The strength of our democracy is measured by the ability of citizens to vote. The right to vote should not be contingent on a citizen’s race, ethnicity, national origin, English-language proficiency, disability, criminal status or jurisdiction where one resides.
Racial Justice (Research)
As the percentage of Latinos in the U.S. has risen dramatically, from just under 5 percent in 1970 to 15.4 percent in 2008, writers, researchers, community members, and activists have grown more interested in the ways African Americans and Latinos are relating to each other. Many recent publications have called for, or evaluated the prospects of, cooperative activities and coalitions to solve common problems. On October 5-6, 2008, the first National Black- Latino Summit was held in Los Angeles. Prominent on this meeting’s agenda were such topics as environmental justice, the criminal justice system, access to health care, and immigration. Overcoming the problem of the color line is going to require coalitions among all of those affected by it, particularly between Black and Latino communities. The Southern Regional Council (SRC), one of the country's oldest civil rights organizations, recently released a report that examnies Black and Latino coalitions. The report features case studies from four successful coalitions in the South, and it includes lessons learned that could be useful for other organizations seeking to build such coalitions. Through research, informal discussions with individuals intimately involved with the issue of inter-ethnic collaboration, and four focus group sessions, they have gained greater clarity about effective coalition- building among African Americans and Latinos. Times are changing in the Southeast. Latinos have become an integral part of the Southeastern social, economic and political landscape. Their exponential growth within some states has led to tensions, but it has also brought forth new opportunities in the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. Based on their research, they have identified nine elements that prove very helpful in establishing and sustaining an African American/Latino coalition: Establish Trust Among Coalition Members, Identify the Issues, Develop a Process for Communication, Find a Safe Place to Meet, Promote Contextual Understanding, Promote Representative Leadership Predicated on Trust, Develop an Agenda Based on Current Community Concerns, Identify Goals, Objectives and Tasks that are Attainable, and Participants Should Enjoy the Company of One Another.
Through a series of focus groups in key cities with Occupy participants and other activists aged 18-30, the Applied Research Center today released findings on young people’s motivations for engaging in activism, concerns about electoral politics, and thoughts on the extent to which race and racism should be an explicit part of current struggles for economic justice. The report also provides recommendations on key ways to engage millennials of all races/ethnicities in social justice work. An accompanying article on young progressives was published by ARC President and Colorlines Publisher Rinku Sen, and an informational webinar will be presented to coincide with the release. "From a researcher's perspective, it was a dream to hear from some of the most engaged progressive young people in the country," said report author and ARC Research Director Dominique Apollon. "And to provide a forum for them to express themselves freely, in ways that we hope readers of all ages and races will appreciate." In ARC’s report Millennials, Activism and Race, results show that the most significant influence for young progressives to engage in social justice work is their own personal and family experience, particularly for young people of color. In discussing what makes an ideal society, there were varied descriptions, but all agreed that it is one based on community and cooperation -- and that primary barriers include: (1) a dominant ideology based on individualism (especially economic), which too often causes people to be left to fend for themselves, without sufficient public resources and supports, and (2) a general lack of awareness of histories of oppression with political and economic analyses, that the general public doesn't have an analytic framework to critique our political and economic system. Additionally, Occupy protesters were more explicitly anti-capitalism, and more profoundly disillusioned by the electoral process than social justice advocates who had not participated in the Occupy movement.
The right to vote is under attack all across our country. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates new barriers for those registering to vote, shortens the early voting period, imposes new requirements for already-registered voters, and rigs the Electoral College in select states. Conservatives fabricate reasons to enact these laws—voter fraud is exceedingly rare—in their efforts to disenfranchise as many potential voters among certain groups, such as college students, low-income voters, and minorities, as possible. Rather than modernizing our democracy to ensure that all citizens have access to the ballot box, these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow laws enacted in the South to disenfranchise blacks after Reconstruction in the late 1800s. Talk about turning back the clock! At its best, America has utilized the federal legislative process to augment voting rights. Constitutional amendments such as the 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, and 26th have steadily improved the system by which our elections take place while expanding the pool of Americans eligible to participate. Yet in 2011, more than 30 state legislatures considered legislation to make it harder for citizens to vote, with over a dozen of those states succeeding in passing these bills. Anti-voting legislation appears to be continuing unabated so far in 2012. Unfortunately, the rapid spread of these proposals in states as different as Florida and Wisconsin is not occurring by accident. Instead, many of these laws are being drafted and spread through corporate-backed entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, as uncovered in a previous Center for American Progress investigative report.
Despite its persistent association with the "inner city," poverty has shifted toward the suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past decade. Using data from the 2000 census and the 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates, this research brief examines the changing geography of poverty in the Bay Area and its implications for the community development field. Using data from U.S. Census Bureau, this research brief analyzes the changing geography of poverty in the Bay Area, yielding the following conclusions: Household poverty rates have risen across the Bay Area, both in urban and suburban areas. The Bay Area’s total household poverty rate increased 1.1 percentage points during the period of analysis, from 2000 to 2009. The population in poverty rose faster in suburban census tracts and varied across racial groups and nativity status. The number of people living in poverty rose 16 percent in the suburbs, compared to 7 percent in urban areas. Blacks and Hispanics saw the greatest percentage growth in suburban poverty, as did the native?born population. The share of the poor living in suburban tracts has increased across all racial groups, but the change is highest among Blacks. The share of the poor Black population living in the suburbs increased more than 7 percentage points, whereas the next highest group, Asians, increased 2 percentage points. Changes in the percent of urban and suburban residents in poverty also varied between racial categories and nativity status. Poverty rates increased across almost all groups – except Asians and the foreign?born population living in suburban areas. The poverty rates for suburban Blacks and urban Hispanics each rose more than two percentage points. Access to transit decreased for the population in poverty. While the percent of people living within 0.5 miles of a rail station did not change significantly for the total population, it did decrease 1.5 percentage points for the poor population. Furthermore, the percentage of poor people living more than 4 miles from a rail station increased 3 percentage points.
Liberty and justice for all is not yet a reality in America. Despite the election of our nation’s first African American president, black Americans continue to trail behind their white counterparts in education, employment, and overall health and wellbeing. And while some states and the federal government continue to expand protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, more than half of all states still deny them basic civil rights. Such systemic inequities render people of color who are also gay and transgender among the most vulnerable in our society. Black gay and transgender Americans in particular experience stark social, economic, and health disparities compared to the general population and their straight black and white gay counterparts. These issues, along with the others laid out in this report, can and should be addressed through a policy agenda that seeks to understand and tackle the structural barriers—discriminatory systems, conditions, and institutions around socioeconomic status, race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity—that perpetuate negative economic, health, and other life outcomes among this population.
The last thirty years of public policy have not produced significant progress toward Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of racial equality. According to the Census Bureau, people of color will collectively make up the majority of the population in 2042, thirty years from now. If the country continues along the path that it has been on for the last thirty years, the racial economic divide will remain in 2042 and, in many regards, will be considerably worse. This is the core message of United for a Fair Economy’s (UFE) ninth annual MLK Day report, State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority. In 2042, thirty years from now, people of color will collectively represent the majority of the U.S. population. If we continue along the governing path of the last thirty years, the economic divide between races will remain and, in many regards, will be considerably worse. The Emerging Majority measures the impacts of the past thirty years of public policy on the racial divide, examining a host of social and economic indicators, including income, wealth, poverty, health care, homeownership, education and incarceration. The report then offers thirty-year projections based on data trends since the Reagan presidency. Its findings should prompt people of all races to unite in action for a more just and racially equitable future.
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