“We succeed because we are dreamers, not dividers,” said Kevin de León, president pro tem emeritus of the California Senate. “We succeed because we double down on lifting people up, not putting them down.”
Gathering for a Good Cause
His words were well suited for the launch of UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI), the first multi-issue effort in nearly a decade to focus on the state’s plurality. The December 6 event in downtown Los Angeles drew 175 students, faculty, elected officials, and community leaders to hear de León and engage with a panel on issues affecting Latinos. The panel was moderated by Lucy Flores, a former Nevada assemblywoman who now serves as vice president for public affairs for mitu, a multimedia enterprise that targets young Latinos.
Latinos are integral to this country’s economic and cultural fabric but face barriers to opportunity. The challenges are as varied as the population itself: Panelist and UCLA law professor Laura E. Gómez says, “Latinos are a diverse community. We are not just men; we are also women. We are not just straight people; we are also gay and transgender people.”
Turning Research into Real-World Results
Across identities and issues — from education and immigration to housing and sustainability — LPPI informs policymaking that benefits communities of color. It convenes UCLA experts, trains new scholars, and translates academics into action by briefing government stakeholders and grassroots groups.
“You can have all the academics in the world, all the data, but it doesn’t make a difference if it just sits in a book on a shelf,” de León added. Fortunately, as UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura says, LPPI will “take the data out of those dusty books … in a useful time frame so that policymakers can respond.”
By putting relevant research in the hands of political leaders, UCLA is improving the lives of Latinos — and benefiting people of all backgrounds.
Published March 2018