/index.htm

Official voter guide on prop 16: https://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions/16/

 

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The grassroots organization People for People (Gente por Gente) LA grew organically with the help of UCLA students to respond to the needs of the community, particularly during COVID-19. Find out how researchers, Dr. Leigh-Anna Hidalgo and Rosanna Simons, at UCLA along with community members are making a difference and how you can get involved.

Interview Chapters:

0:53 – Initial Involvement with People for People (Gente por Gente)

3:59 – Genesis and Purpose of People for People LA

6:44 – Stories of Students and Community Volunteers Helping the Elderly

10:59 – How to Get Involved

 

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By Dr. Celia Lacayo, Associate Director of Community Engagement, Division of Social Sciences

Commander Robert Hill is the Vice Chair of the UCLA Naval Science Department and a student in the Executive MBA Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is a double Bruin as he received his undergraduate degree from UCLA in Biology (’96) where he participated in the Naval ROTC and earned his commission as an Officer in the Navy.

Commander Hill has an impressive record of military service, particularly with the Navy’s Submarine Force. He is out at sea for three months at a time. He served on the USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) for his first assignment for three years, then earned a graduate degree in the applied physics of Sonar at the Naval Postgraduate School. He has conducted various tours in Hawaii and San Diego where he oversaw ship planning and intel operations. He rose up the ranks to Executive Officer, second-in-command, on the USS Columbus (SSN 762). Afterwards, he specifically led submarine tactical development in the Pacific for six years where he tested new technology in the area of weapon and sensor deployment.

Currently in his second year in the UCLA EMBA program, Commander Hill says the biggest strength of the program is the quality of the students who contribute so much to the discussions, because they come from all backgrounds and walks of life. One of the current projects he is working on is part of his culmination thesis where a group of five students are partnered with a community organization and are given a real-life problem to solve. His group is specifically working with the Chief Information Officer for the City of Santa Monica on a business exploratory project. Commander Hill has used his prior military experience to make huge advances in the project and solidify strong relationships with city agents.

Commander Hill has also made an impact in higher education as a Commander in the NROTC and a lecturer of courses at USC and UCLA. He expresses that it is very important for him to give back and does so by mentoring other military college students. His time at UCLA has been special in part because, as he states, “UCLA emphasizes and supports veterans very strongly.”

Commander Hill has made a wonderful life here in Los Angeles where he resides with his wife and fellow Bruin, Darlene Hill, a fifth-grade teacher with LAUSD.

 

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UCLA alum Karina Ramos (’99) an attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center represents many immigrant children seeking asylum. She discusses the need for more attorneys to advocate for children’s rights. With COVID-19, the U.S. immigration courts have mostly halted the timeline for their proceedings, significantly delaying progress, often with devastating consequences for the children. 

Interview Chapters:

0:50 – What type of work does Immigrant Defenders Law Center do?

1:28 – What’s your role?

2:36 – Legal Representation & Advocacy for Immigrant Children

5:39 – Specific Cases (“Alex”)

11:07 – Impact of COVID-19 on Court Cases and Children’s Future

15:50 – Support for Child Asylum Seekers

 

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LRW Group, a local marketing services firm and UCLA Division of Social Sciences community partner, was a key contributor to the Los Angeles County COVID-19 study that sought to find the true spread of the virus in the county through serological testing. Led by UCLA alum, chairman and CEO Dave Sackman, LRW Group partnered with USC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health by identifying and recruiting a representative sample of LA residents to participate in the study. The findings released last week suggest infections from the new coronavirus are far more widespread, and the fatality rate is much lower here in LA County than previously thought.

LRW Group formed a partnership with the UCLA Division of Social Sciences in 2019. The partnership created a dedicated UCLA staff position tasked with recruiting undergraduates and graduate students for paid summer internships in data science. The initiative will support a proposed major in Data and Society in the division and feature support workshops and roundtables in social data science, as well as guest lectures by LRW leadership and employees.

According to Dean Darnell Hunt:

“LRW’s commitment will seed our efforts to establish a pipeline of underrepresented students into the new Data and Society major we are developing as part of the division’s larger big data initiative. Along with this generous and important contribution, LRW also has pledged to offer paid internships to some of our most promising students, creating an opportunity for them to envision future careers and gain workplace experience that enhances their academic pursuits at UCLA.”

 

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Photo Credit: Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States – Closed Due to Health Crisis, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88247255

By Eli R. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of New Mexico

It is impossible to locate a part of our society that has not been profoundly affected by the current pandemic, as we lurch from health crisis to economic crisis to labor crisis to community crisis—and back again.

The U.S. service sector remains at the epicenter of the crisis. The California Restaurant Association recently issued a dire warning that 30% of restaurants in the state will close without dramatic government intervention. In a letter to the governor, the group argues that the recent federal aid package is a Band-Aid that will not prevent permanent closures. Hundreds of thousands of restaurant workers have already filed for unemployment, and anticipated job losses in the industry are running as high as 7 million. The Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC), a worker advocacy group, is one of several organizations that have set up an emergency relief fund to help the most desperate families.

The effects of the pandemic on the restaurant industry has been uneven, with a much larger impact on small businesses and vulnerable workers. On the business side, many of the immediate closures are mom-and-pop restaurants, which are disproportionately owned by immigrants and people of color. Restaurants operate on razor-thin 5–10% profit margins even in good times, so many smaller restaurants make just enough money to stay afloat month to month. The $2 trillion federal aid package will supposedly reach these types of businesses, but accounting for inevitable processing delays and the continuation of government-mandated closures across the country, it may be too little, too late.

Among restaurant employees, undocumented workers find themselves in particularly dire straits. Without proper work authorization, these individuals cannot seek federal assistance, including funds from the federal aid package, despite being laid off and having paid into the taxes that are funding that aid. Prior to the pandemic, the industry’s millions of undocumented workers were already a largely invisible group employed mainly in physically taxing back-of-the-house jobs with low wages and few benefits. Reduced work hours and widespread layoffs will push many to grapple with the inability to meet their family’s basic needs and nowhere to turn for help but friends and relatives in equally precarious situations.

At the same time, the most dramatic relative impacts on restaurant workers are on front-of-the-house workers, who tend to be young, white, and middle-class. Socially speaking, this is not an at-risk group. Yet because of the structure of their jobs, the pandemic is nothing short of an employment Armageddon for the nation’s nearly 4 million servers, bartenders, baristas, hosts, and cashiers. Front-of-the-house employees’ work schedules are directly related to customer traffic; fewer customers mean fewer hours of work in the dining room. Also, front-of-the-house workers rely heavily on tips for their income. Normally, these workers expect that a steady stream of diners will pad their low hourly wages, and servers and bartenders at higher-end restaurants can make $15-30 per hour in tips on top of their base wages. So even if some restaurants are able to maintain employee payroll during this period, without customers or tips, these workers will find themselves among the lowest-paid in the country.

A few restaurants are staying busy through a mixture of the right business model (quick-serve, takeout) and the resources to adjust to the months-long closure of dining room service. But neither describes the majority of sit-down restaurants, especially small ones. At best, this is the end of a golden age for restaurants in terms of growth and profits (one that weathered the 2007–2009 Great Recession relatively well). At worst, this crisis has laid bare a broken industry paradigm with no safety net for millions of workers and left small restaurants fighting for their survival.

We need to push for federal and state-level aid crafted by policy makers in collaboration with restaurant industry leaders to ensure that aid is distributed both efficiently and equitably. A significant portion of this money should be flagged for small businesses trying to meet operating expenses and employee payroll. Temporary policy changes can help too, such as recent city-level decisions to allow restaurants to sell groceries and to-go alcohol (with the appropriate liquor license). On an individual level, every consumer who is financially able should do their part to support their local restaurants as much as possible. Buy takeout regularly from these establishments, tip delivery people well, purchase gift cards. We want to ensure that when the effects of this pandemic subside, our neighborhood gathering places and those who work in them are able to rebound as quickly as possible.

 

Eli Revelle Yano Wilson is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a former research affiliate with the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Dr. Wilson studies labor dynamics within the U.S. restaurant and the craft beer industries. His first book, Front of the House, Back of the House: Race and Inequality in the Lives of Restaurant Workers, will be released this fall through NYU Press.

 

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The LA Social Science e-forum interviewed UCLA Department of Communication alum, Michael Allen, ’86. During this interview, LA Social Science learned more about Mr. Allen’s LA Social Science Story.

LA Social Science would like to thank Mr. Allen for allowing us to learn about his story and the advising work he continues to do in support of the Division of Social Sciences.

What is your LA Social Science Story?

By Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, and Marisol Granillo Arce, Graduate Student Researcher

UCLA Labor Center

On October 24, 2019, filmmakers, photographers, poets, and musicians of color presented their original works on the resilience and power of immigrant working families in Los Angeles. The exhibit, including photos and short film presentations, is an initiative of the UCLA Labor Center’s Parent Worker Project, an applied research project that lifts up low-wage working parents as experts on their children’s education and communities.

Working Families in Focus is the first photo exhibit and film shorts program directed by Los Angeles artists of color to capture the lives of janitors, garment and domestic workers at their unions or worker centers, along with their children. Wil Prada, UCLA alum, filmmaker, and photographer, curated the exhibit highlighting nine themes: 1) The Parent Worker Project, 2) Unions and Worker Centers, 3) Tutoring, 4) Accessing Institutions of Higher Learning: A Public University Belongs to the Public, 5) Working-Class Parents Care about Children’s Education, 6) What Motivates Me Is My Children, 7) Parents as First Teachers, 8) Celebrating and Recognizing Parents’ Efforts, and 9) Connecting Communities. Parents, children, workers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers came together to share their common experiences and give visibility and dignity to the contributions of low-wage working families.

The UCLA Labor Center obtained a grant in 2014 from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for an initiative to focus on early education activities with local janitors and their children through Building Skills Partnership and SEIU-United Service Workers West. We documented the project’s success in “Janitors are Parents Too! Promoting Parent Advocacy in the Labor Movement,” a chapter in the Beacon Press publication Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out!: Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement. As a result, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation renewed its commitment to support similar programming with low-wage garment and domestic workers and their children. Using a train-the-trainer model, the second phase of the project trained parent workers to confidently talk with their peers about navigating the school system and accessing community resources such as libraries, museums, financial institutions, and specialized programs, putting parents at the center of current public education reform and leadership advocacy efforts.

As a compliment to the project, the team organized a formal tutoring project through which selected UCLA undergraduate students received scholarships to tutor garment and domestic workers’ children while the children’s parents participated in adult education classes and training sessions.

The Working Families in Focus exhibit took place at the UCLA Labor Center’s downtown community site and was sponsored by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Los Angeles Garment Worker Center, IDEPSCA-Mujeres en Acción, Building Skills Partnership, and the UCLA Center for Mexican Studies. Please come to the UCLA Labor Center at 675 S. Park View Street to view this powerful exhibit, or contact Janna Shadduck-Hernández at jshernandez@irle.ucla.edu for further information.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D. is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for the UCLA labor studies major and in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research and teaching focus on developing culturally relevant, participatory educational models with first- and second-generation university students, community members, and youth. Her research and policy work also examine the organizing efforts of low-wage immigrant workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

Marisol Granillo Arce is a graduate student researcher with the Labor Center’s Parent Worker project and a UCLA MSW and MPH candidate. She is also a trained facilitator of the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors bilingual curriculum to promote early childhood parent engagement to advance the long-term academic success of low-income K-12 students.