All-In California by Anand Subramanian, PolicyLink and Jamal Hagler, Center for American Progress


2On September 23, the Center for American Progress and PolicyLink hosted “All-In California: Equity and the Future of the Golden State,” an event that put a California context on their recently published All-In Nation: An America that Works for All.

Maya Harris, vice president for democracy, rights, and justice at the Ford Foundation, gave a stirring opening, emphasizing that:

… we must eliminate policies and practices that reinforce racial inequities, so that all peoples’ dignity to be full participants in our society can be realized. Equal access to economic security is not just a moral and political imperative, it is an economic imperative to secure our country’s place as the most prosperous nation in a global economy.

The event consisted of two lively panel discussions and a dynamic conversation with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

CAP President Neera Tanden moderated the first panel, “The Politics to Advance an All-In California,” which considered how to politically engage communities of color to increase economic inclusion in California.

“One of the singular challenges of our time is the growing inequality that is stifling economic opportunity in this country, informed by stinging racial inequity that grew during the recession,” Tanden said. “The whole country’s economy will suffer if we leave so many people behind.”

This discussion, which delved into the importance of coalition building, developing lasting relationships, and encouraging civic participation among communities of color, included Cindy Chavez of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont of Oakland Rising, and Anthony Thigpenn of California Calls. The panelists suggested that pooling resources was an effective way for communities of color to bring about changes needed to achieve equity, such as increasing the minimum wage and improving public education.

PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell led the second panel discussion, entitled “Equity in the Tech-Driven Regional Economy,” which focused on the need for more inclusion of diverse groups in the booming Silicon Valley tech sector.

This panel included Nikki Bas of East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors, Kirby Harris of Base Ventures, and Jason Young of the Hidden Genius Project, and introduced methods and programs to unlock potential within communities of color and ensure that they are provided the skills and opportunities to thrive in the tech-driven economy of the future.

The Hidden Genius Project, which trains at-risk black youth in software development and entrepreneurial thinking, is a potential blueprint of how to unlock this potential and an example of how we can prepare our children of color to be essential participants in the workforce.

The event closed with a conversation between Blackwell and Mayor Quan on “Building an All-In Oakland.” Mayor Quan discussed Oakland’s diverse demographics and described initiatives to ensure access to good jobs for communities of color, highlighting her decision to redevelop the Oakland Army Base as a way to bring good-paying blue-collar jobs to the surrounding community.

“Oakland is not just diverse ethnically; we’re fairly economically diverse,” said Mayor Quan. “My goal is to create more chances for Oakland neighborhoods to break out of long cycles of poverty and violence and get blue-collar workers into the middle class.

According to Blackwell, “California once led the nation by investing in its people. Legislation such as the minimum wage increase, Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and a slate of bills that expand opportunities for boys and men of color shows that the state is laying the groundwork to lead again.”

As we move toward an “All-In Nation,” it is essential that we look toward California, which has taken crucial steps toward expanding opportunities for communities of color.


Watch the archived video of “All-In California”



Posted October 11th, 2013