LA Social Science interviewed Dr. Marcus Hunter, Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the UCLA Division of Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, and Mr. Christian D. Green, M.A. in African American Studies at UCLA and current adjunct professor. They discussed their role on the national, local, and regional events celebrating the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that took place on January 18. Dr. Hunter participated in the 4th Annual National Day of Racial Healing. They discussed their work with legislators, media, and community-based organizations.  Specifically, they discuss the educational resources they are advocating to be part of the U.S. Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Commission and Reparations for African Americans and at the local level.

Learn more about the January 18 events HERE.

 

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On January 18th, 2022, the 4th Annual National Day of Racial Healing will take place. Alongside a slate of national, local, and regional events hosted and sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Marcus Anthony Hunter, the Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the Division of the Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at UCLA, will be moderating a culminating panel on Facebook Live with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Dr. Gail Christopher, and Dr. Ron Daniels. The panel will focus on and bring further awareness to legislative efforts on the Hill to enact the first-ever U.S. Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Commission and Reparations for African Americans.

RSVP for the virtual panel HERE.

For more information, click HERE.

Check back with LA Social Science for interviews and more posts regarding the issues discussed in this panel.

UCLA Labor Center / IRLE Dedication, UCLA, James Lawson Jr., Worker Justice Center

For a building dedicated to ensuring fair treatment and opportunities for workers and that is located in the heart of one of Los Angeles’ working-class immigrant neighborhoods, naming it after iconic civil and workers’ rights leader Rev. James Lawson Jr. was perfect.

On Dec. 11, the UCLA Labor Center’s historic MacArthur Park building was officially named the UCLA James Lawson Jr. Worker Justice Center in honor Lawson, one of the civil rights movement’s most-prominent leaders of non-violent protest and a UCLA labor studies faculty member.

“Throughout history, many of our greatest leaders have urged us to look inward,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said to the audience of 300 attendees at a ceremony hosted by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in partnership with the Labor Center. “They ask: Who are we as people? What do we value? What kind of society do we want, and what are we willing to do to build it?

“For over 60 years, James Lawson has invited Americans to consider such pressing questions. He has insisted that humanity’s salvation lies in reason and compassion, not violence or exploitation. His vision and valor have mobilized Americans, changed this nation, and inspired activists around the globe.”

Once referred to as “the mind of the movement” and “the leading strategist of nonviolence in the world” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lawson, now 93, is known internationally for teaching nonviolent resistance tactics to young activists. In the course of his life, Lawson and his colleagues and students led lunch counter sit-ins, freedom rides and worker strikes including the historic 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike during the civil rights movement.

Lawson said he was humbled by UCLA naming a building in his honor.

“I had no idea how to prepare for this moment. For this extraordinary experience of all of you and the coalition that came together, to make this possible,” Lawson said. “On behalf of my wife, Dorothy, and her parents, and my parents and our great grandparents, and all on behalf of our sons, our grandchildren … we thank you very much, absolutely astonishing — I could never have imagined anything like this at all.”

To read the rest of the UCLA newsroom story by Citlalli Chávez-Nava about this historic occasion, click HERE.

UCLA LPPI’s Founding Executive Director Sonja Diaz and former Policy Analyst Nick Gonzalez meeting with Assemblymember Jose Medina in Sacramento to advocate for ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement. From left to right: Governmental Affairs Advisor Marvin Pineda, Nick Gonzalez, Senator María Elena Durazo, Assemblymember Medina, Sonja Diaz, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo.

By: Alise Brillault

December 16, 2021

UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative’s (UCLA LPPI) makes sure that their research does not just sit on the proverbial dusty shelf. Through indefatigable mobilization, advocacy and partnership efforts, UCLA LPPI ensures that the crucial data they uncover about the issues that matter most to Latinos gets into the hands of lawmakers. In fact, numerous California state bills were passed in 2021 due to UCLA LPPI’s research and advocacy efforts.

In a win for the comprehensive education of California’ s students, AB 101 was signed into law this year – making California the first state in the nation to mandate ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement. Contributing to the efforts that drove the passage of AB 101, Nick Gonzalez, a former policy analyst at UCLA LPPI, authored a report on the importance of ethnic studies curriculum in a state whose students are increasingly students of color. Gonzalez also met multiple times with Assemblymember Jose Medina to present evidence that ethnic studies coursework in high school is associated with improved attendance, higher test scores and better interracial relations amongst students of all ethnic backgrounds.

“Our research affirmed the convictions of state legislators who understand the need for students of color to see themselves reflected in the history they are taught,” said Gonzalez. “Not only does Ethnic Studies help students of color develop a deeper connection with their American identity, but it is also correlated with improved academic performance.”

Gonzalez and UCLA LPPI strategized with Assemblymember Medina on how to get the Ethnic Studies bill passed, including providing key insights for an op-ed Asm. Medina penned with UCLA LPPI faculty expert Dr. Laura Gomez. While the first attempt at passing the Ethnic Studies bill failed in 2020, the strategic groundwork Gonzalez and UCLA LPPI laid paved the way for AB 101 to pass easily this year’s legislative session.

In another win, AB 443 was also signed into law this year. This bill allows for the creation of a statewide fellowship program for doctors who received their medical degrees abroad; this will help to increase the pool of Spanish-speaking doctors amidst California’s Latino physician shortage. UCLA LPPI faculty experts Dr. David Hayes-Bautista and Dr. Yohualli Balderas-Medina Anaya have been studying this crisis for years and have co-authored multiple reports and policy briefs on the topic alongside other UCLA LPPI faculty experts.

“There is an overall shortage of physicians in the state of California – and it’s even worse for Latino and Spanish-speaking physicians,” explains Dr. Anaya. “This imbalance of supply and demand of physicians is only predicted to continue in the coming years as Baby Boomers retire.”

Dr. Hayes-Bautista points to policies enacted in the 1980s that limited opportunities for international medical graduates (IMGs) to practice medicine in California. Such policies were implemented due to a (later disproven) fear that the state was edging towards having “too many” physicians. In fact, the opposite proved to pan out. Now, approximately 7 million Californians live in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), with Latinos, African Americans and Indigenous people overrepresented as residents of HSPAs.

In addition, structural barriers that have prevented Latinos from studying and practicing medicine has led to a gross underrepresentation of Latino physicians vis-a-vis their share of the population. “If current trends continue,” Dr. Hayes-Bautista says, “It could take up to 500 years to make up for the shortage of Latino physicians.”

In light of this research, UCLA LPPI partner AltaMed Health Services co-sponsored bill AB 443 with Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo. With the bill passing, IMGs will be permitted to participate in postgraduate fellowship programs in the state of California to be able to practice medicine here. This will help increase the pool of Spanish-speaking physicians, improving doctor-patient language concordance – which, as Dr. Anaya points out, “is positively associated with better health outcomes and access to care in a state with significant Spanish-speaking populations.”

These wins were significant, but there were areas where UCLA LPPI’s weren’t as successful and additional efforts to move the policy needle will be needed in 2022. For example, UCLA LPPI’s political appointments advocacy work helped spur the introduction of  a bill to track the diversity of gubernatorial appointments in California. One of UCLA LPPI’s partners, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), co-sponsored the bill, SB 702, in the legislature with Senator Monique Limón.

“To achieve gender and racial parity, understanding the current landscape is the first step,” says Vanessa Spagnoli, policy director of HOPE. “SB 702 would have created a baseline report about what voices are missing in the over 3,000 appointments to boards, commissions and the judiciary that the governor makes every year.”

Given Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of the bill, UCLA LPPI’s current work around tracking the demographic diversity of the judicial appointments will prove even more crucial for accountability. In addition to diligently researching and documenting the demographic information of appointed justices, UCLA LPPI’s mobilization team has urged Governor Newsom to make history by appointing a Latina to the California Supreme Court. As Spagnoli asserts, “​​We remain committed to fighting for fair representation, and our commitment is unwavering.”

With the 2022 midterm elections approaching, ongoing uncertainty around the state of the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, and census data showing Latinos as primary drivers of U.S. population growth, UCLA LPPI’s political mobilization work will prove even more consequential in the coming year. The 2020 census also revealed Latino populations to be growing fastest outside of California and other states with traditionally large Latino communities. As such, UCLA LPPI recognizes the necessity of deepening its advocacy efforts with partners in states such as New Jersey, Illinois, and Florida. UCLA LPPI is committed to using the convening power of the nation’s leading public university to connect innovators who can write change into law.

Dr. Shannon Speed, citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center and professor of Gender Studies and Anthropology, recently received the President’s Award from the American Anthropological Association (AAA) for her work bringing together scholarship and activism in advocating for Indigenous and Native American women. This award is given annually to encourage and reward an AAA member’s excellent contributions to the anthropological field.

To read more about Dr. Speed’s work and this award, check out the UCLA Newsroom article by clicking HERE.

By Alise Brillault, Latino Policy & Politics Initiative Communications Manager

As the nation has grappled with the health and economic outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, an election marked by profound political polarization and a reckoning on race, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (UCLA LPPI) has been at the forefront of putting a bright spotlight on how these issues have impacted Latino communities in California and across the nation. As part of that effort, UCLA LPPI has highlighted unique perspectives aimed at identifying challenges, opportunities and solutions to move the work forward and create a future where everyone can thrive. These perspectives have included those of academics, labor leaders and elected officials, just to name a few. Recently, UCLA LPPI had the opportunity to hear from the philanthropy world when they sat down with Weingart Foundation* CEO and former UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Board Member Miguel Santana. During the conversation, Santana shared the importance of funding data-driven, Latino-led organizations to build a more inclusive economy and democracy. Check out the conversation (lightly edited for clarity) below.

*UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (UCLA LPPI) recently received $125,000 in general funding over two years from the Weingart Foundation.

**

Alise Brillault: The Weingart Foundation’s main areas of focus are housing justice, immigrant and refugee rights and strengthening nonprofit effectiveness to build towards racial and socioeconomic justice. How does the work of UCLA LPPI as as a Latino-focused research center fit into the foundation’s mission?

Miguel Santana: The Weingart Foundation is committed to advancing social and racial justice in Southern California. For us, it is important that any work to deal with inequities in Los Angeles be based on data, analysis and best practices. The Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA LPPI are leading that effort.

We believe that to make change, there has to be an organized community on the ground – but there also need to be academic partners committed to advancing these issues using data analysis and research. Funding initiatives such as UCLA LPPI is part of a larger strategy to harness the power of data to make change in our communities.

AB: Why is it important to invest in Latino-led organizations such as UCLA LPPI?

MS: We strongly believe in supporting organizations led by the very communities that have been marginalized. Although Latinos make up about 50% of Southern California’s population, unfortunately, they are disproportionately reflected in poor outcomes in education, economic prosperity, home ownership, food security, and so many other issues. In short, the Latino community is not benefiting from the thriving economy of Southern California. We believe strongly that these issues have to be grounded in communities they are about. Supporting initiatives such as UCLA LPPI – whose research is being led by the best and brightest of the Latino community – is an important part of that mission.

AB: Can you tell us more about the Unrestricted Operating Support program that Weingart uses to enhance nonprofit effectiveness?

MS: We believe in nonprofit organizations – particularly those already meeting existing gaps due to systemic failures in the community. That’s why we work hard not to be prescriptive and to support organizations based on the idea that they know best how to use their dollars. Most of us at the Weingart Foundation came from the nonprofit world, so it’s important for us to take that experience and remind ourselves of what it was like to work in that space, which makes us very intentional about how to provide the best support necessary.

AB: Only 1% of philanthropic foundation CEOs are Latino, and Latino-focused organizations receive less than 2% of philanthropic funding. Is there a connection between representation at the top of foundations and the type of organizations that receive funding?

MS: For foundations like ours, it’s important that the organizations we fund look like and are led by the communities we support. Our Board of Directors has been very committed to leading on that effort. If we expect our funding recipients to have diversity in their boards and executive leadership, our board thought it was important that our foundation also look like and come from the community we serve to better represent the community’s perspective.

I’m very honored to serve as CEO of the Weingart Foundation. I’ve been in public service my entire career and have been the leader of nonprofit organizations. Frankly, though, my own lived experience growing up in Southeast Los Angeles County as the son of immigrants and the first in my family to go to college is more relevant than my degrees. Foundations committed to racial justice need to look like communities they serve. For me, I live in and work in the community, and it’s an honor to lead a foundation that is truly committed to racial justice.

**

Founded in December 2017, through a partnership between the Luskin School of Public Affairs and Division of Social Sciences, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative addresses the most critical domestic policy challenges facing Latinos and other communities of color in order to expand genuine opportunity for all Americans. UCLA LPPI believes that there is no American agenda without a Latino agenda. Funding from the Weingart Foundation will allow UCLA LPPI to expand its capacities for research, data collection, advocacy and leadership development activities as well as the growth of its staff.

 

“Building upon her decades of work as an artist and activist, Barbra Streisand’s visionary act of generosity will enable UCLA scholars from many different fields to collaborate on research that will move society forward,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

The Barbra Streisand Institute includes 4 research centers that address her concerns:

  • the Center for Truth in the Public Sphere
  • the Center for the Impact of Climate Change
  • the Center for the Dynamics of Intimacy & Power Between Women & Men
  • the Center for the Impact of Art on the Culture

These centers will be housed in UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences. Widely recognized as an icon in multiple entertainment fields, Streisand has attained unprecedented success as a recording artist, actor, director, producer, screenwriter, author and songwriter. She is the first woman to direct, produce, write and star in a major motion picture, the first woman composer to receive an Academy Award, the only recording artist who has achieved No. 1 albums in six consecutive decades, and the first woman to receive a Golden Globe Award for Best Director.

Alongside these achievements, Streisand has long been a staunch supporter of civil rights, gender equality, and upholding democracy. She has also been a leading environmental activist, funding some of the earliest climate change research at the Environmental Defense Fund beginning in 1989.

“It is my great pleasure to be able to fund an institute at UCLA, one of the world’s premier universities,” Streisand said. “This will be a place where future scholars can discuss, engage and argue about the most important issues of the day; where innovators will speak truth to power, help save our planet, and make glass ceilings for women an anachronism; and in the process give us a chance to have a brighter, more promising future.”

To read more of this UCLA Newsroom story by Melissa Abraham, please CLICK HERE.

UCLA Alum Rafael Agustín (’03 & ’04), TV Writer (Jane the Virgin) and CEO of the Latino Film Institute (LFI), discusses writing and bringing Latinx stories and characters to film and TV; his experience at UCLA; and helping the next generation of Latinx filmmakers.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Intro

0:33 – What got you interested in theater and television?

1:38 – What was your experience at UCLA?

3:16 – Why is it important to tell Latinx stories in TV and film?

5:05 – New projects, and advice on breaking into TV and film.

Learn more about Mr. Rafael Agustín and the Latino Film Institute (LFI) by visiting their website at https://latinofilm.org/.

Read about LFI’s advocacy of the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report series HERE.

Read about LFI naming Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón their inaugural LFI Scholar in 2021 HERE.

 

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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) partnered with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to produce the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap that was released today, August 20. According to the NMAAHC, “[t]his first-of-its-kind collection chronicles hip-hop’s growth and impact from the parks of the Bronx to the broadest areas of the American experience and worldwide influence. A track list and additional information about the anthology are available, including images from the set.”

In 2014, key figures in the music and culture of hip-hop came together to comprise an executive committee that would work on an anthology that was focused on all facets of hip-hop culture. UCLA’s Dr. Cheryl Keyes, Chair and Professor of African American Studies, Ethnomusicology and Global Jazz Studies worked on the committee with Rappers MC Lyte and Public Enemy’s Chuck D, writer-scholar Adam Bradley, and early Def Jam senior executives Bill Adler and Bill Stephney, artist-writer-director Questlove, and producer-educator 9th Wonder.

To learn more about this amazing anthology, check out the content below.

National Museum of African American History and Culture and Smithsonian Folkways Announce Aug. 20 Release of the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap

Origins of Hip-Hop and Rap Explored In Smithsonian ‘Anthology’

How Do You Capture Four Decades of Hip-Hop? Very Broadly

The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative has supported the efforts of California’s Unseen Latinas Initiative headed by UCLA Alumna and California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (UCLA Law ‘99)

By Nick Gonzalez, Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) Policy Analyst

 

Latinas make less than their male and female counterparts, have never served in a statewide elected position and remain underrepresented in corporate leadership positions. A new two-year effort launched by Asm. Lorena Gonzalez (UCLA Law ‘99) and the California Latino Caucus seeks to tackle the inequities that the state’s Latinas face.

UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative faculty and staff have been at the forefront of “Unseen Latinas” by providing expert testimony in its first year of public hearings to identify problems and solutions. Through cross-sectoral research, a team of UCLA LPPI female experts have been putting a data-driven lens on the educational, economic and career barriers that Latinas must overcome.

“By launching the Unseen Latinas initiative, California’s leaders are making it clear that they understand that the state’s continued economic prowess requires that Latinas have a fair chance to succeed and thrive,” said Sonja Diaz, UCLA LPPI founding director, who participated in the October 2020 launch event. “Especially as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s time to make sure that no one gets left behind in the recovery and bright future that lies ahead.”

Latinas make up nearly 20% of Californians, and Latina participation in the U.S. workforce was expected to grow by 26% in the next 10 years. Yet, new research from LPPI shows that Latinas exited the workforce amid the pandemic at higher rates than any other demographic amid the pandemic, making it clear that recovery efforts should provide specific assistance to help them recover financially and get back on their feet.

“California has an opportunity and responsibility to lead what it means to have a just and equal economy,” said Asm. Gonzalez. “UCLA LPPI has been a valuable partner on the Unseen Latinas Initiative. LPPI experts have shared key testimony by shining a light on the inequalities Latinas continue to face, as well as the opportunities that exist to make sure Latinas are no longer unseen and can participate in the state’s prosperous future.”

In an October conversation about the Latina wage gap, Diaz urged action to address the childcare and family obligations that pushed Latinas out of the workforce during the pandemic. Without a clear plan to bring them back into the labor market, the repercussions could be devastating for Latino families and for the state’s economy, she said.

UCLA LPPI expert Dr. Mary Lopez, an economics professor at Occidental College continued the conversation  in a January hearing on the labor market, testifying that policy solutions such as affordable childcare and job training would be essential in reducing workforce inequities for Latinas.

Part of the invisibility of the needs and strengths of the state’s Latinas comes from the lack of representation in media and popular culture. At an April hearing, UCLA LPPI expert Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón provided testimony from the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, which she co-founded and co-authors. Latinos and women are among the groups that remain underrepresented in film relative to their population size.

“We know that Hollywood plays a meaningful role in shaping how people perceive others around them,” Ramón said, who is also the director of research and civic engagement at the UCLA Division of Social Sciences. “When Latinas do not have starring roles or they are not seen as doctors, lawyers, or CEOs, that perpetuates the barriers that they face in achieving their full potential.”

The Unseen Latinas public hearings series also discussed the challenges that Latinas face in breaking into the legal field, with expert testimony from UCLA LPPI expert Jennifer Chacon. For example, the California Supreme Court is another glass ceiling for Latinas, where one has never served as a justice.

For information about the legislators leading Unseen Latinas and for details on upcoming hearings, please visit the Assembly website for the state’s Select Committee on Latina Inequities.