A New Chapter for Insight

Image for post
Image for post

Originally published in Insight Center’s May 2016 Newsletter.

As a child, I watched and learned as my father advocated passionately for the rights of tenants in low-income housing. I sat at the kitchen table and listened to my mother, so frustrated that her fellow teachers refused to see the amazing potential in the beautiful black faces of the children she taught. My parents’ message to me was clear — fighting for justice is in your blood, it’s a part of our family’s story. My parents seeded my drive and enduring passion to be a steadfast champion for justice for now more than 25 years.

I am deeply honored to serve as the first woman president of an organization that has a long history in addressing poverty and racial injustice. Initially called the National Housing and Economic Development Law Project, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development began in the 1960s with a group of community activists coming together to address extreme poverty. Ignited by the community economic development movement, Insight’s founders had a vision that all people, regardless of race, gender, or class, should have equal access and opportunity, and that people of color in particular should be able to actualize their dreams.

Nearly 50 years later, there is still much work to be done. Our nation’s promise that more and better opportunities await each generation has run off course. We are working longer and harder than previous generations while struggling just to make ends meet, let alone plan for the future. And despite decades of advocating for struggling families, recent events — from Ferguson and Flint, to the activism of Muslims, Arab Americans, and Latinos fueled by presidential candidate Donald Trump’s views on deportation and the criminalization of undocumented immigrants — reveal that we have never adequately addressed the issues of inequality, disinvestment, joblessness, and poverty that disproportionately affect communities of color and have done so for generations.

We need to create an economy that works for families. We owe all Americans the opportunity to not only earn a decent living, but support a dignified life. To get there, we must change the ways institutions operate and challenge inequities at their root.

It is abundantly clear that we must act now and act decisively.

I believe that we can realize America’s promise. I believe that no matter your zip code, your race, or your gender, you have the freedom to dream. I believe that every generation can be better off than the last. I believe this moment calls for an integrated, comprehensive approach to address the changing nature of work, the uncertainty of income, and the systematic stripping of resources and wealth. But in order to get there, we must use our collective passion, energy, and resources to confront the barriers that produce and perpetuate economic insecurity and racial inequities.

Over the next two years, the Insight Center will partner with you to produce pivotal new research and launch new narratives that build broad support for policies that help our communities not just survive, but thrive. This is our moment and our movement.

I’m not new to this, and neither are you. Together we will continue the deep legacy of activism that is a part of many of our histories. I look forward to continuing our work together towards greater equity and inclusiveness.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store