Political Voice Nurturing a Healthy Democracy by Amplifying the Voices of Communities of Color
Political Voice nurtures a healthy democracy by amplifying the voices of low-income communities of color in all political processes and ensuring that government responds to those voices.
Political Voice’s goal is that all community members are able to genuinely participate in the making of effective public policy, in ways that go beyond just voting, and that governments respond equitably to community concerns. To accomplish this goal, we utilize policy advocacy, community partnerships, actionable research, and trainings.
Why Political Voice Matters
The government impacts everyone and therefore everyone has the right to influence government decisions. If that circle is incomplete and the people’s voices are not part of policymaking, then democracy is broken. In a healthy democracy everyone’s voice must be heard and they should have equitable access to opportunity and resources.
Yet we know that people of color don’t participate in political life at the same rates as Whites. Why?
The reasons are complex but grounded in a disparity of resources. Those with more time, money, and political know-how are better able to engage and express their needs and wishes in the halls of political power. This contributes to a sense of powerlessness or alienation among low-income people of color: a sense that their voices, and thus participation, don’t matter.
Impact until Now
For over 16 years, Advancement Project has been building the skills, coalitions, and political heft necessary to be the right organization at the right time to help improve the health of our democracy. In fact, we have a history of doing this work through:
Ensuring equitable opportunities to participate: Since 2013, we’ve been working to ensure that the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) provides appropriate political representation for communities disenfranchised by illegal at-large voting systems. Going beyond litigation, our strategy pairs community and legal organizations and encourages them to focus on community education, organizing, and working with jurisdictions to change their illegal systems without a court order.
Increasing knowledge of and capacities for political participation in local, state, and federal processes: Our ReDrawCA.org project, which empowered communities to participate in the 2011-2012 redistricting process, is an example of this approach. The statewide website hosted nearly 6,000 visitors who used the site nearly 10,000 times. Advancement Project also provided web tools and technical assistance to five locations throughout California.
Looking to the Future
Political Voice officially launched in January 2016. The program will continue existing work with coalitions in Orange County and the Inland Empire to improve implementation of the CVRA. Additionally, we are working with academic researchers to analyze and understand participation rates across the state, especially in communities of color. The resulting data will shape where and how we engage with communities to make policy change.