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.

Faculty and researchers from UCLA’s Latino Politics and Policy Initiative in the Luskin School of Public Affairs are not only documenting the changing dynamics of voting in America. They also serve as champions of voting rights that will allow Latinos and other underrepresented groups to step into their political power.

Since 2014, the initiative has drawn on extensive research and real-time analysis of election cycles, diving into issues that impact voters of color—particularly Latinos, a population that represents the plurality of California and is the largest non-white ethnic group in the nation.

The group’s flagship advocacy effort, The Voting Rights Project played a role in shaping new voting rights legislation that has passed the U.S. House and is awaiting Senate action.

Led by UCLA alum Sonja Diaz as founding director, the goal of LPPI is to drive policy actions that address the needs of Latinos.

“Directing UCLA LPPI has provided an unparalleled opportunity to leverage my entrepreneurial skills with my passion for social change in my hometown,” Diaz said. “It has enabled me to put a bright spotlight on the issues that Latinos care about and the power I’ve seen in our communities since I was a child.  “It’s also created the space to develop data-backed policy for this incredibly diverse and complex population that far too few people have taken the time to really understand.”

Diaz and UCLA professor of political science Matt Barreto, who are both voting rights experts, testified during House hearings on the bill and offered solutions to combat recent attacks on access to the ballot box. Their testimony contributed to “Voting in America,” a report led by Subcommittee Chair G.K. Butterfield that was used to develop the new voting rights legislation.

Drawing on extensive research and real-time analysis of election cycles since 2014 into the behavior of voters of color – particularly Latinos – Diaz and Barreto outlined the changing dynamics of voting in America.

They highlighted how the American electorate is shifting due to growing numbers of young Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and how voting rights have been curbed since Shelby v. Holder gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act through actions like voter ID laws and lack of multilingual ballots.

They also recommended steps our federal government should take to protect access to the ballot box in light of the 2021 redistricting cycle. UCLA LPPI’s work on the new voting rights legislation included an in-person briefing with Rep. Butterfield at UCLA Luskin with senior policy fellows and policy faculty experts.

“The architects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought to ensure all Americans were able to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot in the face of widespread discrimination.” Diaz said. “While we have made real progress in curbing the racial discrimination of Jim Crow, we find ourselves in a new era of vote denial and suppression and we cannot go backward.”

With more than 400 bills in state legislatures across the nation aimed at restricting voting rights introduced this year, the work is vital for all Americans.

“We are at a critical moment in our democracy,” Barreto said. “As the demographics of the country shift toward being less white, those who have always held power are doing everything they can to retain it, including trying to restrict the fundamental right to vote.”

Without a comprehensive solution such as sweeping voting rights legislation will protects the rights to vote, Diaz said she is concerned that the country not only risks silencing the voices of youthful, diverse electorates but also jeopardizing our very democracy.

Within this context, Diaz and Barreto’s pivotal efforts to ensure all eligible voters can cast a meaningful ballot couldn’t be more critical, especially because those efforts are squarely focused on protecting Latinos and other communities of color.

To this end, in just the past year and a half, LPPI has released research highlighting opportunities to expand access to the ballot box through vote-by-mail, the increasing influence of voters of color and information into why some may want to limit their power.

They are advocating for the need for deep, meaningful and sustained engagement of growing electorates like Latinos and Asian Americans. In December 2020, the Voting Rights Project hosted a symposium bringing together voting rights practitioners, expert witnesses, and legal scholars from around the country. The convening explored a path forward to protect the right to vote and craft a 21st Century voting rights act.

The work to increase Latino political power and strengthen the voting rights of underrepresented Americans is personal for Diaz. She marched in the streets with her parents to protest Prop 187, a California ballot proposition passed in 1994 that sought to restrict access to public services for undocumented immigrants.

“Protesting on the streets served as my first education in the power of the vote,” Diaz said. “It’s where I decided that I would use my power to advance equitable policy and expand civil rights, so that dignity and opportunity are not limited to where you live or how you identify, but accessible to everyone.”

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.

LA Social Science interviewed Dr. Justin Dunnavant, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UCLA, about being an archaeologist who excavates histories on land and under the sea.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Intro

0:58 – Is there a book, music, or movie that helped you get through the pandemic?

1:45 – Tell me about what archaeologists do and what sorts of questions you’re exploring in your research?

3:19 – How did you get involved in scuba diving and what you do as an underwater archaeologist?

5:45 – Community engagement centers heavily in your work, how is archaeology relevant in the communities where you work, and humanity more widely?

7:40 – Tell us more about the work you’ve done with Hulu and other media outlets?

9:40 – Out of all the places you could have landed, what made you choose UCLA and what do you hope to get out of your experience in Southern California?

To learn more about Dr. Dunnavant, click HERE to visit his website.

Check out the recent UCLA Newsroom article on Dr. Dunnavant HERE.

 

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The UCLA California Policy Lab (CPL) recently released a new report titled, “Inequity in the Permanent Supportive Housing System in Los Angeles: Scale, Scope and Reasons for Black Residents’ Returns to Homelessness.”

In Los Angeles County, Black people represent 9% of the general population yet comprise 40% of the homeless population. In its 2018 groundbreaking report, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Ad Hoc Committee on Black People with Lived Experience of Homelessness concluded that homelessness is a by-product of racism in the United States. The Committee also found racial inequities in outcomes for Black residents of homeless services, particularly Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH).

This report, in partnership with LAHSA and community-based service providers, further examines why there are racial inequities in returns to homelessness or interim housing for Black PSH residents. To estimate the racial inequity in returns to homelessness, we used administrative data from the Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS). To identify potential factors that contribute to Black residents falling out of PSH and returning to homelessness, we conducted interviews and focus groups with PSH program managers, case managers, and Black residents.

To learn more, read the full report HERE.

Read the CPL press release HERE.

Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, Associate Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at UCLA, was recently awarded the 2021 MacArthur Fellowship. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation honors 25 luminaries, who each receive $625,000 over five years. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded these “genius” grants every year since 1981 to help further the pursuits of people with outstanding talent and extraordinary creativity.

“This is an unexpected and thrilling recognition that I hope shines a light on the dangerous, antidemocratic, and unjust technologies that need to be abolished or regulated. I hope to use this grant to further my own work and amplify the work of other Black women.”

Dr. Noble is the co-founder and faculty director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, an interdisciplinary research center working at the intersection of civil and human rights, social justice, democracy, and technology. Her scholarship focuses on digital media and its impact on society, as well as how digital technology and artificial intelligence converge with questions of race, gender, culture, and power. In her best-selling book, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, she explores how AI and algorithms harm vulnerable people, and undermine the public good.

LA Social Science congratulates Professor Safiya Umoja Noble on this well-deserved honor.

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