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Rent and mortgage cancellation needed in a time of crisis

A new research brief developed by our California Community Partnerships program studies proposals for rent and mortgage cancellation, and determines that given the dire conditions of a housing environment already in crisis, such policies would be needed and should be pursued for the duration of the pandemic. "Rent and mortgage cancellation is urgently needed to provide relief to millions of households and avoid catastrophic effects on health, safety, and well-being," the authors write. Click to access the report, called "Stabilizing Shelter", and check out coverage of the report in the Daily Cal.
image grab from the mapping project shows a map f the US with different states shaded in different colors to indicate their levels of disparity in the impact of covid-19 on different racial groups.

Heat map reveals racial disparities in Covid-19 by state

This week we launched a new interactive “heat map” which shows how different states across the country are experiencing disparities in infection and death rates by race, which may offer clues in how state-level policies and underlying vulnerabilities of a region could be impacting populations differently. The map allows users to toggle between one version showing infection rates, and another version showing death rates, with each state assigned a color based on the level of disparity between any one racial group and that state’s general population. For more background on this project check out the press release. You can also see news coverage of the project in the Wichita Eagle.

The heat map is the latest update to the Covid-19 mapping project we launched in March as part of our response to the pandemic. Last month we released a separate interactive map showing multiple layers and metrics that identify regions in California that may face increased risks associated with the pandemic, and includes measures such as air pollution, hospital beds per capita, regions lacking health insurance, and many others.

Op-ed: The clash over shelter-in-place rooted in slavery

The conflict taking place across the country over when to reopen the economy has been framed as one that pits freedom against equality. In a new op-ed, Director john a. powell explains the historical context for this conflict which dates back to the foundation of the United States when slave-owners argued that the Constitution protected their "freedom" to own slaves. But there was a time not long ago when freedom and equality were viewed as complementary, before reverting back to a segregationist-era framework of radical individualism we're currently experiencing.

What does this have to do with the coronavirus?

You can read the op-ed to understand those links, and then listen to our latest podcast episode featuring an interview with professor powell where he goes much deeper into the history of the conflict between freedom and equality, and how it can help us decide on how to act in the current moment when confronted with questions around reopening the economy.
In the podcast interview, professor powell also comments on the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was gunned down in Georgia while jogging in February. "We are creating an institution of violence, an institution of killing with impunity ... We need to hold not just individuals accountable, we need to hold the police department accountable. We need to hold the system accountable." Have a listen (or read a transcript).

New Report + Webinar: Abolishing the use of Biological Race in Medicine and Public Health

Today we're announcing the launch of a new report authored by four UC Berkeley/UCSF medical students that investigates the use of biology in textbooks, classroom instruction, and clinical practice as a basis for understanding racial disparities in health. The report, titled “Toward the Abolition of Biological Race in Medicine: Transforming Clinical Education, Research, and Practice,” reveals that the medical profession, public health institutions, and medical schools still largely approach medicine using eighteenth century concepts of inherent racial differences, which we now know are scientifically baseless.

Join the authors Noor Chadha, Madeleine Kane, Bernadette Lim, and Brenly Rowland, and other speaker this evening for a webinar about the report’s findings, and how alternative approaches to understanding racial health differences can be applied at medical institutions. The webinar will take place from 5-7 pm PT / 8-10 pm ET. RSVP here.

Deadline extended to apply to our summer institute for K-12 teachers on race and housing in the Bay Area

illusration of the bay area We've extended the deadline to May 22 to apply to our inaugural "Summer Institute for Teachers on Race and Housing in the Bay Area." This teacher institute will examine the region’s histories of racial dispossession and housing, the geographies they have created, and current policy work around housing justice. We invite K-12 teachers to join us as we delve into resources and materials developed by the Othering & Belonging Institute and others, hear from prominent local activists and community leaders, and exchange ideas around crafting meaningful curriculum to facilitate students’ understanding of these issues and engagement with how their communities fit into the broader regional and national picture. Learn more about the program here.

On April 20, director john a. powell presented on "The Perils and Promises of Fair Housing" as part of the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California's Fair Housing Conference 2020 Series. Professor powell addressed the history of fair housing in California, the challenges to residential desegregation, and proposed a framework to achieve opportunity-based, integrated housing.

Introducing our new communications director

Cecilie Surasky headshotThe Othering & Belonging Institute recently welcomed Cecilie Surasky as our new communications director. Cecilie brings two decades of movement-building strategy and communications experience to her new position. She worked most recently as an independent consultant on a range of justice and equity issues including prison exoneree advocacy, LGBTQ health, Palestinian legal rights and climate justice in indigenous communities. Before that, Cecilie spent 13 years building the largest progressive Jewish grassroots organization in the United States, Jewish Voice for Peace. Learn more about Cecilie's background on her bio page. Our former communications director Rachelle Galloway-Popotas has switched to a new role at the Institute.

News & Media

Institute Director john a. powell was interviewed on a podcast from the Institute for New Economic Thinking on the topic of "liberty and equality in a pandemic."
Faculty scholar Seth Holmes published an opinion piece on entitled, "As societies re-open in this pandemic, we need social solidarity to survive the summer."
Faculty scholar Cristina Mora, who is also the co-director of the Institute of Governmental Studies, was quoted in a article about a new poll her institute conducted which found broad support for farmworkers working through the pandemic.
Research co-authored by faculty scholar Emmanuel Saez was highlighted in a Reuters article entitled, "Fringe taxes will go mainstream when lockdowns end." 
Faculty scholar and medical historian Elena Conis was quoted in an article, "Polio Survivors Warn Against 'Reopening' Georgia." 
New research co-authored by faculty scholar Jason Corburn on how to help urban slums that are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 was featured in Berkeley News.

Upcoming Events

TODAY: Toward the Abolition of Biological Race in Medicine webinar. Join medical scholars Noor Chadha, Madeleine Kane, Bernadette Lim, and Brenly Rowland for community & dialogue as they reveal their report “Toward the Abolition of Biological Race in Medicine: Transforming Clinical Education, Research, and Practice” and celebrate the launch of the Institute for Healing and Justice in Medicine.

Visit this page to see all our upcoming and past events.

Job Opportunities

The following positions are open to UC Berkeley graduate students:
Visit this page to see all job openings
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