California Needs to Do More to Advance Climate Justice

Tomorrow launches a week of global action and gatherings to deepen commitment and accelerate action to tackle climate change. Around the world, indigenous people, frontline communities, and their allies, will be gathering in thousands of cities and towns to demand that our leaders commit to building a fossil free world that puts people and justice before profits.

This call to action comes at a critical time for California, which is why PolicyLink will be joining partners in our home state to Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice! While California has been lifted up as a leader on climate policy and inclusion, the reality is that for low-income communities and communities of color, we have a long way to go to deliver on equity and ensure that all Californian’s can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

Today, approximately one third of our state’s residents, more than 14 million people who are disproportionately of color, are living at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. By just about every health indicator (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity) communities of color fare worse than their white counterparts. For decades studies have told us that people of color are disproportionately exposed to harmful air pollution and a recent national study found that the pollution exposure disparity between White and non-white communities in California is among the starkest in the nation. In fact, a report by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessmentfound that one in three Latinos and African Americans live in census tracks ranked as having the highest pollution burden and vulnerability in California. In contrast one in 14 Whites live in these census tracts.

These disparities are not accidental. They are the result of historic and ongoing racial bias and discrimination in policy and practice that have segregated people of color in communities that lack the basic characteristics of a healthy place, have cut individuals and entire communities off from economic opportunity, and have used our political and justice systems to isolate and criminalize people of color.

Climate change, and the devastating impact it is already having on low-income communities and communities of color is another manifestation of these structural inequities. While California has made some important strides in addressing climate change we have not done enough to ensure that our policies advance equity and climate justice. It is time for California to step up to this challenge.

  • Transition to 100 Percent Renewable Energy. California has led the nation in its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, our state institutions continue to put forward policies, investments, and programs that perpetuate our dependence on fossil fuels. The time for fossil fuels is over. For too long our communities and our planet have suffered the negative consequences of fossil fuel extraction, refining, transport, burning, and disposal. California needs to join Indigenous and environmental justice leaders to accelerate a full transition to a fossil free clean energy future.
     
  • Build Community Resilience. Reducing carbon emissions is critical to slowing and minimizing the impact of climate change but climate change is already here, and low-income communities and communities of color are suffering the consequences. California needs to move beyond thinking about climate adaptation as disaster recovery and needs to tackle the systematic and structural inequities our communities experience. This will require significant, immediate, and sustained investment of public resources to reduce social, economic, and health disparities and ensure that all communities have the physical infrastructure, social institutions, and economic opportunities required to thrive before, after, and despite climate change impacts.
     
  • Ground Solutions in Community LeadershipThe people closest to our State’s challenges have the solutions to solve them. When the voice, wisdom, and experience of impacted communities drive policymaking processes, profound transformations happen. Policymakers need to partner with impacted communities to eliminate the climate gap and secure a future where all can flourish.

Join us in San Francisco tomorrow, or in your own community, as we call on our elected leaders to commit to a just and fair transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

The Next Chapter for PolicyLink Begins

Today marks the official beginning of the next chapter in the PolicyLink story as Michael McAfee becomes the new President and CEO of PolicyLink. As Founder in Residence, Angela Glover Blackwell will continue to serve as a resource to the organization and the national equity movement.

"I'm honored and excited by the opportunity to lead this talented organization at such a critical moment in history, and I'm deeply humbled to follow Angela, who has been the guiding light and force behind the national equity movement for decades," says McAfee. "I'm eager to build on the many successes of PolicyLink and to work with our partners to make racial and economic equity a reality for every person living in America."

"Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for me and for PolicyLink," states Glover Blackwell. "I'm looking forward to having time to write, speak, and pursue new equity endeavors under Michael's fresh and inspirational leadership."

Join us in celebrating this exciting time for PolicyLink. Connect with
@PolicyLink, @mikemcafee06, and @agb4equity on Twitter or Facebook, and sign up for our issue-based emails.

For more information, read the full press release.

Baltimore Reckons with Its Racist Past—and Present

Crossposted from The American Prospect


Just over a century ago, in 1911, the Baltimore city council adopted the first residential segregation law in the country, forbidding black people from living in predominantly white neighborhoods. Though the Supreme Court ruled such policies unconstitutional seven years later, the consequences of the law, as well as the consequences of subsequent racist policies and practices like redlining, the displacement of black families, and mass incarceration remain. Today, Baltimore is one of the most segregated cities in the nation, where black residents make up a majority of the population but do worse than the average black American—and far worse than the average white Baltimore resident—on almost every measure of general well-being.

But over the past decade, Baltimore and other city governments have taken active steps to reverse the centuries of inequality that remain embedded in policy and practice. After all, if inequality was written into law, can’t it be written out?

Last week, Baltimore’s Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh signaled that she would sign two bills that would incorporate racial equity practices into city government. One bill requires agencies to assess the equity of proposed and current policies and address disparities, while the other allows voters to decide in November whether an equity fund will be established in the city charter. Such a fund would provide money to projects fighting racism. The legislation received unanimous support from the city council, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Read the rest of the article in The American Prospect>>>

Guiding Principles for Opportunity Zones

As the U.S. Treasury Department begins the process of implementing Opportunity Zones under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it is essential that Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds benefit low-income residents and small businesses within the Zones — protecting the interests of those most susceptible to displacement that too often result from private investment.
 
Investments in Opportunity Zones should improve the lives of people living in or near poverty within the Zones, and allow all residents to fully participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Using the following recommendations, city and state officials, equity advocates, philanthropic leaders, investors, and developers can ensure that investments are equitable and help prevent displacement.

We also encourage you to send your governor and/or the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury a letter to urging them to adopt these recommendations to ensure that investments in Opportunity Zones benefit low-income community residents.

Counting a Diverse Nation — Disaggregating Racial/Ethnic Data to Advance Health Equity

How we measure America's rapidly expanding diversity has critical implications for the health of the nation. Too often, the data used to drive policymaking, allocate resources, and combat health disparities is based on broad racial and ethnic categories that can render the unique needs, strengths, and life experiences of many communities invisible.

That is why PolicyLink is excited to release Counting a Diverse Nation: Disaggregating Data on Race and Ethnicity to Advance a Culture of Health, a multifaceted investigation that explores the leading issues and opportunities of racial/ethnic data disaggregation, and its implications for advancing health equity. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of racial and ethnic data disaggregation practices today, and concrete recommendations for improving research methods and promoting government policies that enhance and enable data disaggregation in the future.

READ THE FULL REPORT AND RELATED MATERIALS

Findings and recommendations in the report encompass two areas:

  • Best practices for collecting and analyzing data about race and ethnicity at more detailed levels, including research innovations and special considerations for studying marginalized populations;
  • Government policies and practices that can enhance and enable data disaggregation, including recent campaigns and policy wins across the nation that are supporting increased representation across racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.

Developed as part of a multiphase project commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the report reflects two years of collaborative research and input among a diverse set of experts, demographers, practitioners, decision makers, and advocates. Reviews by these researchers of the state of data disaggregation for each major U.S. population group, along with a comparative study of seven other countries, accompany the new report

To learn more about the critical importance of disaggregating racial/ethnic data from researchers, advocates, and other experts who contributed to this report, join our upcoming webinar.

Counting a Diverse Nation: Disaggregating Data on Race and Ethnicity to Advance a Culture of Health and Equity

Tuesday, September 11
9:00 - 10:00 am PT / 12:00 - 1:00 pm ET
Register Now

Featured Speakers:

  • Victor Rubin, PolicyLink (moderator)
  • Meghan Maury, National LGBTQ Task Force and National Advisory Committee to the U.S. Census Bureau 
  • Kathy Ko Chin, API American Health Forum 
  • Adrian Dominguez, Urban Indian Health Institute 
  • Tina Kauh, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 

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