The State of Black California
By Assemblymember Sandré Swanson
This week, I joined other members of the California Legislative Black Caucus in introducing The State of Black California,a break through study that measures the quality of life of Black Californians. This study is the result of a one year research project initiated by Majority Leader Karen Bass and includes qualitative and quantitative data to measure the status of the State’s Black population relative to Whites and other ethnic and racial groups.
Unveiling this study is not just an awareness-raising campaign. By having a measurement of the overall welfare of Black Californians in the areas of economics, housing, healthcare, education, criminal justice and civic engagement, my colleagues and I have been able to introduce a legislative package that addresses some of the most pressing issues brought to light in this report.
The bill that I am introducing as a part of this package insures that low-income and high unemployment community residents and small businesses benefit from contracts and projects initiated by the Infrastructure Bonds. As Chairman of the Labor and Employment Committee, revitalizing job creation in the District is an issue that is especially important to me. I believe that education, job training, and job creation are the keys to a successful and economically viable community. The goal of this piece of legislation is to make sure residents of low-income communities are employed in these state-funded projects before they are granted funding.
Beyond just putting folks to work, it makes economic sense to provide a way for small disadvantaged businesses that are already engaged in these communities to have an opportunity to secure contracts generated by the bond funds. It’s no secret to community residents that new construction or contractual jobs initiated by State or Federal funding usually exclude the hiring of local residents in low-income/high unemployment communities.
Given the report’s findings, the other proposals that The State of Black California gave rise to are critical for the 16th Assembly District. In Oakland, for example, African Americans are experiencing greater disparity than in many other parts of the State. It is imperative that these issues are honestly addressed and resolved if we are to keep the promise of a better future for our children.
One thing that I want to particularly emphasize is the far reaching impact that these legislative proposals will have. While the report is specific to Black Californians, all communities that have been underrepresented or economically disadvantaged are going to benefit from the success of these bills.
Sandre Swanson was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2006 and represents the 16th Assembly District. The district includes the cities of Alameda, Oakland and Piedmont. He is the Chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment, and sits on the budget and other key committees of the Assembly.