Monday, March 31, 2008

Ward Connerly Using Deceptive 'Civil Rights' Initiatives to Ban Affirmative Action

Ward Connerly has been well-compensated by the construction industry for his leadership of the anti-affirmative action crusade.
Ms. Magazine/ Winter 2008

By Katherine Spillar
Twelve years have passed since Ward Connerly, a Republican businessman, emerged as the public face of the deceptively named "California Civil Rights Initiative" or Proposition 209, a state constitutional initiative designed to ban affirmative action for women and minorities in public employment, public education and public contracting.
Recruited by campaign organizers, Connerly had the perfect resume for the job: a political pedigree as a regent of the University of California, which automatically focused the debate on education; close ties to large Republican donors; and his race. Better that an African-American man waged battle against affirmative action, not the two white male professors credited with authoring Proposition 209 or the white men who would profit from it.
The passage of Proposition 209 was a critical victory in the ongoing nationwide attack on affirmative action for women and minorities. Now, in what he is calling "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights," Connerly is leading simultaneous efforts in five states to qualify ballot measures for the November election, each claiming to prohibit "discrimination" and "preferential treatment."
These deceptively named "civil rights" initiatives in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma are actually designed to ban affirmative action for women and minorities in public employment, public education and public contracting. But if Connerly and the initiatives' other proponents have their way, the term "affirmative action" will not appear on the ballot or be talked about in the campaign -- that's because most voters support the concept. The debate will instead focus on whether "unqualified" minorities are admitted to public colleges and universities over "more qualified" (i.e., white) students.
What has never been widely reported in the coverage of Connerly's campaigns are his ties to the large public works contractors and construction industry organizations that stand to benefit tremendously from eliminating programs that help level the playing field for women- and minority-owned businesses. Connerly, in fact, has spent virtually his entire career consulting -- and, through his firm Connerly & Associates, lobbying -- for the "good 'ole boys" in the building and construction industry.
Why have the contractors long opposed affirmative action and come out full swing against it? The simple answer is money. Nationally, hundreds of billions of dollars annually are doled out by the federal, state and local governments to private companies for the purchase of goods and services, including the building of roads and freeways, schools, universities, airports and prisons. Affirmative action helps ensure women- and minority-owned businesses get a fair shake in the bidding. [To read the entire article, go to: ]

Barker to be Appointed to EEOC

Workplace Prof Blog
March 21, 2008

The White House announced this afternoon that the president intends to nominate Alabama attorney Constance Barker to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If confirmed, she would fill the remainder of a five-year term through June 2011.
Barker is with Capell & Howard law firm in Montgomery and previously was general counsel for the Mobile County Board of Education and is a former prosecutor. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and her law degree from the University of Alabama in 1977.
This is from her firm's bio: "She represents a broad cross-section of commercial, manufacturing, retail and professional firms. Her clients include manufacturing plants, retail businesses, medical groups, physicians, real estate development and investment firms, and an architectural and engineering firm. Her efforts are equally focused on the prevention of discrimination claims and the defense of lawsuits. She works closely with corporate clients to guide their decision-making process through the mine fields of potential discrimination liability." [ ]

EEOC: Final Decree Entered With Walgreens for $24 Million in Landmark Race Discrimination Suit By EEOC

Class of More Than 10,000 to Receive Monetary Relief; Significant Injunctive Remedies Included

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A federal judge here has granted final approval of a sweeping consent decree resolving a class race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Walgreen Co., the Deerfield, Ill.-based national drug store chain. The decree, one of the largest monetary settlements in a race case by the EEOC, provides for the payment of over $24 million to a class of thousands of African American workers and orders comprehensive injunctive relief designed to improve the company’s promotion and store assignment practices.
The EEOC filed its suit in March 2007 alleging that Walgreens discriminated against African American retail management and pharmacy employees in promotion, compensation, and assignment The decree, entered by U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy of the Southern District of Illinois, resolves the EEOC’s litigation and a private class suit filed in June 2005 on behalf of 14 African American current and former Walgreens’ employees (EEOC v. Walgreen Co., S.D. Il. 07-CV-172-GPM and Tucker v. Walgreen Co., S.D. Il. 05-CV-440-GPM) The two cases were consolidated in April 2007 Following a fairness hearing, the court ruled that the consent decree is fair, reasonable, and adequate.
“The EEOC’s case is a good example of the Commission’s renewed emphasis on class and systemic litigation and furthers the agency’s E-RACE Initiative, which is designed to address major issues of race and color discrimination,” said EEOC General Counsel Ronald S. Cooper “I commend the work of our outstanding trial team, which included lawyers from Kansas City, St. Louis, Miami and Chicago, as was appropriate in a case which will provide benefits to a nationwide class.”
The monetary payments will be shared by approximately 10,000 African American current and former store-level management employees across the country The decree also requires Walgreens to retain outside consultants to review and make recommendations regarding their employment practices, including standardized, non-discriminatory promotion and store assignment standards, procedures and promotional benchmarks Compliance with the decree will be monitored by the EEOC and the Goldstein, Demchak firm of Oakland, Calif The Court will retain jurisdiction over the decree for five years.
Jean P. Kamp, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District, said, “The combination of very substantial monetary relief and far-reaching injunctive provisions make this decree a model for relief in similar cases The court complimented the settlement during the final fairness hearing, and we agree that this is an outstanding result for African American managers at Walgreens.”
According to its web site,, “Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2007 sales of $53.8 billion. The company operates 6,237 stores in 49 states and Puerto Rico.”
Johnny Tucker, a Walgreens store manager from Independence, Mo., who helped initiate the suit and was present at the fairness hearing, said, “I look forward to all of the positive changes this settlement will bring to the company.”
Tucker and the private class were represented by Foland, Wickens, Eisfelder, Roper & Hofer, of Kansas City, Mo.; Spriggs Law Firm, of Tallahassee, Fla.; and Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian, of Oakland, CalifThe initial charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC were investigated by Harold Emde in the agency’s St. Louis District Office and Samuel James in the Kansas City Area Office.
On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi Earp launched the agency E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination Further information about the EEOC is available at

Faculty Groups' Joint Conference Focuses on Pay Issues and Diversity

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Monday, March 31, 2008

At the joint higher-education conference of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers here over the weekend, about 750 people gathered to talk about the bread-and-butter issues of both unions: job security and equal pay for adjuncts, academic freedom, tenure, and collective bargaining.
But the agenda for the meeting, which ended on Sunday, also reflected a sharpened emphasis on the role unions can play in promoting diversity among faculty and staff members.
"Diversity is inevitable. It's going to happen," said Henry Lee Allen, a sociology professor at Wheaton College in Illinois who spoke on a panel that examined the views of unionized faculty members of color on the issues of workload and productivity on their campuses. "The question is how it's going to happen and who's going to lead it," he said. "Are we going to be proactive or reactive?"
Mr. Allen, who has studied various education issues for the National Education Association over the years, said his research shows that "unions matter, but they could matter more" in the lives of ethnic-minority faculty members who say they are trying to cope with a variety of job-related issues, among them post-affirmative-action backlash, the tenure process, and the syndrome of believing that jobs are being handed out to "unqualified minorities."
Unions have to do their part to translate the conversation about the importance of a diverse faculty into terms the public and lawmakers can understand, said Dierdre Glenn Paul, president of the Montclair State University Faculty, Professional Staff & Librarians Association. For instance, a case for diversity could be made by talking about how majority colleges could better retain students of color if such students could see themselves reflected in the faces of faculty members, librarians, counselors, and others who are on the campus to help them get an education, said Ms. Paul, a professor in the early-childhood, and elementary- and literacy-education department at Montclair State.
Special Issue on Diversity
A newly released issue of the American Federation of Teacher's higher-education-policy journal, American Academic, was discussed at a workshop on promoting faculty diversity. The issue features articles that examine diversity in its many forms—race, ethnicity, gender, and physical ability. Presenters during the workshop talked of historically black colleges, whose faculty members are among the most diverse in higher education; the struggles of professors with disabilities; and how women, who now earn about half of the doctoral degrees awarded in the United States, are less likely than men to be tenured faculty members.
"For those of us committed to promoting diversity in our universities, let's really take a look at our tenure processes," said Catherine Hill, director of research at the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation. Ms. Hill is a co-author of an article in the journal that focuses on women whose tenure fights played out in the courts.
At the federation's annual higher-education meeting last year (the two organization's meet separately every other year), some members requested that the union make faculty diversity and affirmative action "more of a central issue" for the union, said Craig P. Smith, deputy director of the AFT's higher-education department. The journal issue on faculty diversity is one part of a multiyear effort by the federation to do so.
The federation's executive council has also formed a group charged, in part, with determining what steps academic unions can take to promote diversity among faculty and academic staff members. The federation also plans to publish a journal issue dedicated to exploring the effect 30 years later of the Supreme Court's landmark 1978 ruling on affirmative action, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Charles J. Ogletree, a professor at Harvard Law School, spoke passionately about the Bakke decision and its consequences during a luncheon address at the conference.
Ms. Paul, an African-American, publicly thanked the federation's Higher Education Program and Policy Council for what it had done so far to take members' diversity-related concerns into consideration.
"They are making good progress, and I'm pleased with that," Ms. Paul said. [To read the entire article, go to: ] (Subscription)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

India’s Workers: Employers Should Be Allowed to Discriminate

Workforce Management
But workers elsewhere overwhelmingly disagree.
By Garry Kranz
March 25, 2008

Workplace Bias: Here’s something about as shocking as seeing Santa Claus at Christmas: Most people don’t think racial discrimination in the workplace is a good idea. Nonprofit organization, in a global study of nearly 15,000 workers, says 90 percent believe that “treating people of different races and ethnicities equally is important, with 69 percent saying it is very important.” Interviews were conducted with people in 16 countries or regions—Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, France, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States. Those polled are said to represent 58 percent of the world’s population.
Large majorities in most countries believe “employers should not be allowed to discriminate based on race or ethnicity,” and say increased government interference is needed to prevent such practices. France (94 percent), China (88 percent), the U.S. (86 percent), Indonesia (84 percent), Britain (83 percent) and Azerbaijan (82 percent) have the largest majorities opposed to corporate discriminatory behavior.
This opinion, however, is not universally held. In India—the only nation whose people voiced dissenting views—30 percent said employers should be permitted to reject job applicants on the basis of race or ethnicity.

A separate and unequal exercise

The Boston Globe
By Harry Lewis March 25, 2008

PERHAPS it is simple politeness for Harvard University to close its secondary gym to men for six hours a week so conservative Muslim women can exercise without men seeing their skin.
Religious accommodations are usually uncontroversial, but this is different. Everyone can enjoy Harvard's kosher food; half the students are excluded from the gym, however briefly.
Surely only those with the most mean-spirited interpretation of gender equality could object - yet complain they did.
"Today I was forced to wait outside in the cold until 5," wrote one man. "The policy seems sexist and discriminatory."
"These hours have been put in place for equality reasons," read Harvard's announcement. The decision apparently resulted from a paradoxical collaboration between the Women's Center, which greets visitors with a sign reading "All Genders Welcome," and adherents to a religion that imposes unequal social strictures on men and women.
Harvard didn't explain its thinking, but it seems to have adopted a postmodern version of equality: Equality might be achieved only by imposing unequal access, if those seeking equality do not share the consensus view. Freedom is useless without comfort, so liberation of some might require exclusion of others.
Whatever the logic, the university failed in its educational responsibility. It missed an opportunity to model for its students the kind of moral reasoning it expects of them. The resulting standards are inconsistent, and the muddle has a history.
This conflict is rooted in Harvard's uncompromising interpretation of equality since 1977, which was a response to its decidedly unequal treatment of women for most of its past. When Harvard assumed full responsibility for women's education from Radcliffe, it adopted an absolute nondiscrimination standard. Everything is open to men and women on an equal basis - nothing is "separate but equal" except some athletic teams and choral singing groups. Most student organizations desegregated voluntarily. The venerable all-male Final Clubs, which the dean's office used to coordinate, refused to admit women and were severed from the university.
Harvard's nondiscrimination policies now cover "race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age," and a few other things, and the same absolutism applies to all categories. Harvard has no ethnic or single-sex housing. Women's groups have to allow male members. The Black Students' Association can't close white students out of its meetings. [To read the entire editorial, go to:]

Gender Gap in Academic Wages Is Linked to Type of Institution, Researcher Says

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It's where women teach, more than what they teach, that accounts for their poorer earnings in the academic work force, a researcher from the University of Iowa suggested at a conference here on Monday.
For decades, scholars have tried to sort out how much of the gender gap in wages is caused by raw discrimination and how much is driven by mediating factors. Female faculty members have sometimes been found, for example, to have fewer and less-prestigious postgraduate degrees, on average, than their male colleagues. Some studies have also found that women are concentrated in fields or institutions that attract relatively little external research money, or where faculty members publish less frequently.
Those mediating factors do not necessarily excuse the gender gap, because they might themselves reflect various kinds of past and present sexism. But they complicate efforts to understand and remedy wage disparities.
On Monday afternoon, a scholar suggested a way to clarify the question. During a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Paul D. Umbach, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Iowa, offered a new statistical technique for assessing wage inequalities. He argued that his method—known as a cross-classified random-effects model—offers a richer and more accurate picture than scholars' previous analyses of the gender gap. The method is described in his paper, "Gender Equity in College Faculty Pay: A Cross-Classified Random Effects Model Examining the Impact of Human Capital, Academic Disciplines, and Institutions."
Mr. Umbach chewed over data concerning nearly 8,000 faculty members at 472 four-year colleges and universities who were surveyed in 2003-4 by the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, a project of the National Center for Education Statistics. He used a "nested model" that attempted to isolate the effects of colleges' characteristics, scholarly disciplines' characteristics, and individual scholars' characteristics.
The bottom line: Mr. Umbach found that the salary gap is more strongly driven by women's concentration at certain institutions (public, master's-level institutions where faculty members tend to teach more sections and draw less outside research money) than by their concentration in certain disciplines, like education and anthropology.
Part of Gap Still Unexplained
Even after controlling for women's concentration in disciplines and institutions, Mr. Umbach found an unexplained salary gap between men and women—the sort of gap that might be caused in part by sheer discrimination on the part of administrators—of roughly 4.2 percent.
That gap is smaller than many other scholars have found, but Mr. Umbach stressed that it is not trivial. "That's roughly $3,200 per year, in this sample," he said.
"Women may take a double hit, or even a triple hit," Mr. Umbach continued. "They're taking a hit, first of all, of roughly 4.2 percent. And then they take a further hit depending on where they're nested, and they tend to be nested in places where they're rewarded less." [To read the entire article, go to: ] (Subscription)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Top 10 rule limits UT-Austin, says school president

Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Powers argues forced admission blocks diversity
March 20, 2008, 9:42AM

AUSTIN — The University of Texas at Austin has been forced to offer admission to a record number of Texas high school students using just a single criterion — class ranking — and that has hurt the university's ability to increase its racial and ethnic diversity, the school's president said Wednesday.
Eighty-one percent of the students being offered admission to UT's 2008 fall freshman class got in because they graduated in the top 10 percent of their high schools. That number is up 10 percent over 2007 figures and likely will rise to include all students in the not-too-distant future, William Powers Jr. warned.
On Wednesday and in testimony before a House panel a day earlier, Powers said the university could attract a more diverse student body if it was not forced by the state, under a decade-old law, to accept every student with a high class rank.
"Only about one in four students admitted under the top 10 percent law is African-American or Hispanic, so there's a natural limit if we don't have discretion in who we can go after," he said. "It's a capacity problem."
Powers supports capping at 50 percent the number of incoming freshmen admitted by UT-Austin under the top 10 percent law, and giving admission officers more discretion to use other factors, including race, when considering the rest.
Limiting the law has been a tough sell for Powers, particularly in long-neglected areas of the state. UT-Austin's minority enrollment is higher now than at any time since the law was passed.
From 1998 to 2007, the number of Hispanic undergraduates has risen by 29.3 percent to 6,700.
The percentage of African-American students has jumped by 32.4 percent to 1,700. UT's total undergraduate population stood last fall at a little more than 37,000.
Rep. Helen Giddings, D-Dallas, co-authored the top 10 percent law in response to a federal ruling that officials in Texas believed barred race from being used in admission decisions.
The rule applies to every public institution in the state and gives equal opportunity to top students at any public school. [To read the entire article, go to: ]

Affirmative Action for Women Works
Odd Numbers
Mar 21 2008 3:55PM EDT
by Zubin Jelveh

The strongest criticism against affirmative action is that in trying to achieve diversity in the office or at school, fairness is sacrificed.
The fear is that a white male with excellent credentials will be passed over and a job, promotion, or college acceptance will get handed to someone with inferior skills.
And on the surface, this critique makes sense: if these women or non-white men were just as good -- or better -- than their Mitt Romney-esque counterparts, wouldn't they already be well-represented?
Not only may that thinking be mostly wrongheaded, but it could be the case that when affirmative action isn't used, a candidate pool suffers -- at least when looking at women.
The reason seems to be that women are less likely than men to be competitive and could keep themselves out of the applicant pool, according to very interesting new research by Muriel Niederle of Stanford, Carmit Segal of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, and Lise Vesterlund of the University of Pittsburgh.
The trio set up an experiment where equal numbers of men and women were paid for accomplishing different tasks. All of the tasks required the participants to solve simple math problems, but they differed in how the subjects were rewarded.
The first task paid off $0.50 for each correct answer.
The second task was a tournament in which the top two scorers got $1.50 for each correct answer, the rest nothing. This task was supposed to represent what happens when someone applies for a job or school.
The third task then asked the subjects to choose which one of the first two payment schemes they wanted to be paid in. Men proved to be more competitive and chose the tournament style 74 percent of the time while women chose it only 31 percent of the time.
But this result wasn't being driven by the fact that men were stronger performers (although on average they were), but by overconfidence. Men who, based on their previous scores, didn't have a good chance of winning the tournament still chose to enter. High-scoring women, on the other hand, were 36 percent less likely to choose tournament-style than men who got similar scores.
Now enter affirmative action: for the fourth task, the participants were told that they could choose to be paid either by the number of problems they got right or by entering into an affirmative action tournament where one of the winners was mandated to be a woman. This type of tournament had the effect of increasing the chance that a woman would win and lowering the chance that a man would win.
Under this scenario, 83 percent of the women played the tournament while only 45 percent of the men entered. Interestingly, now neither men nor women were being overconfident when choosing to play in the tournament.
Why the change in behavior? For women, it could be that they were either more eager, or likely more comfortable, competing against other women. For men, it could be that affirmative action reduced the excitement of competing against other men or reduced the pressure to. [To read the entire article, go to: ]

Unequal Perspectives on Racial Equality

The Washington Post
By Shankar Vedantam
Monday, March 24, 2008; A03

Imagine that you are waiting in line to be born . . . Presently, you are scheduled to be born white. However, you are offered an alternative arrangement. In exchange for a cash gift, to be deposited in a bank account for you when you are born, you can choose to instead be born black.
Social psychologists Philip Mazzocco and Mahzarin Banaji once asked white volunteers how much money would cover the "costs" of being born black instead of white. The volunteers guessed that about $5,000 ought to cover the lifetime disadvantages of being an average black person rather than an average white person, in the United States. By contrast, when asked how much they wanted to go without television, the volunteers demanded a million dollars.
Mazzocco and Banaji were taken aback: The average black person in America is 447 percent more likely to be imprisoned than the average white person, and 521 percent more likely to be murdered. Blacks earn 60 cents to the dollar compared with whites who have the same education levels and marital status. The black poverty rate is nearly twice the white poverty rate. Blacks tend to die five years earlier than whites; the infant mortality rate among black babies is nearly 1 1/2 times the rate among white babies. And because of long-standing patterns of inheritance, blacks and whites begin life with substantial disparities in family wealth.
"The point we were making is, whatever the cost of being black might be, whites are vastly underestimating it," said Mazzocco, of Ohio State University at Mansfield. "You throw in the 5-to-1 wealth gap . . . if you wanted to put a dollar-and-cents value on the difference, you would come up with a number much larger than $5,000."
The unusual experiment is one of dozens that have found that whites tend to have a relatively rosy impression of what it means to be a black person in America. Whites are more than twice as likely as blacks to believe that the position of African Americans has improved a great deal. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to believe that conditions for African Americans are growing worse.
This long-standing war of perceptions created the perfect storm last week after sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- former pastor of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) -- painted a picture of stark inequality at odds with white perceptions.
Mazzocco and Banaji, who teaches at Harvard, found that when volunteers learned about the disparities, they started to demand much larger sums of money.
"Many whites assume blacks are making use of old crimes to gain present-day benefits that are unearned," Mazzocco said. "Underlying this is a misunderstanding and ignorance about black costs and white privilege."
But knowledge about disparities is not the only reason whites and blacks have different perceptions about racial equality. Social psychologist Richard Eibach at Yale University has shown that whites and blacks often employ different yardsticks to measure racial equality. Whites tend to measure progress by comparing the present and the past -- and America has made giant strides since the Jim Crow era. Nonwhites, Eibach found, are likely to evaluate racial equality in comparison with an idealized future. These yardsticks create entirely different perceptions.
When Eibach asked each group to use the other's yardstick -- whites to focus on the future and nonwhites to think about the past -- the differences disappeared. Now, everyone agreed the country had come a long way -- and had a long way to go.
In a speech last week, Obama similarly argued that his former pastor had failed to acknowledge how America had changed for the better. But Wright's critics, Obama added, were also wrong -- because true equality is still remote.
The intriguing question prompted by Eibach's study is why whites and blacks are unconsciously drawn to different yardsticks. Eibach said one reason might be that racial equality means different things to whites and blacks: Whites see it as an ideal, blacks as a necessity. When people evaluate progress toward idealistic or optional goals -- saving for a vacation -- they tend to focus on progress made. But when people think of necessities -- paying the rent -- they focus on how much they are short. [To read the entire article, go to: ]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Of National Lies and Racial Amnesia: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the Audacity of Truth

By Tim Wise
March 18, 2008

For most white folks, indignation just doesn't wear well. Once affected or conjured up, it reminds one of a pudgy man, wearing a tie that may well have fit him when he was fifty pounds lighter, but which now cuts off somewhere above his navel and makes him look like an idiot.
Indignation doesn't work for most whites, because having remained sanguine about, silent during, indeed often supportive of so much injustice over the years in this country--the theft of native land and genocide of indigenous persons, and the enslavement of Africans being only two of the best examples--we are just a bit late to get into the game of moral rectitude. And once we enter it, our efforts at righteousness tend to fail the test of sincerity.
But here we are, in 2008, fuming at the words of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago--occasionally Barack Obama's pastor, and the man whom Obama credits with having brought him to Christianity--for merely reminding us of those evils about which we have remained so quiet, so dismissive, so unconcerned. It is not the crime that bothers us, but the remembrance of it, the unwillingness to let it go--these last words being the first ones uttered by most whites it seems whenever anyone, least of all an "angry black man" like Jeremiah Wright, foists upon us the bill of particulars for several centuries of white supremacy.
But our collective indignation, no matter how loudly we announce it, cannot drown out the truth. And as much as white America may not be able to hear it (and as much as politics may require Obama to condemn it) let us be clear, Jeremiah Wright fundamentally told the truth.
Oh I know that for some such a comment will seem shocking. After all, didn't he say that America "got what it deserved" on 9/11? And didn't he say that black people should be singing "God Damn America" because of its treatment of the African American community throughout the years?
Well actually, no he didn't.
Wright said not that the attacks of September 11th were justified, but that they were, in effect, predictable. Deploying the imagery of chickens coming home to roost is not to give thanks for the return of the poultry or to endorse such feathered homecoming as a positive good; rather, it is merely to note two things: first, that what goes around, indeed, comes around--a notion with longstanding theological grounding--and secondly, that the U.S. has indeed engaged in more than enough violence against innocent people to make it just a tad bit hypocritical for us to then evince shock and outrage about an attack on ourselves, as if the latter were unprecedented.
He noted that we killed far more people, far more innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki than were killed on 9/11 and "never batted an eye." That this statement is true is inarguable, at least amongst sane people. He is correct on the math, he is correct on the innocence of the dead (neither city was a military target), and he is most definitely correct on the lack of remorse or even self-doubt about the act: sixty-plus years later most Americans still believe those attacks were justified, that they were needed to end the war and "save American lives."
But not only does such a calculus suggest that American lives are inherently worth more than the lives of Japanese civilians (or, one supposes, Vietnamese, Iraqi or Afghan civilians too), but it also ignores the long-declassified documents, and President Truman's own war diaries, all of which indicate clearly that Japan had already signaled its desire to end the war, and that we knew they were going to surrender, even without the dropping of atomic weapons. The conclusion to which these truths then attest is simple, both in its basic veracity and it monstrousness: namely, that in those places we committed premeditated and deliberate mass murder, with no justification whatsoever; and yet for saying that I will receive more hate mail, more hostility, more dismissive and contemptuous responses than will those who suggest that no body count is too high when we're the ones doing the killing. Jeremiah Wright becomes a pariah, because, you see, we much prefer the logic of George Bush the First, who once said that as President he would "never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are."
And Wright didn't say blacks should be singing "God Damn America." He was suggesting that blacks owe little moral allegiance to a nation that has treated so many of them for so long as animals, as persons undeserving of dignity and respect, and which even now locks up hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders (especially for drug possession), even while whites who do the same crimes (and according to the data, when it comes to drugs, more often in fact), are walking around free. His reference to God in that sermon was more about what God will do to such a nation, than it was about what should or shouldn't happen. It was a comment derived from, and fully in keeping with, the black prophetic tradition, and although one can surely disagree with the theology (I do, actually, and don't believe that any God either blesses or condemns nation states for their actions), the statement itself was no call for blacks to turn on America. If anything, it was a demand that America earn the respect of black people, something the evidence and history suggests it has yet to do. [To read the entire statement, go to: ]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Judge upholds Prop 2, dismisses suit

A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionally of Proposal 2, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative that banned race and gender affirmative action in university admissions and government and public school hiring and contracting. "We agree with judge's decision," Rusty Hills, spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said today after U.S. District Judge David Lawson dismissed a lawsuit brought by high school and college students who said they were harmed by the proposal, which Michigan voters passed in 2006 by a 58% to 42% margin.
"We're glad to see the federal court upheld the will of the people," Hills added. "The attorney general supported Proposal 2 from its very inception."
A lawyer for the plaintiffs vowed to appeal.
"We're appealing immediately," said Detroit lawyer George Washington. "We don't think in the 21 Century that laws should be passed that are intended to have the effect of excluding black and Latino students from the universities in this state.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Affirmative action foes point to Obama

The Boston Globe
Say candidate is proof effort no longer needed

By Joseph Williams and Matt Negrin, Globe Staff And Globe Correspondent March 18, 2008

WASHINGTON - Leading opponents of affirmative action are increasingly seizing on Illinois Senator Barack Obama's historic run for the presidency as proof that race-based remedies for past discrimination are no longer necessary.
Influential Republicans and a growing number of policy specialists at conservative organizations, including the Goldwater Institute, Project 21, and the Manhattan Institute, are citing the fact that large numbers of white voters are supporting Obama, who leads in the race for Democratic delegates, as evidence that affirmative action has run its course.
Ward Connerly, a black conservative who is leading a national effort to ban racial preferences, vowed to use Obama's success as evidence for anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives his organization is promoting in five states. Connerly, who helped dismantle affirmative action policies in California universities and public hiring in the 1990s, said he has donated $500 to Obama's campaign.
"I've been saying for a number of years that the American people are not institutionally racist," and Obama's strong support among white voters proves it, said Connerly, founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, an organization that backs proposals to end affirmative action in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. "It underscores my position . . . that affirmative action is an idea whose time has passed.
"The whole argument in favor of race preferences is that there is 'institutional racism' and 'institutional sexism' in American life, and you need affirmative action to level the playing field," he said. "How can you say there is institutional racism when people in Nebraska vote for a guy who is a self-identified black man?"
In interviews, many other affirmative action opponents expressed similar sentiments. But affirmative action proponents say Obama's campaign, which has tried to transcend race, is proof that the system is working and should not be dismantled.
"I think blacks who have opportunities can make it . . . but we know that many black kids do not have the opportunities that Barack Obama had," said Cynthia Brown, education policy director for the Center for American Progress in Washington. "But we have many, many black kids who didn't have that and were born into families who couldn't provide those experiences and couldn't attend the schools that Obama did and took advantage of."
Obama, who graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, has said he is firmly behind efforts to expand diversity, particularly in higher education. However, he has implied that such programs should be reexamined, and perhaps be more closely tied to class instead of race.
Asked if his young children would be candidates for affirmative action when they reach college, Obama said their middle-class upbringing should disqualify them.
"I think that my daughters should probably be treated by any [college] admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged," Obama said in an interview with ABC News. "We should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and have grown up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed."
Obama's acknowledgement - that some white students may deserve preferences, while some black students might not - undercuts the notion that the effects of past racial discrimination are still a bar to opportunity for most black people. [To read the entire article, go to:]

A South African Campus Wrestles With the Legacy of Apartheid

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Bloemfontein, South Africa
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It was all just a "harmless" prank, never intended to hurt anyone, the students say.
Sitting around a table on the lawn of Reitz Hall, their residence complex on the campus of the University of the Free State, Willie Struwig and Jan Botha, both third-year students, try to explain their bewilderment at the waves of outrage that have swept this campus lately, ever since video footage of white students humiliating the hall's black cleaning staff found its way from the privacy of their dormitory to the Web.
Released on campus late last month, the video shows five elderly black domestic workers on their knees, being taunted by white male students to drink a stew that one of the young men had allegedly urinated into (The Chronicle, February 28).
The episode has thrown this historically white Afrikaans university—now struggling with racial transformation—into turmoil. It has also, educators say, exposed deeper undercurrents of racial animosity that persist on this and other campuses around the country after 14 years of democracy in South Africa, particularly among young white Afrikaans men who feel they face a bleak future under black majority rule.
The video, made by four white students in protest against a new university policy requiring the racial integration of campus housing, was shown last September at a "cultural evening" in Reitz Hall, their exclusively white-male residence.
Mr. Botha, a psychology major, remembers watching the video during the cultural evening, where it was voted the most popular entry by the residents, and finding it funny. "It wasn't a racially motivated video," he says. "It was a comedy."
Then, recently, somebody leaked it out over the campus e-mail network, where it was quickly picked up by the local and foreign media. The callous racism shown by a group of Afrikaners who were too young to have ever experienced the cruelties of apartheid first-hand, yet were unsettlingly echoing the old racist attitudes of previous generations, was furiously condemned around the world.
"Once upon a time the 'Boere' lived peacefully here on Reitz Island, until one day when the less-advantaged discovered the word 'integration' in the dictionary," the narration begins.
Mockingly portrayed as new "initiates" into Reitz Hall, the five cleaners—four women and a man—are filmed running a race, downing beers, and playing rugby. But the clincher comes toward the end, as the students prepare a concoction of what looks like dog food mixed with garlic.
Then a young man clad in a baseball cap is shown placing the mixture on top of a toilet. Standing with his back to the camera, he appears to urinate into the mixture.
In the next scene, the concoction is served to the five unsuspecting workers, who are kneeling on the ground. Tasting the mixture, they start gagging and spitting it out while the boys laugh, telling them in Afrikaans to finish it.
Bitter Divisions
Since the video's release, two of the students have been suspended and barred from the campus. The other two had graduated at the end of last year, but all four now face criminal prosecutions. The university is also considering whether to close down Reitz Hall, a residence that many students and staff members say is a breeding ground for racism on campus. [To read the entire article, go to: ]

Monday, March 17, 2008

From South America to Europe, Scholars Discuss Equity

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Sarah Lake
Mar 17, 2008, 00:05

While affirmative action programs are being challenged in the United States, Brazil is readily adopting these admissions policies in their colleges and universities as the morally correct thing to do to address the socioeconomic exclusion of Blacks, according to research done by Fulbright New Century scholar, Dr. Michele S. Moses.
Moses previewed the findings of her study, “Affirmative Action in Brazil and the United States: Understanding the Moral Foundations, Disagreements and Imperatives,” at the Fulbright New Century Scholars symposium on Friday. Moses, an associate professor in the department of Educational Foundations, Policy and Practice at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was one of 12 Fulbright scholars to discuss their research on “Higher Education in the 21st Century: Issues of Access & Equity.”
Moses’ research asserts that the goal of affirmative action in the United States is not to support human rights, as it is in Brazil where government officials are trying to enhance educational opportunities for Blacks and mulattos, who have been excluded from higher education, through remediation and compensation. “In Brazil, affirmative action is justified primarily as a moral imperative,” Moses said. “But here in the United States, the justifications are primarily instrumental.”
The Fulbright New Century Scholars Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, collected a group of 36 researchers from around the world to study the topic of access and equity in higher education in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
Dr. Petr Mateju, head of the department of education and social stratification at the Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, found that access to higher education in East-central Europe was limited to those from more affluent backgrounds.
“Most of the European systems of secondary education show low permeability, high stratification and vocational specificity, which makes social background really important in making decisions about going to college or not,” he said while presenting the findings from his research, “Can Supply-Driven Educational Systems Achieve Higher Equity? Institutional, Economic and Social Conditions for Achieving Greater Equity in Access to Higher Education in East-Central Europe.”
Mateju suggested the educational system be “profoundly reformed” to encourage students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to attend college and increase expectations of economically disadvantaged students. “Isolated changes in secondary education or on the tertiary level won’t do the job,” he said. [To see the entire article, go to: ]

EEOC Settles $1.9 Million Lawsuit Against Allied Aviation for Racial Harassment

EEOC Resolves Class Case Involving Nooses, Racial Slurs and Graffiti at Airport Facility

March 11, 2008 Supervisory Trial Attorney
(214) 253-2740
Robert A. Canino
Regional Attorney
(214) 253-2750
TTY: (214) 253-2710
DALLAS - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of a race and national origin harassment lawsuit for $1.9 million and significant remedial relief against Allied Aviation Services, Inc. on behalf of African American and Hispanic workers who were the targets of racial slurs, graffiti, cartoons, and hangman’s nooses at a facility in the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. The company identifies itself at the “largest American domestically owned provider of fueling services to the commercial aviation industry.”
The EEOC charged in the case that African American and Hispanic employees were subjected to a racially hostile work environment consisting of verbal and other abuse by their co-workers on a daily basis. Racial graffiti, including swastikas and the N-word, were commonplace and in plain sight in employee restrooms, on fuel tanks, and written on aircraft. An offensive cartoon belittling a Hispanic worker was placed under glass on a manager's desk for months. Additionally, there was a so-called “hit list” targeting blacks as well as references to the “back of the bus” and “going back to Africa.” Also, a white employee married to an African American was subjected to racial abuse.
“It is appalling that racial harassment remains a persistent problem at some job sites across the country in the 21st century, more than 40 years after passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “Employers must be more vigilant and make clear that race discrimination, whether verbal or behavioral, has no place in the contemporary workplace.”
In addition to the $1.9 million in damages to be divided among 15 class members, the three-year consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. Allied Aviation, Civil Action No. 3:05-CV-1379L, N.D. of Texas, Dallas Division) includes injunctive relief requiring diversity training for all of Allied Aviation’s employees in U.S. facilities and the posting of a notice at all facilities.
“This settlement sends an important message to the aviation industry that racial graffiti and slurs are not appropriate in the workplace, whether in an office building or out on the tarmac,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino of the Dallas District Office.
The group of 15 employees -- including Eric Mitchel, a former football player for the Oklahoma Sooners and the Dallas Cowboys -- was represented by the EEOC, the New York firm of Valli, Kane and Vagnini LLP, and the Austin firm of DiNovo, Price & Ellwanger LLP. The suit was filed under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
According to its web site,, the company, a division of the New York-based Allied Aviation Holdings, Inc., provides into-plane fueling services as well as fuel facility maintenance and operation at 24 major airports in the United States, Canada and Latin America. While Allied Aviation Services reported having about 250 employees at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, where the harassment and discrimination involving this class of aggrieved individuals took place, it has more than 3,000 employees throughout its entire organization.
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne M. Anderson noted that the settlement is the largest race and national origin discrimination case ever resolved by the Dallas District Office. “What made this case so repulsive was not just the egregious conduct against blacks and Hispanics by their co-workers, but also management’s acquiescence to the harassment. It is incumbent upon employers to act swiftly in addressing and correcting any harassment immediately, in accordance with the law.”
The EEOC has observed a surge of racial harassment cases over the past two decades, some of which involve hangman’s nooses and verbal threats of lynching. Racial harassment charge filings with EEOC offices across the country have more than doubled from 3,075 in Fiscal Year 1991 to nearly 7,000 in FY 2007. In addition to investigating and voluntarily resolving tens of thousands of race discrimination cases out of court, the EEOC has sued more than three dozen employers this decade in racial harassment cases involving nooses.
On Feb. 28, 2007, Chair Earp launched the Commission’s E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

OFCCP Hires New Director of Statistical Analyses

OFCCP has hired Dr. Javaid Kaiser as its new Director of Statistical Analyses. Dr. Kaiser started in his new position with OFCCP on February 19, 2008. He replaces Dr. Michael Sinclair, who resigned from the agency last year. This was reported in the recent OFCCP webinar and in the OFCCP Blog Spot of DCI Consulting. He is listed among the OFCCP national office key personnel at:

House report criticizes Homeland Security's workforce diversity

Government Executive
By Alyssa Rosenberg March 11, 2008

The Homeland Security Department's career workforce, including senior executives, is less diverse than other federal agencies, according to a report released Friday by the House Homeland Security Committee.
"Racial and gender diversity help to ensure that a wide range of perspectives are taken into account when decisions are made," said Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. "The makeup of the department's senior leadership must be reflective of the face of America."
DHS spokesman Russ Knocke vigorously contested the report's findings and said the department was deeply committed to advancing diversity.
"There were 2,500 Homeland Security employees at the celebration of DHS's fifth anniversary], and had Chairman Thompson actually accepted our invitation and joined that event, he would have seen 2,500 very diverse employees right there in that audience," Knocke said.
African-Americans make up 14.5 percent of the DHS workforce and 17.4 percent of the federal workforce as a whole, the report said. African-Americans comprise 8.5 percent of the entire Senior Executive and 6.5 percent of Homeland Security's top ranks.
Women also are underrepresented at DHS, according to the committee's report. They make up 33.7 percent of the workforce and 25.3 percent of the SES at the department. Governmentwide, women are 44.6 percent of the federal workforce and 28.9 percent of the SES.
Hispanics are the only minority group that has greater representation at DHS than in the federal workforce at large. Hispanics make up 16.5 percent of the department's workforce versus 7.3 percent of the federal workforce. Homeland Security's Senior Executive Service is 5.4 percent Hispanic, while Hispanics comprise 3.4 percent of the SES across the executive branch.
DHS headquarters in Washington has 46 senior executives, among them one Hispanic and one African-American. Those groups were better represented in the SES of DHS component agencies. The report pointed out that the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the Science and Technology Directorate had no minority senior executives at all. Just 2.1 percent of the SES in the inspector general's office is female. [To view the entire article, go to: ]

A Poor Choice on Civil Rights

The New York Times
March 17, 2008
A Poor Choice on Civil Rights
President Bush has made yet another ill-considered nomination to the Justice Department, this time selecting Grace Chung Becker to be assistant attorney general for the civil rights division. It is a critically important job, responsible for protecting the rights of racial and religious minorities, the disabled and other groups. The division has been improperly politicized in recent years, and it has worked to undermine the very rights it is supposed to protect.
Ms. Becker is now the acting head of this troubled office, and at her confirmation hearing last week, she failed to show that she is up to the task of setting it right.
The civil rights division has been in sorry shape for some time. At Congressional hearings last year, its former head admitted that he boasted of hiring Republicans for nonpolitical attorney positions.
The division also has repeatedly taken anti-civil-rights stands. Notoriously, it endorsed a Georgia voter ID law that was widely likened to a poll tax because it charged people for the ID they needed to vote.
The Senate should only confirm a division head who demonstrates a commitment both to fixing these problems and rooting out the damage that has been done. Ms. Becker fails on both counts. When Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, asked about the department’s politicized hiring, she insisted it was improper for her to answer because an investigation is under way.
That is a made-up rule. Congress, which oversees the Justice Department, has a right to have its questions answered. If Ms. Becker is this contemptuous of the Senate’s role at her confirmation hearings, it is disturbing to think how dismissive she will be if she is confirmed.
Ms. Becker has also taken stands that undermine civil rights. She signed a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold an Indiana voter ID law that would disenfranchise many minority voters. The position she took was helpful for the Republican Party, but it hurt the people she was supposed to look out for. When asked why she signed the brief, Ms. Becker again stonewalled.
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes, it is expected to give Ms. Becker written follow-up questions. Perhaps she will have better answers then, but it is hard to see how she can overcome the serious concerns that have been raised about her nomination.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Advancing Diversity in Public Service

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Dana FordeMar 13, 2008, 23:09

Officials at New York’s City College are undertaking a mission to increase diversity in the field of public service by introducing plans for a national center and creating a new academic curriculum.
The Board of Trustees at the City University of New York (CUNY) recently approved the naming of the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service, which will be housed adjacent to the City College campus.

Named after U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel — the powerful chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means and a founding member and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus — , the center’s primary mission is to become a national hub for the advancement of diversity within the field of public service, says Dr. Brett Silverstein, who is the current director of the center and the college’s dean of social sciences.

College officials say that the Rangel Center will serve as a valuable locale for future recruitment and academic events and programs that are designed to attract students from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds and propel them toward leadership positions in government and public service.

According to a 2003 report issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, non-Whites occupy just 13.8 percent of top managerial and supervisory policy-making positions in the U.S. federal government, adds Silverstein. Increasing diversity among the public service work force, he says, is an essential ingredient for a properly functioning government.

“I think there is a general feeling that in a democracy it is useful if the
various populations of the people of that democracy have representation in the government,” he says. “We think of it (the center) as access to excellence … as a way to level the playing field.”
Construction of the center in Harlem will take place over the next few years after funding is secured. The blueprint for the center includes a specialized library, conference space and offices for visiting scholars, officials say.

Nevertheless, several specialized academic programs that are designed to complement the Rangel Center and its mission are set to begin soon. For example, officials are preparing to recruit and enroll students in a new master’s program in public service. This program will incorporate intensive academic seminars and mandatory internships that are arranged through the center. Silverstein says that the first incoming class is tentatively scheduled to begin the new graduate program this fall. A joint bachelor’s and master’s program in public service and a mid-career Rangel fellowship program in leadership and policy innovation are new additions to the college that will also complement the Rangel Center.

In addition to training and educating students about public policy issues that affect minority populations, the Rangel Center and its curriculum will incorporate studies relating to race, gender, ethnicity, class, immigration and various cultural influences that may impact the policy-making process, says Silverstein. College officials also have plans to sponsor internship and mentorship opportunities for participating students.

George Dalley, Rangel’s chief of staff, says the center is part of the Harlem Congressman’s long-term commitment to increasing the number of minorities who participate in various levels of government. [To see the entire article, go to: ]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where Do APAs Stand On Affirmative Action?

Pacific Citizen,
News Report, Lynda Lin, Posted: Mar 12, 2008

Jeremiah Tsang calls himself an athlete and a scholar. At his Maryland high school, Tsang's high academic achievements in the top two percent of his class coupled with some state track championships enticed all of his choice colleges to accept him with open arms - some even with promises of a full ride.Tsang, 20, settled at the University of Maryland, College Park as an electrical engineer major. But along the way, he noticed a troubling trend - some African American and Latino classmates with comparatively inferior qualifications were getting more scholarship money to go to the same college.Outraged, Tsang did what most students do these days to unite under a common cause - he started a group called "Asians Against Affirmative Action." The group, which has attracted over 950 members from all over the United States, refers to a 2005 admission preference study of three prestigious private universities to support its statement that this type of diversity promotion does not advance equality. In this case, it actually hurts overrepresented Asian Pacific American students, according to the study."Diversity is good, but at what cost?" said Tsang, who is second generation Chinese American. "Promotion of diversity is a noble thing, but the ideal is not being carried out correctly."It's a sentiment that is echoed by a group, led by former University of California regent Ward Connerly, hoping to capitalize on its successful anti-affirmative action campaigns in California, Washington and Michigan to end similar programs in five additional states come November.Hanging in the balance are the academic futures of many underrepresented minority students.A Broader CrusadeAnti-affirmative action groups have launched a coordinated five state campaign to dismantle preferential treatment based on race or gender in public contracting, employment and education. The campaign - dubbed Super Tuesday for Equality - aims to get anti-affirmative action initiatives on the November ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.Each state requires a varying number of signatures in order to put the initiative before voters, but the controversial campaign is already off to a shaky start with affirmative action proponents vowing to challenge each measure every step of the way.The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently certified an anti-affirmative action initiative for placement on the November ballot. But critics of the measure are accusing the petition-gatherers of lying to voters about what they're signing and circulating false information including pages of signatures with the same handwriting.Affirmative action proponents say they will challenge the measure once the Oklahoma secretary of state posts the notice of approval."We are very confident that we will be able to eliminate a sufficient number [of signatures] to knock the initiative off the ballot," said Donna Stern, of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a national coalition aimed at defending affirmative action.In Nebraska, the anti-affirmative action campaign recently failed to get the initiative placed on the ballot by a vote of the state legislature.Sen. Mark Christensen withdrew a proposed constitutional amendment (LR233CA) prohibiting preferential treatment because some lawmakers said they would not support his other bills if the anti-affirmative action measure was not withdrawn. Backers of the ban on affirmative action will now have to circulate petitions to get the initiative on the Nebraska ballot."The fact that politicians do not want the people to have a chance to debate and vote on this important issue is extremely troublesome," said Jennifer Gratz of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), a national civil rights organization established by Connerly.Similar anti-affirmative action groups in Colorado, Arizona and Missouri are currently still circulating petitions for deadlines later this year."There are good 'affirmative action' programs that are intended to alleviate discrimination. However, any program that employs preferences for one 'group' based on race or gender automatically discriminates against someone else," said Gratz. [To read the entire article, go to: ]

A Spitzer Resignation Would Pave Way for New York’s First Black Governor

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
by Jamal E. Watson Mar 12, 2008, 00:07

David A. Paterson may become New York’s first Black governor amid speculation that Eliot Spitzer may step down after he was allegedly implicated in a prostitution scandal.

Paterson, 53, who hails from Harlem is currently the lieutenant governor and ran as Spitzer’s running mate in 2006. Before becoming lieutenant governor, Paterson — who hails from a powerful Black political family — served as the minority leader in the New York Senate, becoming the first non-White to ever hold that position in New York history. In the Senate, he was praised for his ability to create consensus among Republicans and Democrats.

Paterson, who is legally blind, has been a strong proponent of public education and has championed programs that create opportunities for minorities to attend college.

A graduate of Columbia University, Paterson attended Hofstra University’s law school. He graduated in 1983 and went on to work as an assistant district attorney in Queens.

“He is one of the most honest and open politicians that we have,” says Beverly Alston, who up until recently, served as Paterson’s special assistant. “He’s tough, make no mistake about that, but he’s also fair.” [To read the entire article, go to: ]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Race, gender still matter

Although subtle, Clinton, Obama fight stereotypes, U-M panel says

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Ann Arbor News

If Sen. Barack Obama becomes the first black man elected president of the United States, it won't be a sign that Americans have moved beyond race, a University of Michigan professor said Monday during a campus discussion of race and gender in presidential politics.
Vince Hutchings, an associate professor of political science at U-M, said Obama's success is helped by his unwillingness to talk about race, which Hutchings called "this thing that divides us the most.'' Black Americans still lag behind whites in indexes of income, wealth and education, indications that racial equality has not been achieved, he said.
By downplaying race, Obama, a Democrat, has fashioned a unique appeal as a candidate, generating support with white voters. Meanwhile, he is able to still generate significant support among black Americans by implying the importance of race without necessarily verbalizing it, said Hutchings.
"His comments with respect to, 'There is no black America, or white America, just the United States of America,' that's a very appealing message - to white Americans, because they're already predisposed to believe it,'' said Hutchings.
Hutchings' comments were part of a panel discussion sponsored by U-M's Institute for Research on Women and Gender and by the Center for Political Studies. The discussion, held at Lane Hall, focused on how Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton are navigating the issues of race and gender, and the stereotypes held by voters, even if those stereotypes are subtle.
For pollsters, it's tough to tease out information voters may not want to share about themselves, panelists said. And voters don't always tell the truth in exit polls, and their answers can be tailored to what they believe the pollster wants them to say.
"It's not whether or not people care about race,'' said Nicholas Valentino, a professor from the University of Texas at Austin, "but whether we can ever ask them and get them to tell us whether race is really important, whether they even know. And if they do know, what are they going to tell us, and the same, though slightly less, for gender.''
Clinton is in a particular bind when it comes to battling stereotypes while still trying to mount a presidential campaign, Valentino said.
"Clinton is stuck between multiple negative gender stereotypes,'' he said. "If she's too tough, then she's not feminine. If she's not tough enough, then she's not competent, so she really has to walk a tightrope.'' [To read the entire article, go to: ]

University of Michigan Settles Justice Department Suit on Wheelchair Accessibility

Mar. 10, 2008
Joint press release of the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America and the University of Michigan

DETROIT, Mich.—After a series of ongoing discussions, with the University of Michigan, the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America and the United States Department of Justice agreed today on a plan to enhance wheelchair accessibility at Michigan Stadium. U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox today signed a Consent Decree that orders the parties to uphold their agreement.
"We are pleased that the University was able to work with plaintiffs and their counsel to develop what we believe to be a positive result for all without the necessity of further proceedings," said University of Michigan Interim Vice President and General Counsel Gloria Hage.
"The Veterans will now have the agreement they have wanted since the beginning of this case. Disabled fans will be able to watch games at Michigan Stadium with the same level of enjoyment as other fans, in the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Richard Bernstein, attorney for the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The new resolution will improve and enhance the University’s long standing commitment to accessibility for patrons with mobility impairments at Michigan Stadium. Starting with the 2008 football season, 96 new accessible seats, plus seats for companions, will be available along the east side of the Stadium at Row 54.
With the addition of these new seating areas, together with others to be added by the start of the 2010 season, at least 329 accessible seats, plus companion seats, will be available in a number of different areas of the Stadium Bowl, offering disabled patrons greater choice of locations, ticket prices, and viewing angles.
In addition, University architects, working closely with the Plaintiffs and their architects, have made plans to enhance accessibility of parking, access routes, restrooms, concessions, and other amenities over the next three years. The new plans will be incorporated into work already under way to enhance the accessibility of Michigan Stadium and improve the game day experience for all fans.
"Michigan Stadium should be a place of pride for all residents of Michigan and alumni. We hope, with this agreement, that it will also be able to serve as a model for the rest of the nation on how disabled fans can be accommodated," added Bernstein.
"We have always sought to provide the best possible game-day experience for all of our loyal football fans," said William C. Martin, University Athletic Director. "This agreement is an important step toward achieving that goal."

Related Links:
Consent decree (.PDF)

Contact: Kelly CunninghamPhone: (734) 936-5190
OrContact: Matt Friedman, Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of AmericaPhone: (248) 626-0006

A University Examines Underlying Problems After Racist Incidents

The Chronicle of Higher Education
At Oregon State, controversies over a noose and a blackface image force candid conversations

Corvallis, Ore.
"Racism is … "
A student group called Team Liberation wrote those words across the top of a sheet of easel-pad paper and hung it in Oregon State University's Memorial Union, to see what passers-by would jot down. The afternoon after it was taken down, about a dozen people gather around a table — at one of many diversity-related events held on campus these days — to discuss the experiment's results.
"Ignorance," one anonymous hand has written. Onto that response, someone has tacked the words "is an excuse," the "is" repeatedly underlined for emphasis.
Then appears a rebuttal: "Too often used as an excuse."
Other responses signal resentment toward the whole exercise. "Play the race card and you can get away with s — ." "Racist jokes are hilarious."
Like many campus events staged in response to racism, the discussion here has a preaching-to-the-choir dynamic. The group of people who have shown up is much more racially and ethnically diverse than Oregon State's overall student body, which is overwhelmingly white. And no one in the room challenges assertions by those around them that racism and capitalism are inextricably intertwined, and that only white people can be racist because they have all the power.
Again and again, Lauren L. Dillard, a white junior from Canby, Ore., finds herself in the hot seat as her peers bring up her involvement last fall in the publication of a controversial blackface image in the student newspaper.
She says little in response, mainly just taking notes.
What Hangs in the Air
Oregon State is hardly the only college in the nation grappling with the problem of racism and weighing sharply different views of how to deal with it.
For decades, campus racism has seemed to erupt into the public consciousness in cycles, usually after spates of incidents involving students' wearing blackface, parties with themes that mocked a minority group, or the publication of racially charged articles or cartoons in student newspapers.
Last fall it was the appearance of anonymously hung nooses at a long list of colleges — including Central Michigan University, Columbia University, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and the University of Maryland at College Park — that stirred fears that colleges were becoming hotbeds of hate.
Typically, such incidents are followed by student protests, efforts to find and punish the perpetrators, and pledges by college administrations to promote diversity and tolerance. Often the uproar over the outward expression of racism dies down, but the underlying problem seems to remain.
Oregon State, a land-grant institution with an enrollment of almost 20,000, has been shaken by controversies over both blackface and a noose in the past year. But the incidents here were not seen as clear-cut expressions of racial animus, for which specific people should be held accountable, so much as acts of ignorance and insensitivity that pointed to a need for broader change.
Administrators at Oregon State, unlike their peers at many colleges, have taken the view that it would be a mistake for them to focus their energy on responding to various racist incidents. To make lasting progress in diminishing racism, they say, campus leaders must focus on promoting diversity in a forward-looking manner, between the controversies that erupt.
Last fall's events polarized the campus, but they also forced students to begin candid discussions of racism and examine their own biases.
"I'm not proud of where we are," says Terryl J. Ross, director of the university's office of community and diversity, but "all the conditions are right for us to go to the next level."
[To read the entire article, go to: ] (Subscription needed)

Moves target affirmative action
A group trying to end preferences says it has enough signatures to reach the ballot.
By Tim HooverThe Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 03/11/2008 01:52:52 AM MDT

Supporters of a ballot measure that would ask Coloradans to end state affirmative action programs said Monday that they have enough signatures to put the issue before voters in November."There is a groundswell of support for this issue in Colorado," said Ward Connerly, a nationally known foe of affirmative action programs who is leading similar efforts in Oklahoma, Arizona and Missouri.
Amendment 31, which supporters call the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, would ask voters to end race and gender preferences in government hiring, education and contracting. Connerly said the measure is a return to the original intent of legislation from the civil rights struggle of the 1960s — a color-blind society.
"This is not something that is a radical idea or a misappropriation of the term, 'civil rights,' " said Connerly, who is black. "Civil rights belong to all of us, not just black people."
Supporters needed to gather the signatures of 76,047 voters to put the issue on the ballot, and they said Monday that that had gotten 128,744 signatures. Secretary of State Mike Coffman must validate the signatures before the measure can be on the ballot.
Melissa Hart, a University of Colorado law professor working with proponents of a competing measure, questioned whether Amendment 31 backers had enough valid signatures.
"They may think they have enough signatures, but there will be lots of challenges," Hart said. "We've been hearing all kinds of stories about misinformation people received. People have signed it thinking it does all kinds of things, including preserving affirmative action."
Hart supports Amendment 61, a proposal that seeks to preserve affirmative action programs.
[To read the entire article, go to: ]

Monday, March 10, 2008

Population Shift Sends Universities Scrambling

The Washington Post
Applicant Pool Forecast To Shrink and Diversify
By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 10, 2008; A01

Colleges and universities are anxiously taking steps to address a projected drop in the number of high school graduates in much of the nation starting next year and a dramatic change in the racial and ethnic makeup of the student population, a phenomenon expected to transform the country's higher education landscape, educators and analysts said.
After years of being overwhelmed with applicants, higher education institutions will over the next decade recruit from a pool of public high school graduates that will experience:
- A projected national decline of roughly 10 percent or more in non-Hispanic white students, the population that traditionally is most likely to attend four-year colleges.
- A double-digit rise in the proportion of minority students -- especially Hispanics -- who traditionally are less likely to attend college and to obtain loans to fund education.
Despite those obstacles, minority enrollment at undergraduate schools is expected to rise steadily, from 30 percent in 2004 to about 37 percent in 2015, some analysts project.
"The majority will become the minority," said Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus and professor of public service at George Washington University. "There will be more Hispanics, more African Americans, more Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Koreans. I anticipate that the most common last name in the freshman class will be Kim."
The demographic changes will be profound for individual students: Some will probably see their chances of getting into selective schools improve, and others will see opportunities to enroll at the most selective schools decline. And for colleges, the demographic changes will mean new ways of recruiting and educating students.
"One challenge will be looking at the interface between high schools and college and the issue of college readiness, and the other will be the whole issue of the cost of college," said David Ward, president of the nonprofit American Council on Education. [To read the entire article, go to: ]


Wednesday, March 5, 2008 Christine Nazer
(202) 663-4191
TTY: (202) 663-4494

Discrimination Charges Highest in Five Years; Agency Obtains $345 Million for Victims

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received a total of 82,792 private sector discrimination charge filings last fiscal year, the highest volume of incoming charges since 2002 and the largest annual increase (9%) since the early 1990s, the agency reported today as part of its Fiscal Year 2007 enforcement and litigation statistics. The data, available online at, also show that the EEOC recovered $345 million in monetary relief for job bias victims.
“Corporate America needs to do a better job of proactively preventing discrimination and addressing complaints promptly and effectively,” said Commission Chair Naomi C. Earp. “To ensure that equality of opportunity becomes a reality in the 21st century workplace, employers need to place a premium on fostering inclusive and discrimination-free work environments for all individuals.”
According to the EEOC’s FY 2007 data, allegations of discrimination based on race, retaliation, and sex were the most frequently filed charges, continuing a long-term trend. Additionally, nearly all major charge categories showed double digit percentage increases from the prior year -- a rare occurrence. The jump in charge filings may be due to a combination of factors, including greater awareness of the law, changing economic conditions, and increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force.
Basis of Charge Filing
FY 2007
FY 2006
Percentage Increase/Historical Comparison
Up 12% to highest level since FY 1994
Up 18% to record high level, double since FY 1992
Up 7% to highest level since FY 2002
Up 15%, largest annual increase since FY 2002
Up 14% to highest level since FY 1998
Up 12%, above 9,000 for second time ever
Up 13% to record high level, double since FY 1992
Up 9%, largest annual increase since FY 1993
NOTE: Individuals may allege multiple types of discrimination in a single case.
Last year, for the first time, retaliation was the second highest charge category (behind race), surpassing sex-based charges in total filings with EEOC offices nationwide. Historically, race has been the most frequently filed charge since the EEOC became operational in 1965. In addition to the statutory bases of discrimination, charges filed with the EEOC and state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (combined) also trended upward for the high visibility issues of pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment. During FY 2007, pregnancy charges surged to a record high level of 5,587, up 14% from the prior fiscal year’s record of 4,901. Sexual harassment filings increased for the first time since FY 2000, numbering 12,510 – up 4% from the prior fiscal year’s total of 12,025. Additionally, a record 16% of sexual harassment charges were filed by men, up from 9% in the early 1990s. Other year-end statistics released today show that the EEOC:
Recovered approximately $345 million in total monetary relief for charging parties, up 26% from the prior year’s total of $274 million. Nearly $55 million was obtained through EEOC litigation and more than $290 million through administrative enforcement, including mediation. Additionally, the agency obtained substantial non-monetary relief, such as employer training, policy implementation, reasonable accommodations, and other measures to promote discrimination-free workplaces.
Resolved 72,442 private sector charges, with a historically high merit factor rate of 23%. Merit factor resolutions include mediation and other settlements and cause findings, which, if not successfully conciliated, are considered for litigation. Most meritorious charges are resolved voluntarily with employers prior to any EEOC litigation.
Resolved a record 8,649 charges through its voluntary National Mediation Program (up 5% from the prior year’s record high), with a user satisfaction rate of 96% indicating that nearly all participants would return to the program in the future. At the end of FY 2007, the EEOC had entered into 1,269 Universal Agreements to Mediate (UAMs) with employers nationwide (154 national/regional UAMs and 1,115 local UAMs) -- a 15% increase from the FY 2006 level.
Filed 336 merits lawsuits (direct suits, interventions and other enforcement actions), including 116 class cases involving multiple aggrieved parties or victims of discriminatory policies. Significant injunctive and remedial relief was also achieved through litigation settlements, jury trials and court rulings. The agency’s litigation program increasingly focused on class and systemic cases as part of its national law firm model.
Conducted a record 5,658 outreach, education and technical assistance events nationwide, reaching nearly 280,000 people. The EEOC’s national outreach initiatives include E-RACE (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), Youth@Work, and LEAD (Leadership for the Employment of Americans with Disabilities). Other outreach programs focused on EEOC-enforced laws, mediation, and small business.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the federal agency is available on its web site at

Title IX Awards Raise Colleges' Bias Liability

By Viv Bernstein - WeNews correspondent(WOMENSENEWS)

--Amid complaints a few years ago from a women's volleyball coach at California State University, Fresno, that her team wasn't receiving equal treatment with men's programs at the school, some members of the athletic department decided to have a party.In April 2000 administrators hung a banner in an office, complete with pictures of female athletes with cutouts of male heads attached to them. And they sipped drinks under the banner that read: "Ugly Women Athletes Day."Weighty payouts from lawsuits based on Title IX--the 1972 law that bans discrimination on the basis of gender in educational institutions that receive federal funds--have since followed.Lindy Vivas, the women's volleyball coach who made the complaint, did not get her contract renewed in 2004. When she filed suit against Fresno State for violating the federal antidiscrimination law, "Ugly Women Athletes Day" became part of the evidence. Last July a jury awarded Vivas $5.85 million in compensation and damages.At the time, it was considered an eye-catching amount for a Title IX case even though a judge later reduced the award to $4.52 million.But those figures were dwarfed in December when another jury, ruling in the dismissal of Fresno State women's basketball coach Stacy Johnson-Klein, awarded the coach $19 million in a suit also involving Title IX. That was since reduced to $6.6 million by a judge.Still, those recent jury awards--coupled with multi-million-dollar settlements at the University of Colorado and University of California, Berkeley--have raised the possible upside for those willing to risk a Title IX legal reprisal.But will it inspire real change in the treatment of women's teams and coaches moving forward?Erin Buzuvis, an assistant professor at Western New England College School of Law in Springfield, Mass., who teaches sports law and has a Title IX blog, says it can only help.Buzuvis says discriminatory conduct continues in many athletic departments. "But the fact that two separate juries in Fresno were willing to award multi-million dollar verdicts as a way to penalize a major university for discriminatory treatment of its female staff is definitely an example of some movement in that direction."History of ComplaintsFresno State has been a hotbed of Title IX complaints in recent years.In addition to the volleyball and basketball coaches, Associate Athletics Director Diane Milutinovich settled a Title IX case for $3.5 million in October 2007. Women's softball coach Margie Wright filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in 2004 and is mulling a lawsuit."In the early 1990s, there were violations of Title IX which led to a corrective action plan and I think those were resolved," Fresno State President John D. Welty said in a telephone interview. "I think unfortunately it created tensions within the department that have contributed to these cases and I think it's complicated. When we did take employment actions with regards to two coaches, the issues really became blurred between whether it was a Title IX issue or an employment issue."But Dan Siegel, the attorney who has represented Milutinovich, Wright, Johnson-Klein and Vivas, said the problem is with the leadership at Fresno State."The issue of why Fresno State has had so many cases is actually the big question here," he said in an e-mail. "I have argued that the reason is that its president, John Welty, had demonstrated poor leadership by allowing an atmosphere of hostility and harassment towards women who have fought for gender equity to continue."String of Title IX CasesStill, Fresno State is not an aberration, according to those who have monitored Title IX cases. It is merely the most penalized case in recent years."They are all over-the-top obvious," said Donna Lopiano, who worked for a sports advocacy group for 15 years and followed Title IX legal disputes. "I swear, I've testified in at least 20 or 30 cases and I am constantly amazed at how obvious these cases are. That's why the plaintiffs never lose; because it is so extreme."Lopiano recently left the East Meadow, N.Y.-based Women's Sports Foundation, which advocates for women in athletics. She is forming a consulting company and will advise universities on how to handle Title IX cases in light of the recent Fresno State awards."I think there are a couple of things that are really significant about this," Lopiano said. "One is, they're going to precipitate more cases. They are going to increase the bravery of coaches who are not being treated well, who are being discriminated against because of their sex."Lopiano said state university presidents will also likely see the cases as a warning to steer their schools clear of cases that could put them under legislatures' watch and possibly damage financial support. Welty already has had to answer to a California state legislative committee about the suits."There's just nothing good that comes out of this," she said.In the interview, Welty said the large jury awards could spur a push for legislative relief to cap the amounts awarded in Title IX cases in the future.NCAA Working with CollegesThe Indianapolis-based National Collegiate Athletic Association has been helping universities prevent Title IX abuses with a certification process that audits their policies and practices."The NCAA has become a very big supporter of Title IX," said Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a professor at Jacksonville's Florida Coastal School of Law, an Olympic gold medal swimmer and past president of the Women's Sports Foundation. "There was a criticism for a number of years that they sort of had a defense lawyer's mentality, like what's the least that you can do in order to be able to be in compliance," Hogshead-Makar said. "And that's shifting now."Welty said there has been a shift at Fresno State, too. Although the university is appealing the Vivas case and is considering an appeal of the Johnson-Klein verdict as well, a gender equity task force has been created. The school also will add some women's sports to the program to meet Title IX requirements.But the battles continue. At Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, volleyball coach Jaye Flood filed a lawsuit in January against the school after she was fired following complaints about gender equity in the athletic program. According to reports, the school claims Flood was dismissed for an improper relationship with a student. A court date has not yet been set.Already, the ugly confrontation has inspired some to call Florida Gulf Coast the "Fresno State of the East.""I think it's a repeat of Fresno," said Lopiano, who points to similarities in the accusations made in each of the cases. She believes universities would be better off settling to avoid the public scrutiny that comes from a trial. "Every case is different, but you would hope that people would learn from these things and I'm hopeful that they are."

Viv Bernstein is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C., and a frequent contributor to the New York Times. She is a former staff sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press, the Hartford Courant and other newspapers and has written for numerous publications.
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