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Comparative Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity and Gender

This two-year project (October 1998 – June 2000) funded by the Ford Foundation was a collaborative effort by CCSRE, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Program in Feminist Studies. The project culminated with the videotaping of two discussions that grew out of the focus of the workshop series: the intersections of poverty, race, and gender.

The first taped event was based upon a workshop presentation by Michael Wald of Stanford’s Law School. Wald’s presentation inspired the idea for an examination of the role racial and gender representation has played on the local impact of national welfare reform.

The discussion entitled, “Policy in Action: The Local Impact of National Welfare Reform,” was a roundtable format with three local participants and a moderator. Civil rights attorney and former consultant to the President’s Initiative on Race, Sonia R. Jarvis from Washington, D.C. moderated and Sharon Williams, Magda Gonzalez and Albertine Browning were the discussants. Williams, the Executive Director of Opportunities Industrialization Center West helps welfare recipients receive job training and attain affordable child care and transportation. Gonzalez was previously in charge of human services for Redwood City and recently took the position of Assistant to the City Manager in hopes of affecting greater policy changes to serve the local community. Browning, who currently works as a legal secretary, was invited to share her perspectives as an individual who has received public assistance and has suggestions for improvement.

The second event was a 50-minute interview with peace activist, publisher and author Luis Rodriguez that was organized and conducted by Paula Moya (Assistant Professor of English). The interview explored Rodriguez’s critically acclaimed autobiographical work Always Running, La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. (1993) where he relates his teenage years as a young Latino gang member in Los Angeles. Moya structured the interview to explore questions about the relationship between identity and ethnicity, the author’s notion of “complete literacy,” the criminalization of young men of color and how social structures of inequality militate against “escaping the barrio.” One of her main objectives was creating a teaching tool that could make connections between increasing prison populations dominated by men of color and the state’s use of violence and intimidation to control select populations.

The tapes “Welfare Reform” and “Luis Rodriguez” are available in the CCSRE Reading Room Library.

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