In a recent Washington Post (Monkey Cage) essay, Dr. Efrén Pérez, UCLA Professor of Political Science and Psychology, discusses how all racial minorities have been in solidarity with one another during the current anti-racism protests. His research suggests that rather than participating as individuals of separate racial identities, they are probably acting as politically engaged members of a shared group and identifying as “people of color.” He writes:

“My research reveals that the label “people of color” was created by — and for — African Americans and has evolved into an identity that politically mobilizes many nonwhites toward common goals — unless “people of color” feel that others in the coalition are ignoring their own racial group’s unique challenges.”

To read the full article, “‘People of color’ are protesting. Here’s what you need to know about this new identity,” and to learn more about the research into this new identity, click HERE.

Dr. Ramesh Srinivasan, UCLA Professor of Graduate Studies of Education and Information Sciences and Bedari Kindness Institute Faculty Advisory Committee member, recently co-authored a hybrid academic/journalistic piece in Salon discussing how tech elites have captured our fascination, while pushing pathways that likely disenfranchise almost everyone except themselves. Dr. Srinivasan and Mr. Peter Bloom write:

“Our blind trust in digital technology has not only had a huge impact on economic and political realities, but also our beliefs and aspirations; from what we consider to be progress, to the stories we tell ourselves around who an innovator is. Perniciously, these stories even appear to be fodder for those hoping to escape a supposedly unredeemable society and unsaveable planet. Whether due to global pandemics, climate crises, nuclear proliferation, or gross economic and political inequalities, collapse seems always right around the corner, if not here already, and the wealthiest and most powerful in our world are planning for it and profiting from it while the rest of us are left to accept our fate.”

To read the full article, “Tech Barons Dream of a Better World — Without the Rest of Us,” click HERE.

 

Photographer: Madelene Cronjé

Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, UCLA Professor of African American Studies and Distinguished Professor of History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History, was recently interviewed for Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill. In the podcast episode, Dr. Kelley provides historical context for the current abolitionist movement by discussing numerous key moments and issues, including the Tulsa race massacre, criminalization of community, racial capitalism, a third Reconstruction era, and social justice movements. To listen to the full interview and to read the transcript, click HERE.

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UCLA Professors Akihiro Nishi and Michael Irwin and colleagues co-authored a paper that was published in Nature‘s Scientific Reports titled, “Mindfulness Meditation Activates Altruism,” on April 16, 2020. Dr. Nishi and Dr. Irwin are affiliated with the Bedari Kindness Institute within the UCLA Division of Social Sciences. The paper finds that mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, and improves emotion regulation due to modulation of activity in neural substrates linked to the regulation of emotions and social preferences. The abstract is included below and the full paper can be found HERE.

Abstract

Clinical evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, and improves emotion regulation due to modulation of activity in neural substrates linked to the regulation of emotions and social preferences. However, less was known about whether mindfulness meditation might alter pro-social behavior. Here we examined whether mindfulness meditation activates human altruism, a component of social cooperation. Using a simple donation game, which is a real-world version of the Dictator’s Game, we randomly assigned 326 subjects to a mindfulness meditation online session or control and measured their willingness to donate a portion of their payment for participation as a charitable donation. Subjects who underwent the meditation treatment donated at a 2.61 times higher rate than the control (p = 0.005), after controlling for socio-demographics. We also found a larger treatment effect of meditation among those who did not go to college (p < 0.001) and those who were under 25 years of age (p < 0.001), with both subject groups contributing virtually nothing in the control condition. Our results imply high context modularity of human altruism and the development of intervention approaches including mindfulness meditation to increase social cooperation, especially among subjects with low baseline willingness to contribute.

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“Indigenous Peoples across the country continue to be disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. As of May 18, 2020, the Navajo Nation has the highest Covid-19 case rates surpassing New York, the pandemic’s epicenter in the United States. As the virus spreads, Indigenous Peoples and nations in the United States face stark disparities in accessing resources to protect their communities—not the least of which relate to data.”

In this recent Items article, Dr. Randall Akee, UCLA Associate Professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies, and Dr. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, UCLA Assistant Professor in Sociology and American Indian Studies, along with Dr. Stephanie Russo Carroll, Annita Lucchesi, and Dr. Jennifer Rai Richards come to the conclusion that Indigenous communities need more data that advance Indigenous rights and interests, and they need action to hold the federal government accountable to its treaty obligations and advance systemic change that dismantles racism.

To read the complete article titled, “Indigenous Data in the Covid-19 Pandemic: Straddling Erasure, Terrorism, and Sovereignty,” click HERE.

 

In a recent KCRW Greater L.A. podcast titled, “LA Freeways: The infrastructure of racism,” UCLA Professor Eric Avila spoke about how White Supremacy motivated some city transportation plans. For example, “Boyle Heights…was redlined by banks and home insurance providers because its mix of races was considered unsafe. ‘It was described by the federal government as hopelessly heterogeneous. A Homeowners Loan Corporation report called it an ideal location for a slum clearance project. That slum clearance project was highway construction,’ says Avila.”

To listen and read the entire podcast, click HERE.

For the newly launched magazine, NOEMA, Dr. Safiya Noble wrote an essay that calls out the titans of technology, and challenges us all to look at the societal needs of this pivotal moment. As calls for abolition and racial justice echo from coast to coast, Dr. Noble informs us how “Big Tech is implicated in displacing high-quality knowledge institutions–newsrooms, libraries, schools, and universities–by destabilizing funding through tax evasion, actively eroding the public goods we need to flourish.” She also writes:

“We need new paradigms, not more new tech. We need fair and equitable implementations of public policy that bolster our collective good. We need to center the most vulnerable among us–the working poor and the disabled, those who live under racial and religious tyranny, the discriminated against and the oppressed. We need to house people and provide health, employment, creative arts, and educational resources. We need to close the intersectional racial wealth gap.”

Dr. Noble is an Associate Professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, co-director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, and a faculty advisor to the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute.

To read the complete essay, “The Loss Of Public Goods To Big Tech,” click HERE.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

The brutal, in-your-face murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police was just the latest in a long succession of Black killings captured on video. Following closely on the heels of the shooting death of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery by white, self-professed vigilantes in Georgia, and the killing of Breonna Taylor in her own home by Louisville police, Floyd’s murder revealed, yet again, the precarity of Black life in America. But this time, in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, Americans of all races took to the streets, risking their own health, to demand the overhauling of police practices and to insist that Black lives do matter.

I stand with protesters who say that enough is enough with respect to police brutality. As a sociologist, I understand that protestors’ call for social justice is about much more than just the most recent killings. These killings are symptoms of an underlying American disease: a virulent structural racism originating from, and still spread by, the nation’s longstanding affair with white supremacy. Protestors have rightly seized the present moment as one of those temporal inflection points that have the potential to shape American life for years to come. We all have been summoned to stand on the right side of history, to accompany our words of support with the actions necessary for substantive change.

We take this call very seriously in the social sciences. Below I include statements from units all across our Division that outline their commitments to being a part of the solution, as opposed to a part of the problem.

Darnell Hunt, Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA

Click on the links below to read the statements:

 

The current state of relations between multiple arms of law enforcement and the similarities and differences between police brutality aimed at Latinos and African Americans is discussed with Dr. Amada Armenta, UCLA assistant professor in Urban Planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs and a UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) faculty expert. She also addresses points of solidarity between both groups.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Introduction

0:35 – Major changes to immigration enforcement

3:12 – How do local law enforcement agencies participate in immigration enforcement?

8:08 – What is the relationship like between local police and Latina/o immigrant communities?

14:10 – How are the relationships similar and different from African Americans’ experiences with police brutality? Detention/Deportation?

17:45 – Closing remarks

To learn more, check out Dr. Armenta’s book, Protect, Serve, and Deport The Rise of Policing as Immigration Enforcement.

 

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UCLA Assistant Professor Felipe Goncalves in the Department of Economics spoke with LA Social Science about his research on racial bias in policing. In collaboration with Professor Steve Mello from Dartmouth College, Dr. Goncalves estimates the degree to which individual police officers practice racial discrimination.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Introduction

0:49 – Tell us about your research into policing and crime.

5:16 – Does race or gender of the officer affect the level of discrimination?

7:27 – Are the disparities in treatment conscious or implicit?

9:26 – What policies seem most effective at addressing the disparity?

16:55 – Any other studies in the area?

20:39 – Closing

To read the full research paper, “A Few Bad Apples? Racial Bias in Policing,” click HERE.

 

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