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research and resources on racial, economic and environmental justice.
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.
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.
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.
Legislators introduced and passed a record number of bills restricting access to voting this year. New laws ranged from those requiring government-issued photo identification or documentary proof of citizenship to vote, to those reducing access to early and absentee voting, to those making it more difficult to register to vote. In total, at least nineteen laws and two executive actions making it more difficult to vote passed across the country, at least forty-two bills are still pending, and at least sixty-eight more were introduced but failed. As detailed in this report, the extent to which states have made voting more difficult is unprecedented in the last several decades, and comes after a dramatic shift in political power following the 2010 election. The battles over these laws were—and, in states where they are not yet over, continue to be—extremely partisan and among the most contentious in this year’s legislative session. Proponents of the laws have offered several reasons for their passage: to prevent fraud, to ease administrative burden, to save money. Opponents have focused on the fact that the new laws will make it much more difficult for eligible citizens to vote and to ensure that their votes are counted. In particular, they have pointed out that many of these laws will disproportionately impact low-income and minority citizens, renters, and students—eligible voters who already face the biggest hurdles to voting.
The Occupy Wall Street movement named the core issue of our time: the overwhelming power of Wall Street and large corporations— something the political establishment and most media have long ignored.
But the movement goes far beyond this critique. This Changes Everything shows how the movement is shifting the way people view themselves and the world, the kind of society they believe is possible, and their own involvement in creating a society that works for the 99% rather than just the 1%.
Attempts to pigeonhole this decentralized, fast-evolving movement have led to confusion and misperception. In this volume, the editors of YES! Magazine bring together voices from inside and outside the protests to convey the issues, possibilities, and personalities associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
This book features contributions from Naomi Klein, David Korten, Rebecca Solnit, Ralph Nader, and others, as well as Occupy activists who were there from the beginning, such as David Graeber, Marina Sitrin and Hena Ashraf. It offers insights for those actively protesting or expressing support for the movement—and for the millions more who sympathize with the goal of a more equitable and democratic future.
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