Bring Up the Town’s Equity Score! is an effort to promote grassroots governance, centered on the agency and agenda of those most impacted by systemic racism. In July 2018, Oakland’s Department of Race & Equity released a “racial disparities” report that gave the city a dismal score of 33.5 out of a 100 in pursuing equity. In July 2019, in-a(d)vance released a report that highlights 53 “well-being indicators” generated from 500 household interviews in Oakland’s low-income neighborhoods of color. If accomplished, those indicators would begin to bridge the equity gap in Oakland. In-Advance believes that dramatic systems change is possible only with strong, organized bases of those most affected. Building this kind of strategic grassroots infra-structure should be a central goal of any serious racial equity initiative. Without it, even the best-intentioned will unwittingly reinforce historical power relationships where those most affected are studied or even consulted but never empowered.
The relationship of sugar with communities of color globally has been a long and sordid one. From the transatlantic slave trade, to the sugar fields of Hawaii, and the sugar beet migrant trail in the U.S. mainland, people of color have paid with their lives and labor to build the sugar industry. And yet in poor communities around the globe, one of the sugar-saturated products marketed aggressively is soda and similar drinks. This has led to epidemic rates of obesity and diabetes in poor communities of color. And communities have begun to fight back by introducing a Soda Tax against the industry to raise the needed resources to conduct health education and offer alternatives. in-a(d)vance provides the movement infrastructure for initiatives like Oakland’s Sugar Freedom Project to end the grip of corporate sugar on communities of color.