Posts

The LA Social Science e-forum is kicking off the summer by announcing our brand new search tool on the website.

Do you need an expert in the social sciences?  Find any of our amazing UCLA faculty members in the Division of Social Sciences in one place by simply entering a search term (e.g., name, department, or research specialty).  Check out this new search tool HERE or click on “Expert Search” in the menu at the top of the page.

We look forward to hearing from you!

#LightingTheWay #ChangingLA #ChangingTheWorld #UCLA100

 

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)

Courtesy: Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post
President Barack Obama takes the stage, with daughters Sasha and Malia and wife Michelle at his side, at Grant Park in Chicago on Nov. 4, 2008.

“Columbia has a rich oral history tradition and they’ve assembled an impressive group of scholars — I’m excited to start that work later this year.” -Dr. Karida Brown

These words come from our very own Dr. Karida Brown, Assistant professor in the Sociology and African American Studies departments here at UCLA. Dr. Brown earned her doctorate degree in Sociology from Brown University. Her research and teaching interests focus around historical sociology, oral history, race and ethnicity, social theory, migration, education, W.E.B. Du Bois, community archives and public arts. Because of Dr. Brown’s extensive background and expertise, we are honored to share that she has been appointed by the Obama Foundation and Columbia University to be on the Advisory Board to the official Obama Presidency Oral History Project.

This exciting news was made public on Thursday, May 16th, 2019. Columbia News officially stated, “Columbia University and the Obama Foundation are pleased to announce that the Columbia Center for Oral History Research has been selected to produce the official oral history of the presidency of Barack Obama (CC ’83). This project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic terms in office. The University of Hawaiʻi and the University of Chicago will partner with Columbia in this project. The University of Hawaiʻi will focus on President Obama’s early life, and the University of Chicago will concentrate on the Obamas’ lives in Chicago.” The plans to commence with this project will take place in July.

Certainly, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will be a huge undertaking. Over the next five years, the team of appointed experts, including Dr. Brown, will help contribute to the compilation of President Barack Obama’s and Michelle Obama’s life history. They will be tasked with gathering over 400 interviews from a diverse group of individuals who will offer valuable insights and anecdotes of their personal accounts with the Obama family.

Kimberly Springer who is Columbia’s Oral History Archives’ Curator on the project offered words of wisdom about how history is “…preserving our past for use in the future…so that current and future generations of historians and citizens can learn lessons from our times.” Undoubtedly, the rich stories and details gathered from the Obamas and countless others, will leave a powerful impact. There is so much we can learn from, be inspired by, and appreciate from their lived experiences. Moreover, it will be a privilege to read about the nuances, challenges, and triumphs of the man who made history as the first African American President of the United States and his journey with his family while leading our nation.

Credit: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

UCLA lecturer and co-director of the UCLA Voting Rights Center, Chad Dunn, secures a settlement with the State of Texas requiring it rescind a voter purge of newly naturalized citizens. The settlement agreement can be found HERE, and it requires Texas to withdraw their earlier advisory claiming there were 95,000 illegally registered non-citizen voters in Texas. The 95,000 figure, which is wrong and has now, as part of the settlement, been withdrawn, was retweeted by President Trump. Texas must now institute a much smaller and more targeted program to investigate non-citizen registrants.

In the Fall 2018, UCLA launched a Voting Rights Center with Mr. Dunn and Political Science and Chicana/o Studies Professor Matt Barreto.  Undergraduate, graduate and law students now have the opportunity to learn and train under some of the pre-eminent voting rights experts and civil rights lawyers in the country.

More about the Texas case can be learned at the following links:

Texas agrees to rescind voter citizenship investigation – News – Austin American-Statesman – Austin, TX

Texas will end its botched voter citizenship review and rescind its list of flagged voters | The Texas Tribune

Texas rescinding list of possible noncitizen voters, ending botched review | The Texas Tribune

For previous coverage of this case in LA Social Science, click HERE.

By Eli R. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of New Mexico

In the winter of 2010, just months after graduating from Wesleyan University, I landed a job as a food runner at a much-hyped new restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Training in this position meant mingling with bussers and food runners, all of whom were working-class, Latino men. For weeks, I did all I could to keep from bumping into my coworkers and diners, while my peers ran circles around me. A month after opening, it was clear the restaurant was not doing as well as expected, and management announced that they were going to have to let some people go. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t one of them. Instead, I was promoted to a position behind the bar, a more prestigious role earning much larger tips. The reaction of my colleagues was nothing but positive, even though I’d been promoted above much more qualified (nonwhite) staff. These interactions stayed with me for years, propelling my graduate research into service dynamics within restaurant workplaces in large, global cities.

A full decade later, my research has revealed how the dynamics of service work reproduce social inequalities of race, class, immigration, and gender. While some restaurant workers are able to leverage workplace conditions to their advantage (in the form of flexible jobs and relatively lucrative pay), many others find themselves bound within socially stratified worlds of work that offer unpredictable and insecure jobs.

When most people think of tipping, they think only of the exchange between a customer and worker, ending with a tip being passed between them. In fact, there is an extended network of workers who labor in the shadow of tips but with unequal access to them. Servers and bartenders, who tend to be white and middle-class, enjoy the lion’s share of tips, whereas bussers, cooks, and dishwashers, who tend to be foreign-born Latino men, usually receive a relatively small cut of this money or none at all.

The unequal distribution of tips behind the scenes creates both interpersonal tensions and uneasy alliances between groups of workers who already have little in common. A server might slide a five-dollar bill to a cook in order to ensure speedy food preparation and perfectly cooked steaks. At the end of the same shift, the dishwashers staring down heaping piles of dirty plates may feel that the servers in the dining room work half as hard and make twice as much money. In a labor environment where service workers earn wages at or scarcely above minimum wage, tips—which can amount to hundreds of dollars a shift—represent economic power that only a privileged subset of workers can access. Long after the last customers depart, the gratuities they leave behind deepen employee divisions already stressed by race, class, and gender differences.

Tips have another dangerous byproduct: Because individual workers are focused on receiving more gratuities—often tensely negotiating these among themselves—it is difficult to build collective forms of labor solidarity among restaurant workers. The struggle for tips has half of all restaurant employees focused on individual strategies to extract gratuities from customers rather than on seeking common ground with other employees to advocate for higher wages, benefits, or better working conditions. Tip work, be it in restaurants, hotels, or high-end spas, exacerbates the labor conditions that keep groups of service workers divided and leaves marginal working conditions unchallenged.

 

A former research affiliate with the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE), Eli R. Wilson is now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. While at the IRLE, he completed his article “Tip Work: Examining the Relational Dynamics of Tipping beyond the Service Counter,” recently published in Symbolic Interaction. Dr. Wilson’s research and teaching focus on how social inequalities of race, class, and gender are both reproduced and contested in urban labor markets. He is publishing his first book, Serving Across the Divide, which builds from six years of ethnographic research exploring labor and inequality in LA’s restaurant industry.

By Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

This past winter quarter, the UCLA Labor Studies Program offered the class Spirituality, Mindfulness, Self-care, and Social Justice. Originally offered as a small seminar in 2015, the class has grown to 120 students with a follow-up seminar offered in the spring. We sat down with Professor Victor Narro to learn more about the course and the impact it has had on the student community.

What is the Spirituality, Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Social Justice class?

I created this class in 2014 when I became more aware that UCLA students involved with social justice organizations suffered from similar levels of stress and anxiety as my colleagues in the work for labor and immigrant rights. The class is offered during winter quarter and introduces students to the teachings and practices of spiritual leaders like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thich Nhat Hanh. Throughout the course, students learn how to apply the lessons on self-compassion and compassion for others.

How did you get interested in self-care, and what made you decide to teach a class on it?

A few years ago, I started suffering from burnout in my social justice work. I thought it was just because I was getting older, but then I started noticing it’s a major issue throughout the social justice movement—people just overwhelmed, especially under the Trump administration. I see the same symptoms with student activists, and it’s even tougher on them in many ways; they have to balance their academic workloads with their activist work and their personal lives, and many are also working.

What is self-care?

Self-care, is learning to be activists for ourselves, to care about ourselves so that we can more effectively care for others, and to find a balance between the two. Being activists for ourselves means taking care of our physical health and emotional well-being while also taking care of others.

What are the goals of the course?

Through reflections on the readings and activities, students can learn to use self-care practices in their daily lives to reduce their stress and improve their health. I emphasize that there is no best practice for this. Religion can play a role, and students’ religious faiths can be integrated into their practice. Others might choose a spirituality practice disconnected from organized religion or just practical applications of mindful breathing, meditation, or yoga. Everybody is going to find something that works for them.

My goal is also to connect students with the campus resources their fees pay for. For instance, most students don’t know that there is a mindfulness awareness program that offers free classes and workshops to students. There’s also Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which offers free psychological counseling to students. Part of self-care is reaching out for help when you need it.

What are some of the course readings and activities?

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Buddhist Vietnamese monk who spoke out against the Vietnam War and encouraged Martin Luther King Jr. to do the same. Thich Nhat Hanh created his own concept of a community called a sanga, where the community members come together to meditate but also to practice peace activism. His teachings are a great way for students to see how spirituality can connect with social justice work. We also talk about the philosophy of nonviolence, including the teachings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Archbishop Oscar Romero. And we examine how to deal with anger in a healthy way with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an anti-apartheid and human rights activist.

We also do various kinds of meditation at the beginning of each class so students are introduced to basic examples of these practices that they can then explore further if they’re interested.

How would you like this course to impact students now and after they graduate?

Many of the students in the class are activists and plan to make a career of social justice work. I hope this class helps them establish a self-care practice now that will prevent burnout and help them be healthier and more effective change leaders.

 

Victor Narro is a nationally known expert on the workplace rights of immigrant workers. He is a project director for the UCLA Labor Center, a core faculty member for UCLA Labor Studies, and a lecturer at the UCLA School of Law. The Spirituality, Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Social Justice course will continue to be offered, more information to be released soon.

Credit: Brennan Center for Justice

These last two weeks, a court in San Antonio, Texas has taken evidence in a case challenging the state’s targeting of non-native born Americans who are legally registered to vote.  UCLA Lecturer, Chad Dunn, examined a number of witnesses in the trial including the architect of the voter purge, the state’s Director of Elections.  This week, the federal judge ruled against in the plan in a sharply worded order available HERE.  In the newly established UCLA Voting Rights Workshop Co-Chaired by Dr. Matt Barreto and Chad Dunn, students at UCLA are learning in real-time the legal theories, expert witness methods and case techniques needed to handle important cases such as this one.

You can read more about the case at the following links:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/us/texas-voter-rolls.html

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2019/02/20/state-employee-abruptly-resigned-after-working-texas-noncitizens-list-may-avoiding-court-appearance

https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/The-official-leading-Texas-effort-to-scrub-13632333.php

https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/restore-ex-felons-voting-rights-its-right-thing

The U.S. House Committee on Administration was authorized by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to conduct field hearings, at locations around the country, on voting rights issues. The committee decided to conduct its first such hearing in Brownsville, Texas. Last month, Civil Rights attorney and UCLA Lecturer, Chad Dunn, along with other civil rights attorneys, was asked to give testimony to the committee and to answer member questions.

To learn more about the specific voting rights issues discussed, watch the full hearing video HERE.

***SAVE THE DATE***

The Inaugural Mark Q. Sawyer Memorial Lecture in Racial and Ethnic Politics

Sawyer Memorial Lecture Details:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

153 Haines Hall (Black Forum)

12:00-12:30 PM (Lunch)

12:30-2:00 PM (Lecture and Discussion)

PLEASE RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/sawyer-lecture19

The goal of the Mark Q. Sawyer Memorial Lecture in Racial and Ethnic Politics is to highlight the outstanding research of an advanced assistant or associate professor whose research focuses on racial and ethnic politics in the United States and internationally.   We are excited to welcome Assistant Professor, Dr. Danielle Clealand from Florida International University-Department of Politics and International Relations, to present her new book, The Power of Race In Cuba: Racial Ideology & Black Consciousness During the Revolution (Oxford University Press)—Winner of the 2018 Best Book Award for the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA).

This lecture honors the legacy of Dr. Mark Q. Sawyer, UCLA Professor of African American Studies and Political Science from 1999-2017. His first book Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba (2006), published by Cambridge University Press, received several book awards. Dr. Sawyer also published widely on race, ethnicity, politics, gender, immigration, and coalition politics in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.  Dr. Sawyer was a key institution builder at UCLA.  In 2006, he co-founded the field of Race, Ethnicity and Politics (REP) in the Department of Political Science and served as founding director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics (CSREP).  As Chair of the Inter-departmental Program (IDP) in African American Studies from 2011 to December 2013, Dr. Sawyer drafted and shepherded the application that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Department of African American Studies at UCLA.

Co-Sponsors:

Division of Social Sciences

Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics (CSREP)

Department of Political Science-Race, Ethnicity of Politics Workshop Series

Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies

Department of African American Studies

Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI)

Chicano Studies Research Center

César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies

Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE)

LA Social Science e-forum

By Preeti Sharma, Saba Waheed, and Vina Nguyen

With the holiday season upon us, many people will visit salons to be pampered and have their nails done. Once a place of luxury for elite women only, US nail salons were democratized in the 1980s when new immigrants and refugees opened salons to a wider clientele. However, lower prices came at a cost to nail salon workers.

In November 2018, the UCLA Labor Center in partnership with the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative released Nail Files, a report on the national nail salon sector. While a few studies on the industry have focused on customer health and environmental issues, this report takes a comprehensive look into the multibillion-dollar nail salon industry through a labor lens. We analyzed existing literature, policy reports, and government data to paint a picture of current labor conditions for salon workers.

The majority of nail salons are immigrant-owned mom-and-pop establishments. More than two-thirds of nail salons have five employees or fewer. While there are some large national and regional chains, since immigrant and refugee women transformed the industry in the 1980s, mom-and-pop salons have dominated the sector. The labor force is predominantly Asian—Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Nepali, and Tibetan—but also includes Latinx workers. California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Georgia are the states with the largest population of nail salon workers. 

Eight out of ten nail salon employees are low-wage workers, more than double the national rate for low-wage work of 33%. Strikingly, full-time salon workers earn less than half of what workers make in other sectors.

Nail salon workers experience challenging work conditions, including misclassification. These challenges include low wages, low flat-rate pay that amounts to less than the hourly minimum wage, other minimum-wage and overtime violations, and harassment and surveillance. In addition, 30% of nail salon workers are self-employed, a rate triple the national average, raising the concern that some manicurists are purposely misclassified as independent contractors and are therefore deprived of workplace benefits like health insurance and workers compensation, labor protections, and the right to organize.

What can be done?

The nail salon industry is projected to grow, and it will to continue to innovate to bring in a new clientele. Current trends include extending services to a male clientele using advertising and décor aimed at attracting men, expanding the sector with luxury and chain salons, and developing on-demand and app-based services.

As the sector expands, we recommend improved enforcement of workplace protections, best-practice training that encourages high-road businesses, customer education about fair pricing, and stronger government policies to protect the health and safety of nail salon workers.

Read the full Nail Files report here. Report authors: Preeti Sharma, Saba Waheed, Vina Nguyen, Lina Stepick, Reyna Orellana, Liana Katz, Sabrina Kim, and Katrina Lapira.

 

Preeti Sharma is a UCLA PhD candidate in gender studies and a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Labor Center. Her research interests include feminist theories of work, racialized and gendered labor, service economies, worker center organizing, women-of-color feminisms/queer-of-color critique, and Asian American studies. Her project “The Thread between Them” explores South Asian threading salons in the Los Angeles beauty-service industry and the neoliberal immigrant-service sector.

Saba Waheed is research director at the UCLA Labor Center. She has 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.

A first-generation student, Vina Nguyen graduated from UCLA in 2018 with a BA in human biology and society. As a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Labor Center, she investigated current trends and labor issues in the US nail salon industry and the impact of erratic scheduling practices on the lives of retail workers in Los Angeles. She continues her research with the Multicenter Aids Cohort Study, a thirty-year study of HIV infection in gay and bisexual men.