All posts by Carmen
Projections vary about the United States becoming a majority people of color country. Some say this shift will happen late this century, yet the latest census projections identify between 2030 and 2040 as ushering in the time when people of color will become the majority. One of our grant recipients, PolicyLink, released a great tool that will help you, your organization, and your community understand where these shifts have already occurred and project where we might see these changes take place in the coming years. The “Maps of America’s Tomorrow: Equity in a Changing Nation” is a multimedia series by PolicyLink exploring the United States changing demographics and the leaders who are making a difference as these changes take hold. These time-lapse maps run from the beginning of these shifts in the 1990s in states like California and Texas and go through the year 2040, where we are able to see these changes takes place nationally.
Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink, said that within 36 hours of the release of this great tool over 200,000 people in 148 countries were able to access it. I agree with Angela when she says that the “Map of America’s Tomorrow is the catalyst of this rapid worldwide recognition of how dramatically and quickly the face of America is changing”. To follow this series of maps as they are developed, please visit www.PolicyLink.org/AmericasTomorrow.
The case of Citizen’s United versus the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) unquestionably transformed the way our democracy functions. It called into question the role of corporations, the identity of citizens, and the influence of money in politics. The essence of the Supreme Court decision allows private corporations to actively engage in electioneering. Today, corporations have the same rights and greater influence in our democracy as a result of this decision.
Fortunately, this is not the end of the story. Across the country, organizations are teaming up to fight for the right of citizens to determine the future of our country. A great example is the work of the Story of Stuff team, who created this amazing video to talk about the implications of the ruling as well as offer some ways to get involved to change the direction of our country. Here are some of the ways they think we can move forward and win:
* Party for the Cause
Hold a house party to screen the The Story of Citizens United v. FEC and invite others to join the campaign. Invite friends, neighbors, family members over to your place for an evening of democracy in action! You can download our House Party Guide, which has house party tips and action ideas, here.
* Sign on
Sign Public Citizen’s petition calling for a Constitutional Amendment clarifying that free speech is for people, not corporations. We need a lot of signatures to launch this ambitious campaign. Please download the petition here, make copies and carry them around with you collecting signatures—and thus telling others about the campaign—everywhere you go. If you want to sign electronically, please do so here and forward this link on to your friends and family.
* Get National
Join a national organization working on taking back our democracy. This way your local efforts can be magnified and it’ll be a lot easier to track this issue and identify opportunities to get involved locally and nationally. Check out Public Citizen, Free Speech for People, People for the American Way and Move to Amend.
* Democracy: Use it or Lose it
One reason corporations have been able to hijack our democracy is that many of us haven’t engaged much in it ourselves lately. If we want policy makers who prioritize public good, healthy jobs, and a sustainable environment, we need to get involved, hold them accountable, and engage as active citizens every day—not just on voting day. Join a local organization working on an issue you care about, host a community event to share information, write letters to your congresspeople and local newspapers to share your opinion. There are an infinite number of ways to get involved and once enough of us do, we can take back our government so that it really is by the people, for the people. Then, we can get to work solving today’s pressing problems with a government working for us, instead of big business.
I don’t know about other folks of color, but whenever I hear about a shooting, a terrible accident, or any form of violence, I pray real hard that it wasn’t committed by a person of color. That was my first thought on Sunday after hearing about the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Gifffords and nine innocent people by a young man in Tucson, Arizona. I was no more relieved when I heard it was a young white man who had committed this senseless act, but it did raise a number of critical questions for me, as a woman of color, and for our country, which is clearly suffering from it’s criminalization of people of color. These questions included:
- If the shooter had been of South Asian descent, as was Major Nidal Malik Hasan the shooter at Fort Hood in 2009, would this shooting be considered an act of ‘home grown terrorism’?
- If voter’s in Arizona were more concerned with gun control than the policing of Latino immigrants, by enforcing ID checks and shutting down Chicano & Mexican American studies courses, would this have happened?
- If Barbara Lee had placed crosshairs over the district of a Republican opponent, as Sarah Palin did over Gifford’s district, what would the prospects of her political future be?
- When senseless acts of violence are committed by white people, primarily white men, why don’t all white people feel responsible? Remember the Virginia tech shooting when the whole country of South Korea apologized to the US for the shooting committed by an American of Korean descent?
- And last but not least, when will it be the case that there could be a couple of crazy folks of color without it falling on all of our shoulders when someone is clearly in need of mental health services?
It’s been a crazy two years since the historic presidential election of President Obama. Since then, we’ve seen the passage of national health care reform, the rise of the tea party movement, and the economic crisis strike across the country. We’ve also seen negative campaign ads, local critical mass, and all kinds of parties to make sure we make it out on election day. And now the time has come. A number of our key partner organizations are at the forefront of local and national civic engagement efforts including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, San Francisco Rising, Oakland Rising, and Voto Latino. Below are some voter resources, including two voter guides from the League of Women Voters & The Ballot as well as organizational voter guides from the Ella Baker Center and Oakland Rising
Everyone keeps talking about August being a slow month in the work world… it’s a lie.
Our grant recipients are gearing up this month for amazing fundraisers, street food, and festivals. All of these events will provide great opportunities for you & your friends and family to eat delicious food in support of great local activists and causes.
The kick-off event is Causa Justa//Just Cause’s Benefit for Housing and Immigrant Rights, which will be hosted on the 15th from 5:00- 7:00pm at Oakland’s famous Dona Tomas located at 5004 Telegraph Avenue. This event will highlight the work of the newly merged organization and lift up the efforts of their organizers and members. Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC) is a multi-racial, grassroots organization building community leadership to achieve justice for low-income San Francisco and Oakland residents.
How could you pass up a great night of delectable treats in the company of those who are fighting for the rights of San Francisco and Oakland’s residents? You really can’t, can you.
The San Francisco Street Food Festival is an event hosted by La Cocina to advocate for the creation of policies that support the formalization of mobile food vending in San Francisco. As they note: “Policies as they exist today are discouraging and create barriers rather than opportunities for the creation of viable businesses and jobs for San Franciscans. Street food has the power to bring communities casual, affordable, delicious foods made by food entrepreneurs who reflect San Francisco’s diverse population. Policies that support the formalization of mobile vending will work to connect communities throughout San Francisco’s spectrum of class and culture to the everyday food that we all eat and love”. Can you really pass this up? Again, I think not.
To close out this amazing month of August, we have the annual Eat Real Festival, which will be held in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Eat Real Festival was founded in 2008 by a group of people who believe that delicious, convenient, affordable and sustainable food should be celebrated through an annual food festival. They know that today’s eaters are concerned about how to spend their food dollar yet are also increasingly interested in learning about how food choices can contribute to a healthier environment and stronger communities. By using fresh and local ingredients (and their amazing flavors), Eat Real aims to show how easy it can be to support a regional food system by bringing farmers, food producers and eaters together.
I hope to see you all at each of these events!
A couple of months ago we invited Annie Leonard to our offices to present her amazing project of the Story of Stuff. Through a creative vehicle of live animation, Annie has transformed how people around the globe understand global production & consumption, the climate change debate, the environmental impact of bottled water, and now the industrial undersight of the cosmetics industry and the impact that lax regulation has had on the well-being of millions of people.
This past week her work was featured in the Los Angeles Times. Throughout the article, “Telling Science with Cartoons” the author highlights the new approach to addressing the pressing issues of climate change and rampant consumerism. In short, we are way beyond the droll power point presentations and yawn inducing data points, we are in a new moment of popular science brought to you be engaging and relevant narratives. What is missed in the article is a deeper level of work that is happening through the efforts of activists 2.0. She is not only opening up a scientific and economic discussion to millions of participants, she is also doing the work that many of our newspapers have forgotten how to do in the last 15 years: investigate the critical issues facing people and the environment and offer insight into the sources of these issues. She is not only educating through animation, she is informing a popular debate about some of the most critical issues facing everyone and making sure that we can all actively engage in that debate with meaningful information.
My name is Richard Raya. I’m seventeen years old, and will be a senior this year at Berkeley High. I would have to say that I’m something of a nerd- albeit a sociable and athletic one. I love being lazy, reading, writing, playing video games and watching movies. And yet in spite of some of these somewhat immature mannerisms- or perhaps because of them- I have an intense fascination with concepts like equality and justice, and the entire idea of people helping each other. It seems to me that we all have a responsibility, to our communities and to ourselves; to be the very best we can and contribute to the lives of those around us. Thus, I’m very excited to be interning at the Mitchell Kapor Foundation. The work that gets done in the field of social justice is vital- it is the act of helping restore equilibrium to people that have long been marginalized so that we can all become more self sufficient and more powerful in our society. This entails ensuring that people have the means to support themselves, and their community, economically, socially and politically, which subsequently entails community organizing. However, during community organizing endeavors, one key demographic is often overlooked: youth. Youth make up a significant part of a community’s size and creativity, and as such can make a significant impact in the world around them. Young people, although they may lack the power to vote and may not have as much financial power as adults, still retain passion and idealism, and as such can contribute greatly to any social justice campaign’s volume and direction. This summer, I will be delving into various methods of facilitating youth organizing to ultimately conclude what organizations like the Mitchell Kapor Foundation can do to effectively aid youth organizers.
I was an open skeptic of this year’s US Social Forum. I crossed my arms and huffed when anyone mentioned it. I imagined an event teetering between Woodstock and the WTO protests in Seattle and although I loved Seattle, I wanted to make sure I stayed good and far away from Woodstock 2010. I’m working on respecting process and consensus and folks in my life will emphasize the work part of that sentence. After meeting with Tammy Lu from the Labor Community Strategy Center and cajoling from our own Mario Lugay, I landed in Detroit last Tuesday at 2am.
Detroit reminded me of the landscape in dystopic science fiction movies. While walking though the city Sadiyah Seraaj from the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy said that it looked like a city that was once vibrant and in a moment of crisis everyone stopped what they were doing and ran through the streets and out of Detroit. So imagine this background, with 30,000 people from across the country meeting to build a national movement for social justice. It was just amazing. I visited amazing farms and gardens, connected with restaurant and domestic workers, and saw the future of movement building in this country.
Over the last couple of years the city of Oakland has become home to numerous blogs discussing the pressing political, community, and economic issues of the day. These include Oakland Focus, A Better Oakland, Oakland Local, and Living in the O. These blogs provide a much needed space for everyday people in the city to connect to each other, engage in city life, and sadly fill the space of our lacking newspaper. I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about citizen journalism- on the one hand I think they provide an important look into how different people live and experience the city and on the other I feel like they too often mistake commentary with in depth journalism.
That said, last week I was invited to be a guest on OaklandSeen and had a great conversation with Aimee Allison on the state of Oakland. We had an interesting conversation on issues ranging from the city’s gang injunction to economic development opportunities for the city’s long term residents. Listen HERE and let us know what you think.
Six months ago, Melanie Cervantes (Akonadi Foundation), Luke Newton (Common Counsel), Kazu Haga (Peace Development Fund), and I joined forces to establish a place for progressive funders to get together, talk about our work, and identify opportunities to collaborate in our grantmaking. We are very excited to invite you to the launch of the Bay Area Justice Funders Network this Wednesday in Downtown Oakland!