Alfredo Carlos, Ph.D.
I was born in Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico and grew up in a working class, largely immigrant barrio in the Harbor Area of Los Angeles. My parents worked extremely hard for very little pay most of their lives, my father, Alfredo, as a Clerk in Sav-On and my mother, Eva, as a Sample Maker at various clothing factories. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices they made, so that I could have a better life. It is their struggle and the struggle of so many other working people that inspire me. It is their lessons that guide me. Because of their hard work and support I grew to value education.
I received my B.A. in History and Chicano Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. More importantly this is where I learned the value of community organizing. It was in Santa Barbara that I learned the importance of struggling with others for the betterment of working people. First, with El Congreso de UCSB, working with on-campus student issues as well as community issues like affordable housing. I went on to work with and served on the board for La Casa De La Raza and the Living Wage coalition. I also worked for The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Santa Barbara’s District Attorney’s office as a case manager trying to keep young truant students off of probation. All of this work imparted in me the importance of understanding structures of power and the economy. The questions that were raised in this period of my life still guide me. Why don’t working people make enough to make a decent living? Even when they might make a decent living, why don’t their workplaces give them dignity? It was these questions that led me to graduate school.
I earned my M.A. in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach with a focus in Comparative Politics and International Relations. I then went on to earn my Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine where I specialized in the fields of American Politics (Racial and Urban Politics) and Political Economy. I am currently a Faculty member in the departments of Political Science and Chicano and Latino Studies at California State University, Long Beach. My interests revolve around understanding the nature of inequality in the U.S. and through praxis, organizing alternative economies that empower working communities, especially those of color. My particular specialization is in political economy with a focus in economic democracy, which consists in part of worker ownership, workplace and community democracy.
As a result of my background in organizing and academia, and because of the importance I place on connecting theory with praxis, I co-founded this organization because I want to help build a world and an economy where everyone can live and work with dignity. I want to help create spaces for communities to come together, struggle together to improve their own lives, the lives of their kids, their neighbors and their communities. This is what drives me, people struggling together, working with each other, for a better future. We do what we do because beyond just better wages, my parents and every other working person deserves to work and live with dignity; everyone deserves to work and live with dignity. Help us build a democratic economy that lets them!
On a more personal note: I have two very talented sisters, Lulu who is an artist (check out her work) http://www.lunaeterna.com and Gaby who cares deeply about child development. I also have a beautiful, silly, incredibly intelligent four year old, Amelie, who gives me purpose for the work that I do. She also gives me hope and reminds me to enjoy the journey. And since we are getting personal, I think it’s important to note that as a native of Los Angeles, I bleed Dodger Blue!