Since 2017, Essie Justice Group has bailed out 14 mothers to be with their families on Mother’s Day, and while they await trial, as part of the National Black Mama’s Bail Out action. Every year, Essie convenes members, community members, and partners on the steps of the Alameda or Los Angeles County Court steps to draw attention to the epidemic of mass incarceration’s devastation on Black cis women, transgender folks, and gender nonconforming individuals.
Perhaps the most insidious mechanism of incarceration is that police, probation, and prosecutors systematically criminalize poverty by setting bail amounts well beyond a price that Black women are able to pay. In California, the $50,000 median bail amount is five times the national average. Thanks to Justin Phillips for his thoughtful account for the San Francisco Chronicle of the persistence, hope, and strength of Essie Justice Group leaders, and their bold vision for a just future for Black mothers and their families.
The reason that young people do not show up to the polls at the same rate as older folks isn’t because they don’t care. One important barrier to voter registration is that the registration process itself is still too complicated and too inaccessible. Being able to register to vote at the DMV does not increase access as much as it might seem — many people are left out of the DMV registration process, and those who are eligible often opt-out because of the time it takes to register, or because they don’t understand the process or what is being asked of them. In a new piece for Teen VOGUE, Azul Jadiel Valdez Berumen, a member of the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, argues for upgrading California’s voter registration system to one where a person is automatically registered to vote when they provide proof of voting eligibility.
Earlier this month, PowerSwitch Action supported a day of action uniting Uber drivers in six cities across the country. Uber’s exploitative business model has pushed drivers into dangerous working conditions for too long, and workers have had enough. For the first time ever, Uber drivers moved a floor resolution at Uber’s shareholder meeting that would require the company to address this crisis. Uber tried to downplay the health and safety crisis to block the resolutions, but this fight is just getting started. Low pay and unfair termination practices are pushing drivers into dangerous situations, and they’re fighting back. More at the LA Daily News.
Cathy Cha, president and CEO of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, is a champion of the power of collaborative philanthropy, and also explicitly addressing race in funding any issue area. Cha told Inside Philanthropy that “there’s no issue that foundations are working on that can be done without dealing head-on with racism.” That’s why the Haas, Jr. Fund was one of the first funding partners of the California Black Freedom Fund, which aims to invest deeply and boldly in Black power-building organizations. “If we listen to and learn from Black leaders,” Cha tells Kyoko Uchida from Philanthropy News Digest, “they are going to lead us to solutions to many issues from education to criminal justice to affordable housing — and all Californians will benefit.”
Despite “some inroads” in recent years, grantmakers still have a long way to go in bringing equitable and consistent funding to Black-led nonprofits.
As part of their efforts to move significant financial resources to Black-led, community-based organizations building political power, the California Black Freedom Fund joined movement-based organizations from across California in Sacramento to call for the state to #FundBlackFreedom. The coalition, which included members of the Black Equity Collective, California Black Power Network, and LIVEFREE California, called for $100 million over five years to strengthen the relationship between the public sector and philanthropy groups serving Black communities across the state. Kaci Patterson, founder of the Black Equity Collective, summed up the Day of Action: “We are here today to say fund us like you know you need us. This budget ask is a down payment toward the state investing in who it says it wants to be.” More at the Sacramento Observer, Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley Journal.
The Black to the Future Public Policy Institute is back and now accepting applications for their 2023-24 cohort! The Public Policy Institute is a policy advocacy and leadership training fellowship that provides community leaders the tools they need to transform Black communities into constituencies that wield independent, Black political power. Learn more and apply (free of charge!) at bit.ly/B2F_Policy Institute
Change Consulting IRL
So much gratitude for Change Consulting’s strategy team whose work lays the foundation for successful communications efforts of all kinds. The team came together this week for an in-person retreat to address narrative and communications challenges, identify opportunities, and learn from each other in real life. More of this, please!