Type Title
Research Report: The State of Opportunity Report (2009)

This is the 2009 State of Opportunity report.  Here you may download the final report, the final report with accompanying charts, a synopsis, and each of the indicators individually.

Read more about the report here.

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Communications Talking Points: The State of Opportunity Report (2009)

This memo offers guidance for using the 2009 State of Opportunity in America report, which examines various dimensions of opportunity, including health care, wealth and income, education, and incarceration. While expanding opportunity in America remains a goal of policymakers and advocates alike, this report finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality. Our recommendations to address this reality offer concrete ideas for moving us forward together.

Research Report: The State of Opportunity Update (2007)

This is the 2007 update to the State of Opportunity report.  There are two files, the full chart of indicators and a summary.

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Research Report: State of Opportunity (2006)

SoO2006_0.pngIf the promise of opportunity is a core national commitment, it is essential to measure our success in fulfilling that commitment.  This report assesses the nation’s progress toward protecting and expanding opportunity for all Americans and encourages our policymakers, through bold leadership and innovative policies, to ensure the promise of o

Research Brochure: About The Opportunity Agenda (2008)

Read about The Opportunity Agenda in our new brochure.

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Page Top Public Opinion Insights To Begin The New Year


Photo courtesy of Flickr/kelly88ros

By Jhanidya Bermeo 

Page Public Opinion Monthly (December 2011)

By: Jill Mizell

December 9, 2011

Americans’ views of family are undergoing major shifts. Divisions arise over definitions of family, and many still hold a negative view of single parents, particularly mothers. Polling research shows the wide range of attitudes and perceptions that lead Americans to judge other people’s families, including families that do not mirror their own. 

Page Telebriefing: Tracking the Crackdown - June 15, 2011

On June 15, New America Media and The Opportunity Agenda hosted a telephonic news briefing on efforts to amend the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to deny birthright citizenship to any child born in the United States to parents who are undocumented immigrants. This proposed change specifically targets immigrant women.

Blog Post The Voice & Vision of Maya Angelou

Musings from members of our community about the impact of Dr. Maya Angelou on their lives, dreams, and creativity.

A Young Girl, Grabbing Life by the Lapels, by Eva-Marie Malone

It feels like a contradiction to mourn the passing of Dr. Angelou, because unlike many other well-known people who are gone, her life doesn’t seem incomplete. Often, the first response to the loss of someone famous is to imagine “what might have been” or what else they might have accomplished. Everything about Dr. Angelou’s life and writing felt complete.  Although this transition feels like a personal loss to many of us, her impact continues to resonate and breathe for all of us. 

Blog Post From Angie Zapata to Laverne Cox

Sitting in a cab on my way to the airport, after facilitating a full-day communications workshop in Mississippi, I flipped through a magazine mindlessly. Suddenly an advertising insert from a department store caught my eye. It was Barneys' campaign featuring exclusively transgender models, Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters. My thoughts immediately flashed back to 2009 when I was working at GLAAD and was focused on increasing Spanish language media coverage on Angie Zapata’s story. Angie was an 18-year-old from Colorado who was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher after her date found out she had been assigned a male identity at birth. The case drew national attention as one of the first in which a hate crime law was applied in a murder trial where the victim was transgender.

Blog Post Q&A with Helvetika Bold, Social Justice Superhero

This was originally posted by Lightbox Collaborative on Nov. 5

This week, we’re honored to share some ideas from communications superhero, Helvetika Bold. Created by our friends at Opportunity Agenda, Helvetika Bold is the kind of hero our movements need—sassy and strong, outspoken and on-message. Enjoy the tips and tricks she shared with us in a recent interview!

Blog Post Is Ignorance Bliss? The Use of Degrading Lyrics to Sell

When you think of the illustrious, beautiful, and talented Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, what comes to mind? Well… I’m sure the term “bitch” doesn’t resonate with you. Her latest controversial song “Bow Down/I Been On”, produced by Hit Boy has jolted the airwaves. In her song, Beyoncé explicitly asserts “This is my Sh__t, bow down B—es.” It is a far stretch from her fourth, studio album and debut single “Run the World.” And we must not forget her popular feminist salute, “If I Were A Boy,” which debuted on her third solo studio album. This raises a question: Are pejorative verbal tactics acceptable to increase record sales and to gain amiability from impressionable fans? The B-word implies a strong hatred for women; we should use no explicit words that will get our point across while avoiding demeaning terms that are insulting to females.

Blog Post The Negative Influence of Reality TV on Teenage Girls

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Many of us may have conversed around the water cooler about the provocative behavior that is displayed on some reality TV shows. It’s like junk food: we love it and we know it’s bad for us, but we—and our children—watch anyway. You might say that it’s a parent’s duty to steer a child in the right direction; however, with loads of technology available at our fingertips on a variety of devices, it can be next to impossible to shield a child from junk TV. Reality TV is popular entertainment that may be having an impact on teenage girls, making it seem that the impertinent verbal exchanges and sometimes violent confrontations displayed heavily on reality TV shows such as Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta are normal and desirable forms of behavior.

Blog Post In Honor of International Women's Day, Let's Go From Rhetoric to Reality

The strange case of the Georgetown 3L and the bombastic talk radio host has garnered a lot of news attention lately. Unfortunately, as is too often the case, that attention has been focused on the sound and fury, which signify nothing.

Blog Post A Courageous and Compassionate Voice Leaves Us

Last week, Hazel Dickens, who dedicated her life to using song to give voice to the voiceless, died at the age of 75.  Dickens’ voice was wholly her own, bearing all the traces of her hardscrabble mountain upbringing, and her passing is a great loss to American culture as well as the movement to expand to create full and equal opportunity.

Blog Post Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Round Up - Reproductive Rights

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Woman and daughter at Planned Parenthood Rally - photo by Warm Sleepy

Women’s Reproductive Rights Under Attack Yet Again

“History shows that when women and girls have access to opportunity, societies are more just, economies are more likely to prosper, and governments are more likely to serve the needs of all their people.” - President Barack Obama
 

Blog Post Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Round Up - International Women's Day

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Mothers march on 100th anniversary of International Women's Day in San Francisco
photo  by Steve Rhodes

ON 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY, WOMEN STILL STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY

 

Blog Post Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: 2010 is "The Year of the Woman?"

Women bring something different to the table; a perspective that is distinct from men’s. Both experiences are equally important, and both need to be incorporated in to decision-making and represented in power-circles if we hope to embrace all viewpoints and make progress as a society. Yet advancement for women and for gender equality seems to have stagnated, and considering how far we are from equality, stagnation is tantamount to decline.

Blog Post The Road Ahead on Jobs and Income

As the latest economic figures show, steps to ensure both greater and more equal opportunity benefit all Americans, and our nation as a whole. Now is the time to make them a reality.

Blog Post Beware the Easy Answer

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the state of affairs in America. His assessment was as follows: America never goes too far one way or too far the other. It’s like a sine wave; sometimes one side is up for a little while and the other side is down, then they switch. Despite this yo-yo phenomenon, overall he felt like things were improving.

Blog Post Women Hold Up Half the Sky

In light of International Women’s Day and the 54th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, on Tuesday, March 9th, the Urban Agenda’s Human Rights Project, The National Council on Research for Women and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership joined together with The Opportunity Agenda to hold a side event at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Blog Post International Women's Day is a Day for Action

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the obstacles that women have overcome in the U.S and around the world.  It’s also a time to acknowledge the hurdles that still exist, and for leadership in knocking them down.

Blog Post Women Wouldn't Have Named it the iPad

An analysis of ten of Silicon Valley's largest companies shows that of their employees, just 33 percent are women. This is despite evidence that women in the workforce are clearly beneficial.

Blog Post Victims of Severe Domestic Violence Eligible for Asylum

The New York Times reported last Wednesday that the Obama administration will support granting asylum for at least some victims of severe domestic violence.  This new position, written in a court filing submitted by the government in a currently pending asylum case, reverses the previous Bush administration stance.

Blog Post Real Choices for Reproductive Justice

It is certainly an important time for America's discussions of health, but also an important time to talk about equality in America as it relates to access to reproductive health care.

Blog Post The Power of a Diverse Supreme Court

In nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the President has made good on his promise to appoint someone with stellar qualifications and intellect who understands the experiences of everyday Americans. Raised in a Bronx housing project by her widowed single mother, Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and has had a remarkable legal career as a prosecutor, a private attorney, a trial court judge, and an appellate judge.

Blog Post The State of Opportunity in America (2009) Released

The Opportunity Agenda is pleased to announce the release of our 2009 State of Opportunity in America report. The report documents America’s progress in protecting opportunity for everyone who lives here, and finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality.

Blog Post Refusal To Participate in Maternal Deaths Review Shows City Has Not Learned from Brooklyn Death

The public recently witnessed the lack of basic care that people are subjected to at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York.  A woman was left for dead in the middle of the hospital’s psychiatric ward waiting room as staff did nothing but walk away.  The evidence in the New York Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against the city proved that this was not an isolated incident (it just happened to be one of the only ones caught on tape).  Unfortunately, New York City's government is not learning from this catastrophe and taking sufficient steps forward to examine their hospitals - Women's eNews is reporting that the city is refusing to participate in a state review of maternal deaths and racial disparities, despite the fact that New York City has the highest number of maternal deaths and one of the largest populations of African-American patients in the country.

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (the same agency that is named in the NYCLU lawsuit as the agency that is responsible for the negligence at Kings County Hospital Center), has refused to participate in the review the Safe Motherhood Initiative is conducting.  Pamela McDonnell, a spokesperson for Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) said:

We chose not to participate in the Safe Motherhood Initiative simply because we already participate in a number of established monitoring and review processes, measures and collaboratives.

However, one of the main points in the NYCLU's complaint was that the city had insufficient monitoring and oversight measures at its hospitals - it was this lack of oversight that led to last month's death at Kings County, and it could be part of the cause of numerous maternal deaths at city hospitals.

Blog Post You're Invited to a Hill Briefing on CERD and Health Inequality

Here's an event that folks interested in health equity and human rights might want to attend ...

Congressional Briefing on Health Inequality and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

The U.S. government recently filed a required periodic report to the United Nations on the nation's progress toward the elimination of racial discrimination. The report cited progress in many areas, including health and health care. The U.N. CERD Committee agreed with some aspects of the report but noted that the United States has failed to recognize and remedy instances where facially-neutral policies contribute to inequality in health and health care.

To address these issues, several dozen non-governmental organizations and individual scholars, under the leadership of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, prepared a "shadow" report, Unequal Health Outcomes in the United States (available at http://www.prrac.org/pdf/CERDhealthEnvironmentReport.pdf), that illustrates instances of non-compliance with CERD in the right to health, health care access, and treatment, and outlines steps to correct them.

You are invited to a special briefing with some of the collaborators on this report to learn of the extent of racial inequality in health and environmental health, their causes, and actions that government can take to address them. This panel discussion, moderated by Brian Smedley of The Opportunity Agenda, will feature presentations from Katrina Anderson of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Steve Hitov of the National Health Law Program, Rea Pañares of Families USA, and Philip Tegeler of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, and will take place on April 24 from 1:30pm - 3:00pm in room HC-8 of the Capitol. To RSVP for the briefing, please call or email Kara Forsyth of the Raben Group at (202) 223-2848 or KForsyth@rabengroup.com. All are invited, but seating is limited and priority will be giving to Congressional staff and members.

Blog Post All Things Being Equal: Instigating Opportunity in an Inequitable Time

"One year from now, our country will choose a new president. And
while the candidates have debated extensively on individual issues like
health care, the war, the economy, and the environment, they have
offered far less in terms of a positive, overarching vision for our
country that both addresses and transcends individual issues.

While candidates' positions on the issues of the day are crucially
important, it's equally important to take their measure on what George
H. W. Bush called "the vision thing":
the clarity of ideals, values, and principles that inspire and shape a
president's approach to a broad range of issues, including ones that no
one could have anticipated on the day he or she was elected.

A new book by The Opportunity Agenda
offers such a vision on the domestic front; one to which we hope the
presidential contenders of both parties will respond. Not surprisingly,
that vision centers on opportunity, the idea that everyone deserves a
fair chance to achieve his or her full potential. In the book "All Things Being Equal: Instigating Opportunity in an Inequitable Time,"
a dozen leading thinkers paint a picture of what opportunity means in
our society, where we are falling short, and what must be done to
instigate opportunity for all. Their vision bridges myriad
issues—education, employment, housing, criminal justice, immigration,
health care, human rights—and disciplines—public health, economics,
criminology, law, sociology, psychology, education, social work. The
authors provide a clear and hopeful path to the future, a wake-up call
to our nation's current and future leaders, and concrete solutions that
promise to carry us forward.

As I've written before in this column, opportunity is not just a set of national conditions, but a body of national values:
economic security, mobility, a voice in decisions that affect us, a
chance to start over after missteps or misfortune, and a shared sense
of responsibility for each other-as members of a common society.
Analyzing their own and others' research through the lens of those
values, the authors of All Things Being Equal warn that opportunity is
increasingly at risk for all Americans and, therefore, for our country
as a whole. They find that many communities are facing multiple
barriers to opportunity that cannot be overcome through personal effort
alone. But, most importantly, they find that we have it in our power as
a country to turn those trends around."

  • The Immigration Equality blog has posted about yesterday's confirmation of Michael Mukasey as US Attorney General, after a long struggle in the Senate Judiciary Committee over his unwillingness to label waterboarding as illegal and torturous. The blog also notes that his position on the matter is being interpreted by some as a way of insulating the Department of Justice from future lawsuits or charges against government officials for human rights violations.

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The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog reposted a recent New York Times article on the Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans.  While many veterans have ended up the sort of post-traumatic stress disorder which often correlates with homelessness, it's unusual that veterans would show up in shelters as soon after deployment as have the most recent batch after duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Sexual abuse is another factor which correlates with homelessness -- the article states that "roughly 40 percent of the hundreds of homeless female veterans of recent wars have said they were sexually assaulted by American soldiers while in the military."

Finally, the Too Sense blog posted a graph of the racial diversity in campaign staff among the top 2008 presidential candidates.  While Clinton's staff is the most diverse, Giuliani's staff is 100% white.
Blog Post San Francisco Hospital Closure Will Deny Health Care Access to Underserved Communities
  • The Happening Here blog has a new post up on a newly-announced hospital closure in San Francisco's Mission District.  While a hearing will be held next week on the plan to shut down St. Luke's Hospital, author Janinsanfran notes:

"Opponents of the closure quickly discovered unearthed evidence that the impact
of CPMC's plan would be to dump most of their Black, Brown and charity
care patients. CPMC wants to build yet another North of Market Street
hospital on Cathedral Hill, while leaving the South of Market area
entirely to the care of the over-crowded, under-funded county hospital."

Decreasing access to medical care for communities of color and low-income communities is a reality in New York City as well, as illustrated by our google map mash up Health Care That Works. This process continues despite the fact that the majority of New Yorkers agree that health care is a human right.

  • Feministing has blogged about a recent Kansas City ruling on women's access to contraception, in a lawsuit in which women had alleged discrimination because AT&T refused to provide health insurance coverage for birth control for female employees. The appellate court ruled that "contraception was not 'related to' pregnancy for purposes of the law" and therefore AT&T's actions did not comprise discrimination.
  • The Facing South blog has posted about the recent introduction of the Gulf Civil Works bill in Congress, legislation aimed at addressing the problem that "there are still about 100,000 fewer jobs in the Gulf than there was pre-Katrina." In the spirit of the New Deal construction works, the program would create these jobs working on much-needed public infrastructure projects. According to Stephen Bradberry,
    head state organizer of ACORN Louisiana, the region’s largest
    association of low and middle income families,

“Communities across the Gulf Coast suffer from crumbling roads and
water systems, ill constructed flood protection, and closed police
stations, fire house, schools and hospitals...We have an opportunity
to jumpstart the recovery by empowering communities with the resources
they need to lead.”

  • Finally, Ezra Klein has written an insightful piece on Affluence vs. Security.  Discussing whether or not American living standards are getting better or worse, Klein says:

"I haven't quite worked this theory out yet, but my sense is that economic status has been cleaved free of economic security.
So the sort of goods that signal affluence -- iPods and iPhones and
laptop computers and plasma televisions -- are becoming much cheaper,
more broadly accessible, and thus more widely owned. Lots of people,
particularly young people, can thus claim economic status. The
trappings of our wealth are all around us.

Yet economic security is quite a bit further from reach. It's
impossible for me to imagine how I'll ever buy a home. Further
education for me and eventual education for my kids are far beyond what
my salary seems able to bear. And let's not get into health care. Point
being: The affluence I can easily purchase into my 20s seems liable to
crash right into the security I discover is out of reach in my 30s.

Meanwhile, from where I sit, the American Dream is a pretty weak force.
White picket fences aren't the culturally transmitted vision of
prosperity. Electronics are. Awesome stuff
is. We're seeking goods, not security. And we can buy goods. Which
makes us feel prosperous. And if you feel prosperous, if you consider
yourself affluent, you can't merge that self-conception with economic
insecurity, and thus it's hard to consider yourself part of a coalition
in need of economic reform, or more advantageous public policy. By
offering status without security, folks lose the class discontent that
would turn them into a constituency for the security. And so they don't
get it."

Do we agree that true economic security remains elusive for our younger generations? What can we do to bolster the American Dream, to promote policies that will create opportunities and stability for everyone in America?

Blog Post ICE Detention Center Employed Undocumented Immigrants
Blog Post Crime is Not an Isolated Action, in New Orleans and Beyond
  • Bill Quigley at the Black Agenda Report has written a piece on the apparent meltdown of the criminal justice system in New Orleans, where violent crime rates are hovering at seven times the national average. Quigley speaks of the integral relationship between socioeconomic security and crime rates:

"Crime is not an isolated action. It is impossible to fix the crime problem if
the rest of the institutions that people rely on remain deeply broken....Only when the criminal justice system is supported by a
good public education available to all children, sufficient affordable housing
for families, accessible healthcare (especially mental healthcare), and jobs
that pay living wages, can the community expect the crime rate to go down."

  • The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog has highlighted a community in Western Massachusetts in which those without the financial means to post a few hundred dollars in bail are held for months before their trials. While eighty-five percent of women being held have substance abuse problems, and many have families to care for, the county has opted to spend thousands of dollars each month to keep women in newly-constructed jails rather than offer treatment programs that would offer inmates a chance at rehabilitation and redemption. Author Lois Ahrens notes that "holding women and men who are too poor to make bail results in
    devastating consequences: more jail building, greater impoverishment of
    the poor, and continued criminalization of addiction and mental illness."

Jack and Jill Politics has alerted us to the fact that the Bush administration is working with the Senate to discontinue federal downpayment assistance for first-time homebuyers. Some striking statistics from the post: "From 2000 through 2006, more than 650,000 buyers got their down payments through nonprofits" working with this program, and "the move to get rid of downpayment assistance programs will bar approximately 40% of African-American homebuyers from utilizing Federal Housing Administration insured loans. Also affected are potentially 30% of Latinos."
  • We'd previously noted that the California wildfires had resulted in undocumented immigrants turning themselves in to the border patrol because they feared for their safety. A number of blogs, however, have exposed other effects of the fires on immigrant communities. The Black Agenda Report has discussed raids of the displaced people at Qualcomm stadium as well as farmers not permitting their workers to evacuate. IntraPolitics talks about how the San Diego Sheriff's department is checking for ID among people returning to their homes, and continues to the draw further comparisons between the wildfires and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina:

"The policies undertaken by law enforcement and developers in these
regions of natural disasters, in my opinion, is part of a general
scheme to displace the poor and minority property owners and renters.
The backlash against social programs designed to help people obtain
affordable housing, combined with the expected pitfalls of subprime
mortgage lending, have placed us in a crisis of vulnerable populations
losing the small allowances of economic power and self-determination
they've had."

  • 'Just News Blog' and the ImmigrationProf Blog have covered the story of 'a new low' in immigration raids: harassing a Latino community on their way to and from church services. Local law enforcement officials have been setting up roadblocks along two streets in Mount Olive, North Carolina in order to request documentation of churchgoers, many of whom are employed at the Butterball slaughterhouse two miles away.
  • Finally, in honor of the holiday, Racialicious has a very interesting post up entitled 'Reasons I Hate Halloween,' which discusses the prevalence of costumes that "reinforce the eroticized and/or dangerous stereotypes associated with Muslim and Middle Eastern men and women." Author Fatemeh Fakhraie provides a variety of examples to support her discomfort with the use of these stereotypes as 'dress-up' options.
Blog Post DREAM Act Vote Today in Senate
  • The DREAM Act legislation which would provide undocumented students the means to stay in the country legally if they attend college or join the military is up for a vote today in the Senate. The Border Line reports that it remains unclear if enough Senators will come out in support of the bill, measure which would provide many students who arrived in the US legally as young children with access to federal funding for continue their education in hope of giving back to their communities.

As the wildfires continue to rage in Southern California, Immigration News Daily has posted that about fifty undocumented immigrants have turned themselves into border patrol agents out of fear for their safety. Various bloggers such as Prometheus 6 are starting to draw comparisons between the immense devastation of the wildfires and that of Hurricane Katrina, and how the socio-economic status of the displaced populations has affected the care and attention each received.

RaceWire has done a piece about Blackwater's new bid to get involved with security on the US-Mexico border.  Author Seth Wessler explains how problematic this situation would be, despite apparent bipartisan support in Congress:

"Given Blackwater’s 'shoot first' policy, enacted with bloody clarity in Iraq and on the streets of New Orleans after Katrina,
the plans to expand to the border region do not bode well. With
vigilante groups like the Minutemen already taking their racist,
nationalist stance to the front lines, guns in hand, the addition of
Blackwater to the scene would only mean more dead immigrants with less
accountability.

In a political climate where the rhetoric on immigration employs the
lexicon of war, the possibility of Blackwater’s entry into the border
security scene seems to fit the frame. As if it were not enough that
the United States is building a wall along
the border and the the total number of deportations has increased by
over 400% in the past ten years, the border itself may be handed over
to private firms whose interests could not be less in line with the
common good."

  • The Unapologetic Mexican has joined the ranks of those reporting on a coalition of major newspapers and television networks who are petitioning to gain access to Jena Six member Mychal Bell's sealed criminal trial.  Bell's lawyer seems to agree that the media presence may help temper further questionable rulings by District Attorney Reed Walters, and that the case has been publicized enough to date that Americans have a right to know what is going on.

The Republic of T is spreading the news about the just-announced date of next July's 'Blogging While Brown' conference.  In a blogosphere in which people of color remain the minority, it is tremendously important for bloggers of color to organize themselves in order to maximize potential to publicize issues of import such as the Jena Six case.

Feministing posts that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke this past weekend about the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, about how she doesn't forsee the ruling being overturned in the next few years.  She added, however, that if it were overturned, abortion would always be available to 'women of means' who could afford to travel to other states, but "would have a devastating impact on poor women."
Blog Post Fear of a Black Princess

Alan Jenkin's new piece at Tom Paine is now live.  In this latest essay, Alan expresses hope and dread over Disney's decision to finally feature an African American princess in one of their films.

There’s an old joke, retold by Woody Allen in the film "Annie Hall,"
in which two elderly women are having dinner at a Catskill mountain
resort. One of the women says, "Boy, the food at this place is really
terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."
I had a similar reaction when I heard last week that Disney would soon
be releasing its first film to feature an African-American “princess”:
It’s about time; and I kind of wish they wouldn’t.

As the father of two young girls, I’m immersed in princess-land and,
for that matter, everything Disney—from the excruciating "High School
Musical" I and II to the mildly redeeming Cheetah Girls franchise. And
as the father of two young African-American girls, the effort to find
positive role models in whom they can see themselves and who have
resonance in their world is both exhausting and frustrating.

Blog Post I'm Not Racist, But You Probably Are

A few quick hits from around the blogosphere today:

  • Race and Media reports on some new Zogby polling data about American's racial prejudices.  Apparently we tend to think that we're not racist, but those other folks over there probably are:

The “Report Card on American Prejudice” is described as part of a
wide-ranging effort by the Game Show Network, sponsors of the poll and
of a new television show, “Without Prejudice,” to spur a national dialogue on intolerance and bigotry.

The poll showed: While 67 percent of respondents claimed to have no
preference themselves between a white, black or Arab clerk in a
convenience store, 71 percent said, “most Americans” would seek out the
white clerk. Just 1 percent said Americans’ first choice would be to
approach a black clerk, while less than 0.5 percent said the same for
an Arab clerk.

And yet, 55 percent of respondents said race relations have improved over the past 10 years.

  • Looks like health insurers are getting ready to exploit undocumented immigrants under the guise of providing health services (aka tapping an underutilized market).  In some respects this could be a good thing, but the potential for exploitation is really high - particularly when you factor in language difficulties and a general unfamiliarity with the American health care system.  On the other hand, could this also be a potential ally in future immigration battles?  If SEIU can team up with WalMart, anything is possible.  Or am I being naive?
  • The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed in the House of Representatives.  The bill will "return the industry to the longstanding “paycheck accrual” rule, and
    allow a pay discrimination action to accrue every time the employee
    receives a paycheck that is affected by a discriminatory action."  A similar bill is now in the Senate.
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-Up 6/13/07: Part 2
  • The Washington Post discusses the sub par health care that
    many undocumented workers receive while serving jail time with the U.S.
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Lawyers
    are currently investigating numerous claims on behalf of undocumented workers who
    were taken into custody with minor illnesses and released with life-threatening
    infections. The ACLU stated that
    detainees often have poor English skills, don’t know their rights and have no
    access to counsel; another example of how our current system fails to treat both immigrants or those enmeshed in the criminal justice system fairly and humanely.
  • In an update to previous coverage of the 5-4 Supreme
    Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, ACS Blog reports on the House Committee on Education
    and Labor held a hearing today to consider restoring anti-discriminatory
    protections for workers. Leadership
    Conference on Civil Rights’ Wade Henderson stated before the committee that this
    outcome is “fundamentally unfair to victims of pay discrimination” and that the
    outcome “ignores the realities of the workplace.”
  • Huffington Post reports with more information on the Dreams
    Across America
    project (refer to our previous posting): an immigrants’ rights
    group using Web 2.0 to put a human face on immigration and advocated for comprehensive positive reform that expands opportunity for all in America. As
    ImmigrationProf adds, the opposition to legalization is strong, with
    grassfire.org sending 700,000 faxes and emails and making 1 million personal
    contacts with Senators. Groups like
    Dreams Across America, with innovative, online strategies, are necessary to combat these
    opposition organizations that are rallying online.
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-Up 6/8/07
  • Racialicious reports on the discrepancies in the 2000 U.S.
    Census
    , stating that over 700,000 blacks were not counted nationwide. Committees are looking for ways to clear up
    such problems in future census counts, as mistakes skew the representative character of our government. The census has presented a number of problems for communities of color, who are frequently miscounted in a number of ways. As featured on the State of Opportunity website, the 2000 Census counts prison inmates as inhabitants of their prison
    towns, not their home towns. This miscount of the populations of those areas, results in a loss of both resources and equal representation for those communities.  An accurate census is important to
    maintaining a true democracy that suits the people’s needs.
  • Racialicious continues its coverage on the lack of the
    diversity on TV networks
    , especially in television writers. While certain prime-time shows do feature
    minority actors, on the whole, many of these characters are merely supporting
    predominantly white casts. In response
    to the new line-up of shows for the fall, Janet Murguia, president of the
    National Council of La Raza, voiced her dismay: “It seems to me that we're
    losing ground. I'm puzzled. Where there
    has been diversity, there's been success…But with a few exceptions, this is the
    least diverse lineup we've seen in recent years.”  In a study of the Writers Guild of America,
    West showed that white males disproportionately dominate film and TV jobs in Hollywood, and that
    minority writers accounted for fewer than 10% of employed television writers
    between 1999 and 2005. Without proper
    representation of the true diversity in this country, TV networks are
    showcasing a false view of the country, thus contributing to more hostilities
    and stereotypes in race relations.
  • BlogHer reports on the importance of comprehensive sex
    education and access to birth control within the frame of a “basic human right
    and a normal value.” In addition to
    explaining how much support throughout the country exists across gender and
    party lines, BlogHer’s use of language truly exemplifies the type of communication
    strategies advocates need to unite the country. By framing access to birth control as a basic human right, BlogHer
    elevates the reproductive rights struggle to a more universal issue, one to
    which many people can relate. This
    framing is a positive step for advocacy everywhere!
  • Sakaduski Marketing Blog reports on a recent study from the
    Harvard School of Public Health, which grouped people based on race, country of
    residence and a few other community characteristics and compared life expectancy
    rates in each “race country.” These
    researchers found that life expectancy rates differed dramatically between
    these eight “race countries”: Asians, northland low-income rural whites, Middle
    America, low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi valley, Western Native Americans, black Middle America, southern low-income
    rural blacks, and high-risk urban blacks. For example, the gap between the high-risk urban black males and the
    Asian females was nearly 21 years. Differences
    in access to health care and health insurance, as well as the quality of care one receives, are a primary cause such disparities, severely hurting many minority groups. Without equality to health care, these eight Americas will continue to show such huge unfair discrepancies.
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-Up 6/6/07
  • Racialicious reports on a New York Times article explaining
    the ways in which New York City's composition of “mom and pop” stores would change drastically under the proposed
    immigration bill. Contrary to previous
    systems of sponsorship for extended family members, this new bill places a higher value on education and skilled labor via a points system. Many of these small businesses continue to thrive today as a
    result of these families ability to bring in new workers. As the study notes, much of the reconstruction of New York City after the bankruptcy and
    property losses of the 1970s can be traced to the influx of new immigrants. These immigrants, many who would have been turned away by the provision of the current bill, play a key role in revitalizing American cities like New York.
  • ChartradioA recent Free Press study
    (pdf) reports on the lack of diversity in radio ownership, attributing the dismal
    figures partly to FCC policy and media consolidation. This study is the first
    complete assessment and analysis of female and minority ownership of full-power
    commercial broadcast stations in the U.S since a ruling from the Third U.S. Circuit Court
    of Appeals in 2004 criticized the lack of diversity on radio, television and
    newspapers.  Since that ruling, the FCC has done next to nothing to improve minority ownership. Currently, women own just 6 percent of commercial broadcast radio stations, and
    racial or ethnic minorities own just 7.7% of them. As a media outlet, dependent on the public airwaves, radio should accurately
    represent the composition of the country, and provide all groups an equal voice in our democracy
  • Feminist blogs reports on an American Journal for Public
    Health study
    which found a correlation between routine, subtle racial
    discrimination and development of chronic illness. The study interviewed Asian-Americans across the U. S. about their personal experience with discrimination and their medical histories,
    concluding that stress from the former may cause problems ranging from
    mental health issues to chronic cardiovascular, respiratory and pain-related health
    trouble. Overlooking the negative
    effects of subtle institutional racism causes great harm for the groups in
    question, and prevents positive solutions through social programs. For example, the recent attempts to allow communities to integrate schools in segregated neighborhoods have not garnered as much support as they should because of people's perceptions about the existence of racism.  Without a true understanding of the problems our society still faces, minorities will continue to be disadvantaged.
  • Bloomberg.com reports on the impact of presidential
    candidates’ attitudes on immigration in the upcoming election. With varied reactions from all walks of life,
    this bill faces several amendment suggestions to soothe responses. Particularly of concern to immigrant advocacy
    groups is the lack of emphasis on family over a point system highlighting education and professional. Deepak Bhargava,
    executive director of Center for Community Change, responded that “the
    emotional resonance of the family issue is profound. This point system is not just wrong-headed
    policy, it is deeply offensive to many people who came to this country as
    immigrants.”
  • In a similar piece, the Gotham Gazette reports on the new
    immigration bills and advocacy groups’ reactions. Many groups in New York expressed dismay over the point
    system, unhappy about a bill that does not stress family reunification. In response, Chung-Wha Hong, executive
    director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said that “the proposed
    bargain…undermines our family-based immigration system.”
Blog Post Daily Blog Round-up
  • ACS blog reports on the 5-4 majority decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, a case involving sex discrimination in the workplace.  While the gender wage gap has narrowed in the last 30 years, this decision only makes further advances more difficult.  The State of Opportunity in America (pdf) cites that in 2003, a women’s average wage was still only 81% of a man’s average wage.  By continuing to put such roadblocks in the path of possible equal opportunity employers, women and minority groups will have a much harder time fighting for equality in the workforce.
  • Prometheus 6 reports on Color of Change’s continuous efforts to unite the rising black blogosphere and the progressive netroots to combat the Congressional Black Caucus’s democratic debates on Fox News.  Color of Change is pioneering new forms of online activism for racial justice advocates.  Show your support by checking out their site.
  • DMI reports on senators' reactions to the recent immigration proposal (The Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act (pdf)) and to the NY Times/CBS poll showing a strong majority of American support for providing a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.  DMI discusses the senators' apparent disconnect with this majority, detailing two different amendments to the bill (introduced by Senators Vitter and Coleman), which would have created roadblocks to a compassionate pathway to citizenship that recognizes the contributions immigrants make to our country. 
Blog Post Diversity on Sunday Shows

Following up on our previous post about the lack of diversity on cable news programs, Media Matters has conducted another study, this time analyzing the guests on the four major Sunday news programs: Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday.  The results revealed an alarming lack of gender and ethnic diversity among the guests:

sundiv-20070511-gender  sundiv-20070511-eth

Media Matters has more.

Blog Post New Voices Fellowship

Since I know that many of the people reading this site work in the nonprofit sector, I thought I'd pass on this fellowship opportunity.  If you are working in the Gulf Coast, it's a great opportunity to increase your organization's operating capacity and find funding for your work around Hurricane Katrina:

 

NEW VOICES
GULF COAST TRANSFORMATION
FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

The New Voices
Gulf Coast Transformation Fellowship is a response to the harm and displacement
caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Eligible nonprofit organizations
will be those located in Alabama, Louisiana, or Mississippi; in three
cities with large numbers of displaced residents (Atlanta, Dallas, or
Houston); or in the Gulf Coast regions of Florida or Texas.  The
New Voices funding will address needs, solve problems, and defend human
rights in six sponsored program areas:  Human Rights, HIV/AIDS,
Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice, Reproductive Rights, and Women’s
Rights.

This grant
opportunity is an initiative of the New Voices National Fellowship,
a program administered by the Academy for Educational Development and
made possible with support from the Ford Foundation.  New Voices
is a national grantmaking initiative focused on leadership development,
nonprofit strengthening, and empowering talented individuals from diverse
backgrounds.  The fellowship enables diverse candidates with compelling
backgrounds or interests to launch a career in social justice, even
as it supports small nonprofits in staffing up for innovative, impactful
human rights work.  A unique aspect of the program is that the
host nonprofit and its proposed Fellow apply jointly for the grant.

Organizations
that conduct policy research and analysis, policy advocacy, litigation,
community organizing, popular education, leadership development, and
demonstration projects with a systems change approach and an evaluation
component are eligible. Organizations that propose to provide only direct
services to individuals are not eligible.

For a complete
overview, please visit the New Voices web site,
http://newvoices.aed.org.

For additional
information or feedback, please contact New Voices staff by phone at
202-884-8051, email us at
newvoices@aed.org. Complete grant applications are due
on Monday, February 5, 2007. 

Blog Post Images of Opportunity

The Doors of Opportunity IIHere are The Opportunity Agenda, we are fortunate to have a strong partnership with the New School University in New York, where we teach a class on media and social justice, and work with some great professors who use our organization as a case study in their classes.  Most recently,
Professor Kit Laybourne used our organization as the "client" in his media production class.

Students in the class were tasked with producing an image that was representative of:

  1. an issue area in which The Opportunity Agenda was active; and/or

Redemption is in our Nature

one of the 6 Core Opportunity Values that we use as the basis of our framing. 

Students tasked with producing two images.  One of which contained text and could function as an iconic image on our blog or website when we cover a particular issue or message around a particular core value.  The second image was designed specifically for use by others.  It was to contain no text, and was meant to be a "blank canvass" that other nonprofit organizations or social justice activists could use to remix and reuse the images for their own work.  To that end, all images were to be original photos taken by the students, original graphic illustrations, or images found under a suitable creative commons license

Community Graphic

The results are in, and we're really please with the results.  I've created a Flickr set of the images and tagged the photos with a number of common tags - non profit, creative commons, etc.

I'd invite you take a look at the work the students produced, pass the
photos around, and use them in your own work.  If anyone has questions
about our process, usage rights, or recommendations on how we might take this to the
next level, please let me know.

All the images can be viewed here, on our Flickr page.

Blog Post Closing Wage Gaps

Not a lot of time to blog today.  I'm giving a guest lecture on blogging at the New School today, and I need to practice my presentation.  I promise I'll have a cornucopia of posts tomorrow on all sorts of interesting opportunity issues.

To tide you over, check out Ezra Klein's interesting analysis of the wage gender gap.

Blog Post More for Maryland Opportunity Bus Tour

I don't have time to fully blog this, but wanted to point people to The More for Maryland Opportunity Bus Tour.

The More for Maryland Campaign is facilitated by the Safe and Sound
Campaign. It is an effort to get the attention of our elected officials
that are running for office to pay attention to one simple truth; when
you have opportunity, life turns out better. It is very possible to use
our state budget and our local budget to fund opportunity for our
citizens. In so doing, people grow up safe and healthy and productive
citizens in our society, says Hathaway Ferebee, executive director of
Baltimore Safe and Sound Campaign.

It's an interesting program to raise awareness about a campaign to allocate tax dollars in a way that creates more opportunity for Maryland citizens - particularly in the context of foster care and drug treatment programs.  We profiled an early version of this program in February.

Blog Post NYC Health Update, Health Blog Roundup

To update our post from yesterday regarding health equity issues in NYC and the state's proposed $1.5 billion bailout, The Albany Times Union does a much better job covering the issues than the New York Times.  Following The Times' lead, The AP also drops the ball with this one-sided piece that makes no mention of the true costs of the looming hospital closures to already underseved low-income communities and communities of color.  Interesting that local papers seem to be doing such a better job covering this issue . . .

If you missed them yesterday, check out our maps illustrating the disproportionate distribution of health care services that already exist in NYC.  These problems are likely to be exacerbated by the state's use of $1.5 billion to "rightsize" New York's health care system.

In a move likely to have negative consequences for the economic security of working Americans, the NLRB is expected to "broaden the definition of "supervisor" under the National Labor
Relations Act in a way that will exclude millions of workers from the
law's protections."  EPI has the goods in a state by state analysis.

CAP reports that this move will likely have health consequences as well, as one of the groups most impacted will be the nursing profession.  Nurses unions are one of the leading advocates  for lower nurse to patient ratios that can improve health care services for all.  Sara Solon at DMI Blog has more on the impact this decision will have on the nursing profession.

What are you reading today?

Blog Post For Better or Worse

If you are in DC and have some free time on September 28th, we recommend you check out this (free) forum at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.  It should be an engaging and informative discussion about the impact of race, poverty, and gender on African American women and their families.  Details below.

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For Better or For Worse: The Implications of Poverty, Gender and Race on African American Women and Their Families

When: Thursday, September 28, 2006, 4 PM – 6 PM

Where: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
            1629 K Street, NW
            10th Floor – conference room
            Washington, DC 20006

RSVP: RSpraggins@deltafoundation.net or call (202) 347-1337.

The Forum Discussion brings thought-provoking speakers, scholars, activists and community leaders to discuss poverty, race and gender and their impact on African American women and their families. These discussions promise to generate personal reflection and social action within our communities.

This event will show the depths and varieties of women’s poverty.   A distinguished panel will discuss and examine the connection between the social, economic, cultural and political impact of poverty on African American women and their families

Moderated by:  Dr. Chester Hartman, Director of Research, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and co-editor of There is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class, and Hurricane Katrina just published by Routledge.

Confirmed panelists include:

Dr. Roderick Harrison, Director of Databank at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC.

Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, Director of the Poverty, Education and Social Justice Programs at The Institute for Women Policy Research in Washington, DC.

Dr. William Spriggs, Chair of the Economics Department at Howard University in Washington, DC.

Dr. Susan Popkin, Senior Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Planning center at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.

A Q&A session will follow.

Sponsored by: Delta Research and Educational Foundation, The Center for Research on African American Women, and The Poverty & Race Research Action Council

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