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women in charge

Internships in Congress overwhelmingly go to white students

James R. Jones, professor at Rutgers University – Newark , examines data surrounding the racial disparities in paid congressional internships. The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

When it comes to paid congressional internships, white students get more than their fair share, but Black and Latino students don’t get enough.

That is the key finding of a new report I co-authored with Tiffany Win and Carlos Mark Vera for Pay Our Interns, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that is pushing to increase the number of paid internships in various sectors.

These racial disparities come despite 2018 legislation that provides House and Senate offices with allowances exclusively for paid internships. I investigated whom congressional offices hired with these allowances during the first year that this funding was available in 2019.

I found that while white students make up only 56% of undergraduate college students nationwide, they accounted for 76% of paid interns in Congress. In contrast, Black and Latino students make up 14% and 19% of all undergraduates, respectively, but accounted for only 6.7% and 7.9% of paid congressional interns, respectively.

Why it matters

Racial representation among paid congressional internships is important because internships often lead to paid staff positions. In a 2020 study of congressional staff, over 50% indicated that they started their careers on Capitol Hill as interns. Accordingly, if people of color are underrepresented among paid congressional interns, they will similarly be underrepresented among legislative staff.

That matters because congressional staff are important behind-the-scenes actors in making American law. They provide critical advice, guidance and analysis to lawmakers. Congressional staffers are also involved in nearly all dimensions of legislative work, from coming up with ideas to providing services for constituents to the oversight of the federal government and day-to-day operations of the legislature.

internships,

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

If the only staffers in the room advising members of Congress on policymaking decisions are white, then the policies this nation makes may not be as richly informed as they would otherwise be.

In addition, congressional employment provides a stepping stone to elected office. Today, the highest-ranking women in government, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, both began their political careers as congressional interns.

When people get firsthand experience with how American democracy works, it better enables them to see themselves as leaders and public servants.

What still isn’t known

While our report examines the racial makeup of paid congressional interns, Congress does not collect or publish data on unpaid interns. To this end, it’s not known how many unpaid interns there are or the racial makeup of this group. Some congressional offices may pay their interns with funding beyond the allowances they get for interns, but we don’t believe many do.

What’s next

There are still a lot of unknowns about who works in Congress. My future research will continue to examine racial representation among congressional staff and the mechanisms that lead to racial inequities on Capitol Hill. I also plan to continue to urge Congress to adopt more transparent hiring practices so that this problem can be better understood.

You might be interested: So-called ‘good’ suburban schools often require trade-offs for Latino students

How we do our work

We analyzed congressional payroll data, which provides the names of every paid intern. From the list of people who interned in Congress between April and September 2019, Pay Our Interns researchers conducted an online search for photographs, social backgrounds and past employment data of all interns. We obtained data from a variety of sources, including Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. We collected racial demographic data for 96% of Senate interns and 95% of House interns.The Conversation

James R. Jones, Assistant Professor of African American and African Studies, Rutgers University – Newark

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

NJ Latina leaders announce launch of Latina Civic PAC 

Statewide Latina leaders Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina, Laura Matos and Andrea Martinez-Mejia recently announced the launching of a newly formed organization – Latina Civic. 

On Twitter, the organization announced that Latina Civic will be a rebrand / spin-off of LUPE PAC, an organization that began in 1999 in collaboration with the Hispanic National Bar Association to organize a national training event for Latinas interested in running for public office. This initial event led to the official launch of LUPE in 2001. 

Latina Civic

NJ Latina Leaders announce launch of LUPE PAC rebrand / spin-off, Latina Civic PAC. (Image source)

For years, LUPE helped Latinas through training and networking opportunities. Then, after successfully graduating many Latinas from campaign training, it became clear that LUPE needed to expand its work beyond training and networking opportunities, and in 2009 LUPE PAC was launched. The  non-partisan political action committee, focused solely on providing financial support to progressive Latinas who make the leap and run for office, is now launching a rebrand / spin-off, Latina Civic PAC, which will work to continue the mission of supporting Latinas’ pursuits in civic life and leadership. 

With an eye on the growing Latina engagement in civic and electoral activities in the state of New Jersey, Latina Civic forms three separate entities that creates diverse opportunities for participation and engagement of Latinas in all aspects of the political process. From education and training to issue advocacy & electoral candidate support the ultimate goal is getting Latinas’ voices heard at the ballot box and in the public sphere.

Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina, LUPE PAC board member and Latina Civic Action President. (Image Source)

“Supporting women will continue to be at the forefront of our organization’s mission. New Jersey is a state with so much opportunity and potential for Latinas; our growing numbers as a population also means that we must enhance our capacity to generate policy ideas, advocate on behalf of our families and engage voters to vote for our issues and our candidates. We look forward to working with our partners to increase equity of opportunity and political power for Latinas across the state,” said Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina.

“We are very excited that this incredible group of women will continue to collectively address the dire need for increased representation in all levels of elected and appointed office in New Jersey,” adds Laura Matos. “This continued effort and coordinated approach will be fundamental in making tangible change in the demographics of our elected and appointed officials.” 

Increasing numbers of Latinas in civic leadership

As a non-partisan political action committee, Latina Civic PAC’s mission is to increase the number of Latinas in elected and appointed office in the State of New Jersey. The committee promotes and supports progressive leaders who stand up for an agenda that invests in Latina political leadership and advances critical issues that matter to Latinas in New Jersey. The PAC will also continue to distribute tens of thousands of dollars every election cycle to endorsed Latinas throughout the state.

“Many of us have worked for over twenty years to empower Latinas across the state to be civically engaged. Our community represents over 19% of the population in New Jersey, and we look forward to the day that our representation in elected offices is reflective of that number,” said Arlene Quinones Perez, who will serve as General Counsel.

LUPEPAC’s fact sheet reports that there are over 831,000 Latino eligible voters in New Jersey–the seventh largest Hispanic statewide eligible voter population nationally, and 52% of eligible Latino voters in NJ are Latinas.

Additionally, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, Latina representation in New Jersey’s government is as follows: 

NJ driver's licenses, Senator Teresa Ruiz

Senator Teresa Ruiz (L) with Susana G Baumann, Latinas in Business Inc. at the 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo.

Out of 120 seats in the legislature, only 8 Latinas occupy those seats:

Out of 137 County Freeholder seats, only 4 Latinas occupy those seats:

  • Germaine Ortiz (D-Bergen)
  • Carmen Rodriguez (D-Camden)
  • Caridad Rodriguez (D-Hudson)
  • Blanquita Valenti (D-Middlesex)

Out of 65 County Constitutional Officers in NJ, only one Latina serves in those seats: Bernice Toledo (D-Passaic). Out 74 cities with population over 30,000 residents, only one Latina serves as Mayor: Wilda Diaz, Perth Amboy. No Latina from New Jersey has ever served as a U.S. Congresswoman or US Senator.

You might be interested: “I’m tired of waiting”: Latina Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz runs for Mass. Governor 

Latina Civic’s mission will be to increase these numbers through education and training. 

“Educating and training Latinas to be civically engaged will be paramount in all that we do at the Foundation. We will work hard to ensure that Latinas receive the necessary tools to be competitive in New Jersey, which has been a difficult process thus far,” added Andrea Martinez-Mejia.

Sonia Chang-Díaz

“I’m tired of waiting”: Latina Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz runs for Mass. Governor 

Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, the only woman of color currently serving in the Massachusetts Senate and the first Latina elected to the state’s Senate, announced via Twitter that she will be running for governor in 2022. 

Sonia Chang-Díaz

Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz announces bid for Mass. Governor. (Image via Twitter)

Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz wastes no time in doing good

Sonia Chang-Díaz, a former public school teacher, was first sworn into office in 2009 and represents the 2nd Suffolk District. From a young age, she was instilled with the values of justice and equity and taught the importance of taking action. 

In her campaign announcement video, published on Twitter, Sonia shares her family background, saying her mother was a social worker and her father was an immigrant from Costa Rica who came to the U.S. with only $50 in his pocket and went on to become NASA’s first Latino astronaut, Franklin Chang-Díaz. 

“If my mom can spend a lifetime helping kids escape poverty, surely Massachusetts can pass a Millionaires Tax to help more children get a better start in life,” she says in the video. “If America can send a poor kid from Costa Rica to space, surely Massachusetts can green our infrastructure and close the racial wealth divide.

Sonia Chang-Díaz’s father, Franklin Chang-Díaz, NASA’s first Latino astronaut in space. (Image via Twitter

Since she was a child, Sonia’s family taught her there is no time to waste in doing good. And she has proven that since her election into office in 2008; she has wasted no time in leading a movement to make bold, transformational change for working families in Massachusetts. 

In her career thus far, Sonia has made a name for herself surrounding the issues of education funding and criminal justice reform. One landmark win in education funding reform was her work in securing $1.5 billion in new aid to K-12 districts across the state. She wrote and championed for this funding, ultimately securing the groundbreaking win. In the area of criminal justice, she has led the charge for criminal justice reform and repealing racist sentencing rules and serves as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion. Additionally she has helped negotiate an overhaul of policing oversight and accountability laws last year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

“I’m running for Governor because I’m tired of waiting” 

As someone who has never wasted time in doing what needs to be done and fighting for the people’s rights, Sonia is taking the next step to ensure that Massachusetts working families are being cared for and getting what they need to thrive. 

In her Tweet announcing her bid for Massachusetts Governor, she declares: 

“I’ve spent my life listening to powerful people tell me to slow down. To think smaller. To wait,” Sonia says in her campaign video. “Voters didn’t send me to the State Senate to wait….Every day it gets harder for working families to live here. Health care and housing costs get higher, Black and brown kids face yawning opportunity gaps. If we don’t act now, we’ll be having the same conversation about the same problems in another 10 years.”

In her video, she continues by vowing to push back against “Beacon Hill insiders” who have “dragged their feet every step of the way, saying, ‘Think smaller.’” 

But Sonia has never been one to think small or hold back. “Instead, we fought unapologetically for the things working families actually need,” she says. “The trouble is, that kind of urgency in our state government is still the exception rather than the rule. Too many leaders are more interested in keeping power than doing something with it. I’m running to change that.”

You might be interested: Dr. Marlene Orozco demystifies misconceptions about Latinas through data

In addition to education and criminal justice reform, Sonia has been a leading champion for fair taxation, affordable housing, reliable and green public transportation, protections for immigrants, increased assistance for small and local entrepreneurs, capped fare increases for public transportation, advanced environmental justice reforms, and expanded voting rights. 

With her bid for Governor, Sonia Chang-Díaz joins Harvard University professor Danielle Allen–the first Black woman to run for governor in a major political party in the state’s history, and former state Sen. Ben Downing in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Jennifer Cortez, Dallas District 2,

Latina immigration reform activist Jennifer Cortez promises bold change as Dallas City Council candidate 

Jennifer Cortez is a third generation Tejana, immigration reform activist, grassroots community organizer, and Latina entrepreneur running for Dallas City Council’s District 2 seat. 

A leader for the people

Jennifer Cortez, Dallas District 2,

Jennifer Cortez, immigration reform activist Dallas District 2 City Council candidate. (Image Source)

For over 15 years, Jennifer Cortez has been a servant leader and avid reform activist in her community of Dallas, Texas. As a leader, she is committed to creating innovative solutions that are inclusive and welcoming to all. Throughout her career as an activist, Jennifer has worked to uplift the voices of marginalized groups. 

In 2006, as a student Jennifer helped lead a 500,000 people march for immigration reform, the largest protest in Dallas’ history. She then co-founded the North Texas Dream Team, the first immigration reform group in the area, connecting students nationwide to form United We Dream. 

Jennifer’s activism also contributed to the creation of the Black & Brown/Latinx majority serving Congressional District 33 in 2010 when she and other leaders collaborated to increase voter turnout. 

Most recently, Jennifer helped establish Dallas’ first-ever Community Police Oversight board after the police brutality protests last year. The issue of community safety and police accountability is close to Jennifer’s heart after her apartment neighbor, Botham Jean, was shot and killed in his living room by a Dallas Police Officer. 

“Dallas needs a voice who isn’t afraid to strive for bold changes. I’ll tackle criminal justice reform and fight poverty head on,” said Jennifer. 

Jennifer is committed to being the change the community needs. She hopes to use her power, if elected, to bring about positive, inclusive, transformative change.

Bold change for a better future

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light many deep societal issues, including the effects of systemic racism. Black and Latino communities have disproportionately suffered through pandemic related hardships more than other groups. From being more likely to contract the virus due to health disparities and poor access to healthcare, to unemployment and business closures, the pandemic has made very clear the need for reform is now. 

Jennifer herself was inspired to run after her own experience with COVID-19. In an article by Kera News, Jennifer said she decided to run for council while laying on her couch, sick with COVID-19, and unable to move. She described the moment as “spiritual.” 

“I was like, ‘OK, if I live, I will do something.’ I’ll use this privilege to do something bigger and to see what happens if we do the experiment of the people versus the money in the city of Dallas,” Jennifer told Kera News

You might be interested: Change is HER: Inspire women to run for public office 

Now she is running for Dallas City Council District 2 in an effort to finally make the big strides in progress that the people deserve. 

Four key priority areas of Jennifer’s campaign are Housing, Access & Relief, Public Safety, and Mobility & Sustainability. 

Jennifer Cortez, Dallas City Council election,

A leader for Bold Change. Jennifer Cortez’s priorities as District 2 City Council candidate. (Image Source)

If elected to Dallas City Council, Jennifer will work to ensure housing rights for all, equitable access to basic needs and resources, a holistic approach to public safety, mobility solutions, and environmental justice. 

Election day for Dallas City Council is May 1st.