Equity Archives - Point Made Learning

It’s Time for White Responsibility

Screening poster of I'm Not Racist... Am I?

Racism isn’t just going to die off with younger generations – which means we need to take a more proactive approach to understanding and dismantling racist systems and white supremacy. That’s why we’re so excited about the upcoming inaugural White Responsibility Teach-In, founded by educator-facilitator-advocate Jack Hill.

We’ll be there — showing our film I’m Not Racist… Am I? — along with some of the most thoughtful and dynamic authors, educators, and activists doing antiracism work right now.

There’s so much noise when it comes to talking about race and racism. And too much of it reflects a general lack of analysis and knowledge. But this conference is the real deal. Just take a look at the principles identified front-and-center: 

History is important. Anti-racism requires a clear understanding of historical racism and white supremacy. It is crucial to see this history not as separate, but as a foundational element of American history.
Racism is the norm. Racism and white supremacy exist today and all members of this society are active participants in it. No exceptions. Owning this truth, and recognizing the presence of racism in ways that may be easy to overlook is crucial.
Anti-racism is our responsibility. The work of anti-racism, based in the knowledge of our past and the recognition of our present, requires intentional, deliberate action. We must challenge, check, and change our equity systems and structures for equity every day, and this requires a life-long commitment. It is the work to actively engage in dismantling systems of racism and white supremacy.

Learn more about the White Responsibility Teach-In and let us know if  you’ll be in Boston August 12-14!

Pride Month Learning

Here at Point Made, we try to stay informed and educated about anything and everything addressing equity and inclusion. To that end, we recently started an internal newsletter that is turning out to be really helpful. Call us “nerdy,” but we really do try to learn something new everyday. 🤓 We’re pretty sure you — our wonderful community of equity-focused educators and learners — feel the same way so we’ve decided to share.

In honor of Pride this month, we’re focused mostly on the latest information and resources that will equip us to do better in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. 

Let us know what else we need to know (send us a direct message here).

And, if we may, a request: If you learn anything new or useful in this newsletter, will you please share it with at least one other person? 

Here’s to learning something new, together. 

Raquel Willis is a black, queer, transgender activist, and the Executive Editor of Out Magazine.

Lambda Legal is the largest national legal organization litigating and advocating for LGBTQ+ people.  

Sydney Freeland is a Navajo trans woman, filmmaker and activist dedicated to creating equity in entertainment. 

SAAB: An acronym, commonly used online, for “sex assigned at birth” when referring to a trans person. 

Mx.: In place of Mr., Ms., etc. for someone who does not identify as a man or woman or whose gender identity might shift (ex. Mx. Smith) 

QPOC: An acronym that stands for Queer Person of Color or Queer People of Color.

Cissexism: The belief or behavior that transgender identified genders are inferior to, or less authentic than those of cisgender.

Cisgender: Describes a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person was assigned at birth. 

Check out this comprehensive list of the latest terminology as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community.

What’s the deal with Incels? Check out the latest New York Magazine articleabout Incels (involuntary celibates) and “chads” (the pinnacle of masculinity in the Incel community). While this topic is creepy, disturbing, and a bit confusing, it’s something to be aware of as this internet-based group uses hate speech and sometimes even violent acts to target women and LGBTQ+ folks. There’s a lot to try and get our heads around and this podcast that goes in depth on the topic is a great start: Stuff Mom Never Told You; “Involuntary Celibacy.”

SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU SMILEThe Mayor of Mexico City drops gender-specific school uniforms for public schools.  “Boys can wear skirts if they want and girls can wear trousers if they want,” Mayor Sheinbaum said. She added that the measure would create “a condition of equality, of equity”. 

LISTEN UP!Stuff Mom Never Told You: A biweekly podcast focused on intersectional feminism, gender and sexuality. Their recent episode on asexuality was super enlightening! 

Making Gay History: A monthly podcast that tells the stories of largely forgotten LGBTQ+ heroes of history. Their recent Stonewall episode reminds us of the importance of Pride and giving credit where credit is due.

If you’re anything like us, you are always looking for ways to talk about race and racism in more meaningful ways with the people in your communities. Well, we’re pretty excited about an online program we’ve created to help you dive into those conversations. 

Look Deeper: Race is an interactive digital experience built around our documentary I’m Not Racist… Am I? and we want you and your friends, neighbors, colleagues, fellow worshippers, book clubbers, and family members to go through the program and then get together and talk about it in Look Deeper: Race circles.

Starting in September, we’ll provide you with facilitation guides, discussion questions, and support from our network of facilitators. Plus, we are going to kick these circles off with a series of live webinar events hosted by a few of your favorite rockstar equity experts. Stay tuned for details later this summer. And be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to get updates. Start thinking now about who you’ll invite to join you in looking deeper!

In our documentary I’m Not Racist…Am I?, a multiracial group of teens and their families spend a school year learning and talking about race and racism. What they went through has inspired audiences all over the U.S. to learn more about how racism continues to be institutionalized and how that affects our everyday experiences.

One of the film’s more powerful scenes shows the group playing a board game called The American Dream. It’s essentially the Game of Life meets Chutes and Ladders, with players becoming characters with different identities and then seeing how structural inequity, stereotypes, and microaggressions get in the way of achieving “Success.”

By the time the kids in the film played the game, they had spent quite a bit of time together listening to one another’s personal experiences, but this took things to a whole different level. Here’s what one of the kids, Sacha, said at the end of the game:

“For all the workshops that we’ve done, I’ve heard everyone talking about how they’ve been discriminated against because of their race. And I mean, this is the first time that I’ve really, fully been able to understand that. Because I’ve never been in their place. So I’ve never felt, never experienced that discrimination. So this obviously isn’t the real thing, but it kind of gives me an idea of how frustrating it is to have all these things working against you.”

Sacha’s revelation was shared by the other students and it resonates so deeply with audiences that every time we screen the film, viewers ask us, “Where can I get that game?”

Well now you can!

We’ve recently worked with the creator, Jennifer Yim, who developed the game as part of her doctoral work in psychology at the University of Michigan, to update the game and package it for schools.

This new School Edition can be used with students, faculty & staff, parents, and any other community members ready to engage in meaningful lessons and dialogue about the ways race, gender, income, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and nationality affect a person’s everyday experiences and long-term opportunities.

Despite all the talk and money spent on diversity and inclusion (D&I) in school districts, higher education, corporations and beyond, there’s still so much debate about what works, what doesn’t, whether these initiatives are just a waste of time, or, worse, if they backfire.

This is all really hard to measure and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But what we have learned from recent research is that the types of D&I programs that seem to be the most effective involve two elements:

  1. Perspective-taking
  2. Goal-setting

The American Dream Game does both.

We’ve seen over and over again how players quickly make connections between their characters’ experiences in the game and what those experiences might feel like for real people in real life. And once you go through the experience of losing, no matter how well you roll the dice, or getting knocked back two spaces for every time you move ahead one — even if it’s only a game — you can’t forget that feeling and you can’t help but want to do something about it.

Here’s some early feedback we’ve gotten from our new School Edition:

“A fun, educational way to raise awareness of, and provoke discussion about, the intersectionality of identity and privilege, inclusion and exclusion. –Shanelle Henry, Director of Equity and Inclusion

“A highly interactive way to learn about race, bias, and privilege… As a facilitator, I’m grateful for The American Dream Experience as a learning tool, as a way to connect with colleagues, and as a springboard to conversations about life.”-Liza A. Talusan, PhD, CPC, ELI-MP, Strategic Consultant | Scholar-Practitioner | Facilitator and Trainer | Certified Professional Coach

The American Dream game is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and so engaging that players always want the experience to last longer. When was the last time you heard that about a diversity workshop?

Order it now for your classroom! Or, if you want to bring it to your workplace, find out more about that here.

Since when is a human being “illegal”?

Like so many of you (I presume!), I’ve been heartbroken and outraged while reading and listening to news reports all week about the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” immigration policy that calls for separating incoming migrant children from their parents. There was the glimpse inside the Casa Padre facility that’s been housing detained children inside a former Walmart. Then the announcement that the administration will erect tent cities to house more migrant children. And then there was Jeff Sessions’ use of a Bible verse to try and justify these actions.

If you’ve been trying to figure out what you can do about all of this, here are some suggestions for specific actions you can take.

The Racist History of Illegal Immigration

Today, the president is speaking at a roundtable discussion on immigration, where his signature overt racism will surely be on full display. That racism isn't just a Trump thing—it's been part of the discussion on "illegal immigration" for decades.

Posted by Racist History on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

When did we start calling people “illegal” Anyway?

Aside from the fact that this policy of separating children and parents is so completely unconscionable, I have also been cringing every time I hear an administration official or spokesperson use the term “illegal immigrants.” Which is why I was really grateful to see this video from Racist History on my Facebook timeline looking back to when we first started using the term “illegal” to describe human beings immigrating to the U.S. It’s only 3 minutes long and worth watching to better understand where we’ve gone wrong with immigration.

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Becoming Racially Literate

This TEDWomen Talk isn’t new, but it is new to us, and as soon as we watched it, we couldn’t wait to share. As high school students in Princeton, NJ, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo realized they didn’t really understand racism. And so they set off on a journey to ask Americans across the country about their personal experiences with race and racism. What these two young women began to realize is that we can’t, as a nation, build our racial literacy until we close two critical gaps. As they explain in the video:

 “First, the HEART gap, an inability to understand each of our experiences, to fiercely and unapologetically be compassionate beyond lip service. And second, the MIND gap, an inability to understand the larger systemic ways in which racism operates.”

Watch the whole video to not only learn more about their project, but to feel inspired by their passion and ideas.

Understanding racism requires an empathetic approach to learning that enables honest discussions with people unlike us, particularly within marginalized groups. Then, we can look to history and research for concrete examples of institutionalized racism and how it marginalizes people on varying levels.

In our workshops at Point Made Learning, we offer “Guiding Lights” for participants looking to engage in more productive discussions about race. We start with, “Ask questions with genuine curiosity, not judgment.”From there, you can open both your heart AND your mind.

Ask questions with curiosity, not judgment

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When Starbucks announced that it would conduct a companywide racial bias training following an incident of racism in one of their stores, we saw an opportunity to promote a productive discussion with our community. But we realized that the discussion needed to reach further than our circle. The nation needed to engage in the conversation about racism and bias to unpack what’s been brewing.

These incidents are not isolated. Flagrant displays of racism are recorded so frequently that news coverage feels trite. But the frequency of these incidents should not bore us. They should inspire us to take some action, if not to organize in opposition of racism, at least to talk about why racism persists. 

In that vein, we hosted a series of virtual discussions via Facebook to make the conversation about inequity actionable using tools from our I’m Not Racist… Am I? Digital Course. Throughout the day, participants submitted questions, comments, and engaged with Point Made Learning staff on social media. Staff at NYU Silver School of Social Work, YMCA and other organizations joined in groups to take our digital course and discuss its content with their peers. As LeRhonda Greats added during our Facebook Live, “talking is ACTION, so is listening.”

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Understanding Orientalism and More We Learned

Black Students Marched Against Gun Violence in Florida, But You Likely Didn’t Hear About It

Think critically about the ways we look at protest; why #NeverAgain and not #BlackLivesMatter? Why are the organizers of the former lauded as the leaders of a generation while the latter are deemed terrorists? Gun reform must be intersectional. The conversation must include a discussion about race and how gun violence disproportionately affects people of color. And why concern for that violence is only heard in an echo chamber of the folks who regularly experience that violence.

‘Like Stoneman Douglas, if they can … let their voices be heard, why can’t we do the same and let our voices be heard?.. Why can’t we do the same thing? It’s because we’re black? It’s because we’re in the ghetto … because we’re poor … and they’re richer? I don’t understand.’

We scorned addicts when they were black. It is different now that they are white.

The American Opioid Crisis has energized legislators and leaders in medicine to detach archaic opinions of morality from the conversation of drug addiction. Instead, they are focused on addiction as a medical condition and have made strides in providing appropriate care for drug dependent individuals, particularly for opioid dependent people. This changing tide in opinion about addiction differs greatly from that of the 1980s and 1990s during the height of America’s crack-cocaine crisis. That crisis primarily affected black people and the response to treating those addictions was to incarcerate and demonize an entire generation of people.

Though the difference in response to each crisis may not surprise some, this article digs into the qualities that make one crisis an issue of health and the other an issue of criminality.

Orientalism Is Alive and Well In American Cinema

Asian and Asian-American representation has only scratched the surface of American media. As characters begin to permeate film and television, we must continue to criticize the way Asian characters are portrayed. Orientalism refers to a colonial or otherwise Western representation of Asian cultures, particularly East Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Snake charmers, for example, are classic caricatures in the Western

"The Snake Charmer", Jean -Leon Gerome, 1879
“The Snake Charmer”, Jean -Leon Gerome, 1879

Orientalist lexicon. Suffice it to say, representation begins with authenticity and truth. And in that vein, the author argues that Asian artists should have the agency to tell their own stories without the voices and perspectives of oppressive powers. 

[tweetshareinline tweet=”Orientalism surfaces in the New Age commodification of Eastern spirituality, in the predilection to glom separate cultures into a blurry whole…” username=”PM_Learn”]

What can ‘The Simpsons’ do About Apu? A lot, actually.

Similarly, comedian Hari Kondabolu challenges representations of South Asian men, through the lens of The Simpsons character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. His documentary, “The Problem With Apu”, unpacks the power of seeing a South Asian character represented for the first time on national television and the subsequent manipulation of that power to further marginalize the community Apu reflects.

“…the creators and writers of “The Simpsons,” like the rest of us, have a responsibility to upgrade and evolve their characters to align with cultural norms of the day. Tokenized stereotypes won’t cut it for an emerging generation that is demanding full and equal representation.”

Racism in Journalism, the Classroom, and the “1%”

Here are some interesting things we read this week about race, racism and equity in the United States.

From Barb Lee


National Geographic Acknowledges Its Racist Past Coverage

This is a very good first step. Who else is ready to do the same?

As National Geographic editors prepared an issue dedicated to race, they realized the 130-year-old magazine might face questions about its troubled history on the subject. So they asked John Edwin Mason, a University of Virginia professor who studies the history of Africa and photography, to dig through the magazine’s archives to examine its shortcomings in covering people of color in the United States and abroad. ‘Through most of its history, National Geographic, in words and images, reproduced a racial hierarchy with brown and black people at the bottom, and white people at the top,” Mr. Mason said in an interview on Tuesday.”

Parents, students say there is culture of racism at private high school in Arvada

This school in Colorado has started the journey.  It’s never fun, but people should know what’s happening there.

Parent Nancy Felix describes the culture of the private school in Arvada, Colorado as one of “silencing, of denial,…of no repercussions, [of] no accountability from the current superintendent and principal.” In January, one of the teachers hosted a “chapel,” similar to an assembly, to discuss the topic of racism with students and parents.

“And that’s when the firestorm happened,” Felix said. The Fox News journalist states that, “white students and their parents reportedly felt uncomfortable with the dialogue and content of the presentation” and the teacher who hosted the convening was fired. Felix went to the principal and explained how she felt about the situation: “you can’t fire the only person these children have to go to that’s safe that they trust because he tried to do something that was, in my opinion, really good.”

The Marley Hypothesis: Who Actually Sees Racism?

Fascinating and promising.

“In a study published in Psychological Science last year, researchers at the University of Kansas and Texas A&M set out to test what they call the “Marley Hypothesis.” The theory is that minorities may perceive current racism differently because they have more accurate knowledge about the racism of the past. The dominant group, in contrast, may deny racism because they’re ignorant of history. The thesis is more or less an academic attempt to test the assertion of “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley: “If you know your history/then you will know where you’re comin’ from/and you wouldn’t have to ask me/who the heck do I think I am.”


From Catherine Wigginton Greene


What the Second Amendment really meant to the Founders

Both sides of the debate about gun laws “invoke what the Founders would have thought,” and this article breaks down what they actually intended with the Second Amendment.

“At its best, the Second Amendment was a commitment to citizen participation in public life and a way to keep military power under civil control. At its worst, it was a way for whites to maintain their social domination.”

For Decades Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.

The article starts by examining an issue of the National Geographic that ran in 1916, where Aboriginal Australians are described as, “savages” who “rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings.” It then goes on to illustrate the portrayals of people color throughout the 20th century. This story is the beginning of a series about racial, ethnic, and religious groups and their changing roles in 21st century life. The series runs through 2018 and will feature Muslims, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

“Race is not a biological construct, as writer Elizabeth Kolbert explains in this issue (There’s No Scientific Basis for Race- It’s a Made-Up Label), but a social one that can have devastating effects. ‘So many of the horrors of the past few centuries can be traced to the idea that one race is inferior to another,’ she writes. ‘Racial distinctions continue to shape our politics, our neighborhoods, and our sense of self.’ How we present race matters.”




Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys

New research conducted by Harvard, Stanford, and the Census Bureau finds that racism has far reaching effects for black boys despite their socioeconomic status in the United States. In most cases, black men earn less than their white peers who were raised in households with comparable income and familial circumstances. The data also concludes that this issue is exclusive to black men as black women with similar financial circumstances to their white peers earn about the same in annual income.

The research cites race bias as the primary reason for this disparity, debunking the notion that class is a deciding factor in economic mobility. Black boys are more likely to be disciplined on all levels from the classroom to the courtroom. Race bias towards black boys insists that they are more prone to violence and the denial of access to wealth is a direct result of that bias.

As professor and director of American University’s Antiracist Research Policy Center, Ibram Kendi, asserts, “One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea… but for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”

Cutting SNAP Benefits Further Marginalizes the Poor

The Summary

Last week, President Trump proposed a major cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps”, in an attempt to jumpstart his plan for welfare reform. It’s the administration’s latest effort to further marginalize Americans on the fringes or economic privilege without an introspective look at the limited access to resources that keep them on those fringes.

The new program would require able-bodied SNAP beneficiaries to work despite other limitations including access to transportation, job insecurity and child care assistance. It would also institute a program, called “Harvest Box”, through which SNAP beneficiaries would receive a box of USDA-approved groceries to supplement the cut to food stamps, a program that already allots low-income folks access to groceries of their choice. The President’s proposal has been scrutinized by advocates for public assistance and welfare programs but especially by SNAP beneficiaries who interpret a cut to the program as damaging regardless of its positive intention. It has also inspired a discussion about a “war on food” in which poor folks are systematically denied access to fresh groceries and healthy food options.

What Is In the “Harvest Box”?

The USDA anticipates that the Harvest Box will include “shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, read-eat-cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish and canned fruits and vegetable.” As the SNAP program currently

Food Stamp Sign in Maine Grocery Store
Food Stamp Sign in Maine Grocery Store

exists, recipients have the autonomy to purchase their own, fresh groceries. This reform in welfare benefits is intended to mobilize poor people upward, requiring them to work in order to earn their benefits in some cases. This amendment is made, of course, under the assumption that welfare recipients don’t already work.

Food As a Weapon of Control

Nina Martyris reflects on Frederick Douglass’s analysis of “food as a weapon of control” in a recent article for NPR. Douglass’s writing explores the ways slave owners employed hunger to establish a hierarchy between slaves, often privileging house slaves with food consumed by the master’s family and guests while field slaves were afforded an insufficient cornmeal dish, comparable to dog food. Douglass even mentions that he and other slaves would compete with the slave master’s dog for the evening’s dinner scraps.

Perhaps the most poignant moment in Martyris’s article is a recounting of holiday festivities on the plantation where slaves were not only expected to participate in the revelling but often required to engage in drinking competitions as entertainment for the master’s guests. Douglass mentions that refusal to participate reflected a sentiment of ungratefulness and that ultimately, “we had almost as well be slaves to man as to rum.” Slaves had no autonomy, let alone the jurisdiction to decide when and what they wanted to eat, yet the expected response for one, balanced meal a year was gratitude.

The Big Picture

Food options in low-income communities reflect what the community can afford, which often means fast-food restaurants comprise the majority of eating establishments along with locally owned restaurants and grocery stores that offer limited, fresh produce. The Harvest Box initiative might also perpetuate what the Food Research and Action Center calls a “feast or famine situation”, a term that refers to parents who will skip meals to increase food options for their children. And, of course, it might contribute to the myriad health issues poor people face including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and a host of other diseases related to malnutrition.

There are many comparisons to draw here, though that is not to say the President’s proposal to cut SNAP benefits is comparable to chattel slavery. But there are comparisons to draw. Most important is the question of autonomy; do the oppressed have access to agency under a capitalist bureaucracy? This question is further complicated by this nation’s legacy, built on the free labor of slaves who, of course, had no agency in the matter of their work. In deciding how poor Americans are nourished, the Trump administration participates in a legacy of surveillance and population control that has changed its face over the course of the country’s foundation. SNAP benefits already limit food options for poor people but it still affords them the autonomy to choose. Under the President’s initiative, underprivileged communities will be further dependent on government resources for something as basic and necessary as food. And all of that despite the work they do to uphold the country’s economy. While data indicates that most able-bodied welfare recipients work, there is still an insidious assumption, from the Trump administration in this case, that they do not. As president of the National WIC Association, Donald Greenaway, put it, “removing choice from SNAP flies in the face of encouraging responsibility… the budget seems to assume that participating in SNAP is a character flaw.”

We must be vigilant about the way politicians will weaponize the oppression of women, the queer community, the poor and people of color in the future. In just one year we have witnessed an assault on all of the aforementioned communities; the exclusion of trans people from restrooms matching their gender, staunch support of a politician accused of pedophilia (on multiple accounts), and xenophobic legislation aimed toward expelling Middle Eastern and Latinx immigrants from the United States. This recent effort to punish Americans for their lack of access to food resources indicates a nearsighted understanding of wealth disparities in the United States and how they are inextricably connected to the same denial of those resources.

Here are some interesting things we read this week about race and equity in the United States.

“‘Resist White Supremacy’: A sign. A farm. And the fury that followed.”

Cox Farms has a history of practicing free speech through their business, a practice that has elicited controversy for the owners’ family. Their recent poster, as detailed in the article’s title, stirred their Northern Virginia town into a frenzy. Aaron Free speech at Cox FarmsCox-Leow, daughter of the farm’s owner, expressed that, “when it comes to speaking out against systems of oppression and injustice, wwe see it as our moral responsibility to se our position of privilege and power… to engage visibly and actively in the fight for justice.”

“Secrets, statistics and implicit bias.”

Microaggressive behaviors reflect the ways we, as a society, have been conditioned to respond to specific demographics. For example, clutching one’s purse when a person of color enters an empty elevator is a response to our conditioned understanding of men of color as inherently criminal. Implicit bias tests seek to exploit those conditioned responses and use them to uncover our own biases, regardless of gender, race, and other intersections of our identity.

“Jones and Williams Discuss Racism During Focus Week Chapel”

From Barb Lee: “Go, Baptists!  If I had not heard this “sermon” myself, I would not have believed that this happened in a Baptist Church in Oklahoma. Bam! Caught in my own biases again. This video is incredible for those of us who grew up in white Southern Baptist churches. This makes me hopeful.”

“ South Carolina Lawmakers Want to Ban Baggy Pants Because What Other Political Issue Could Possibly Be More Pressing?”

Link: https://www.theroot.com/s-c-lawmakers-want-to-ban-baggy-pants-because-what-oth-1823225714

The title speaks for itself. In an effort to further police people of color, politicians in South Carolina plan to criminalize sagging pants, overlooking the racially loaded implications of instituting such a law. It is a boldface attempt to criminalize citizens based explicitly on their race, though politicians from the area would like to convince us that the law will affect people across races. 

“A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt”

From the ACLU: “Arrests stemming from private debt are devastating communities across the country, and amount to a silent financial crisis that, due to longstanding racial and economic inequalities, is disproportionately affecting people of color and low-income communities.” Attached is the full report conducted by the ACLU. Read this article for a synopsis of the report.