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Obama’s Election Opens New Dialogue for Race Relations in CA

November 13, 2008

Race relations in America may have taken a big step forward with the historic election of Barack Obama as president, but racial challenges still remain. A national conference called Facing Race will focus on that challenge, while building upon the progress symbolized by the election of the country's first black president.

Tammy Johnson, director of strategic partnerships for Applied Research Center, says many people believe the election moved the country into a post-racial era, but she says racial discrimination and economic inequities still exist.

"The reality is, communities of color, be they African American, Latinos, Asian, Native American communities, live everyday with systemic institutional racism."

Johnson believes California's budget troubles will hit communities of color especially hard. Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing more cuts to healthcare and education to close the estimated $11-billion budget shortfall.

"The two-to-four billion dollars of public education alone will feel it disproportionately in classrooms where there are children of color who at the same time are gonna see property taxes, which fund public schools, be reduced. So, they will get a double hit."

Other conference topics include the current economic crisis and the impact on poverty in America, as well as new solutions to immigration and healthcare. Nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend. Organizers will unveil what is being called a "compact for racial justice," which outlines a vision for the future.

More information about the "Facing Race" conference can be found at Applied Research Center, www.arc.org


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA