From growing fruits and vegetables to eating at a restaurant, the food system impacts all of us. And to ensure that our we have a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system for all it requires that we tackle challenges across the system from production to distribution to consumption. In doing so, we want to ensure that no farmer growing healthy food has to fear losing their land due to drought or debut and that no restaurant worker struggles to put food on the table for their families. Two critical entry points for creating sustainable and equitable solutions is the Farm Bill and the Minimum Wage.
In this case study, we examine the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition (BTCC) Plan to develop vacant land for renewable energy, green jobs, energy efficiency and affordable housing for a multi-racial constituency. Communities are at the frontline of our national challenges, be it jobs, housing or climate change, and often see opportunities to solve multiple challenges holistically, as does the Broadway Triangle Coalition. But while communities of color are generating new ideas and multiple efforts to build a more inclusive and green future we, as a nation, are not yet discussing policies to support these endeavors.
As a country, we long ago decided to feed the hungry, help the homeless, ensure our elderly have heat in winter and make sure every child gets a fair chance, by supporting public schools and programs for disabled and poor children. We have helped millions of children and families, White, Black, Latino, Asian and Native American, over the years through programs that work. We now face a crossroads come January 2013. Will we continue to invest in the education, housing and nutrition of Americans hit hard by the recession or begin to cut vital investments in Americans?
For the past two years, several states have passed some form of legislation requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification in order to register to vote and/or vote. Because of these laws, many senior citizens may face significant obstacles to voting given the barriers to obtain the identification. This is particularly concerning to senior citizens of color who are more likely to lack the documents to get a government-issued ID because of Jim Crow and other historical factors.
Communities of color have long been environmental activists and can be innovators in a new renewable energy economy. CSI’s case study analyzes efforts by community of color groups in Boston, Massachusetts to develop a community-owned energy service cooperative that would weatherize homes, provide jobs and lower emissions.
We all want to live in healthy places. That is becoming harder thanks to the combination of dirty, expensive energy and violent weather, droughts, and other problems of global climate change that we helped create. We know that reducing energy consumption and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy are essential steps to healthy and sustainable places to live.
No state can hope to build a 21st century economy on 19th Century technology. And no state or nation can be prosperous unless all residents can actively participate in building its economy. All Americans want access to the jobs, health services and educational opportunities that broadband, or high-speed Internet, can provide. Rural communities of all colors and predominantly African American urban and rural communities in particular tend to have less access to affordable, reliable broadband service either because it simply is not available where they live or because it is priced beyond reach. In Mississippi, the most rural state in the nation and the state with the highest percentage of African Americans, the implementation of aggressive and fair broadband infrastructure policies is critical to building a 21st century economy.
In today’s economic turmoil we are looking for jobs that will help put food on our table, pay for our homes, and enable us to put our children through college. We faced daunting unemployment rates before, but our nation’s leaders put people to work. The Public Works Administration of the New Deal Era employed 3.5 million workers. Wise decisions to pursue public programs, like Social Security, helped people buy homes and build a retirement system, helping to create the American middle class. Unfortunately, these programs discriminated against far too many hard working Americans based on the color of their skin. Imagine if we make these wise decisions in a way that ensures that all of our people could benefit from these solutions, no matter our race or ethnicity, more of us could invest in a strong economy and nation.
But it will require that we help people get to quality jobs and address the Jim Crow in jobs. As we know, Jim Crow was a system that relegated Black Americans to second-class citizenry, segregated their participation in social, civic, and economic life, and hindered access to education and prosperity. Today, Jim Crow exists in the job market as more Black and Latino workers are cast as second-class workers: over-represented in low-skill, low- wage occupations with limited chances to move up the ladder of opportunity.
People often ask me, “What do you really do?” After all, “transforming structural exclusion” is a mouthful and hard to digest. Basically, at CSI we make deep and lasting fairness for communities of color easier to achieve. We create, and help others create, policy and communications strategies and we build relationships that can transform the racially inequitable world we live in into the cohesive, diverse and prosperous one most Americans want.
Without public dollars, opportunity is limited. We work with others to look hard at federal
investments in transit, high speed internet access, renewable energy and community planning that communities of color need. And we advocate for fairer policies and models that include communities of color in transportation and broadband access, as well as the renewable energy economy.
The 2011 Federal Budget cuts come in the midst of an ongoing Recession that has burdened states with high populations of color, most of all. Yet, when we cut health and job training services to those who need it most, we lose our opportunity to build a healthy and strong country. And New York is no exception. New York, ranks 24th in CSI’s 2011 Impact Index and faces increased rates of uninsurance, unemployment, and poverty. New York City is set to grapple with tough decisions on the budget, while Congress is set to tackle both the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget. Our finding show that the 2011 Congressional Cuts in WIC funding, energy assistance, health access, and job training are likely to have negative consequences for all New York City’s vulnerable residents, especially residents of color. For example, Congress gutted over $600 million in assistance to Community Health Clinics. Yet, the majority of federally funded health clinics in the city primarily serve residents of color in concentrated areas in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.