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Racial Justice

Organizing Rural And Small Towns For Affordable Housing And Racial Justice

In March, the Rural Democracy Initiative conducted a wide-ranging survey of rural and small town voters that found the number one issue for people was rising costs, particularly the cost of buying a home. When asked if the rising cost of housing preventing people from buying homes was a major or minor problem where they lived, 68% or respondents said it was a major problem, including 64% of Democrats, 71% of Independents and 68% of Republicans. That comes as no surprise to Jaime Izaguirre, a housing organizer in Dubuque, Iowa, for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Not only is the cost of buying a house beyond the reach of many, finding an affordable, well-maintained apartment or house or mobile home to rent is increasingly difficult in rural and small town America.

What Cities Can Learn From Seattle’s Racial And Social Justice Law

The right-wing political campaign against diversity, equity and inclusion policies taking place in several states across the U.S. has called into question the nation’s commitment to achieving racial equality. In this landscape, Seattle is marking a milestone of sorts – the first anniversary of adopting its Race and Social Justice Initiative ordinance. This ordinance, signed into law in April 2023, places the Race and Social Justice Initiative under the Seattle Office of Civil Rights and states that all departments in city government are responsible for “implementing change toward ending institutional racism,” which is defined in Seattle as “policies, practices, procedures, and culture of an institution or system that work better for white people and cause harm to people of color, often inadvertently or unintentionally.”

The Transit Equity Movement Wins Biggest Zero Fare Victory Yet

Albuquerque, New Mexico - It’s happening: The city of Albuquerque is permanently eliminating public bus fares, becoming the largest U.S. city to embrace this critical step toward racial and economic equity. A coalition headed by Together for Brothers — a community organizing and power-building group led by and for young men of color — made the victory possible. In an interview with Inequality.org, the group’s Co-Founder and Executive Director, Christopher Ramirez, explained that it all started in 2017 when Together for Brothers applied for a Health Impact Assessment grant. “When we were applying for the grant, we had a couple sessions with the young men of color we were working with,” Ramirez said.

What Liberation Requires From Us

In December 2022, I took some time off to discern the next steps in my career and found myself at the Door of No Return on Goree Island in Dakar, Senegal. This island was one of the many places in West Africa where enslaved Africans were held in barracoons before being shipped to the Americas. With ancestry from seven West African countries, a few of my Senegalese ancestors likely walked through these doors. As I stood at the doorway staring out to the vast blue-green ocean, my heart was heavy as I pondered the tragedy of millions of Africans being kidnapped, torn from families and homelands, and packed on ships to spend the rest of their lives enslaved. But oddly enough, I also felt triumphant.

Henrietta Lacks’ Cells Contributed To Breakthrough Medical Advancements

Henrietta Lacks’ living relatives gathered Tuesday morning in a sunny Baltimore waterfront park to herald the settlement they reached with a multibillion-dollar biotechnology company that for years has profited off its free use of regenerative cells taken from her decades ago without her consent. News of the agreement between the Lacks family and Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific came after two years of litigation in federal court on what would have been the Turner Station wife and mother’s 103rd birthday. Several family members attributed the serendipitous timing of the development to divine intervention.

African Heritage Food Co-Op

The African Heritage Food Co-op(AHFC) was formed so that Black communities in Western New York State, including Niagara Falls and Buffalo, can take ownership of their food system, create jobs and use resources to improve the health and well-being of residents. For too long, the economic and political structures have failed Black residents creating little or no access to supermarkets, banks and political representation. AHFC is working to change that by overcoming systemic obstacles, empowering inner city neighbourhoods and reversing systems of oppression and discrimination. Founder Alex Wright explains how this community-owned, community-operated co-op began and how it works to build a local economy that includes everyone!

Sociocracy And The Solidarity Economy

The Community Purchasing Alliance is advancing the solidarity economy with the power of cooperative purchasing, shifting $17.9M to minority business enterprise (MBE) since 2017. Our 11 person team is distributed across the US and is powered by sociocratic circles. In this showcase, we will share how CPA Co-op’s circle structure has grown and evolved since 2020, facilitating 47% year over year growth in revenue in 2021 while creating a more dynamic and equitable workplace for our entire team. Amy Abbott and Boris Sigal are the Co-Executive Directors of CPA Co-op. Lauren Greenspan leads CPA’s People and Culture Circle and is currently enrolled in SoFA’s Sociocracy Academy. She introduced CPA Co-op to Sociocracy in 2020 after reading Many Voices, One Song.

Home In Tacoma For All Coalition Seeks Greater Equity In Zoning Reforms

Home in Tacoma aims to overhaul Tacoma’s housing rules to allow greater flexibility in building practices. It will allow denser housing to be built to house our city’s ever growing population. The initial framework passed in December 2021 bringing Tacoma are one step closer to that goal. Though forward thinking, the plan also falls short of its potential. As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, the reach of the plan is not exactly equitable or far reaching. In short, poorer communities of color are being disproportionately rezoned in comparison to their wealthier, whiter counterparts. Communities of color will be transformed while privileged communities get to maintain the status quo. Segregation with some window dressing, if you will.

Anthropology Association Apologizes To Native Americans

In 1901 the soon to be first president of the American Anthropological Association wrote that “through observation of a typical [Native American] tribe,” it was clear that “the savage stands strikingly close to sub-human species in every aspect.” An outgrowth of the pseudoscientific theory of racial and cultural hierarchy, William McGee’s words in American Anthropologist, anthropology’s flagship academic journal, echoed racist 19th-century views that justified mistreatment of Indigenous communities and propped up arguments for eugenics. In the decades that followed, anthropologists continued to support racist agendas, appropriate cultural knowledge, and steal material objects and human remains belonging to Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas in the name of scientific research.

How Vanguard Funds Harm And Fuels Extractive Industry

Pennsylvania based asset manager, Vanguard, is the world’s second largest asset manager, with over $8 trillion in assets under management. Vanguard is referred to as a “universal owner,” with ownership stake in over 10,000 corporations. The financial institution dominates market environments and consequently has the ability to set industry norms. Asset managers have largely ignored calls for divestment from extractive industries. Asset managers, like Vanguard, have failed to include a robust racial and environmental justice orientation in their business practices. In turn, they flood extractive industries with capital. Industries like the carceral and fossil fuel industries use those investments to extract from low-income and BIPOC communities.

How To Repair The Planet

The idea of paying reparations for slavery and other forms of racial injustice remains deeply controversial. Yet it has gained renewed support in liberal publications, city councils and state legislatures, and even the House of Representatives, which recently held hearings on legislation to create a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations. These developments present both a challenge and an opportunity for the left, which has been divided between recognizing the clear case for compensating victims of centuries of exploitation and abuse and concern that reparations are politically untenable and potentially detrimental to building a broad-based movement for social and economic justice.

Judge Halts Sale Of Apartment Complex Where Black Graves Were Buried

Bethesda, MD - A community coalition has provided “overwhelming evidence” that a portion of a suburban Washington apartment complex was used as a burial ground for freed Black slaves and their descendants and “many bodies likely still remain on the property,” a Maryland judge ruled Monday in a case by the group to thwart the sale of the property. The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission's pending $50 million sale of Westwood Tower in Bethesda to a local investment firm, Charger Ventures, drew intense public opposition over the summer and led to the lawsuit filed by the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition. The group had furnished historical accounts indicating the gravesite — known as Moses Cemetery — was paved over with asphalt for a parking lot when the apartments went up in the late 1960s.

Black Community And Climate Justice

There is an easy correlation between the frequency and magnitude of climate-related disasters and the negative impact that has on human beings, especially on Black and Indigenous communities, who disproportionately due to accompanying social and economic-political disasters are usually at the forefront of these impacts due to many factors, including blatant political negligence. In 2008, I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, and was the Director of Operations and Programs at the US Human Rights Network, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, we were one of the first organizations (not the only one) to make the connections between using a human rights framework and this specific climate disaster and the impact that it was and would have on the human beings that it touched.

How Parent Organizing Has Shifted Classrooms Toward Racial Justice

Over the past year, much of the nation’s education discussion has been where learning was taking place: on Zoom? In the classroom? Both? While COVID-19 exacerbated existing inequities around access, focus is now being drawn to what students are learning. Debate over curriculum isn’t new, but has been contested in varying degrees for decades. Before the right-wing-stoked controversy over so-called “Critical Race Theory” there was anger over Common Core standards, and before that No Child Left Behind. What is new is the incredible strides parent and community organizing has made in shifting the curriculum of the nation’s largest school district. Founded in 2006, the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) is a citywide collaborative of community-based organizations organizing the power of parents and community to create a more equitable education system.

Unions Take Up The Fight For Racial Justice

Labor organizations are taking up the fight for racial justice in many ways. They’re developing in-depth member education on racial capitalism. They’re using bargaining to address structural racism and developing new leadership.
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