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The UCLA Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics (CSREP) and Race, Ethnicity and Politics (REP) Workshop presented the Mark Q. Sawyer Memorial Lecture in Racial and Ethnic Politics on Thursday, January 10, 2019. In remembrance of the late Professor Mark Q. Sawyer, the lecture’s goal is to highlight the outstanding research of an advanced assistant or associate professor whose work focuses on racial and ethnic politics in the United States and internationally. Professor Danielle Clealand from Florida International University was the honored first guest lecturer who shared compelling research from her book, The Power of Race in Cuba: Racial Ideology & Black Consciousness During the Revolution.

Mark Q. Sawyer

Students, staff, professors, and community members attended the event to celebrate Professor Sawyer’s life and honor his legacy. The room overflowed with those eager to hear about Professor Clealand’s work that aligns with Professor Sawyer’s previous work (e.g., his critically acclaimed book Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba). Professor Clealand examines comparative racial politics, group consciousness, black public opinion, and racial inequality with a focus on the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and the United States. Her award-winning book examines racial ideology and the institutional mechanisms that support racial inequality in Cuba as well as black public opinion.

Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez, who serves as interim director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, gave the welcoming remarks. She thanked and acknowledged those involved in making the memorial lecture possible, especially Professor Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, the first woman of color to earn tenure and promotion in the Political Science Department at UCLA, who spearheaded the entire event. In her introductory remarks, Professor Frasure-Yokley shared that Professor Sawyer had been a great mentor and friend. In fact, it was Professor Sawyer who encouraged Professor Frasure-Yokley to apply for a professorship at UCLA. That advice allowed them to be UCLA colleagues for ten years. She also stated, “Mark loved UCLA and his discipline enough to constantly challenge it to be better and do better.” In addition, Professors Lytle Hernandez and Frasure-Yokley reminded those in attendance that the reason why many get to enjoy and benefit from having the Department of African American Studies at UCLA is greatly attributed to Professor Sawyer for shepherding the application that led to its establishment.

During her informative presentation, Professor Clealand shared a snapshot of her findings from survey, ethnographic, and interview data that touched on structural racism in Cuba, black public opinion, black solidarity, and black consciousness by way of hip-hop.

Fortunately, like many others, Professor Clealand was lucky to have been mentored by Professor Sawyer as well. She mentioned that as a first-year graduate student she met Professor Sawyer, who later became a mentor to her. She often thinks of the similar work they have done and has asked herself, “How can I continue his legacy, how he helped me?” She believes it is by celebrating his legacy and imprint that he has had on her and many other scholars.

It has been nearly two years since Professor Sawyer’s passing. His wife, Professor Celia Lacayo was in attendance and offered a few words during the closing remarks. She emotionally expressed her gratitude for everyone who had helped to remember and honor her husband. Especially because it seemed quite fitting that this event happened to fall on his birthday. She commented that it was great to see how Professor Clealand’s work aligned with Professor Sawyer’s and that it was important to keep his legacy alive. She remarked that he planted many seeds, and it’s good to see them bloom. Aside from his academic success, Professor Lacayo felt fortunate to have Professor Sawyer as a life partner and father to their daughter. Finally, she left us with this piece of advice her husband lived by, which is to continue to “break doors down and create more opportunities for people of color.”

From left to right: Drs. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, Danielle Clealand, Celia Lacayo, and Marcus Hunter

By Chad Dunn, Brazil & Dunn, Attorneys at Law, and Matt Barreto, Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA

In 2013, Texas passed a restrictive voter identification law requiring any potential voter to show a government-issued photo ID before they could vote. However, Texas was subject to the preclearance provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA), Section 5; and before the law could be put into place, Texas had to prove to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. that the law would not have a discriminatory effect on racial and ethnic minorities. Chad Dunn along with other attorneys, intervened in the case and offered evidence that the law would prevent Texans from voting and that minorities would be disproportionately impacted, a result that was intended by the number and nature of IDs Texas chose to allow. Texas lost that court case and the D.C. Court found the voter ID law did have a significant discriminatory effect and blocked Texas from implementing this law. That was when the Voting Rights Act had its full weight.

In 2014, in Shelby v. Holder the Supreme Court held that the Section 5 requirements that stopped Texas from discriminating against voters was outdated and they struck down the so-called Federal preclearance requirements in so far as Congress had applied it to various states and jurisdictions. Within minutes of the ruling, Texas reinstituted their voter ID law, which had already been found to be discriminatory.

https://www.brennancenter.org/legal-work/shelby-county-v-holder

Without Section 5 and Texas intent on enforcing their discriminatory ID law, voting rights attorneys would need to step in and find individual plaintiffs to sue Texas under a different provision, Section 2 of the VRA. On June 28, 2014, Dunn and other nationally known civil rights lawyers filed a lawsuit against Texas alleging that the voter ID law, had a discriminatory effect against blacks and Latinos, and more, that Texas passed this law with discriminatory intent. In an era without the Federal oversight protections of Section 5, it is now incumbent on civil rights advocacy groups and voting rights attorneys to bring individual lawsuits against voting procedures they believe are discriminatory; and to do this, they must rely on academic experts in history and the social sciences to prove, with thorough and methodical research and data analysis, that a voting rule or procedure discriminates against a specific racial or ethnic group. In the case of Texas, Mr. Dunn reached out to Professor Matt Barreto (Chicana/o Studies & Political Science) to provide a critical piece of the social science expertise documenting discriminatory effect.

Barreto collaborated with University of New Mexico Professor Gabriel Sanchez, to implement a large statewide survey of eligible voters across the state of Texas and determine what types of documents and identifications potential voters in Texas possessed. For would-be voters who did not have a proper photo ID, the survey probed if they had the necessary underlying documents needed to go an obtain an ID. Further, Barreto and Sanchez assessed the barriers placed in front of Texas citizens to get a photo ID, such as needing to take time off work, having to find someone to provide transportation, having to drive over 20 miles to the nearest driver’s license office, or having to pay fees to track down their original birth certificate. In full, the social science research pointed to a clear pattern of discriminatory effect in which blacks and Latinos in Texas were statistically less likely to possess a photo ID, and statistically less likely to have the underlying documents necessary to obtain an ID. Further, due to extensive disparities in socioeconomic status, blacks and Latinos in Texas faced considerably more barriers than whites in being able to obtain an ID.

Dunn and Barreto have successfully worked on numerous Voting Rights cases and are now collaborating on a graduate level class at UCLA the includes masters, PhD and JD students. In this class, students learn the steps toward successful prosecution of voting cases from the perspective of the trial lawyer and the expert witness.

 

Chad Dunn of Brazil & Dunn, Attorneys at Law, consistently receives awards from legal publications for his extensive trial and litigation practice in Courts all over the country. From the United States Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court and virtually all trial and appellate courts below, Chad has the experience to prevail in the most difficult conditions and environments. He has handled complicated litigation in various states including Texas, Tennessee, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, North Carolina and Florida, and has tried numerous jury cases, trials to the bench and arbitrations.

Matt A. Barreto is Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA and the co-founder of the research and polling firm Latino Decisions. Time Magazine called Latino Decisions the “gold-standard in Latino American polling” and The Guardian wrote that Latino Decisions is “the leading Latino political opinion research group” in the United States. Barreto’s research was recognized in the 30 Latinos key to the 2012 election by Politic365, listed in the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2012 by the European Politics Magazine LSDP, and was named one of the top 15 leading Latino pundits by Huffington Post which said Barreto was “the pollster that has his finger on the pulse of the Latino electorate.” In 2015, Barreto was hired by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign to run polling and focus groups on Latino voters.

Credit: Getty Images via Inc.com

By Sarah Gavish, UCLA Master of Social Science ‘18

In an era where adult Americans consume 12+ hours of media per day, the relationship between media and public perception has never been more complex – or fascinating.  Does media actually have potential to shape our perceptions?  If it does, how, and why?  Some studies claim that the news media is responsible for stoking our greatest fears.  I interrogated this claim, as well as existing literature and research methodologies, with the following questions:

  1. To what extent do Americans consume news media that caters to their fears?
  2. What are the factors that may influence this relationship?

My investigation began by looking at the top 10 fears in America as reported by Chapman University’s Survey of American Fears in 2017, a random sample of the fears and anxieties of the US population.  The ranking top 10 are listed below listed below:

  1. Corrupted government officials
  2. American Healthcare act/Trumpcare
  3. Pollution of Oceans, Rivers and Lakes
  4. Pollution of Drinking Water
  5. Not having enough money for the future
  6. High Medical Bills
  7. The US will be involved in another World War
  8. Global Warming & Climate Change
  9. North Korea using weapons
  10. Air Pollution

I examined the relationship between these fears and news consumption habits, considering individual consumption of three of the top news networks in the United States: MSNBC, Fox News and CNN.  Immediately I found that higher levels of fear of the Survey’s top 10 were associated with higher consumption of MSNBC and CNN, while lower levels of fear of these topics were associated with higher consumption of Fox News. To me, this very interesting finding begged further investigation.

Let’s consider timing: The 2017 Survey of American Fears was deployed and compiled in June of 2017, within six months of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Perhaps unsurprisingly, conservatives and Republicans watch more Fox News, while liberals and Democrats watch more MSNBC and CNN.  With that in mind, the study yielded two additional relevant findings: conservatives and Republicans (who watch more Fox News) say that they have little to no fear of the top 10 issues.  Liberals and Democrats on the other hand – who watch more MSNBC and CNN –  say they are afraid or very afraid of all of these things.

What we can determine, then, is this simple idea: both the news media and our fears are not only politicized, they’re partisan. 

It is important to note that conservatives and Republicans are not necessarily without fears altogether, is it simply that the top 10 fears in America in 2017 more closely mirror those of liberals and Democrats..  Further research might dive more deeply into the Survey’s sampling methods, or the sample population’s characteristics to understand if there were other socioeconomic or influencing factors pointing to specific fears, beyond political leanings.

I would hypothesize that there is an entirely separate set of politicized fears held by conservatives that are in turn stoked by the programming they regularly watch – namely, FOX News.

The screaming presence of division across party lines in our media and our fears is no coincidence, especially if you consider the content put out by these networks. Using keywords from the daily News Minute put out by the Associated Press and UCLA’s NewsScape database, I found that CNN, which bears a significant audience overlap with MSNBC, showed the most coverage of the top 10 fear topics. Fox News showed far less and, in some cases, the least.

I consider the results of my research a sincere call to action for conscious news consumption.  The “fact” of the matter is, if you watch, read, or listen to the same news sources all the time, it is very likely that you’re operating in a political echochamber of your own thoughts and fears.  It is important as individuals and as a society to recognize that our fears can be shaped by the news we consume, and that the news we consume is often airing topical programming that caters directly to our fears.

 

Sarah Gavish is a social scientist interested in solving humanity’s problems through conversation, collaboration, and an eventual upheaval of unquestionably flawed cultural institutions.  She also likes to meditate, cook, argue, and read books.  Sarah is not on social media and is happy to explain why (you shouldn’t be either) if you email her.

 

 

By Lara Drasin

UCLA Master of Social Science 2018

Every day we’re influenced by the news, television and the movies we watch, and even family legends and community lore. In writing my master’s thesis, I wanted to understand: what exactly is it about a narrative that can be so powerful? What are the key elements – the magic ingredients – that touch people on a core level?

I started researching persuasive mass communication but soon realized I needed to understand its foundation, which is narrative. And, apparently, the most effective narratives have mythological dimensions. So to understand what makes a story powerful, I needed to understand myth. A “myth” is a very simple story that is encoded with the values of a society.

We see this in political communication: politicians often rely on simple messaging that resonates deeply with people as being “true,” even if those messages are not actually based in fact. And as it turns out, at the center of myth is our ideology: our beliefs and the way that we see the world. I started to wonder: what does that look like today? What is a “modern myth?”

I didn’t mean to get into politics with this project, but as I moved from narrative to myth to ideology, I soon realized it was unavoidable. Stories influence and reflect the way we think society should be, which sounds a lot like politics to me.

I needed to understand political ideology, and what factors influence how each of us develops the internal narratives that correlate with our ideological beliefs. In this case, political narratives are ongoing stories that each side tells about an issue –how they understand and describe it; who their heroes and villains are.

So, where could I go to find people sharing the opinions and stories that help explain their political decisions?

Twitter: the modern public square.

I decided to look at the stories we tell around guns in our society on social media, since guns are, according to the Pew Research Center, arguably the most politically and ideologically polarizing subject in the U.S.

I analyzed a sample set of pro and anti-gun control tweets, looking for the values prior research associates with liberals and conservatives. The theories I used were:

  1. Linguist and political philosopher George Lakoff’s theory that we unconsciously view the nation as a family, and that conservatives tend to value strict “parenting” styles, whereas progressives tend to value more nurturant “parenting” styles.
  2. Political scientist Nicholas Winter’s assertion that we unconsciously cognitively pair liberal values with stereotypically feminine characteristics and conservative values with stereotypically masculine characteristics.
  3. Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), which isolates 5 core values: Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority and Purity, and says that liberals are driven most by Care and Fairness, while conservatives are also driven by Loyalty, Authority and Purity (which they sometimes elevate above the others).

All 3 theories pretty much tracked. But there were 2 “wild card” findings I did not expect:

  1. The concept of authority showed up as much in liberal tweets as conservative tweets. However, that could be because on Twitter, people are trying to impact others’ views, so their tone will be more authoritative. If I had more time, I would analyze other forms of media, like news articles, to see whether the tone changed with the medium.
  2. The other wild card was the moral foundation, “Care.” Care shows up on both sides, most often in the form of “defense,” but is expressed differently. Liberals expressed concern for the safety of schoolchildren. Conservatives expressed the importance of self-defense, defense of one’s family and the 2nd amendment. This finding suggests that the differences in values systems may lie even deeper than we think, beneath the bedrock of language and understanding. It would be interesting to take a closer look at these distilled moral values like “care” and “loyalty” to see how, in an unexpected reversal, one’s values can actually dictate their meanings, instead of their meanings explaining one’s values.

My research has fueled my desire to further examine how the values encoded in the narratives we share on social media, in the news and entertainment, reflect and reinforce our worldviews. I truly believe that if we are more tuned in to this as a society, we can more consciously teach and learn media literacy, co-create new myths, and overcome polarization.

 

Lara Drasin is a communications and creative impact strategist, writer and 2018 graduate of UCLA’s Master of Social Science (MaSS) program. She (clearly) is on Twitter, @laradras.

Diagram by Berto Solis; Art files courtesy of the Noun Project and the following designers: arejoenah and Elena Rimelkaite.

By Berto Solis, UCLA Master of Social Science, 2018

First-generation, or “first-gen,” students are the first in their families to go to college. When a first-gen student graduates from college and gets into a graduate program it’s a cause for celebration, but the story doesn’t end there.

Using focus groups conducted with first-gen students in grad school, I gained insight into the challenges these students face on their way to academic success—insights we can use to make sure that these high-potential students thrive.

I reached 4 main findings:

  1. First-gen students don’t always know how graduate school works. What’s worse, people in the university often make assumptions about what these students know: for example, about how to get financial support, find academic support, or fit into their programs socially and culturally. This often places first-gen students in an awkward position: they must admit that they don’t know these things and face the shame that comes with that admission, or hide their ignorance and constantly feel like they’re lost.
  2. First-gen students often feel like they’re stuck between worlds: the culture that they come from and the culture of academia, which is new to them. Since they often don’t feel like they fully belong to either world, graduate school can be a lonely experience for them.
  3. It turns out that their length of time in graduate school influences how first-gen students feel about the experience. Contrary to my initial expectations, the longer first-gen students are in graduate school, the more they may feel like they don’t belong, in contrast to other students whom first-gen students feel “always knew they’d be there.”
  4. To address these issues, first-gen students build community and support systems among themselves and institutions are often eager to help. Despite their good intentions, institutions are often not equipped to address first-gen graduate student challenges, since there is little research into these issues.

It is my hope that research like this will help close that knowledge gap. This research is also important to me because I’m a first-generation student myself and I experienced much of this firsthand.

I recently completed my own graduate school journey along with thousands of other Bruins. However, the findings in this project raise the possibility that education alone isn’t the great social equalizer it’s so often framed to be. Sure, it’s a start. But there are many hazards along the way that we still need to address and I feel fortunate to have learned the tools of social science research in the MaSS program to understand, address, and contribute to this massive undertaking. After all, the best social science is the kind that brings people together.

 

Berto Solis became obsessed with higher education the moment he left for UC Santa Barbara in 2003. Though he’s changed institutions a few times, he has worked in college campuses for nearly 15 years. You can contact him at berto.solis@ucla.edu or through his website bertosolis.com.

For more information about UC and UCLA efforts to provide support for first-generation undergraduate students, click HERE.

The following interview with Changemaker Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley is the last of a two-part series.

LASS:     What do you study, and why do you study it?

LFY:        I fell in love with the study of politics. Of course, I never started that “good government job” [at the United States GAO] with the great benefits and the longevity. I decided to jump both feet into academia at the University of Maryland, College Park. In my third year at the University of Maryland, I presented my research [at the Midwest Political Science Association] on a panel with a Cornell University faculty member, Michael Jones-Correa [now at the University of Pennsylvania]. He noted that he would be in the D.C area for a fellowship year at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and he needed a research assistant.  I worked with him at the Woodrow Wilson Center my third year of graduate school, and together, we collected over 100 interviews of elites in suburban jurisdictions around Washington, D.C.

I knew there was a dissertation project in this research and data collection efforts. I left University of Maryland in the end of my third year, and began my fourth year at Cornell where I continued working with Jones-Correa on his Russell Sage Foundation project, and working on my dissertation. With the support of a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, I completed my dissertation in four and a half years.

LASS:     What did you do after you finished your doctorate?

LFY:        After finishing my PhD, I started a two-year Provost’s Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University. After my post-doc, I started a tenure track job here at UCLA, arriving to campus in January 2008.  I became the first African American female and first woman of color in the history of the political science department to obtain a tenure track position. Then, in 2015, I became the first African-American woman, and the first woman of color in the history of the political science department to earn tenure and promotion.

LFY:        In 2015, my book Racial and Ethnic Politics in American Suburbs was published by Cambridge University Press. It incorporates interviews, focus groups, archival work, as well as demographic statistics. It is a study of suburbia and it’s changing demographics; why different groups move to particular areas, how they get along with their neighbors, and how they perceive the government to respond to their needs and concerns. The second half of the book examines local government responsiveness to new spatial location patterns through three case studies: day labor, language access, and education).

LASS:     Shifting gears a little bit, tell me a little bit about your current research. We had talked a little bit earlier about the research project, before this interview. What is it? And why do you do it, and what’s its impact?

“The CMPS is opening up an opportunity for a wider group of scholars to have access to high-quality data in the study of race and ethnicity with large samples of racial and ethnic groups.” – Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley

LFY:        One of the projects that I’m working on is called the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey (CMPS). In 2016, following the Presidential election, we fielded the first 100% user content driven, multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, post-election survey of political attitudes and political behavior, but also it includes questions related to Black Lives Matter, immigration, healthcare, and a variety of other political and policy related topics. It’s the first cooperative survey with a specific focus on racial and ethnicity politics. We brought together a group of 86 contributors who purchased content on the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey. These 86 contributors were across 55 Universities and colleges, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), smaller teaching colleges, as well as large R1s, and Ivy Leagues. It is such a great group of scholars, from over 15 different disciplines participated in developing the survey instrument by purchasing content across samples of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Whites.

One of the unique characteristics of the survey is not just a high-quality national dataset with large samples across race and ethnicity, including over 10,000 respondents. But, this survey is a cooperative in the true sense of the word, meaning that for scholars, whether they purchased one minute of content, or seven minutes of content, everyone who purchased onto the survey received all of the data, 10,000 cases, 394 questions. Everybody shares all of the content, which is embargoed to the group until 2021. However, all 86 scholars can coauthor with whomever they like– both within and outside of the cooperative, so long as the CMPS contributor is a co-author on the publication or research project. We see this as a way to further grow our academic pipeline and create access and research opportunities, particularly for graduate students, post-docs and junior faculty.

The CMPS is opening up an opportunity for a wider group of scholars to have access to high-quality data in the study of race and ethnicity with large samples of racial and ethnic groups.  The cooperative changes the way social science data is collected, and it creates a broader space that’s more inclusive for a larger group of researchers to have access to high quality data for racial and ethnic groups and to grow their research projects.

LASS:     What is the impact that you are aiming for?

LFY:        One of the takeaways from the CMPS is to have a better understanding of the need for large samples of racial and ethnic groups. At the most basic level, we need to push the social sciences, to gather large samples beyond white respondents. In order to answer some of the most pressing problems of our day, a sample of 200 blacks or 200 Latinos won’t allow you to examine the data in meaningful ways to better understand the role of class, gender, sexuality, geography and so on.

Also providing both the Call for Participation and the Survey Instrument in the language of the respondent’s choice is a mode of inclusiveness and may be important towards capturing a broader group of respondents.

National Map of 2016 CMPS Respondents by Race and Ethnicity (http://cmpsurvey.org/infographics/cmps_1/)

LASS:     What are some of the solutions to challenges that your work addresses?

LFY:        What I hope to do through the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey is to create a space for data collection and research that is inclusive of a broader group of scholars who are interested in examining some of the most pressing problems in modern politics.

Our goal is to open up the space for innovation, open up space for the growth of knowledge, and we can only do that when we decide to step outside the boundaries of social science, and say, “What do we need? How can we address pressing problems in our disciplines? Participating in innovative kinds of data collection efforts can helps us publish and grow our research agendas, but those opportunities are often cut off to some scholars, simply because they cannot afford to collect high quality data to answer their research questions.

The CMPS is as an opportunity to advance our social science disciplines, and to create a more inclusive and diverse research space. There’s definitely a market for this kind of research. The problem is, we do need large samples of racial and ethnic groups to be able to tell informative and generalizable stories that impact our communities. Through the collective nature of the CMPS, we are incorporating a larger group of voices to tell those stories, and I think that’s a win-win situation.

LASS:     That’s great. Thank you for sharing your story, expertise, and experience with LA Social Science.

To read Part 1, click HERE.

Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley was interviewed by Mike Nguyen, an assistant editor and contributor to LA Social Science.

May 4, 2018

Assistant Professor Hiram Beltran-Sanchez, of the UCLA Division of Social Sciences’ California Center for Population Research (CCPR) and Department of Community Health Sciences, was recently awarded the Early Achievement Award from the Population Association of America (PAA) at the 2018 Awards Ceremony and Presidential Address Session. The PAA Early Achievement Award recognizes distinguished contributions to population research during the first ten years after receipt of the Ph.D. Contributions may be original research published as articles or books, significant newly collected data, or public policy achievement that broadens the impact of demography.

The award citation commended Dr. Beltran-Sanchez’s original contributions in all three areas: his innovative development of theory and rigorous research, his leadership in creating the Latin American Mortality Database, and the direct relevance of his research for public policy.  More specifically, Dr. Beltran-Sanchez’s research addresses major themes at CCPR, including the health of immigrants, the effects of early life experiences on health in late life, and health and aging in Mexico, and the development and application of demographic methods to investigate health inequalities using macro and micro data. This year he has been involved in CCPR’s informal working group on demography and big data, in addition to teaching in the graduate demography program and serving on several major CCPR committees.

May 4, 2018

Last week, Dr. Kelly Lytle Hernandez, professor of History and African American Studies and the interim director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, along with Associate Professor Chandra Ford, Chancellor Gene Block, and UCLA students, journeyed to Sacramento to meet with members of the California Legislative Black Caucus. There they discussed Million Dollar Hoods and the policy interventions and solutions that can be implemented to improve Los Angeles and advance justice reinvestment campaigns. Connecting research to actionable policy is a major objective of Million Dollar Hoods and Professor Lytle Hernandez’s work.

 

Related post: Mapping LA’s Million Dollar Hoods

 

By Joseph H. Manson

Professor of Anthropology

Among our acquaintances and co-workers are the calm and the worried, the conscientious and the disorganized, the kind and the callous. Is there an overall pattern to the variation among these and other personality dimensions? And can this pattern be linked to people’s biological characteristics, such as how fast they grow up and how quickly they age? My research explores personality variation using “life history theory,” an evolutionary biological framework that describes and explains how people decide to dedicate their time and energy between the competing demands of physical growth, health maintenance, dating and parenting. A “slower” life history strategy (LHS) means investment in long-term health maintenance, monogamous relationships and a more nurturing, involved approach to parenting. In terms of personality traits, this slower LHS is usually associated with people who exhibit higher levels of conscientiousness, agreeableness and emotional stability.

Previous data collection in this area has relied almost exclusively on questionnaires. My current project will use direct behavioral observation to supplement and validate these “self-report measures,” in order to determine whether some of these traits often appear together in sets and clusters. I recruited 92 UCLA students to spend three days wearing an iPod running the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) app, which made a 30-second audio recording every 12.5 minutes between 6 a.m. and midnight. Participants knew the overall sampling pattern, but not the particular times when the app was recording. They also kept an hourly event diary noting their general activities. At the end of the three-day recording period, participants had the opportunity to listen privately to their audio clips and to delete any they wished (only about 1% were deleted). Participants also completed two self-report personality inventories and a questionnaire developed by other researchers, which purports to measure LHS.

One team of undergraduate research assistants coded the 21,000+ audio clips for over 40 activities and behaviors, including class attendance, arguing and watching TV or video. We also transcribed every intelligible word (almost 80,000 of them) of the participants’ speech. A second team of research assistants used each participant’s complete set of clips and event diary as the basis for describing their personality using an instrument called the California Adult Q-Sort (CAQ).

My analyses of these data confirm that people whose personality most closely resembles a slow LHS CAQ template (created by other researchers) are high in conscientiousness, agreeableness and emotional stability. However, in contrast to some earlier claims, the other two major dimensions of personality – extraversion and openness to experience – have more complicated relationships to LHS. For example: among the facets of extraversion, interpersonal warmth was associated with a slower LHS, whereas excitement-seeking was associated with a faster LHS. I also found LHS-related differences in word use: for example, people with a faster LHS use more “negative emotion words.” As a follow-up, my research assistants are now coding participants’ inferred emotional states directly from isolated audio clips. Other ongoing analyses are exploring the relationships of self-reported levels of the so-called “Dark Triad” traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy) to both LHS and everyday social interaction patterns.

Joseph H. Manson, a Professor in the Anthropology Department, is an evolutionary social scientist interested in primate behavior, human ethology and social interaction, and personality variation.

 

milliondollarhoods.org

By Kelly Lytle Hernandez

Professor of History and African-American Studies

Los Angeles County operates the largest jail system on Earth. At a cost of nearly $1 billion annually, more than 20,000 people are caged every night in county jails and city lockups. Conventional wisdom says that incarceration advances public safety by removing violent and serious offenders from the streets – but the data shows that isn’t necessarily true.

According to Million Dollar Hoods (MDH), a digital mapping project that uses police data to monitor incarceration costs in Los Angeles, not all neighborhoods are equally impacted by L.A.’s massive jail system. In fact, L.A.’s nearly billion-dollar jail budget is largely committed to incarcerating many people from just a few neighborhoods, in some of which more than $1 million is spent annually on incarceration. Leading causes of arrest in these areas are primarily drug possession and DUIs, and the majority of those arrested are black, brown and poor.

The bottom line: the data shows that local authorities are investing millions in locking up the county’s most economically vulnerable, geographically isolated and racially marginalized populations for drug and alcohol-related crimes. These are L.A.’s “Million Dollar Hoods.” Maybe they deserve more.

Additional information on “Million Dollar Hoods” (MDH):

Launched in summer 2016, MDH is an ongoing collaboration between UCLA researchers and local community-based organizations, including Youth Justice Coalition, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Dignity and Power Now, JusticeLA and more. Together, we conceptualized the project, acquired the data and mapped it, making a wealth of data broadly available to advocates and activists who are pressing local authorities to divest from police and jails and invest in the community-based services needed to build a more equitable community: namely health, housing, employment, and educational services. To date, the MDH maps and reports have received significant media coverage and are being marshaled by advocates to advance a variety of justice reinvestment campaigns.  Our research on cannabis enforcement shaped the development of the city’s social equity program. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty references our research in his report on the criminalization of homelessness in America. Our report on the money bail system was the first to document how the money bail system amounts to asset stripping in Black and Latino Los Angeles.

Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez (History/African American Studies) leads the Million Dollar Hoods project. Her research team is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of UCLA staff and students, including Danielle Dupuy (School of Public Health), Terry Allen (Graduate School of Education), Isaac Bryan (Luskin School of Public Policy), Jamil Cineus (Institute for Digital Research and Education), Marcelo Clarke (African American Studies/Sociology), Chibumkem Ezenekwe, Luz Flores (African American Studies), Oceana Gilliam (Luskin School of Public Policy), Harold Grigsby (African American Studies), Andrew Guerrero (International Development Studies), Sofia Espinoza (Luskin School of Public Policy), Yoh Kawano (Institute for Digital Research and Education), Albert Kochaphum (Institute for Digital Research and Education), Ricardo Patlan (Political Science),  Alvin Teng (Luskin School of Public Policy), Taylore Thomas (African American Studies), and Estefania Zavala (Luskin School of Public Policy).

 

Related post: Million Dollar Hoods Goes to Sacramento