Left image: The inaugural public event hosted by the Black Feminism Initiative, held in February, featured a conversation between local reproductive justice advocate Kimberly Durdin, left, and UCLA graduate student Ariel Hart.
Top right image: Audience at the event.
Bottom right from left: Kali Tambree and Jaimie Crumley, student co-coordinators of the Black Feminism Initiative.

The UCLA Newsroom recently spotlighted the UCLA Black Feminism Initiative, which was launched by the Center for the Study of Women in 2019 under the leadership of Dr. Sarah Haley. Its mission is to support, develop and perpetuate Black feminist scholarship and ideas among the campus community. It also offers mutual aid for the interdisciplinary approach and community-engaged research of its graduate students. Dr. Haley believes this initiative will make higher education and UCLA more aware of the work of Black feminists of the past, present, and future.

“In the current cultural moment, Black feminism has a lot to teach us all about institutionalized modes of care, and institutionalized modes of harm,” Dr. Haley is quoted as saying about the Black Feminism Initiative. To read the fully story written by Jessica Wolf, click HERE.

 

Click HERE to learn more about the Black Feminism Initiative and click HERE to learn more about the Center for the Study of Women.

 

By Sophia L. Ángeles, Graduate Student Researcher; Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center; and Saba Waheed, Research Director, UCLA Labor Center

This past June, the UCLA Labor Center, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Community College District Dolores Huerta Labor Institute and California State University, Long Beach, published two studies examining workers and learners—college students who also work—and their unique educational and work experiences. We employed a methodology that was student-driven, engaging more than 450 undergraduate students to collect 869 surveys and conduct 75 interviews with UCLA, California Community College, and California State University workers and learners across Los Angeles County. Our hope is that these findings will provide information for colleges, employers, and policymakers to improve conditions for workers and learners.

Two-thirds of workers and learners work every single term of their undergraduate careers—the new normal for many students pursuing higher education. A majority work in low-wage jobs in the service industry. Forced to work as many hours as possible to make ends meet, two-thirds miss at least one educational opportunity because of work duties. Juggling work and school leads many to forgo internship and work-study opportunities in their fields of study that could improve opportunities in their future careers. Their situation is so stressful and overwhelming that 40% of workers and learners have considered withdrawing from school.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

Iris López, a recent UCLA Labor Studies graduate, explains the predicaments workers and learners face in their struggle to attend school and keep up with living expenses:

“My biggest concern has always been my ability to finance my education. My mother is a single parent who works in the fields. I feel guilty asking for help because I know she is struggling herself. Education should not cost us our ability to eat or cause concern over how we’re going to pay the next few units.”

 

Graphic: Eunice Ho

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated conditions for workers and learners, as half were laid off, terminated, or furloughed in April and May. As schools moved to minimize the spread of COVID-19, one quarter of workers and learners were forced to make housing changes, such as moving back in with family or vacating student housing. The housing situation has further impacted learners who must attend classes remotely while managing home responsibilities, like caring for younger siblings or family members who have fallen ill.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

What can be done?

Current trends point to increasing tuition and living expenses for college students, making it likely that more will have to work to offset those financial burdens.

Addressing the needs of workers and learners requires investing in California’s education system to achieve the following:

  • Support learners as workers by ensuring a living wage, accommodating work schedules, and supporting students’ workplace organizing efforts.
  • Strengthen career and educational pathways by making career resources more accessible, supporting paid internships that advance career goals, and increasing opportunities for networking and mentorship.
  • Support workers as learners by making college affordable or free and expanding work-study opportunities.
  • Provide holistic support by increasing access to mental health services and addressing food and housing insecurity.

 

Report: Unseen Costs: The Experiences of Workers and Learners in Los Angeles County (click to download)

Brief: A Survey of Los Angeles Workers and Learners During COVID-19 (click to download)

 

Sophia L. Ángeles is a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Labor Center’s Worker and Learner project and a UCLA PhD candidate. Her research focuses on the intersection of immigration and language to examine newcomer youths’ educational experiences and their K–16 trajectories.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D., is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for UCLA Labor Studies and 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, with a focus on the organizing efforts of low-wage workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

Saba Waheed is research director at the UCLA Labor Center. She has over fifteen years of research experience developing projects with strong community participation. With her team at the Labor Center, she coordinated the first ever study of domestic work employers, launched a study of young people in the service economy, and conducted research on the taxi, garment, nail salon, construction, and restaurant industries.

The historic selection of Senator Kamala Harris, as the first Black woman and Asian American woman to be a major party’s vice presidential nominee, has sent ripples throughout the American landscape. UCLA’s Newsroom, recently asked UCLA Faculty to share their insights on this historic selection.

The following faculty members and center directors from the UCLA Division of Social Sciences were quoted:

Natalie Masuoka, Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies;

Grace Kyungwon Hong, Director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Women and Professor of Asian American Studies;

Sonja Diaz, Founding Executive Director of The Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs;

Juliette Williams, Professor of Gender Studies; and

Ellen DuBois, Professor Emerita of History.

To read the UCLA Newsroom article written by Jessica Wolf, click HERE.

 

The California Policy Lab (CPL), in partnership with the Labor Market Information Division of the California Employment Development Department, has been analyzing daily initial Unemployment Insurance claims during this pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has led to historically unprecedented increases in claims filed in California since the start of the crisis in mid-March. The findings provide an in-depth and near real-time look at how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting various industries, regions, counties, and types of workers throughout California.

A Key Finding:  The added $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program has played a substantial role in preventing near-poverty income levels among UI claimants.

For more key findings, charts, and information about this report, click HERE.

Download the full policy brief HERE.

Check out recent coverage on this research from The Sacramento Bee HERE.

Check out previous posts about CPL research HERE.

On May 19, 2020, UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, and Ong and Associates (an economic and policy analysis consulting firm) issued the brief, “Struggling to Stay Home: How COVID-19 Shelter in Place Policies Affect Los Angeles County’s Black and Latino Neighborhoods.” It aims to support policies and programs that address inequities facing those in neighborhoods where compliance with shelter-in-place is difficult and to provide guidance for public officials as California rebuilds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The study finds that more than 2 in 5 Blacks and Latinos in Los Angeles County face high burdens from the county’s shelter-in-place rules. These communities are seen to be densely populated with restricted access to open spaces and limited access to food.

The research brief provides five core recommendations for Los Angeles city officials and other jurisdictions with burdened populations:

  1. Expand COVID-19 testing with a focus on neighborhoods who face the highest risk sheltering in place.
  2. Provide transportation assistance and add personal care resources like hand sanitizer at bus stops.
  3. Expand paid leave options for low-wage workers or employees in the service sector to discourage people from going to work when they feel sick.
  4. Increase food assistance.
  5. Expand high-speed internet access and social safety net to include more relief, including Medi-Cal, childcare and early childhood education programs, by expanding eligibility and elongating the benefit period.

This brief is the third in a series of research papers examining the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on neighborhoods in L.A. County. Previous research papers found that Asian-American and Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County were most vulnerable due to the pandemic’s impact on the retail and service sectors, and Latino neighborhoods were less likely to receive the individual rebate under the CARES Act.

Download the full report HERE.

LPPI Media Contact:

Eliza Moreno

E: lppipress@luskin.ucla.edu

P: 310-487-9815

UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) in partnership with the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge recently released a very powerful report, “Left Behind During a Global Pandemic: An Analysis of Los Angeles County Neighborhoods at Risk of Not Receiving COVID-19 Individual Rebates Under the CARES Act.” It urges state and local leaders to step up for Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County. The report illuminates the vulnerability to economic uncertainty of these neighborhoods, and yet they are least likely to receive federal aid.

Some of the findings of this report are listed below:

  • Large segments of Los Angeles County’s population are excluded from the CARES Act’s individual rebate because of the requirements set by the act.
  • Neighborhoods with the highest risk of not receiving a rebate are overwhelmingly comprised of people of color.
  • Immigrants are also relatively more concentrated in higher-risk neighborhoods than native-born populations.
  • Many of the riskier neighborhoods are majority renters, whereas the least risk neighborhoods are predominately homeowners.

The report finds that fifty-six percent of Latino neighborhoods in L.A. County are at the highest risk of not receiving needed relief. Overall, the report recommends state and local governments should direct economic relief and social safety net benefits toward these vulnerable communities.

Read the full report HERE.

 

The Luskin Center for History and Policy has created an exciting, new podcast titled “Then & Now” that brings a historical perspective to contemporary issues of relevance. The podcast provides conversations with policymakers, historians, and thought leaders to gain perspective and insight on pressing issues of the day. The show is divided into two sections: a “Then” section that explores a past episode of significance, followed by a “Now” section that discusses latter-day implications.

The first two episodes present important, timely themes and feature Luskin Center fellows:

  • Episode #1: “Of Supervisors and Sheriffs: Who is Running the County’s Emergency Operations?” (an in-depth conversation with former County Supervisor and LCHP Senior Fellow Zev Yaroslavksy)
  • Episode #2: “Pandemics Past and Present: 100 Years of California History” (This episode, to be released next week, coincides with the launch of a new Luskin Center report written by Kirsten Moore-Sheeley, Jessica Richards, and Talla Khelghati).

Subscribe TODAY to “Then & Now” on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

 

Top row (left to right): Chad Dunn, Sonja Diaz, Registrar Neal Kelley
Bottom row (left to right): Professor Pamela Karlan, Dr. Matt Barreto, Secretary Alex Padilla

By Eliza Moreno, Communications Manager, Latino Policy & Politics Initiative

On April 2nd, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) and its marquee advocacy project, the UCLA Voting Rights Project, hosted a webinar that focused on the importance of vote-by-mail programs in upcoming primaries and the November general election amid the coronavirus pandemic. The webinar brought together the following voting rights experts: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla; Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley; Stanford Law School Professor Pamela Karlan; Chad Dunn, director of litigation at the Voting Rights Project; Matt Barreto, LPPI and Voting Rights Project co-founder; and Sonja Diaz, LPPI’s founding executive director. The webinar provided a space for leading voting rights experts to discuss the importance of protecting our democracy during this pandemic, the need to ensure communities of color are able to cast a meaningful ballot, and how other state government officials should try to transition to vote-by-mail.

The webinar discussed the importance of protecting our democracy by immediately implementing a nationwide vote-by mail system that enables full participation in the voting process, most especially during this health crisis. Professor Karlan stated, “This is not the first time Americans have voted during a crisis.” Professor Karlan referenced the Civil War as an example where a change in voting practices took place due to hardship. During the Civil War, various states changed their laws in order to allow Civil War soldiers to vote by absentee ballot. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla emphasized how although “we are living in unprecedented times as it pertains to public health and public health risks,” this nation has witnessed the resiliency of our democracy. In both times of peace and war, including prior flu pandemics, people have voted. It is critical that during these times all jurisdictions make vote-by-mail available in order to take the burden off of in-person voting.

There are various states with vote-by-mail accessible, such as Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California, however, in other states vote-by-mail is nonexistent. Secretary Padilla said that although it may prove difficult, it is possible that all states adopt vote-by-mail, but “first comes the willingness, the vision, and leadership that is central in a pandemic.” It remains critical that we do not wait until October to take action. The time is now. Orange County Registrar of Voters, Neal Kelley, oversaw the transition to sending every registered voter a vote-by-mail ballot. Beginning in 2020, every voter in Orange County, regardless of how they registered, received a vote-by-mail ballot. A few years ago, under Secretary Padilla’s leadership, Orange County ended up with a bill that became law that mailed every voter a ballot, provided eleven days of in-person voting in any location in the county, and equipped voters with the capability to return their ballot in a variety of ways. Registrar Kelley shares that the percentage of vote-by-mail usage in Orange County’s jurisdiction was 60% when the transition first began, however, the usage rose to 82% in March’s primary, the highest in Orange County since 2000. Registrar Kelley assures others that “voters will adapt and are looking for opportunity for expanded access.”

Attendees of the webinar were concerned that lower-economic communities and communities of color would have a lower propensity in practicing their right to vote and utilizing vote-by-mail. Secretary Padilla clarified that the in-person option will be maintained for those who need assistance, however, vote-by-mail must still be made available for all. Outreach to communities of color are fundamental in encouraging them to practice their right to vote. Dr. Matt Barreto discusses how the Latino and Asian American community have record numbers of first time voters, therefore “let’s celebrate and engage them” on their right to vote and inform them on the methods of voting. Registrar Kelley believes in the importance of targeting messages to each community and addressing the issues that matter most to them. Additionally, voting materials must be made available in different languages, as required by the Voting Rights Act, however public education and voter education campaigns and materials remain vital to ensure that all voters are encouraged to practice their right to vote. Secretary Padilla emphasizes how “voting by mail is smart from a voting rights standpoint, public health standpoint, but it’s only as effective as we educate the public.”

As for the distrust of vote-by-mail and in response to cyber security and threats: you can‘t hack a paper ballot. There are methods in place to ensure the validating of a mail-in ballot, such as signature verification and matching. However, scholarship referenced in the Voting Rights Project report discusses how there is a higher percentage of ballots rejected by Latino and African American voters, therefore there is work to be done to prevent voter disenfranchisement, such as detailed and proper training for the operators who look at the ballots. Professor Karlan believes it is possible to instill a confidence that votes will be counted and counted fairly, it is a “technical problem that can be solved.”

When thinking of the upcoming November election, “it is not a matter of if, or a matter of when, the question is how do we provide the opportunity for people to vote because we must and we will,” as Secretary Padilla said. In order to protect our democracy amidst the pandemic, it is critical that there is a move towards universal vote-by-mail, while ensuring that all can practice their right to vote in a safe and healthy manner. Matt Barreto reminds us that “we have an opportunity to protect [our democracy] during this pandemic, but this is something that all states should be doing to encourage voter participation and engagement.” As of March 23, the UCLA Voting Rights Project had released one report, “Protecting Democracy: Implementing Equal and Safe Access to the Ballot Box During a Global Pandemic,” and two memos, “Improving the March 23, 2020 House Bill on Expanded Vote-by-Mail” and “Voting and Infection Prevention of COVID-19.” The publications raise an early call to action and address the safe and equitable implementation of a vote-by-mail program to encourage voter participation. As Chad Dunn, director of litigation at the Voting Rights Project, said at the close of the webinar, “It’s on all of us to double our commitment to democracy and find a way to make this work in all 50 states and territories.”

 

Subscribe to LA Social Science and be the first to learn more insight and knowledge from UCLA social science experts in upcoming video/audio sessions and posts dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Konrad, The New York Times

The UCLA Voting Rights project released a white paper this week, “Protecting Democracy:  Implementing Equal and Safe Access to the Ballot Box During a Global Pandemic,” with recommendations for voting officials to begin planning now for the implementation of a vote-by-mail program for upcoming primary elections and, most importantly, the November General Election.

This timely policy paper is an early call to action for the ongoing concern that the novel coronavirus will affect turnout in upcoming elections given the large and persistent public health campaign encouraging the public to practice “social distancing.” The paper urges Congress to immediately provide funding and guidance for a national vote-by-mail effort as part of current relief proposals to help with the economic impacts of the coronavirus. If Congress fails to act, the paper calls on state and local officials to step in. The paper also seeks to highlight the low-health risks and general safety to the public that voting by mail provides during this national emergency.

“States around the country are pushing back primary and runoff elections in the hope that election procedures can return to normal at a later time,” said Chad Dunn, co-founder of the UCLA Voting Rights Project and co-author of the report. “But hope is not a plan. We must prepare now to protect the fundamental right to vote.”

The UCLA Voting Rights Project is an applied research and direct service program of the Latino Politics & Policy Initiative, a partnership of the Division of Social Sciences and the Luskin School of Public Affairs. The UCLA VRP is focused on voting rights litigation, research, policy and training. The report is the first comprehensive review of vote by mail laws in the age of a pandemic, and it includes best practices on how to implement the measures most effectively and quickly. The report was made available to Congressional offices as coronavirus relief discussions are underway.

The white paper offers the following solutions to implement a universal vote-by-mail program by November:

  • Enroll voters immediately in a vote-by-mail program, allowing for an online registration option.
  • Provide a universal mail ballot and envelope to standardize the process and education efforts.
  • Work with the U.S. Postal Service to design a reliable and convenient program to return mail-in ballots.
  • Create security measures for vote-by-mail ballots.
  • Create a process for voters to address any issues with their vote-by-mail ballots so as to ensure all lawful votes are counted.
  • Modify any in-person polling places to maintain social distancing and minimize public health concerns for at-risk populations.
  • Improve sanitation efforts at polling places to provide public health assurances for in-person voting.
  • Increase voter education efforts on reforms implemented.

“The 2020 election could have record turnout for young voters and communities of color, groups that must be engaged in deciding the future of our country and on issues that affect our local communities,” said Matt Barreto, UCLA Voting Rights co-founder and co-author of the paper. “Voting is the foundation of our democracy, and vote-by-mail offers a solution to challenges that range from busy work schedules to global pandemics.”

 

DOWNLOAD the full report HERE.

Jasmin A. Young is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA in the Department of African American Studies. As a historian, her research focuses on African American history, 20th Century U.S. History, and gender studies. She specializes in African American women’s history, social movements, and the Black radical tradition.

Originally from Los Angeles, Jasmin Young began her academic career at California State University, Northridge. After graduation, she moved to NYC to attend Columbia University where she received her Masters in African American Studies and worked with the late Dr. Manning Marable. With a desire to ground herself in gender theories, Dr. Young moved to the UK to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), earning a second Masters of Science from the Gender Institute.

In 2018, Dr. Young graduated with a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her dissertation, “Black Women with Guns: A Historical Analysis of Armed Resistance 1892-1979,” offers a long history of women’s political engagement with Black militant activism from the Reconstruction to the Black Power era.

She is developing her book manuscript, Black Women with Guns: Armed Resistance in the Black Freedom Struggle, which is the first intellectual and social history of Black women’s use of armed resistance as a tool to achieve freedom in post–World War II America. While historical studies have assumed armed resistance was a male prerogative, she makes a significant intervention in the historiography by recovering a history of Black women who engaged in and advocated armed resistance from 1955-1979. Using archival research and gender theories, the book argues that Black women increasingly politicized armed resistance, both in theory and in practice, as the Black Freedom Movement shifted its objectives from integration to self-determination. Ultimately, Black Women with Guns broadens our understanding of the Black freedom struggle by expanding what we regard as political thought and action. It also reveals a more multifaceted struggle whose objectives and strategies were continually contested and evolving.

She presented her research to a packed house at UCLA’s Black Forum this past year where she fielded questions and led a great discussion on the intersection of state violence resistance and Radical Black Feminism. Dr. Young has presented her work at various national conferences including the Organization of American Historians. Her work has garnered general public attention and has been featured in the media. You can listen to her interview for the Black Agenda Report with Glen Ford HERE. She was also the historical consultant and writer for a documentary entitled, “Tracking Ida.”

Dr. Young is regarded as a rising junior scholar with cutting-edge research that connects the historical and contemporary understanding and contributions of Black Feminism. Many have attested to her accomplishments and many are eager to read her book when published. For example, fellow scholars at UCLA have said, “Jasmin’s intellectual maturity and complete dedication to research are among her most salient qualities. I was particularly impressed by how she theorized on Malcolm X’s intellectual development as influenced by the Detroit activist community, as well as when she investigated the contradictions of hyper-visibility and invisibility of Black women transnationally in hip-hop culture.”

She has been a great scholar to have in UCLA’s African American Studies Department as well as across campus. Dr. Young’s research reflects the caliber and innovation UCLA offers students, faculty, and the broader community.