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As summer 2020 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA summer courses are open to BOTH UCLA students and non-UCLA students. All summer 2020 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer, and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

But, DON’T DELAY! Register TODAY HERE!

Payment is due by June 5 at 5pm PDT for visiting non-UC students and by June 19 at 5pm PDT for UC students.

The UCLA Department of Asian American Studies has exciting courses planned for the summer. Enroll HERE.

Session A

  • Asia Am 10 History of Asian Americans

 

  • Asia Am M191F/English M191C Topics in Asian American Literature: Asian American Creative Nonfiction: Tell Your Story

 

Session C

  • Asia Am M129/Comm HIT Sci M140 Health Issues for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: Myth or Model?

 

Professors Chandra L. Ford (UCLA), Bita Amani (Charles Drew University), Keith Norris (UCLA), Kia Skrine Jeffers (UCLA), and Randall Akee (UCLA), wrote the following open letter that outlines eight recommendations to prioritize equity in policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

An Open Letter to Policy Makers and Public Health Officials on

The Need to Prioritize Equity in Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Epidemic

 April 1, 2020

Aggressive actions are necessary to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the U.S. and the world. Some of these actions have resulted in policies of shelter-in-place, monitoring the movement and activities of the population, increased testing of the population and the closure of schools and other public assemblies. As experts in health disparities, however, we are concerned by a critical oversight that is likely to exacerbate the epidemic in the long run: the inadequate attention to health equity. Former president of the American Public Health Association (APHA), Dr. Camara Jones, defines health equity as “assurance of the conditions for optimal health for all people.” There is a crucial need to incorporate aspects of health equity into all public policies enacted to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past, when health emergencies have occurred, failure to acknowledge and address health equity generated persistent and preventable damage to populations that often worsened over time. For example, scholars have documented such experiences in Venezuela (1992-1993) and Haiti (2010) with cholera epidemics. Short term thinking focused only on the immediate disease agent (i.e., bacterium or virus) and did little to eliminate the societal inequities which fostered the environment for the pandemic in the first place. Those inequities shape the nature and impact of its spread.

Numerous studies document that racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and racial scapegoating facilitate the dismissal of the health concerns and perspectives of undocumented immigrants, racial/ethnic minorities, incarcerated persons, people living on reservations, people living in poor communities and other vulnerable communities. Often, the concerns and particular needs of these individuals are overlooked or dismissed in the creation of public health policies in times of need and crises.

Assumptions about the availability of and access to resources often do not reflect the reality for many of these distressed and overlooked communities. For instance, in recommending frequent handwashing, one must also ask whether this is feasible for residents of neighborhoods with unsafe (or unavailable) tap water to regularly wash their hands with warm water and soap? Or, is it realistic for people detained in the prisons to maintain social distances of at least six feet? If the answer to any such question is no, then we have a professional responsibility to develop appropriate alternatives. Failure to extend recommendations, testing and treatment to such populations in a timely and appropriate manner is tantamount to designing an intervention that ignores over them completely.

Drawing on more than 500 studies published over the last twenty years on how social injustices produce health inequities, we urge serious consideration of eight recommendations to prioritize equity in policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

1.     Prioritize the needs of diverse vulnerable populations at each stage of the response. These include, but are not limited to, immigrant communities, including the Chinese and Asian American communities that have already been the subject of online and in-person abuse and harassment, racial and ethnic minority communities, homeless persons, incarcerated persons, and people living in poor as well as rural communities.

2.     Challenge narratives of the epidemic that scapegoat Chinese people or other Asians. Stereotyping in this way leads to fear, rude or discriminatory treatment, delayed testing or care, and ultimately further spread of the virus.

3.     Ensure members of these populations have a seat at the leadership table in planning and carrying out the responses. That allows them to share directly the insights needed to develop effective, sustainable strategies for their communities.

4.     Develop multiple prevention and intervention strategies, some that address the needs of the overall population and others that address the unique needs of marginalized groups. Recognize that the circumstances affecting vulnerable populations are multilayered. Accordingly, the solutions needed in these populations warrant greater initial investments than do the solutions needed in more advantaged communities.

5.     Find out what the needs and wishes of these marginalized populations are. Many of the needs are shaped by longstanding structural inequalities, such as living in racially segregated neighborhoods, and related constraints affecting transportation, employment, education and healthcare access.

6.     Consider the obstacles to implementing any potential policy or strategy that may already exist in diverse populations and situations. For instance, some communities may have barriers to handwashing due to unsafe or unavailable water sources; they may also lack access to personal protective equipment (latex gloves, masks) or to healthcare providers.

7.     Allocate sufficient resources in the budget to implement the prevention and intervention strategies in the most marginalized communities. The budget must ensure the plan can be fully implemented.

8.     Acknowledge that all communities have and draw on resilience. Noted global health educator, Collins Airhihenbuwa, emphasizes that every community, no matter how marginalized, has sources of resilience. These sources of resilience enables communities to sustain themselves and persevere even after the public health professionals have left.

The evidence from history is clear. Movement toward equity has always required health equity champions to fight from inside while community members organized in the streets. Unless our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic challenge its racial framing and prioritize the needs of racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, poor and other vulnerable groups, COVID-19 is likely to persist in these pockets of our society. As long as it does, COVID-19 will remain a threat to the health of all. It has been suggested that a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members. This is our chance to show how great and equitable a nation we can be.

Sincerely,

Chandra L. Ford, PhD, MPH, MLIS

Bita Amani, PhD, MHS

Keith Norris, MD, PhD

Kia Skrine Jeffers, PhD, RN, PHN, SAG-AFTRA

Randall Akee, PhD

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

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.

The California Latino Legislative Caucus and UCLA LPPI staff gather for a photo that commemorates the second year of their partnership which aims to increase access to pertinent data science on Latinos.

By Celina Avalos and Sonja Diaz

On May 20, 2019, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) hosted its second annual California Latino Legislative Policy Briefing in Sacramento. The policy briefing, co-hosted by the California Latino Legislative Caucus and UCLA Government & Community Relations, featured research presentations by three LPPI faculty experts: Dean Gary Segura, Dr. Melissa Chinchilla and Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante.

The policy briefing was attended by 50 guests who are policy advocates, legislative staff, and community leaders. The meeting convened at La Cosecha in Sacramento where the group learned more about LPPI’s latest research findings and discussed policy interventions that could improve the lives of California residents.

LPPI expert Dr. Melissa Chinchilla and LPPI Executive Director Sonja Diaz introduce LPPI’s recent report on Latino homelessness to a packed house in La Cosecha.

Attendees heard from the LPPI faculty experts on a wide-range of domestic policy issues including voting, housing, and health. The issues discussed in the briefing are critical policy challenges that the California legislature is addressing through new lawmaking. Each issue has unique impacts on California’s plurality. Fortunately, LPPI’s legislative briefing provided a space for policy leaders to understand more clearly which policy solutions are better suited to address the disparities faced by Latinos.

Kicking off the policy briefing was Dean Segura, who presented his research on public opinion trends leading to the 2020 presidential election. In 2018, LPPI’s research documented a 77% increase in Latino votes cast. This increase was configured by looking at and comparing the midterm elections from 2014 to 2018. Dean Segura’s presentation expanded on trends identifying leading public opinion sentiments that influenced voters of color (Asian Americans, Blacks, and Latinos) on issues involving immigration, #MeToo, access to affordable health care, and support for gun laws. Largely, the 2018 election illustrated the upward potential of Latino vote growth in and beyond California. The numbers showed voters of color embraced Democratic positions on guns, health care, and immigration at higher rates than their white peers.

Next, Dr. Chinchilla followed with her research on homelessness in Los Angeles County. In her policy presentation on Latino homelessness, Dr. Chinchilla cemented the lack of accurate data on Latinos facing housing insecurity and reiterated the fact that this demographic group remains undercounted.

LPPI Policy Fellow Celina Avalos met UFW leader and advocate Dolores Huerta during visits to the State Capital discussing LPPI’s work on housing and health.

Highlighting findings from her LPPI report, Stemming the Rise of Latino Homelessness, Dr. Chinchilla shared that homelessness is not a one size fits all narrative. She stated, “Many factors contribute to the undercount of Latinos facing housing insecurity, like immigration status, economic vulnerability, and cultural and language barriers.”

Dr. Vargas Bustamante concluded the policy briefing with his work on the California Latino physician crisis, which addresses a key issue facing the state—the shortage of healthcare workers. Dr. Vargas Bustamante’s policy presentation integrated findings from his report, Latino Physician Shortage in California: The Provider Perspective. He shared, “As California’s plurality, Latinos will represent 44.5% of California’s population by 2050. However, currently only 4.7% of physicians in California are Latino.”

According to Dr. Vargas Bustamante, the contributing factors to the Latino physician shortage include: lack of financial support and opportunity, academic disadvantages, navigation, underrepresentation, and citizenship.

LPPI’s briefing provided a novel opportunity for leading policy stakeholders to engage in timely policy issues centered on the needs of the state’s plurality. This briefing builds upon LPPI’s legislative portfolio of engaging elected and appointed officials on critical policy issues with data and facts, breeding new research-practice partnerships and accelerating the capacity for evidence-based policy.

Policy Fellows pose for a photo before a jam-packed day at the Greenlining Economic Summit. (From left to right: Julio Mendez, Celina Avalos, Amado Castillo, Eduardo Solis, and Vianney Gomez)

By Vianney Gomez and Celina Avalos

As policy fellows with the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI), we are afforded unique opportunities to engage in professional development training and experiences that enhance our skill set as student policy advocates.

On Friday, April 26th, five LPPI Policy Fellows attended the Greenlining Economic Summit in Oakland to participate in a convening of scholars, policymakers, and stakeholders across a variety of different policy sectors to discuss pressing issues. Opening remarks by community leaders, students, and policy advocates left us inspired to pursue and find solutions to issues that personally affect us and our communities—gender equity, immigration reform, climate change, and more.

At the summit, we had the opportunity to attend various panels that dealt with a broad scope of policy issues, including equitable community development, environmental justice, and community organizing. We were also at the Summit to support LPPI’s Founding Executive Director, Sonja Diaz, who was a featured panelist in the “Building Health, Wealth, and Power: Advancing Health Equity Through Community Development” panel. The panel was moderated by Anthony Galace, Greenlining Institute’s Health Equity Director and featured remarks from the following experts: Pablo Bravo Vial, Vice-President of Community Health at Dignity Health; Aysha Pamukcu, Health Equity Lead at ChangeLab Solutions; and Tonya Love, District Director for Assemblymember Rob Bonta. The “Building Health, Wealth, and Power” panel focused on how to identify and combat racial inequities through development, health access, and social policy. Through an intersectional lens, the panelists described the myriad of ways that underrepresented and underserved groups across the state are denied access to health care. This included shocking statistics and data on the Black-White infant mortality gap and the estimated five centuries it will take to address California’s Latino physician crisis.

LPPI Executive Director Sonja Diaz shares research findings on the Latino Physician Crisis at the “Building Health, Wealth, & Power” panel. (From left to right: Anthony Galace, Tonya Love, Pablo Bravo, Sonja Diaz, and Aysha Pamukcu)

The “Building Health, Wealth, and Power” panel provided an important lens to address the social determinants of health and well-being. One of the greatest takeaways for us was seeing women of color leaders in action. As first-generation Latinas, it was refreshing to hear our voices reflected in a professional setting where, more often than not, women of color are left out. This is especially true in conversations around public policy and governance. With a majority women of color panel, we witnessed powerhouse leaders transform a seemingly dry conversation on healthcare to real-world exploration of racism, discrimination, and policy innovation. They helped humanize complex issues and structural dimensions of inequality. Moreover, they clearly articulated how high-level decisions impact the daily lives of our parents, grandparents, neighbors, and communities.

As students from underrepresented backgrounds, we felt included and seen in the conversation. We know first-hand how the lack of access to resources can pose a grave, life-threatening danger to the most vulnerable members of our communities. We are aware of how the slightest change in policy framing can positively improve the lives of marginalized communities. Panelists drew from similar personal experiences from our own lives to provide a human narrative, while unapologetically laying blame on implicit and explicit discriminatory policy frameworks that leave people of color worse off.

Our lives as low-income, first-generation Latinas deeply resonated with the work the panelists pursue every day as researchers, advocates, and political staffers. Data and policy analysis, centered on the needs of communities of color, is a tool to address the social and economic disparities facing communities like ours.

The Greenlining Economic Summit demonstrated the power that lies in coalition building and the importance of empowering policy advocates who are women of color. We feel grateful to have attended a conference like the Summit; a space that is receptive and welcoming to the ideas and concerns of students like us. Attending a panel, which featured strong women of color with new perspectives, enabled our motivation to pursue future avenues in public policy. It served as a reminder that policy advocacy is possible for us too!

LPPI Policy Fellows, Celina Avalos and Julio Mendez, networking with policy advocates, like Melina Duarte, at the Greenlining Economic Summit mixer. (From left to right: Celina Avalos, Julio Mendez, and Melina Duarte)

By Kayuet Liu

Associate Professor, UCLA Sociology

Affiliate, California Center for Population Research

Medical science presumes biological risks drive disease patterns, but they have a hard time explaining many epidemiological patterns. Social network processes may be the key.

For example: diagnoses of autism – which is supposedly the most genetically determined of all neuropsychiatric disorders – have increased rapidly in the past 3 decades. Yet it takes multiple generations for the human gene pool to demonstrate any fundamental changes. My collaborators and I have researched other factors that might be responsible for the increase, and found that living close to someone with autism increased the chance of an autism diagnosis. After ruling out explanations such as viral transmission and the sorting of similar people into neighborhoods[1], we think that parents learn about autism and diagnostic resources from their neighbors, which has led to an increase in diagnoses.

If the number of autism diagnoses (not the underlying condition) has increased because we learn about it from our neighbors, a proper model of the social processes should be able to predict when and where they will be diagnosed. This is a quintessential test of the potential spread of autism diagnosis through social networks. We built a “synthetic” population of all parents in California that resemble the real population and check if the chance for them to meet another parent with a child with autism matters[2]. Indeed, while a traditional approach would have put the main cluster of autism in San Francisco due to a high concentration of parents at risk (e.g., giving birth when they are older), our model including social interactions correctly put it in Los Angeles. So social, rather than biological, factors are responsible for the spatial patterns of autism.

An unintended consequence of the autism epidemic is the current wave of vaccine hesitancy. My former graduate student Ashley Gromis (now a post-doc at Princeton) and I are now using a large computational model to figure out how much more likely we are to see an outbreak of measles due to geographic pockets of vaccination exemptions. What we found is that effective vaccination rates in these pockets actually decrease by a few percentage points. A few percentage points may seem not much, but our results show that it is enough to put the whole community, including areas with high vaccination rates, at risk. Thus we need interventions not only to maintain vaccination levels, but also to make sure the exemptions do not concentrate in certain areas.

 

Dr. Ka-Yuet Liu conducts research on social networks and health, micro-macro links, and the diffusion of non-contagious conditions. Dr. Liu argues that networks are crucial to solving epidemiological puzzles.  Her research has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, Demography, Social Forces, International Journal of Epidemiology, and other journals. Dr. Liu teaches courses on quantitative research methods and network analysis. 

 

[1] Liu K, King M, & Bearman PS (2010) “Social Influence and the Autism Epidemic.” American Journal of Sociology 115(5):1387-1434.

[2] Liu K & Bearman PS (2015) “Focal Points, Endogenous Processes, and Exogenous Shocks in the Autism Epidemic.” Sociological Methods & Research 44(2):272-305.