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.

Uriel Serrano is a PhD candidate in Sociology and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is currently a Teaching Associate in the UCLA Department of Sociology. His research explores questions around race and gender, children and youth, social movements and resistance, neighborhood institutions, and abolition and intersectionality in the context of carceral violence. His work is grounded in theories of intersectionality, critical youth studies, and critical carceral studies to examine political mobilization by Black and Latinx youth, gender ideologies, carceral logics, and youth-well-being in an inner-city context. Mr. Serrano examines how carceral systems and logics function, persist and are challenged, and how experiences differ across social contexts and social locations.

 

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The UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report received a $250,000 allocation in the California state budget. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, the funds will support the overarching goals of UCLA’s Hollywood Advancement Project, which produces the Hollywood Diversity Report. It is the industry’s only longitudinal analysis that connects the relationship between the diversity of key jobs in Hollywood films and television productions with the spending power and appetites of increasingly diverse U.S. audiences.

“Numbers don’t lie,” Asm. Carrillo said. “The UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report holds the data needed to effect change for both below- and above-the-line workers, which is why it was critical to leverage our state’s budget to support it. As efforts to expand production and bring back these jobs to the state via California’s Television and Film Tax Credit continue, those efforts should be reflective of the diversity of our state.”

“We’re in our 10th year of data collection and every year we show that audiences gravitate to content that feature diverse casts and creators, ones that reflect the diversity of the American demographic,” said Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón, director of research and civic engagement for the UCLA division of social sciences and co-author of the Hollywood Diversity Report. “This new support from the state budget will be instrumental to our ongoing efforts to comprehensively track who is getting key jobs in Hollywood, and expand the ways we show how that reality has an impact not only the bottom line for studios themselves, but for the economy at large.”

The Latino Film Institute (LFI), which this year named Dr. Ramón its inaugural scholar, played a key role in the process. Edward James Olmos, LFI Founder and Board Chairman, Rafael Agustín, LFI CEO, and the LFI Board of Directors championed for the report to receive the funding. “Latino communities are particularly underrepresented at all levels of critical Hollywood jobs both in front of and behind the camera,” said Mr. Agustín. “We’re grateful to collaborate closely with UCLA as we seek to reckon with this fact and work toward meaningful change.”

To read the full UCLA Newsroom story, click HERE.

To read the Deadline story, click HERE.

Here at UCLA, community engaged scholarship is not an option – it is an imperative. Los Angeles is a profoundly diverse, multicultural city and a gateway to the rest of the planet. In the Division of Social Sciences, we take our location and our embeddedness in Los Angeles very seriously. The findings that come out of our research are findings that can be applied to real world community problems. In this sense, we are engaging LA to change the world.

 

LA Social Science is pleased to share this video highlighting two researchers, Dr. Jason De León and Dr. Jessica Cattelino, and the important community engaged scholarship they are leading in the social sciences.

As a public institution, our work is ultimately in service of you, our community. By engaging LA, we are changing the world.

UCLA Labor Center‘s Director Kent Wong, was recognized as one of the “Giants of Justice” yesterday, June 3rd, by the Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE). CLUE “is an organization that brings together clergy and lay leaders of all faiths with workers, immigrants, and low-income families in the cause of a just economy that works for all and protects those most vulnerable.” Director Wong was honored along with faith leaders and community activists in Southern California who inspire others to build a just and sacred society.

LA Social Science would like to congratulate Director Wong for this well deserved honor.

Darnell Hunt, Ph.D.

Dean, UCLA Division of Social Sciences

Professor of Sociology and African American Studies

Invites you to attend the

Dean’s Salon

2021 Hollywood Diversity Report: Lessons Learned

Monday, June 7, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. PDT

Live Streaming via Zoom

featuring a conversation with

Ana-Christina Ramón, Ph.D.

Director of Research and Civic Engagement, UCLA Division of Social Sciences

Amberia Allen, Ph.D.

Writer and Comedian

Nancy Wang Yuen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology, Biola University

moderated by

Darnell Hunt, Ph.D.

Dean, UCLA Division of Social Sciences

Professor of Sociology and African American Studies

 

RSVP Here: https://ucla.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_TE0VA8alTpSplOvMsAW12Q

Please submit your questions in advance of the webinar via email to:
hnadworny@support.ucla.edu (by Friday, June 4th at 12:00 p.m. PDT)
Instructions to join the webinar will be provided once your registration has been confirmed.

UCLA LPPI Founding Director Sonja Diaz in conversation with Juan Cartegena, president and general counsel of Latino Justice – PRLDEF.

What would our criminal legal system look like if it was truly designed to reduce harm, advance public safety, and end America’s legacy as the world’s leading incarcerator?

That was the question on everyone’s mind last week as our nation’s leading Latino elected officials, advocates, academics, and media personalities convened to grapple with the issue of criminal justice — an issue of intense national debate since last summer. Hosted by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (UCLA LPPI), LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Drug Policy Alliance, and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, the convening Activating Justice Through a Latinx Lens” was aimed at creating greater visibility of Latinos within the justice reform movement, identifying opportunities to build solidarity with other communities most impacted by the criminal legal system, and advancing transformative policy aimed at justice rather than punishment.

“For too long Latinos have been left out of the criminal justice conversation, even though we are the second most negatively impacted group by numbers behind Black people when it comes to our criminal legal systems,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of UCLA LPPI.

Crimmigration panel moderated by Jonathan Jayes-Greene of the Marguerite Casey Foundation and featuring Jacinta Gonzalez (Mijente), Greisa Martinez Rosas (United We Dream), Jennifer M. Chacón, (UCLA) and Abraham Paulos (Black Alliance for Just Immigration)

With conversations led by UCLA LPPI faculty experts such as Dr. Jennifer Chacón, over 1,000 participants tuned in to hear from a multiracial cadre of 40 speakers covering topics from ending youth incarceration, to the movement to defund the police, to the intersection of the criminal legal and immigration systems — all through a Latinx lens. Featured speakers like renowned journalist Maria Hinojosa and author Julissa Arce created the opportunity for lively discussions about the opportunity to create new, more truthful and inclusive narratives in the criminal justice space and develop tailored solutions that address the underlying structural and systemic deficiencies that drive people to engage in harmful acts.

“It was so exciting to see this come together with so many brilliant people who were able to bring fresh perspective on the issue, the challenges and opportunities before us and how we can work in solidarity across race and experience to achieve common goals that make our communities safer and healthier,” said Paula Nazario, a UCLA LPPI fellow and one of the lead organizers for the convening.

Opening Plenary Moderated by Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa with Author and Education Advocate Julissa Arce, MacArthur Genius Award Winner and UCLA LPPI Faculty Member Dr. Kelly Lytle-Hernández, UCLA, Judge Natalia Cornelio for the 351st District Court, Harris County Texas and David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez, host of Death by Incarceration and The Suave Podcasts

One of the most engaging discussions of the two-day convening was the opening plenary and break-out sessions that followed. The panel discussion, which featured UCLA LPPI faculty and scholar Dr. Kelly Lytle-Hernández gave attendees key insight into the impacts of the criminal legal system on Latinos, the structural racism propping up our entire system of incarceration, and how the criminalization of immigrants is working to further expand systems of mass incarceration rather than contract them. The subsequent breakout sessions then enabled attendees to think about how they can demand better data that creates a clearer picture of the challenges and opportunities ahead and how Latino facing organizations — both within and outside the justice reform space – can work together to create broad change within these systems.

Over the course of the convening dialogue continually underscored the immense data and knowledge gap that obscures the true impact of the criminal legal system on Latino individuals, their families and their communities. It also highlighted that if this gap persists there is a risk of creating solutions that fail to address challenges unique to Latinx individuals who are systems-impacted and recreating inequities that exist in our current criminal legal system.

The two-day meeting closed out with a conversation with Juan Cartegena, president and general counsel of Latino Justice PRLDEF. During that discussion he highlighted that while our criminal legal system hasn’t changed much in the past five decades, we are on the precipice of big change — change made possible by communities who see an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally transform our systems of justice.

“We cannot lose sight of the fact that there have been amazing opportunities for organizing people around truth, and for having that truth talk to power,” said Cartegena. I think we’re stronger than ever to actually have conversations about dismantling systems, about what it means to invest in our communities in different ways and to think outside of every box at every corner so we can get things done.”

In light of the reawakened reckoning on racial justice issues and other historical and contemporary inequalities, the UCLA Division of Social Sciences is turning its attention and support to its graduate students. The newly established Dean’s Fund for the Study of Diversity and Racial Inequality was created to provide funds to graduate students in the Division researching and examining the important social justice issues of our time.

Launched in November 2020, an email campaign showcased cutting-edge research in the division with the goal of raising $50,000 by December 31, 2020.  For six weeks, messages highlighted various research projects, ranging from how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color to the Division’s own Hollywood Diversity Report.

Midway through the campaign, Dean Darnell Hunt’s Advisory Board was so inspired by this effort that the board decided to provide $25,000 in matching funds. Additionally, Material, a modern marketing services company, led by Chairman and CEO UCLA alumnus Dave Sackman ’80, also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board, pledged a $25,000 gift. Thanks to these gifts, as well as the generous support of numerous donors, alumni and friends, the campaign exceeded its goal, raising over $77,000.

“As the #1 public university in the United States, we continually strive to advance knowledge, address pressing societal needs, and foster the kind of environment enriched by diverse perspectives in which our students can flourish. I am truly heartened by how the UCLA community came together to support our graduate students during these challenging times.” —Dean Darnell Hunt

Graduate students in the Division’s departments and programs are invited to submit research proposals and the funds will be distributed as $5,000 grants starting summer 2021. Raising money for this fund will be an ongoing effort, underscoring the Division’s commitment to its graduate students as they take on important and critical research around issues of diversity and inequality.

To support graduate students through the Dean’s Fund for the Study of Diversity and Racial Inequality, please visit this site.

OR

To submit a research proposal for the Dean’s Fund for the Study of Diversity and Racial Inequality, please apply by submitting your information HERE, where you will be asked to provide:

1.  Name

2.  Department/Program (Must be a department/program in the UCLA Division of Social Sciences)

3.  Year in program

4.  Other summer support

5.  Project title

6.  Project abstract (one page max)

7.  Faculty support letter

Sonja Diaz, founding director of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, testified in a virtual hearing on Ensuring Free and Fair Access to the Ballot for the Committee on U.S. House Administration’s Subcommittee on Elections on April 1.

The hearing was held as 361 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 47 states and as the U.S. Senate considers an expansive voting rights bill, the For the People Act, already passed in the House. Diaz was one of four witnesses that included Allison Riggs of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Marcia Johnson-Blanco of the Lawyers’ Committee, civil rights advocate Deb Adegbile, and Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

In the face of an avalanche of restrictive voting bills, Diaz argued that they come in response to the growth of a youthful and diverse American electorate.

“Oftentimes, when we talk about voter suppression, we focus on a set of jurisdictions that have long been bad actors in our law textbooks – places like Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida,” Diaz said. “But this frame too often leaves out an important fact: vote dilution, voter suppression, and the attack on Americans’ fundamental right to free and fair access to the ballot happens everywhere.”

Diaz received a medley of questions from Representatives Aguilar (CA-31), Leger Fernandez (NM-03), and Davis (IL-13) about the consequences of voter suppression tactics for Latino voters. Diaz argued that a vibrant democracy required that everyone have fair and equal access to practice their constitutional rights – and that it’s not entirely a coincidence that the growth of these restrictive bills comes from the very states where Latinos and voters of color were consequential to the 2020 election.

“Voter suppression is a feedback loop,” she said, and one that elected officials need to act to end.

——

Diaz, with support from Voting Rights Project staff and fellows, submitted written testimony in advance of the hearing that is now part of the Congressional Record.

 

Academy Award®-nominated actor Edward James Olmos announced today that the Latino Film Institute (LFI) has named Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón, director of research and civic engagement of the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as the inaugural Latino Film Institute Scholar. The award comes with a $100,000 restrictive gift to be used over a two-year period for research designated by Dr. Ramón, including but not limited to, The Hollywood Diversity Report and a dedicated study on Latino representation in Hollywood and the Latino audience.

“It is a great honor for the Latino Film Institute to be able to provide our inaugural award to Dr. Ramón who has worked vigorously in raising awareness about the lack of diversity in Hollywood. It is of the utmost urgency that we, as a society, realize the importance of having diversity not only on our screens but also behind the camera. For the benefit of our future Latino generations, we must all do better at creating positive and accurate representation of Latinos in Hollywood, and it is by supporting the research and work done by Dr. Ramón that we can continue to make the necessary changes in our industry, culture and education to push and move forward to a better and more equitable future.”

“The Latino Film Institute does tremendous work in the community and in Hollywood to launch the careers of Latinx content creators and artists. So, I am honored to be the inaugural Latino Film Institute Scholar,” stated Dr. Ramón. “This generous award helps fund the research that UCLA Dean Darnell Hunt and I have been doing for several years on racial/ethnic and gender representation and their relationship to the bottom line in film and television. Most importantly, it will provide funding to conduct a study focused on Latinx representation and the Latinx audience informed by my expertise in Latinx and other race/ethnic and gender research. I look forward to continuing to advance the work that will uplift the Latinx community and to provide data that can be used by both content creators and Hollywood network and studio executives.”

The Latino Film Institute (LFI) is dedicated to showcasing, strengthening, and celebrating the richness of Latino lives by providing a pipeline, platform, and launching pad from our community into the entertainment industry. LFI’s three most prominent programs are the  LatinX in Animation (LXiA), the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) and the Youth Cinema Project (YCP). LXiA represents a diverse group within the Animation, VFX, and Gaming industries dedicated to uniting a talented pool of innovators with a heart to create exceptional stories across multiple platforms by organizing activities and events. LALIFF is a premier international event dedicated to showcasing the entirety of human experience from the Latino perspective, whether through film, television, digital, music, art, or any other vehicle, regardless of platform. As previously announced, LALIFF will host a virtual festival for the 2021 edition that will run from Wednesday, June 2 through Sunday, June 6.  This year’s program will be comprised of feature films, episodics, music, XR projects and short films, including those from LALIFF’s inaugural Latinx Inclusion Fellowship Series. YCP introduces elementary, middle, and high school students to the art of filmmaking and bridges the achievement and opportunity gaps by creating lifelong learners and the entertainment industry’s multicultural future, implemented in public schools across California.

Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón is the Director of Research and Civic Engagement for the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA. Dr. Ramón is a social psychologist who has worked on social justice issues related to equity and access in higher education and the entertainment industry for over fifteen years. She is the co-principal investigator of the Hollywood Advancement Project and manages its graduate research team. She is the co-author (with Dr. Darnell Hunt) of the annual Hollywood Diversity Report series that the project produces. She is also the managing editor of LA Social Science, an e-forum that showcases the vibrant and cutting-edge knowledge generated within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.