Sunday, September 30, 2007

GAO: Hard Numbers

FEATURES Hard Numbers
By Karen Rutzick
Government Executive July 1, 2007

Ronald Stroman was hauled before a joint Senate-House hearing in May to explain why black analysts at the Government Accountability Office were receiving lower performance ratings than their white counterparts.
How did Congress know about the discrepancy? Stroman handed over the data himself -- at least indirectly. And he's glad that he did.
Stroman is managing director of the Office of Opportunity and Inclusiveness at GAO. When Comptroller General David M. Walker hired him in 2001, he gave Stroman a mandate to promote diversity at the agency. Stroman responded with a controversial suggestion: publicize all the agency's promotions and performance ratings by race, gender, age, disability, veteran status, location and payband.
Senior GAO officials warned that this move would open the door to lawsuits and fuel unhappiness. But Walker approved the idea and Stroman began releasing the data annually on GAO's intranet. Sure enough, from 2002 to 2005, the data revealed a gap between performance appraisals of blacks and whites. It also showed that the gap widened the longer employees stayed at the agency.
"I have stood outside the Rayburn House Office Building wearing a suit and a tie during the middle of the day, trying to hail a cab, only to have that cab driver pass me by in order to pick up a white person standing less than five feet behind where I stood," Stroman told the committee. "Race, gender, ethnicity, disability, age and sexual orientation do matter."
Airing the data on the intranet was the first step to solving discrimination, according to Stroman. "What gets measured gets done," he says. "It becomes, I think, the linchpin to improving diversity."
Stroman believes GAO is the first and only federal agency to release diversity data to employees. In fact, a number of federal employee groups -- including Federally Employed Women and the African American Federal Executive Association -- went to Congress recently with a request for data. They want the Office of Personnel Management to offer more detailed information on how many minorities, women, people with disabilities and veterans each agency employs. They didn't go so far as to ask for data by promotion or performance rating.
"Current OPM reports group all minorities in grades GS-14, 15 and [the Senior Executive Service] together," William A. Brown Sr., national president and founder of AAFEA and retired senior executive at the Army Corps of Engineers, told Congress in May. "This presents a distorted view of diversity. We need an accurate baseline to measure progress or lack thereof."
Brown and his group are asking GAO to conduct a detailed study of diversity across all agencies. He wants to know, for example, whether his suspicions are true that blacks who reach the Senior Executive Service are older than others in the SES, giving them a shorter turn in power.
Brown's urgency to get the data stems from the opportunity he sees to diversify the upper ranks of government as many retire in the coming decade. Stroman wants to protect employees from the new wave of pay for performance. He says such pay systems pave the way for discrimination by giving managers more room to be subjective.
More important than giving diversity data to Congress or even to advocacy groups is sharing it with middle managers, according to a new report from The Conference Board Inc., a nonprofit business research group in New York. Written by executives from corporations such as Avon Products Inc., Hewitt Associates, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Safeco Corp., among others, the report finds that middle managers are the biggest roadblock to diversity initiatives.
Middle managers, they said, are the ones who actually handle the promotions and performance reviews that executives from on high analyze for diversity. "The middle management layer seemingly douses the spreading diversity fire, smothering it through inertia rather than outright opposition," according to the report.
To fan the fire, these executives say, give middle managers the data. The Conference Board recommends releasing diversity data four times a year.
"A common and legitimate complaint on the part of middle managers is that they don't know the score," the report noted. "They're used to getting that data on a regular basis on inventory, productivity and response times and are expected to monitor these regularly and take necessary corrective action. Diversity should be no different."
In Stroman's discussions with GAO employees, he singled out a central reason for the discrepancies in performance scores: Managers were afraid to talk to their employees of color about their performance reviews.
"When [employees of color] get their ratings back, it is a surprise to them oftentimes," Stroman says. "There is a different level of communication going on with regard to performance with staff of color than with white staff. I think that reflects the culture that we live in. Having difficult discussions at work is difficult in any setting, but when you overlay that with gender, race, sexual orientation, it becomes more difficult. That disadvantages the staff of color."
But as much as Stroman and Walker believe in their system, it has opened them up to congressional backlash.
Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia, said at the hearing that members of GAO's Blacks in Government branch came to him with concerns about the disparity between black and white analysts. The performance ratings had greater consequences for employees since a pay restructuring took place at GAO gave some employees a chance at higher pay and capped others at a lower level.
"It would appear that African-Americans at GAO have been harmed by the restructuring, and this brings into question the fairness and credibility of GAO's performance management system," Davis said at the hearing.

[To read the entire article, go to: ]

An anti-bias ballot battle

By Devona WalkerStaff Writer
Fri September 28, 2007

The Affirmative Action Civil Rights Council continued Thursday to provide oversight to state agencies in an effort to increase employment of minorities and women, despite the momentum of a petition campaign seeking to do away with affirmative action in Oklahoma. The California-based American Civil Rights Institute is the brains and dollars behind the Oklahoma Human Rights initiative. The group is seeking to get on the November ballot a vote to end gender and race-based preferences in the hiring of state employees, public contracts and public education.
"This is not a black and white thing,” said state Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City and a member of the council. "The unfortunate thing is that people are signing this, without understanding how devastating this is going to be to women. More than anyone else, this is going to set women back 50 years.”
A similar initiative — backed by the same group — was successful in Michigan during the midterm elections as well as in California and Washington.
Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and Missouri were chosen by Ward Connerly, the founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, as the next states where he would push for the change.
"Oklahoma is one of the states that we chose, but there is local support for it,” Connerly said. "That was one of the deciding factors.”
The proposal, State Question 737, also would affect small businesses, as there are programs established to help small businesses run by minorities and women. A minimum of 138,970 signatures of state registered voters must be obtained for there to be a chance of getting it on a general election ballot.
Perceptions citedOklahoma supporters would not speak to specifics in terms of the number of signatures, but say the local effort is doing quite well.
Oklahoma state government has nearly 20,000 women employees and more than 7,000 minority employees.
Peter Schmidt, a novelist and deputy editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education, says criticism against affirmative action is mostly about perceptions.
About half of white people over the age of 18 think they have been passed over by a less-qualified black, he said.
"And that means a lot when you want to get someone to sign a petition,” Schmidt said
[To read the entire article, go to: ]

Saturday, September 29, 2007

National Take Affirmative Action Day

National Take Affirmative Action Day
October 9, 2007 - National Phone Briefing
April 8, 2008 - Nationwide Day of Action

For years, students have been working to advance and preserve equal opportunity and affirmative action policies on their campuses and in their communities. Following the rollback of some of these policies by ballot initiative in California, Washington state, and Michigan, and by litigation in other states, student action on this issue has never been more critical! Because of this, we invite you to join thousands of campuses across the country in taking action to preserve key programs for Women and People of Color in a two-part National Take Affirmative Action Day (NTAAD) beginning with an important national phone briefing and strategy discussion on October 9th, 2007, culminating in a nationwide day of action on April 08, 2008!

First envisioned by the United States Student Association in 2001, NTAAD is a day for students to demand that their college and university administrators defend and strengthen the programs that ensure an equal opportunity for all students: affirmative action programs! Since then NTAAD has grown exponentially with the co-sponsorship of the NAACP Youth & College Division and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund’s Student Activist Network. It is time to stand up and defend recruitment and retention programs and ensure that all people, regardless of race and gender, have equal access to Higher Education. Please join us on October 9th , at 8pm ET, for a national phone briefing and strategy discussion and find out more of what you can do to stop the anti affirmative action agenda!Please RSVP by October 2, 2007 to Scott Lu, Student of Color Campus Diversity Project Director of the U.S. Student Association at or 202.637.3924. The private dial-in number will then be circulated to those who rsvp. As long as institutional discrimination is present in institutions of higher education, National Take Affirmative Action Day will serve as a means for student of color activists to stand in solidarity and action for justice!

Start Date/Time
October 9, 2007 8:00 pm
End Date/Time
October 9, 2007 10:00 pm
Open To Press
Contact Email
Related Issue
Affirmative Action

Friday, September 28, 2007

What Can Be Done to Diversify Executive Suites?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Diversity in Academe
From the issue dated September 28, 2007

Although the American population is growing more diverse, and colleges are seeking to enroll students and hire faculty members from many different backgrounds, the top leadership at most higher-education institutions remains quite homogeneous. For example, a 2005 Chronicle survey of about 1,300 presidents at four-year institutions, of whom 764 responded, found that nearly 89 percent were white and almost 81 percent were male.
At The Chronicle's second annual Presidents Forum, held in Washington in June, Mickey L. Burnim, president of Bowie State University; Patricia Digh, co-founder of the Global Diversity Roundtable and the Circle Project; and Laura Skandera Trombley, president of Pitzer College, discussed the issue and what can be done to diversify colleges' executive suites. Following is an excerpt of their answers to questions from the session's moderator, Sara Hebel, a senior reporter at The Chronicle, and from members of the audience.
Hebel: How much attention should institutions be paying to the issue of diversity among their top administrators? What can colleges do to hire and promote a wider range of top officials?
Trombley: Diversity has to be a goal of the board of trustees and viewed as a core value of the institution; otherwise, it will always remain on the margins. No one group should serve as an institution's symbol of diversity. It cannot be students; it cannot be staff; it cannot be faculty. Efforts to increase diversity have to involve everyone.
Trustees must support diversity initiatives, do outreach, and emphasize when they are conducting presidential searches that not only are they interested in a diverse pool of candidates, but also that the institution is ready for that diverse pool of candidates. I have been a candidate where it was clear that I was the "diversity candidate," and everyone was thrilled that their institution was so forward-thinking. But, in my view, if I was such a big surprise, that indicated that more foundational work needed to take place at that institution. Colleges can accomplish that by asking diversity experts to come in and help educate various groups on their campuses.
It is also important to have good institutional data. At Pitzer College, we know, for example, that 45 percent of the faculty members are women and 36 percent are people of color, and that 32 percent of the students are students of color. We have an institutional-research Web site that provides all that information, and that forms the basis for our discussions.
Hebel: What steps do leaders need to take to make sure that diversity is something that their campuses focus on?
Burnim: I agree that trustee leadership is critically important on campuses, that board members set a tone. To create the right climate or culture, a president must first articulate the value and the importance of having a diverse campus — of having diversity not just within the student body and the faculty ranks, but within the administration as well. Second, the president must walk the walk and make sure that the cabinet and senior leadership are diverse. What one does speaks a lot louder than what one says.
For example, at Bowie State University, we have spent a lot of time refining the strategic plan. Before we finalize that process, I want to make sure that we explicitly address the notion of diversity and what that means for our campus, and that we have some measurable objectives against which to gauge our progress. We need to put the right accountability measures and standards in place. We must also provide adequate resources, and recognize and reward behaviors that help us reach the outcomes that we want.
Hebel: Ms. Digh, you have described the lack of diversity in university leadership as a "wicked problem" for which simplistic or short-term solutions will not work.
Digh: The phrase "wicked problems and tame solutions" has come out of looking at diversity issues for about two decades and recognizing lately that I have made the mistake of proposing easy solutions to very complex problems. Racism in this country is a wicked problem. It is attached to a lot of other societal problems, so it is very difficult to say, "If I do A and B, then racism will disappear."
Americans like short-term, quick, linear solutions to issues like diversity or racism, which are long-term, complex issues that don't necessarily have solutions. Every wicked problem is unique. The lessons learned dealing with a wicked problem at one institution are not necessarily ones that can be easily transferred to others. What's more, wicked problems are often solved as well as they can be through group efforts. So you must constantly ask yourselves when you are in a strategic-planning process, for example, who else should be at this table? Are all the people in the room thinking just like me? Do we need different voices?
The easy way of trying to tame a wicked problem is to simply construct a definition of the problem that obscures its wicked nature and then apply linear methods to solve it. For example, a human-resources person called me to say, "We had some white employees put nooses on black employees' lockers. Could you come help us with this issue? We are wondering if you could conduct a two-hour workshop."
But such tame solutions, when they are imposed on wicked problems, exacerbate the situation by hiding the fact that it was wicked to begin with. If you have an issue on your campus and do a two-hour workshop on it, you might keep the trustees happy but actually make the situation worse.
Instead, we should make ourselves step back from our innate impulse to tidiness and ask, "Have I engaged fully in what the problem is? Do I understand the complexity of it?" And, like a Rubik's Cube, "if I change one thing or solve one part of it, will the other parts change?"
Hebel: How can colleges effectively set benchmarks and move forward in a concrete way?
Trombley: When we went through our strategic-planning process, we talked about what we wanted to see happen at the institution in five years and the areas where we had the greatest concern. Because Pitzer is a small college, we were able to come together and have an enormous amount of discussion — among large and small groups, in residence halls and elsewhere — and come up with common goals that we adopted as part of a strategic plan. I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a dialogue on a continuing basis; it cannot occur only during times of crisis. A lot of the best work happens when you are building relationships and channels of communication so that, if an issue does arise, you can work through it constructively.
Hebel: How do you foster discussions when people hold different views about diversifying the top ranks of the institution?
Burnim: It is not hard to engage in a discussion on campuses. We are intellectual communities, so whether it is a forum, a convocation at the beginning of an academic term, or commencement, I take the opportunity to teach a lesson or raise a question or issue. That continuing dialogue can take place throughout the campus and the academic year.

[To read the entire article, go to: ]

The New Affirmative Action

The New York Times
September 30, 2007

In another time, it wouldn’t have been too hard to guess where Frances Harris would have ended up going to college. She has managed to do very well in very difficult circumstances, and she is African-American. Her high school, in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, was shut down as an irremediable failure the spring before her freshman year, then reopened months later as a charter school. Midway through high school, her father developed heart problems and became an irritable fixture around the home. She also discovered that he was not actually her biological father. That was a man named Leroy who, when her mother took Harris to see him, simply said his name was George and waited for her to leave. In Harris’s senior year, her mother lost her job at a nursing home and the family filed for bankruptcy.
Harris somehow stayed focused on teenage life. She earned an A-minus average and she distinguished herself as a debater. Her basketball teammates sometimes teased her for using big words, but they also elected her co-captain. As she led me on a tour of her school and her neighborhood one day this summer, she introduced me around with an assured ease that most adults can’t manage, even if her sentences are peppered with “like,” “you know” and “Oh, my God.” Her bedroom in the bungalow she shares with her parents is a masterpiece of teenage energy, the walls covered with her prom-queen tiara, her purple-and-white basketball jersey (No. 3) and photos of her friends. “The hardest part of high school,” she says, “was to be smart and cool at the same time.” She decided her dream college was the University of California, Los Angeles.
Ten or 20 years ago, Frances Harris almost certainly would have been admitted. Her excellent grades might not have even been necessary, because Berkeley and U.C.L.A. — the jewels in the U.C. system — accepted almost all of the African-Americans who met the basic application requirements. To an admissions officer, Harris would have seemed like gold: diversity and achievement, wrapped up in a single kid.
But in the early 1990s, the elite campuses began to pull back from their aggressive affirmative-action policies, and in 1996, California voters passed the California Civil Rights Initiative, also known as Proposition 209. After that, race could no longer be a factor in government hiring or public-university admissions. The number of black students at both Berkeley and U.C.L.A. plummeted, and at U.C.L.A. the declines continued throughout the next decade. The reasons weren’t entirely clear, but they seemed to include some combination of the admissions office taking Proposition 209 to heart and black students falling further behind in the academic arms race. (Harris, for instance, scored a 22 on the ACT test — slightly above the national average and well below the U.C.L.A. average.) The changes on U.C.L.A.’s campus were hard to miss. In 1997, the freshman class included 221 black students; last fall it had only 100. In the region with easily the largest black population west of the Mississippi River, the top public university had a freshman class in which barely 1 in 50 students was black.
A U.C.L.A. graduate named Peter Taylor, a 49-year-old managing director at Lehman Brothers in Los Angeles, remembers picking up The Los Angeles Times outside his house on a Saturday morning in June of last year and reading that piece of news. Taylor, who is black, is a third-generation native of the city and one of U.C.L.A.’s most active alumni. Within days of reading about the latest decline in the number of black students, he began a campaign to reverse it. At a reception to honor U.C.L.A.’s new acting chancellor, a law professor named Norm Abrams, he greeted Abrams with a big smile and said, “Well, Norm, you’re stepping right into it, and you’ve got to deal with it.” Abrams soon named Taylor to lead a task force of students, faculty, alumni and outsiders from places like the Urban League and the First A.M.E. Church. It spent the next year trying to get more black students to apply, more black applicants to be admitted and more black admits to enroll. In essence, Taylor’s group was trying to figure out how to bring a student like Frances Harris to U.C.L.A. without breaking the law — or at least without getting caught. What they have achieved may well show us the future of affirmative action.
Peter Taylor’s office on the 25th floor of the MGM Building in Century City looks out over the Fox movie lot and a golf course; in the distance downtown Los Angeles rises. Taylor has lived in an artsy neighborhood of Los Angeles called Silver Lake since he was a child. In the aftermath of the Watts riots, his father, then a school administrator and one of the few black men to hold such a job, became the principal of Locke High School in South-Central Los Angeles. Taylor himself went on from U.C.L.A. to earn a master’s degree in public policy and work for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign before joining Lehman Brothers. When we were talking in his office, he apologetically interrupted our conversation and spent 10 minutes on the phone trying to persuade the person on the other end not to make any changes in a coming bond offering. There was, he kept saying, no point in doing something that might upset the market. But Taylor’s cautious, corporate style can be deceiving. He doesn’t mind a good fight. “Prop. 209 has made things more challenging,” he said. “It has created a new paradigm. But there are still things that can be done.” I asked him whether those things might include civil disobedience, and Taylor surprised me by replying: “Exactly when you cross over into civil disobedience is not always clear. And I probably come down on the side of pushing the outer limits. I’m much more of the attitude of, ‘So what if someone sues?’ If you lose, you at least define the line a little more clearly. You say, ‘Mea culpa,’ and you don’t do it anymore.”
The heart of California’s higher-education problem, according to Taylor, is that Proposition 209 created a patently impossible situation. The law says that universities can’t consider race, even though race has an enormous effect on the lives of applicants. California’s best high schools offer so many A.P. and honors classes — which confer bonus points on a student’s G.P.A. — that the average G.P.A. of white and Asian freshmen at U.C.L.A. is now 4.2. At many of the largely black high schools around Los Angeles, it is sometimes impossible to do much better than a 4.0, because of the relative lack of A.P. classes. Black students at better high schools have a much easier time, but it’s not as if they are keeping up with their peers. Even if U.C.L.A. tried to get around Proposition 209 by giving a big leg up to low-income applicants, it wouldn’t increase its black population very much. At every rung of the socioeconomic ladder, the academic record of black students is worse than that of other groups. As Taylor says: “There is a great deal of pressure to look for a proxy for race. There is no proxy for race.”
He and many other defenders of affirmative action consider this to be a self-evident fact, but there has also been a good deal of social science to support the view that the specific problems surrounding race — including discrimination — endure.

[To read the entire article, go to:]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Professoriate Is Increasingly Diverse, but That Didn't Happen by Accident

From the issue dated September 28, 2007

Fifteen years ago, H. Rika Houston was on track to earn an M.B.A. from California State University at Long Beach and was preparing to look for a new job in the corporate world. But one of her professors set her on a different course when he called her into his office and told her: "I think you're doctorate material."
David A. Horne, a professor of marketing, agreed to "sponsor" Ms. Houston, who is Afro-Asian, in a Cal State program that repays up to $30,000 in graduate-school loans for Ph.D. seekers if they teach at a Cal State campus after earning their doctorate. Nearly 70 percent of the participants in the systemwide program are minority scholars.
Through that program, Cal State at Los Angeles has hired 32 faculty members over nearly 20 years, including Ms. Houston, an associate professor of marketing who joined the faculty after earning a Ph.D. at the University of California at Irvine. (The Cal State system itself has few doctorate-level programs.) Those hires, and other efforts to recruit minority professors, have helped Cal State at Los Angeles assemble one of the most diverse faculties in the country. As of the fall of 2005, the latest year for which national data are available, nearly 40 percent of its full-time professors were from racial and ethnic minority groups.
Ms. Houston is one of the faces behind national statistics that show that the professoriate is becoming more and more diverse.
"I can't say enough about the loan-forgiveness program," says Ms. Houston, who says she could not have otherwise afforded graduate school. "I'm looking forward to a time when I can sponsor someone."
In 2005, 109,964 U.S. minority scholars held full-time faculty positions at American colleges and universities, up from 69,505 in 1995, according to the Education Department — a 58-percent increase. The proportion of minority scholars in the overall professoriate also rose, but not as much. The department found that 16.5 percent of scholars were from minority groups in 2005, up from 12.7 percent in 1995. The increase in the proportion of U.S. minority scholars lagged well behind the increase in raw numbers because the number of white and nonresident-alien scholars also rose during the decade. The department includes both U.S. citizens and resident aliens (noncitizens who are permanent residents) in its racial categories, but lists nonresident aliens separately.
Hispanics and Asians experienced the greatest percentage growth: Some 22,818 Hispanics and 48,457 Asians held full-time faculty positions in 2005, both up at least 75 percent from 1995. The growth over that decade for American Indians and black scholars was slightly lower: Some 35,458 black scholars had full-time positions in 2005 (up by nearly a third from 1995), as did 3,231 American Indians (a 50-percent increase).
Proponents of greater faculty diversity say they are pleased to see those increases, especially during a decade filled with numerous challenges to affirmative action. But some experts on faculty diversity thought the numbers would increase even more, given the expectation that faculty members hired in the 1950s and 1960s — the vast majority of whom were white men — would begin retiring and make way for a more-diverse group.
[To see the entire story, go to:]

Monday, September 24, 2007

Leonard Pitts Jr.: White justice, black justice

In Jena, and in America, they still are not the same
Friday, September 21, 2007

White men taking sledgehammers to the door of the jailhouse in Marion, Ind., intending to murder three African-American prisoners. The sheriff orders his men not to interfere.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a syndicated columnist for The Miami Herald (
White men hearing testimony tying two white defendants conclusively to the kidnap, torture and murder of a black boy in Money, Miss. The jury takes less than an hour to set them free.
White men with badges arresting three civil rights workers for an alleged traffic violation in Neshoba County, Miss. Forty-four days later, the workers' bodies are dug out of an earthen dam.
There are other examples -- thousands -- but let three suffice to make the point. Which is that African Americans have frequently found the justice system to be about anything but justice. From the day slavery ended, that system has often been its surrogate, a tool used specifically for the suppression and control of black people.
There was no artifice about it. This conspiracy of beat cops and county sheriffs and DAs and judges and senators and attorneys general operated openly and with impunity. Everyone knew there were simply different rules, different enforcement and different punishment for blacks.
Maybe your impulse is to seal all that off in a mental box called history -- interesting, lamentable, but hardly relevant. In which case, what will you say about Jena?
Meaning, of course, the tiny Louisiana town now infamous for a series of events that began a year ago when a black high school student asked the principal if it was OK for him to sit under a shade tree white kids claimed as theirs. The principal told him yes. But the next day, nooses were found hanging in the tree.
The principal wanted the white kids who did it expelled, but the superintendent overruled him, briefly suspending them instead. Expulsion, he felt, was excessive for this "prank."
There followed weeks of racial brawls and even an arson fire. A black student, Robert Bailey, was hit in the head with a beer bottle by a white kid who was later charged with simple battery and released on probation.
After a white student, Justin Barker, supposedly taunted Mr. Bailey about it, six black kids allegedly jumped him, kicking and stomping. Mr. Barker was knocked out and had a black eye. He was treated and released at the hospital and felt well enough to go out that same night.
Yet the DA called it attempted murder.
Yes, charges against five of the six were eventually reduced. Yes, an appeals court just overturned the aggravated battery conviction of the only student whose case has been adjudicated.
But it is hard to be sanguine. This unjust justice is hardly unique.
Consider Genarlow Wilson, 17, sentenced to 10 years for consensual sex with a 15-year-old. And Marcus Dixon, 18, who drew 10 years for having sex with an underage white girl. And Shaquanda Cotton, who shoved a white teacher's aide and got seven years from a judge who had earlier given probation to a white girl who burned down her family's house.
A 2000 study co-sponsored by the Justice Department codifies the obvious: People of color receive starkly unequal treatment in the "justice" system.
Where blacks are concerned, it seems, that system often still exists not to enforce the law and protect order, but to intimidate and compel. But at least they care enough about appearances these days to lie.
"Race? This has nothing to do with race. Oh, no."
Prosecutors justifying the unjustifiable. Utterly convinced of their own blamelessness.
One might ask why it is that black justice so seldom looks like real justice, even today.
The answer is that history does not fit in a box. And once upon a time is now.

Sex Harassment Faces Title IX Legal Test

Run Date: 09/23/07
By Viv Bernstein
WeNews correspondent

Title IX is often equated with equal opportunity in athletics but the 1972 law also addresses sexual harassment. If the Supreme Court decides to hear a case involving a star college soccer coach it could clarify this aspect of gender-equity law.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Nine years have passed since former player Melissa Jennings accused the most successful women's college soccer coach in the country, the University of North Carolina's Anson Dorrance, of sexual harassment in a case that shocked the sport.
Over time, Jennings moved from college student to teacher in Illinois while Dorrance added to his collection of national championships at North Carolina, now at 19 and counting. But the suit was never tried in court.
Now it might be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that ultimately could have significant implications for Title IX, the groundbreaking 1972 law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions that receive federal funds.
Title IX is most often associated with equal opportunity among men and women in college athletics. The law also addresses, however, sexual harassment in education, an issue on college campuses throughout the country.
A study by the Washington-based American Association of University Women found that 62 percent of female college students, and 61 percent of men, reported having been sexually harassed at their university.
Jennings was 17 years old when she joined the powerhouse North Carolina team in 1996 that had produced such World Cup stars as Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly. But in the two years Jennings was on the team before being cut following the 1997 season, she claimed that Dorrance repeatedly pried into the personal lives of his players with degrading questions and comments, and made foul remarks about the appearance of some athletes. Some comments were directed at Jennings, but many targeted other players.
Jennings joined with Debbie Keller, a national player of the year for the Tar Heels, and filed suit in U.S. District Court in North Carolina in August 1998. Keller, who also accused Dorrance of inappropriate physical contact, later settled out of court for $70,000 along with a requirement that Dorrance undergo sensitivity training.
Jennings Persisted
Jennings continued on with the suit that claimed Dorrance violated Title IX by creating a hostile environment at North Carolina that denied her the benefits of college sports and that the university acted with deliberate indifference in failing to address it when informed of the charge.
The case was dismissed by a district court judge in Greensboro, N.C., just before it was scheduled to go to trial in 2004. Jennings appealed, and a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., upheld the decision, 2-1, in 2006. Jennings appealed once more and in April, the Fourth Circuit ruled 8-2 in her favor, finally sending the case back to District Court for trial.
But in July, the North Carolina attorney general's office representing the school and Dorrance appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court has scheduled Jennings v. North Carolina for conference on Sept. 24 to decide if it will be heard this session.
If the Supreme Court denies the appeal, the case is expected to finally be heard in District Court perhaps early next year.

[To read the entire story, go to: ]

Saturday, September 22, 2007

African-American Lawyers Working as Temps in Law Firms Signals Possible Trend

Workforce Management
Recruiting and Staffing

High representation in contingent work may be indicative of a broader trend in which African-American lawyers, for various reasons, are opting to work for temporary staffing agencies instead of at law firms. Lack of opportunity could be a factor. By Irwin Speizer ulian S. Brown, president of development at legal staffing company Compliance Inc., in Arlington, Virginia, recently checked up on a job that called for five lawyers to work on a temporary assignment. Four of them, it turned out, were African-American.
"That’s not rare," Brown says. "It turns out that there are a higher percentage of minority attorneys who are temping. Typically, on one of our projects, we will have 30 percent who are African-American."
The rate of participation by African-American lawyers in temporary jobs at Compliance Inc. is the opposite of the situation at most large law firms in the U.S., where only a fraction of the jobs are held by African-Americans. Brown says Compliance Inc., which is owned by international staffing company Vedior, has made no special effort to recruit African-American lawyers. Rather, he believes the situation at Compliance is indicative of a broader trend in which African-American lawyers, for various reasons, opt to work for temporary staffing agencies instead of at law firms.
"I would argue that it is not going well at law firms [for African-Americans], or else they are not getting opportunities at law firms," Brown says.
While some temporary staffing firms say they also have noticed higher participation by African-American lawyers than might be expected, others say they have either not noticed the trend or else haven’t studied the ethnic makeup of their contract workers. The American Staffing Association, which conducts research on the contingent labor workforce, says it does not collect statistics on participation by African-American lawyers.
But Brown and other staffing professionals say that they are convinced that African-Americans and other minorities are clearly over-represented in the temporary legal staffing field.

[To read the entire article, go to:]

Our Crashing Racial Diversity

San Francisco Chronicle (
Ralph C. Carmona
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why do corporate and public leaders talk around addressing the nation's increasing racial segregation through nebulous catch words like "diversity"?

One obvious reason: Civil-rights efforts to integrate our society have been facing an anti-diversity "colorblind" politics since the 1970s. This triggered in California, more than a decade ago, voter-approved initiatives hostile to illegal immigrants, affirmative action and bilingual education. Although two-thirds of the state's voters are white, the majority of the state's population is of minority and multiracial composition. By mid-century, this demographic transformation will permeate the nation. At some point, California's growing multiracial dilemma, where unequal economic circumstances, turnstile justice and school segregation, among citizen and non-citizen alike, will take on a national relevance.
For insights on this brewing crisis, a state "DiversityFirst" leadership conference dialogue is scheduled this week in San Francisco. One panel will focus on the topic raised in the 2004 Academy Award Best Picture, "Crash," to examine the race-diversity connection. A provocative metaphor on a multiracial California, "Crash" is a fictional depiction of Los Angeles in racial conflict. It pulls America away from the dated 1960s civil-rights thinking and puts us in a different place from the thoughtful classics, such as "To Kill a Mockingbird," which revealed a black-white, legally-imposed apartheid American South.
"Crash" forces us to think about what racial reality is - we're segregated. It forces us to talk about it, and about what does it mean to us, to our neighbor. It forces us to go beyond the corporate workplace diversity exercises. Yet, underlying the movie's interdependent hodgepodge of emotional differences, conflicting fears and prejudices, there is a unifying theme that opens windows of hope through acts of common humanity.
The politics of "Crash" work in private and public ways. Thinking of a woman's place in American private life over 50 years ago, I teased my Mayflower descendant-turned-New Yorker wife one day that "back then, honey, I would have been bringing home the bacon and you would be home cooking and shining my shoes." Without skipping a beat and with my Mexican background in mind, she shot back: "Sweetie, 50 years ago, you would have been my gardener."

[To see the entire op-ed, go to:]

The Women Behind the Men

The New York Times
September 22, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The Women Behind the Men

Daisy Bates had to march with the wives.
When the nation observes the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock school desegregation on Monday, there will undoubtedly be a great deal said about Bates, who was head of the city’s N.A.A.C.P. chapter. She helped recruit nine black teenagers and escorted them through irate mobs of white adults and into their first classes. As a result, she and her husband, Lucius, lost their business. She was jailed, threatened and the Ku Klux Klan burned an 8-foot cross on her lawn.
Bates was invited, of course, to the famous March on Washington in 1963, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Rosa Parks was invited, too, and Pauli Murray, the lawyer and feminist who had staged the first sit-in at a Washington restaurant during World War II.
When they got there, they were all assigned to walk with the wives of the male civil rights leaders, far away from the cameras. “Not a single woman was invited to make one of the major speeches or be part of the delegation of leaders who went to the White House. The omission was deliberate,” Murray said later.
Dorothy Height, the head of the National Council of Negro Women, and others begged that at least one woman be included among the speakers. They nominated Diane Nash, the student leader who had been perhaps the one person most responsible for the success of the Freedom Riders in the South. No dice.
“Nothing that women said or did broke the impasse blocking their participation. I’ve never seen a more unmovable force,” Height wrote. The men kept telling her that women already had participation — both Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson were going to sing. In the end, A. Philip Randolph delivered a “Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom” while the female civil rights legends sat on the stage.
We’ve learned, with some pain, to celebrate all our national heroes through clear eyes, as people whose great hearts and minds still did not take the dream of freedom and equality past their own immediate cause. The Declaration of Independence is our noblest piece of prose even though Thomas Jefferson kept slaves. Susan B. Anthony is my favorite Founding Mother, but I know she broke her old friend Frederick Douglass’s heart when she lashed out at a government that would give the vote to “Sambo” and ignore well-educated, middle-class white women. Dr. King and the other male leaders and martyrs of the civil rights movement are always going to be a beacon in the center of our history. But they generally believed women’s place was in the home, and most were privately looking forward to the moment when they would all go back there.
The women of the civil rights movement who are most celebrated tend to be the brave victims, like Rosa Parks, who dutifully played the simple seamstress too tired to give up her seat on the bus, even though she had in fact been an activist for longer than almost any of the men. Still, in her autobiography she remembered that March on Washington and noted that these days “women wouldn’t stand for being kept so much in the background.”
The women who men were less enthusiastic about were the ones who led. Martin Luther King Jr.’s first triumph as the public face of the Montgomery bus boycott was possible because a group of middle-class black women led by a college teacher, Jo Ann Robinson, had organized it. They had been preparing for the opportunity so long that when Rosa Parks went to jail, they had 35,000 fliers ready the next morning, to deliver to black households through their children at school. Yet now they have practically vanished from our history.
You do not have to dismiss the men to believe that Ella Baker was the greatest organizer the civil rights movement ever knew. When she was passed over for the directorate of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which she helped found and ran as acting director, she attributed the rejection to the fact that “I was female; I was old. I didn’t have a Ph.D.” Then she went right on organizing, guiding the black college students into forming the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which she would direct throughout its glory years as adviser and unpaid spiritual leader.

[To read the entire op-ed, go to: ]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Postsecondary Picture for Minority Students (and Men)

Inside Higher Education
Sept. 13

The newest report from the National Center for Education Statistics is, as its title (”Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities“) suggests, designed to provide a comprehensive look at how members of minority groups are faring in the American educational system, from top to bottom. But while the data it offers on that subject are decidedly mixed — showing significant progress over time for all groups, but wide gaps remaining in access to and success in college — the report’s most provocative (and potentially troubling) numbers may be about gender, not race.
Most of the data in the report from the Education Department’s statistical arm have been released in earlier or narrower reports. But by bringing together reams of statistics over 30 years on the full gamut of educational measures, from pre-primary enrollment of 3- to 5-year-olds to median incomes for adults over 25, the study aims to provide a broad-based look at “the educational progress and challenges that racial and ethnic minorities face in the United States.”
Progress and challenges are both evident; virtually every category contains good news and bad news. In the higher education realm, for instance, the report shows that where black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native students made up 17 percent of college undergraduates in 1976, their share of that total had risen to 32 percent by 2004. And each of those groups saw their raw numbers at least double over that time, with some groups showing significantly greater proportional increases, as seen in the table below:

% Change
Asian/Pacific Islander
American Indian/Alaska Native
Representation in graduate education changed along roughly the same lines, the study finds, with minority group members making up 25 percent of the graduate school population in 2004, up from 11 percent in 1976.
In addition, the proportion of all 18- to 24-year-old Americans who were enrolled in college rose sharply for all racial groups between 1980 and 2004, in most cases increasing by at least 50 percent.
But those positive developments aside, the research shows that members of underrepresented minority groups badly lag their white and Asian peers in college going. By 2004, 60.3 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, as were 41.7 of white Americans in that age group. The numbers were lower for other groups: 31.8 for black Americans, 24.7 for Hispanics, and 24.4 percent for American Indian/Alaska Natives.
Similarly, the proportion of degrees awarded to most racial minority groups fell well short of their representation in the population. Slightly less than 10 percent of all college degrees awarded by U.S. degree-granting institutions in 2003-4 — and 9.3 percent of bachelor’s degrees, and 6 percent of doctorates — went to African-Americans, who make up 12 percent of the population. Hispanics fared worse, earning 7.3 of all degrees, 6.8 percent of baccalaureate degrees, and 3.4 percent of doctorates, despite making up 14 percent of the U.S. populace.
Concerning as those numbers might be to advocates for minority education, the most striking data in the report are probably those related to the educational outcomes of men, of all races and ethnicities.
By virtually every measure used in the report, male students have fallen far behind their female counterparts. That development isn’t new, but the federal report lays out the situation starkly. For instance, the study finds that the gender gap in undergraduate enrollments expanded generally and for all races between 1976 and 2004, as seen in the table below:
The Gender Gap in Undergraduate Enrollments, 1976 to 2004

Proportion of undergraduates who were male, 1976
Proportion of UndergraduatesWho Were Male, 2004
% Difference Between Female and Male Enrollment, 2004





Asian/Pacific Islander

American Indian/Alaska Native

Similarly, the proportion of male 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college in 2004 had fallen to 34.7 percent, compared to 41.2 percent for women. Six to 10 percent gaps existed for all racial groups, too, with the exception of Asian/Pacific Islanders; for them, men were more likely to be enrolled in college by a 63 to 58 percent margin.

[To read the entire story, go to:
To read the NCES report, go to:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lawyer seeks petition drive to stop use of preferences

Critics say the goal is to end affirmative- action programs.
By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma City lawyer filed notice Monday with the Secretary of State's Office of his intent to circulate an initiative petition that some critics say would wipe out state affirmative-action programs. The measure would add a new section to the state constitution. "The new section prohibits discriminating against or granting preferences to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, and public contacting by the state or any of its agencies, institutions, or political subdivisions," the proposed ballot title says, adding that it would not prohibit actions necessary for the state to obtain federal funding. The notice of intent to circulate the petition was filed by Oklahoma City lawyer Devin Resides, a Republican who failed to get elected in 2006 to the state House of Representatives. "This initiative will abolish all preferences based on the way a person looks," Resides said. "I don't think this will impact in any shape or form the reaching out to those Oklahomans that need help." Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, chairman of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, said the measure would end state affirmative-action programs. "If that is not the reason, then why offer an initiative petition?" Shelton asked. Under state law, the petitioner has 90 days to gather the 138,970 signatures needed to qualify for a statewide vote. Resides said he doesn't want the measure to be labeled an anti-affirmative-action effort. "It is an anti-preference initiative," he said. If passed, the measure's impact would depend on how affirmative action is defined, Resides said. Affirmative-action policies are generally designed to promote access to education and jobs for historically disadvantaged segments of the population. Supporters say they redress past discrimination and level the playing field for minorities and women. "I think you could find 50 different people with 50 different options of what affirmative action is," Resides said. "I think I could find 50 people who would all agree with me that ending preferences is right for Oklahoma." Resides said he was contacted by Jennifer Gratz of the American Civil Rights Institute in California about the issue. California passed a similar measure.

[To read the entire article, go to:]

New Paper Outlines Lessons Learned from Recent Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action in K-12 Schools

Sept. 11, 2007

The American Council on Education (ACE) has released a paper evaluating the implications for higher education of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding race- and ethnicity-conscious admissions policies in K-12 public schools.

In two closely-watched cases, the Supreme Court ruled on June 28 that public school districts may not use race and ethnicity as the predominant consideration in school assignment programs designed to promote diversity. In a 5-4 decision that combined the two cases Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, the Court set a difficult standard for “narrow tailoring” of such policies in the future but did not completely rule out diversity as a compelling state interest in K-12 public education.
The new ACE paper points out that the most important implication of the K-12 cases is that the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger “remains controlling law” for colleges and universities.

The decision in Grutter v. Bollinger upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School. In the court’s ruling, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor's majority opinion held that the United States Constitution “does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”
"Since Seattle and Louisville were the first consideration of principles taken from the 2003 University of Michigan cases, we have given the Court's decision a careful reading to analyze its impact on how colleges and universities use race as an aspect of diversity," said Ada Meloy, ACE's general counsel. "We remain cautiously optimistic that Grutter survives the change in Supreme Court membership."

Distinguishing the K-12 decision from its seemingly contrary decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court noted that unlike the admissions plan it upheld in Grutter, “the plans here ‘do not provide for a meaningful individualized review of applicants’ but instead rely on racial classifications in a ‘nonindividualized, mechanical’ way.”

However, the ACE paper outlines, there are lessons to be learned for colleges and universities in these latest decisions, including:
Diversity is still a legitimate factor to consider in making admissions decisions. Colleges and universities will need to ensure that, if they are seeking to admit a diverse student body, they have both a clear mission with a definition of diversity and a process for reviewing applications to implement that mission.
Individualized and holistic review of applications. Colleges and universities need to make admissions decisions based on whether the totality of an application indicates that the applicant contributes to the school’s diversity goals, its overall mission, and its educational objectives.
Considerations of race must yield results. Although the Court does not explicitly state a college or university must achieve results if it is going to consider race, the implication of the Court’s reasoning is that results matter (and those results probably have to be more than minimal).
Caution regarding “critical mass.” The skepticism toward the use of numerical goals or broad ranges expressed by the Court in the cases suggests that institutions should use the concept of “critical mass” carefully and base it upon the educational benefits the institution seeks to obtain from enrolling a diverse student body.
Race-neutral alternatives must be considered. A college or university that wishes to create a diverse student body must seriously consider non-race-conscious means first. If those means do not accomplish the institution’s goal, the institution may then consider race to a limited degree.
Sense of institution’s mission. A college or university must have a strong sense of its mission and educational objectives and the role, if any, diversity plays in achieving both.

To download the full paper, see the ACE website. Also read ACE’s “friend of the court” brief filed in October 2006 in support of the Seattle and Louisville school districts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Weighing The Reach of a Title IX Ruling

Inside Higher Education
September 10, 2007

How closely must a university monitor the conduct of its students and the culture of its athletic program? How, exactly, do you show that an institution was aware of apparent risks of sexual harassment or assault?

These are some of the questions being raised anew after a federal appeals court late last week reinstated a lawsuit in which two former female students accused the University of Colorado at Boulder of violating a federal law barring sex discrimination by not taking action to prevent their alleged rape by football players and recruits.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires that students seeking to hold an institution liable for failing to prevent sexual assault or for allowing a sexually hostile climate to develop must demonstrate that the university knew in some way of a risk and failed to act. Courts have interpreted differently whether an institution must have had notice of a specific risk — past complaints about an individual or threats made by the person — or simply notice of a general risk, such as complaints about a group or team, or knowledge that a certain situation could cause problems.

In the Colorado case, the women say they were raped in 2001 at an off-campus party for football players and recruits. Because the university was aware that recruits were paired with female “ambassadors,” students who were instructed to show the visitors “a good time,” Colorado was responsible for the alleged sexual assaults by fostering an environment that is hostile toward women, the former students argue.

Their case rests primarily on the assertion that by the time of the alleged assaults, there was sufficient information suggesting that the risks of sexual assault occurring were high if recruiting activities were inadequately supervised by campus officials.

Colorado knew of reports — not specific to the university — about the potential of sexual assaults on campus. The Buffalo football program’s player-host program had also been subject to scrutiny after charges of sexual assault at a party for recruits surfaced 10 years ago. Not only did Colorado fail to heed warnings that it should develop policies for monitoring recruits and provide sexual-assault prevention training for football players, the women say, it responded in ways that “were more likely to encourage than eliminate such misconduct,” according to information provided by them to the court.

Colorado released a written statement saying that it “does not have a policy that would place any of its female students at risk of assault; in fact, it has stringent policies prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual assault.” The university responded by eliminating the player-host program by the 2004-5 recruiting season and providing more oversight of the athletics department. The system’s president, Betsy Hoffman, and its athletics director, Dick Tharp, resigned in the process.

Two years ago, a district court judge granted Colorado’s request to dismiss the women’s case on summary judgment, saying the plaintiffs had not met the requirement to prove that the university had shown “deliberate indifference” to the prospect of sexual assault. But in the ruling last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit disagreed, arguing that the district court had been given enough evidence to show that the university knew or should have known about previous complaints of sexual harassment by football players and had acted indifferently.

The evidence presented to the district court on Colorado’s motion for summary judgment is sufficient to support findings (1) that CU had an official policy of showing high-school football recruits a ‘good time’ on their visits to the CU campus, (2) that the alleged sexual assaults were caused by CU’s failure to provide adequate supervision and guidance to player-hosts chosen to show the football recruits a ‘good time,’ and (3) that the likelihood of such misconduct was so obvious that CU’s failure was the result of “deliberate indifference,” according to the court’s ruling.

The appellate court makes an important distinction that because Colorado’s head football coach, Gary Barnett, had general knowledge of past problems and complaints surrounding the player-host program, then the university was also aware of the information. Barnett’s rank in the university’s hierarchy was “comparable to that of a police chief in a municipal government,” the court says. It also notes that Barnett hired as an assistant football coach a former football player who had been accused of assaulting a woman a few years earlier and had been banned from the campus.

[To read the entire story, go to: ]

Heated Debate About HBCUs

Inside Higher Education
September 11, 2007

An April working paper finding that the economic gains associated with attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in comparison to traditionally white institutions have shifted dramatically since the 1970s — and not in the HBCUs’ favor — came under heavy scrutiny Monday during a session at the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference in Washington.

The study, conducted by Harvard University’s Roland G. Fryer and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Michael Greenstone, found that graduates of HBCUs in the 1970s benefited from a 10 to 12 percent wage gain relative to those who attended traditionally white institutions. However, by the 1990s, and despite gains on measures of pre-college academic preparedness among students at black colleges, HBCU graduates had a 12 to 14 percent lower wage on average than graduates of traditionally white colleges — accounting for a swing of roughly 20 percent.

The study quickly became controversial among HBCU leaders, and at Monday’s session, organized by the umbrella group for HBCUs, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, panelists raised questions about the methodology and the assumptions behind it – with David Swinton, an economist and the president of South Carolina’s Benedict College, going so far as to call one of the study’s major premises “racist.”
The conversation began with Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO of NAFEO, citing a number of statistics showcasing the successes of HBCUs, which disproportionately educate students from low-income backgrounds.

Among them: While HBCUs represent just 3 percent of colleges nationally, they enroll 18 percent of African Americans in higher education and graduate 30 percent of those who persist to graduation. They graduate 40 percent of African Americans who obtain degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, 50 percent of those who go on to become professors and 60 percent of those who major in engineering. Valerie Rawlston Wilson, the senior resident scholar at the National Urban League Policy Institute, followed that data with some of her own, which show that after controlling for differences in institutional characteristics, family backgrounds and academic performance, HBCUs “are at least as effective in graduating African-American students comparable to traditionally white institutions, and with fewer resources.”

Following up on that, Greenstone, the study’s co-author, presented the findings, which President Swinton then rebutted. Swinton cited a number of concerns about the methodology, warning against the dangers of “data mining” and indicating that it’s unclear whether the longitudinal datasets the researchers relied on were appropriately representative of HBCU graduates.

To applause and murmurs of “absolutely,” he suggested that large numbers of HBCU graduates going into the nonprofit world could help explain the wage gap, and added that prejudices on the part of employers who prefer to hire graduates from traditionally white institutions could also play a role (though he noted, too, the substantial changes in climate since the ’70s and the possibility that the function of HBCUs have shifted accordingly).

[To read the entire story, go to: ]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Protecting the Civil Rights Act

By Harry C. Alford, NNPA Columnist
September 10, 2007

Segregated and inferior schools, separate public facilities, refusal to sporting events, denial to employment and various "guaranteed" American opportunities - that's how it was before the Civil Rights Movement and the victory culminating in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This was a very ugly country as I remember it. My sons try to imagine and feel the horror of that Apartheid that did not die until the early 1970's. It is impossible to really feel it if you didn't live it. I lived it and it was Hell on earth. It was a social sickness that still causes some bitterness even if the version I lived was a lot less than the version of my parents.

The Civil Rights Act became a living law as Affirmative Action became the implementation tool. Unlike Brown v. Topeka which was to move at "All Deliberate Speed" which became a big mystery and stalled in many places, the Civil Rights Act demanded action. Dr. Arthur A. Fletcher imposed Affirmative Action on the Nixon Administration while giants such as Adam Clayton Powell, Parren J. Mitchell, Gus Savage, etc. attached Affirmative Action components to all laws as they were written. These were the best of times for America. It opened the doors not just for Blacks but for all colors. White women profited from the Act as much as anyone else as it addressed gender as well as race and national origin.

Before the Civil Rights Act, white males in this nation controlled everything. Jobs, promotions, lending, contracting was in their control to the detriment of people of color and white women. Public contracting was nearly 100 percent white male-owned business. Today, it is about 85 percent. That has caused a backlash with the far right conservatives who wish for the days of white male supremacy to return. They have systematically organized a front to fight against the virtues of the Civil Rights Act. They have chosen to fight Affirmative Action policy wherever it appears. The "base camps" for this assault are conservative think tanks that are funded by wealthy right-wing zealots. They work through stealth and misinformation that confuses the general public. They have had some success through our disorganization and it is time for us to become better organized.

Let's identify these so-called think tanks. Perhaps the worst is the Center for New Black Leadership which has produced some of the most despicable Uncle Toms walking this earth. These Negroes get their funding from right wing sources. Many have been injected into the Bush Administration to put misery and conflict on Affirmative Action programs. The next three are the Bradley Foundation, Olin Foundation and the Scaife Foundation which probably have the greatest amount of funding devoted to wipe out Affirmative Action programs around the nation. Of course, there is the American Civil Rights Institute and the American Civil Rights Coalition, both of whom have Ward Connerly as their spokesperson. He's the guy who goes around the nation stirring up anti civil rights propositions.

The other groups, no less vicious, are: Earhart Foundation, Pacific Legal Foundation, Castle Rock Foundation, Pioneer Fund, Smith Richardson Foundation, Center for Equal Opportunity, Institute for Justice, National Review, American Spectator, Southeastern Legal Foundation, Rocky Mountain States Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Individual Rights, Landmark Legal Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Federalist Society Civil Rights Practice Group, Project for All Deliberate Speed, Frontiers for Freedom, Mont Pelerin Society, Council for National Policy, Claremont Institute. There are others. Treat these guys as the "Devil." They want you to go away or at least sit in second class citizenship as we did before the Civil Rights Act. They want the Civil Rights Act repealed, at least, void of any action. They long for the bad old days. Take notice and file these groups for quick access. Wherever you see them active - beware and fight them.

Harry Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website:

[To read the entire commentary, go to: ]

Affirmative action supporters fight proposed amendment

The Star’s Jefferson City correspondent
Kansas City Star
Sep. 08, 2007 10:15 PM

JEFFERSON CITY A proposed Missouri constitutional amendment to bar state programs that give preference based on race or gender has drawn a second lawsuit — this one from affirmative action supporters.
Steve Israelite, former executive director of the Jewish Heritage Foundation of Kansas City, and Greg Shufeldt, political director for the St. Louis-based Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The case was filed recently in Cole County Circuit Court against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and State Auditor Susan Montee.
The proposed amendment would end gender and race preferences in state hiring, contracting and education. However, it would not preclude gender preferences in public housing, education or contracting that are “reasonably necessary,” and it would not apply in instances where federal program funds would be lost.
The most recent lawsuit alleges that the ballot title Carnahan approved is “insufficient and unfair” and “is likely to deceive and mislead voters.” The language Carnahan approved does not say that the measure would allow discrimination on the basis of religion, disability, age or veteran status, the lawsuit argues.
And the fiscal note that Montee approved, which says that state and local government costs are unknown, also is insufficient and unfair, the lawsuit alleges. Montee did not do enough research to determine actual costs, the lawsuit argues.
“I feel very strongly about the disparity that goes on in the nation between blacks and whites,” Israelite said. “Affirmative action is designed to help ameliorate those disparities.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the proposed amendment violates the state constitution because it deals with multiple subjects and would amend more than one section of the constitution. The amendment also runs afoul of rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, the lawsuit argues.
The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative filed the petition for the constitutional amendment and also is challenging Carnahan’s ballot language. Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce has combined the lawsuits, and trial is set for Oct. 30.

[To read the entire article, go to: ]

Friday, September 7, 2007

OFCCP Hosts a Webinar on Jobs for Veterans Act

The Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is hosting a webinar on the new 41 C.F.R. Part 60-300 regulations implementing the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA.) The webinar will be held on Wednesday, September 19, 2007, from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm EDT. To sign up for the "Overview of Part 60-300 Veterans Regulations," go to:

To see the OFCCP JVA regulations and Frequently Asked Questions, go to the OFCCP homepage at: .

Ward Connerly's 'Equal Rights' con

Conservative philanthropy product Connerly launching 'Super Tuesday for Equal Rights' -- a series of November 2008 anti-affirmative action initiatives

In the aftermath of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling severely limiting the use of race in K-12 integration plans, Ward Connerly is feeling his oats. "I believe that we are now poised for a coup de grĂ¢ce to say that race preferences in the eyes of the public should not be used," Connerly, the chairman of the Sacramento, California-based American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), said in response to the Supreme Court's decision. Since 1997 ACRI has received more than $5.7 million from conservative philanthropies for its anti-affirmative action activities.
If Connerly's new Super Tuesday for Equal Rights campaign is successful, the day after the November 2008 presidential election affirmative action will be one giant step closer to oblivion. The mastermind behind anti-affirmative action initiatives in California, Michigan, and Washington, has set his sights on five new states -- Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. "This is going to be Super Tuesday for equal rights," Connerly said. "I think it's very clear that we are witnessing an end to an era."
In 1997, Connerly along with Thomas 'Dusty' Rhodes, co-founded the American Civil Rights Institute (website), a national non-profit organization pro-actively opposed to affirmative action. Connerly rocketed into the national spotlight -- and the hearts of conservatives -- with Proposition 209, the 1996 California ballot initiative that outlawed race and gender preferences in state hiring and university admissions.
Connerly-sponsored anti-affirmative action initiatives have a Frank Luntz-ian bent to them. Luntz is the GOP political consultant/pollster/Fox News Channel contributor who has been debasing language for partisan political purposes for more than a decade. As Diversity Inc.'s Jennifer Millman pointed out in a late-August report, Connerly "makes an easy sell to the public by calling for 'equal opportunity' and a 'colorblind society,' [which is] a distortion of civil-rights language that has duped the public into banning affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting."

[To read the entire article, go to:]

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Chronicle's Peter Schmidt Releases Book on Affirmative Action

Peter Schmidt, deputy editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education, released a book entitled: "Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War Over Affirmative Action." In his book, Schmidt writes about affirmative action, the class divide and access of the middle class to institutions of higher education. To hear the interview with Peter Schmidt, go to:

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Mom, the next corporate titan

Hungry for talent, big companies have started to pursue women who have dropped out of the workforce. How this could redefine the whole notion of a career.
The Boston Globe
By Drake Bennett, Globe Staff September 2, 2007

ROBIN GUGICK MAYER had the qualifications, but couldn't find the job she wanted. She had been a corporate bond analyst at Prudential Securities for 10 years, then had worked at a smaller firm for five more. But Mayer had stopped working in January 2005 when her third child was born, and when she wanted back in, the headhunters she spoke to were reluctant : A woman who takes time off is a tough sell.
Mayer managed to get a handful of interviews using her own connections, but even companies that were interested weren't willing to allow her to work from home one day a week to be with her kids.
``It was hard, very hard," she recalls. ``I didn't know anyone in my area of specialty who had taken time off and come back."
In March of this year she was part of the inaugural class of a new program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, designed to recruit and retrain women like her. Over three days, Mayer and her classmates took classes on finance, strategic communication, marketing theory, and decision-making. They met in small groups with career coaches. Each was assigned a mentor at the investment bank UBS, the program's sponsor, and each spent a day with recruiters at the bank's New York City headquarters. And afterward, Mayer was one of three women hired to work there - except for Fridays, when she works from home.
The collaboration between UBS and Wharton is part of a burgeoning movement among some of the nation's top banks, accounting firms, and management consultancies to recruit talent in a new way. Instead of chasing the recent graduates of top business schools, or raiding the competition, the idea is to woo highly skilled women who have left the workforce, usually to have children.
In just the past few years, spurred largely by a tight market for white-collar labor, firms such as the investment banks Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs have launched targeted recruiting programs. A new class of headhunters and human resources consultants has emerged to help smaller companies do the same. Other companies, including the accounting firm Ernst and Young and management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, have programs that allow women taking time off to keep in touch with the firm and even do occasional work until they're ready to return. Elite business schools like Dartmouth's Tuck School and the Harvard Business School have programs similar to Wharton's, and the how-tos of finding and hiring women coming off a career break - women who are ``onramping," in the current human-resources parlance - are hot topics in business school classrooms.
So far, these efforts are still new, and small: Wharton's Career Comeback program had 60 graduates this fall, and Lehman Brothers, a company with 28,000 employees, has hired 31 women and three men through its Encore program. Nonetheless, the idea of creating a systematic recruiting process for women looking to get back into the workforce, rather than something more ad hoc - or rather than ignoring them completely - marks an important shift. And the fact that the companies instituting these programs are hard-charging financial services firms with reputations for making few concessions to their employees' lifestyles could be a sign, some believe, of much broader changes to come in the corporate world.

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Race Card Issue Won, Truth Lost

Article Last Updated: 09/02/2007 01:14:22 AM MDT
By Diane Carman
Denver Post Columnist

The juggernaut is in full gallop across Arizona, Oregon, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Utah, South Dakota and Colorado. Money is being raised, language is being finalized and initiative petitions to get constitutional amendments on the ballot are being readied.
Sponsors from the American Civil Rights Institute have dubbed Nov. 6, 2008, "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights."
Their goal is to end affirmative action, though they rarely say it that plainly. And if their tactics in Michigan are any indication, a wave of voter fraud could be headed our way.
Then, by the time anybody can launch a court challenge, the election will be over, the amendments will be law and there will be no turning back.
It may not be the perfect crime but, hey, it got the job done.
Anti-affirmative action activist Ward Connerly is one of several defendants named in the court challenge of Proposal 2, the Michigan anti-affirmative action law, which was approved by voters there in 2006.
While the federal courts have said it's too late to do anything about it, the evidence of voter fraud in getting the measure on the ballot was abundant.
"... Solicitation and procurement of signatures in support of placing Proposal 2 on the general election ballot was rife with fraud and deception," said the opinion handed down last week by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Michigan. "By all accounts, Proposal 2 found its way on the ballot through methods that undermine the integrity and fairness of our democratic processes."
They lied and lied and lied.
The opinion said the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative engaged in a "highly coordinated, systematic strategy" of misrepresenting the ballot measure to "thousands of voters."
Petition circulators were instructed "to tell potential signers that the petition was a pro-civil rights and pro-affirmative action petition."
Witness after witness testified to the deceptive tactics when the case was heard in U.S. District Court last year.
One woman said she was told by a circulator that he was working "to keep affirmative action on the books." He told her that if affirmative action were abolished, her son would not be allowed to attend the University of Michigan.
At a market in Detroit, circulators said that the petition supported affirmative action and signing it would help black kids get into college.
Ruthie Stevenson, president of the Macomb County chapter of the Michigan NAACP, said she was approached by a circulator who said the measure would "make civil rights fairer for everybody." He also told her that Ruthie Stevenson, president of the NAACP, had endorsed it. When she told him that she was Ruthie Stevenson and she most assuredly did not support it, he walked away.
Even the mayor of Kalamazoo, Hanna McKinney, testified that she was misled and would never have signed the petition if she had known it supported a ban on affirmative action.
The court also criticized Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, for "evasive testimony" and her group's "use of deception and connivance to confuse the issues in the hopes of getting the proposal on the ballot."
The court said, "It is difficult to determine where the line between wilful ignorance and deliberate deception could be drawn" in her testimony.

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