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Study Finds People Of Color Less Likely To Be Involved In Politics

Two churchgoers at the San Diego Living Water Church work on filling in their ballots, May 22, 2016.
Claire Trageser
Two churchgoers at the San Diego Living Water Church work on filling in their ballots, May 22, 2016.

Study Finds People Of Color Less Likely To Be Involved In Politics
Study Finds People Of Color Less Likely To Be Involved In Politics GUEST: Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean, UC Riverside School of Public Policy

The demographics Telesat nonwhite citizens should become an increasingly important part of US politics but according to statistics compiled for California many people of color are choosing not to participate in the process. A new group in a new report from UC Riverside show minorities content public officials attend meetings and support campaigns at a lower rate compared to their counterparts. Tom Koch spoke to political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan . Give us an idea of what kinds of disparities. What we found is that there is so much attention being paid to voting during presidential election year but it's also important to look at activities beyond voting. It comes to setting policy and political agenda especially between election cycles. What kind of activities are those. The kinds of activities we look that include contacting public officials supporting campaigns, attending public hearings and meetings, signing petitions, these are all activities that have a significant impact on whether some communities have a say in the political process are not. I assume you found that whites participate at a much greater percentage than other ethnic groups. We found that even the California is a majority minority state which means that there's no Gratian -- racial group that has a numerical and -- majority. Non-Hispanic whites are much more likely to have a say in politics and communities of color. These include Latinos, Native Americans, African Americans, animations. There are not a lot of point voters that are actually active in supporting up political campaign but I guess when you look at a small number of people who did they were mostly white. Supporting political campaigns is a low-frequency activity in general but even for activities like that we find racial gaps. So unless we address these problems we are not going to truly saw the inequalities in the democracy which not only include voting but other forms of political participation that we know are very important when it comes to influence. Can you give us an example of one of those gaps or disparities when it comes to supporting a political campaign or 75% of the people who do it white? That's a good question we have not done the analysis the other way in which live look at the composition but let me give you one statistic that stands out. When you look at contacting public officials we know from talking to legislative staffers that contacting officials makes a huge difference because people are calling they are a member of Congress or their state legislator or even their mayor or city councilmember they are more likely to be able to express their opinions of the day. We cannot non-Hispanic whites participated at about twice the rate of African-Americans and only 9% of African-Americans and it's even lower among Asian Americans and Latinos. 6% among Asian Americans. Whites are about three times as likely to be contacting their public officials than Asian Americans and Latinos are. I suppose this is something that politicians are aware of. Absolutely. We pay attention to who votes or who is getting on the phone or sending them emails or faxes this wiki wheel gets the grease comes to policy as well. Someone else a majority -- louder than others. What is the real reason for all of us. I cannot imaginativeness of skin color. Is the education or disparities are cultural differences in some way Education and income and home ownership are all important factors. What we found is that even after controlling for those factors we find these racial gaps. Part of it is lack of sufficient outreach there is a whole bunch of research in the past which shows that communities of color are much less likely to be reached out to buy political campaign and elected officials so that needs to improve there also needs to be greater efforts to get people in power. Even if people are able to communicate in English they might not feel as self-confident and calling up there legislative representative or going to a public hearing are speaking out for the community's interests. There's more that community organizations can do to increase the sense of confidence and empowerment there's more that they can do to provide language assistance for example. Or reducing some of these barriers so people do not feel as nervous trying to speak to public officials. Since you are talking about your recommendations I guess you can't win politicians for not reaching out to be just people that are unlikely to vote. It all depends on if you are talking about what makes sense and good politics or policy. If the goal of local and state government is to reflect the needs and interests of the population or even say more narrowly the population. It makes sense to hear from as many voices as possible. From the perspective of good policymaking it is important for elected officials to go beyond their existing strategies and networks to hear from the larger base of who constitutes California's adults in the population. What would be the consequences of these numbers of nonwhite participation do not increase. We now have more Latino voters than any other group in the state. Looking ahead Latinos and Asian Americans will constitute the majority of Captain -- California's population within a couple of tickets. It is important for us to be prepared for that. We need to make sure that these communities of color are involved and engaged in California's democracy because they are the future of the state and it's important to make sure that they are involved in have the experience of being involved in decision-making. Thank you very much for talking with us. My pleasure.

Study Finds People Of Color Less Likely To Be Involved In Politics
People of color in California are less likely to contact public officials, attend political meetings and support campaigns, according to a new report from UC Riverside.

People of color in California are less likely to contact public officials, attend political meetings and support campaigns, according to a new report from UC Riverside.

"Unequal Voices: California's Racial Disparities in Political Participation" found that about one in 20 Asian-Americans and Latinos, and fewer than one in 10 blacks, contacted an elected official between 2011 and 2013. That's compared to almost one in six whites.

In 2008, the study found that 23 percent of whites supported a political campaign, compared to 18 percent of blacks, and 11 percent each for Asian-Americans and Latinos.

In the 2012 presidential election, 48 percent of eligible Asian-American voters and 49 percent of eligible Latino voters in California cast ballots. Of eligible white voters, 64 percent cast ballots, and 62 percent of eligible blacks voted.

Barry Pollard, a community organizer and head of the San Diego nonprofit Urban Collaborative Project, said he thinks people of color are less likely to join the political process because "there is a lack of feeling like we have impact on the system."

"Whether or not our vote counts, feeling that there is a lack of connecting us to the electorate," Pollard said. "That's dangerous because the majority of folks are people of color, and if that doesn't change you're going to have a select few people making decisions for the masses."

The report was done by the Advancement Project and the School of Public Policy at University of California, Riverside.

It also included recommendations for increasing participation, such as creating civics education programs; doing outreach to communities of color on policy issues; and creating new ways for the public to participate in government decisions.

"Our political system is in trouble when some groups have significantly more say than others," said political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan, co-author of the report and associate dean of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy, in a statement. "This election cycle rightly has brought heightened awareness about class inequality, but our report raises the alarm about racial disparities in political participation that persist even after taking class into account."