Urban Habitat staff, board members, allies, and over 2000 equity advocates from across the country gathered recently at the Equity Summit 2011 convened by PolicyLink in Detroit. There, we saw firsthand the consequences of decades of displacement and disinvestment on such a proud city. We heard from an array of advocates and analysts about the challenges facing Detroit and numerous other regions across the country. We delved into the current economic crisis and saw how people of color—the fastest growing segment of U.S. population—are taking the hardest hits.
We came away better informed and energized to take on the daunting task of moving our nation toward a more fair distribution of resources and decision-making power, and into a more equitable growth agenda. We are looking forward to sharing those discussions and advancing that agenda at the Social Equity Caucus' annual State of the Region Conference in the Bay Area in April 2012.
The sad truth—as evidenced by the ongoing employment crisis and the political gridlock in Washington—is that our political and economic systems have failed us. Progressives need to redouble efforts to restructure these systems so that they do not punish the people who most need services and access to opportunity. We must build support for equitable policies that enable us all to enjoy basic human rights to clean air, good jobs, health care, education, affordable housing, and reliable transportation.
Connie Galambos Malloy
Editor & Art Director
B. Jesse Clarke
Layout & Design Assistant
Christine Joy Ferrer
Special thanks to members of The Media Consortium and other collaborating outlets, including Equal Voice Newspaper, Making Contact, Mother Jones, The Nation, New America Media, Tom Dispatch, and Uprising Radio (KPFK) who provided access to authors, interviews, and articles featured in this issue. (See article credit lines for details.)
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From Civil Rights to Economic Justice
The Autumn Awakening underway across the United States is an inspiring moment of hope after decades of overt social, political, and economic reaction. The arrival of the Occupy movement was heralded by the student-worker-citizen occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol last winter. But just a few months ago, a sign bearing the words, “If Egypt can do it so can we” signaled a plaintive cry more than a compelling mandate. The formulation, “We are the 99%” articulates a new, broad-based democratic politics focused on economic justice. While the slogan is by its nature inclusive, the emerging movement is still coming to terms with the fact that the majority of the 99% are women and people of color. (See On Occupy, page 75*) In this issue, we take a look at how the changing demographic complexion of the United States is shifting the political calculus in many arenas—electoral, economic, and in the new movement called Occupy. Driven by displacement and gentrification (Bullard) and in search of jobs, housing, and education, African Americans, once confined to the South and the urban core, are on the move (Sullivan, Kromm). Some see the departure of African Americans from the cities as a threat to the community’s political power, while others see new opportunities for people of color to build a historic new coalition. [More]
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