New America Media - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 02:10
The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan began in 2012 and has opened its doors to over 100,000 people who have fled their homes due to the Syrian civil war. Charles Lee, a South Korean humanitarian, witnessed much of this... Ethel Navales http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 18:22
Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, one of the most important markers of racial progress--and its lack--in the United States. President Lyndon Johnson signed it to end Jim Crow segregation. Even conservatives like William F. Buckley have agreed, in recent years, that it greatly improved the status and life chances of African-Americans in particular, and that federal intervention had been necessary to do so.
Yet, segregation continues in nearly every arena of life and becomes increasingly more difficult to address through the Civil Rights Act as it currently stands and is applied. Although the Act has evolved over time through case law and amendments to cover disparate impact as well as discriminatory intent, a plaintiff's ability to get a remedy under the impact clauses can easily be derailed. What better time than the half century mark to call for stronger remedies to modern-day discrimination, whose mechanisms are often hidden?
We think of segregation most commonly with regard to housing and schools, and the country remains deeply segregated in those arenas. But we don't often talk about segregation in employment, what researchers call "occupational segregation," describing the phenomenon in which certain people are steered toward certain jobs, or toward deep long term unemployment. In last week's Colorlines installment of the Life Cycles of Inequity series on the experiences of black men, Kai Wright cites a study that reveals segregation in high-wage construction and other industrial jobs: 45 percent of white men, compared to 15 percent black men and very few women at all, and with white men earning approximately double what the black men do.
Women, and many men of color, are steered into lower paying occupations as a matter of course, with deep consequences to their lives and families. Workers organizations such as the Restaurant Opportunities Centers and the Retail Action Project have begun to document this kind of segregation. According to the Roosevelt Institute's research, for us to have desegregated workplaces fully as of 2005, nearly 70 percent of black women would have had to switch occupations with white men.
These are not the kind of phenomena that the Civil Rights Act addresses effectively. And where they might have done so, courts frequently find tangential elements of the cases that block accountability. In 2011, I wrote about the SCOTUS decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, in which the majority ruled that 1.5 million women employees could not file a class action suit over discrimination in promotions because male managers used too many different methods of discrimination for that to constitute a pattern. Without the ability to sue as a class, these 1.5 million women will all have to file smaller, or worse, individual lawsuits.
More recent cases further raised the bar for plaintiffs. Last year, SCOTUS ruled in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar that retaliation for union organizing was only punishable if it was the decisive factor in a firing, not just a motivating factor. In Vance v. Ball State University, SCOTUS defined a supervisor differently from the way the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does (companies are punished more if a supervisor creates a hostile work environment than if a co-worker does) by insisting that "supervisors" have the ability to hire, fire and promote, versus the power to assign and correct daily workloads.
What does this mean for those of concerned with the ongoing state of race, gender and economic opportunity? It doesn't mean that we dismiss the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as useless or outdated. It does mean that remembering that there was deep resistance to this law, and it didn't end in 1965. Conservatives have devoted a lot of energy in the past 50 years to limiting our understanding of what constitutes racial and gender discrimination, while employers have found multiple ways to segregate us with impunity. In the midst of all the important remembrances and celebrations that will take place this summer, and this year of our Civil Rights era accomplishments, we need to keep our eyes on a prize that hasn't yet been won.
New America Media - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 16:53
Adm. Michelle Janine Howard became the first female four-star officer in the history of the U.S. Navy, according to a press release.Howard, who was promoted at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia,... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 16:00
President Barack Obama made it clear that he would take administrative action very soon to fix the immigration system in the absence of a legislative solution in the House of Representatives. Immigrant rights groups are calling on him to take... Pilar Marrero, Translated by Elena Shore http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 13:38
Political leaders nationwide lamented the Supreme Court's ruling Monday on Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby allowing for-profit employers to use religious reasons to opt out of a mandate of the Obama health care law to provide contraceptive coverage.The high court ruled... Washington Informer http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 13:17
California's "ban the box" law goes into effect today, and could help some 7 million Californians--or one in four state residents--with criminal backgrounds. AB 218, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown late last year, bars public sector employers from asking for information about a job applicant's criminal background until after applicants have cleared early stages of the hiring process.
Currently, 12 states and some 70 cities and counties have "ban the box" legislation on the books, according to the National Employment Law Project. The laws are meant to fight back against the widespread, automatic exclusion of job applicants with criminal backgrounds. As the criminal justice and mass incarceration systems sweep more and more people, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, into its grasp, the post-release prospects of those who've been caught up in the system dim as well.
All 10 of the state's largest counties are already in compliance with AB 218, and in San Francisco, the policies are even being extended into the private sector, according to the NELP.
Kai Wright took a deep dive look into the background check industry, laying out the history of what is and and isn't permissible:
Back in 1987, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared that blanket bans on hiring people with criminal records were a Civil Rights Act violation. The EEOC noted that the law bars not only overt bias based on protected categories like race, but also seemingly neutral policies that nonetheless have the effect of reinforcing racial disparities. So it told employers that they can consider criminal records only as one factor in hiring, and then only when the conviction is directly related to the work. But Congress is most responsible for undermining this guidance. Following 9/11, lawmakers issued blanket bans on former felons working in a broad range of transportation jobs. States followed suit, and the list of banned occupations grew exponentially: private security guards, nursing home aides, just about any job involving kids. Former felons are now categorically barred from working in more than 800 occupations because of laws and licensing rules, one study estimates.
Partly in reaction to this growing list, and partly in response to the simultaneous explosion of the background check industry, the EEOC issued an updated guidance in 2012. The new guidance didn't change the core idea--that blanket hiring bans based on criminal records have a disproportionate impact on black and Latino workers and thus violate the Civil Rights Act; instead, it offered employers updated details on how to stay on the right side of the law. In sum: if you conduct background checks, your hiring systems must include a granular method of confirming their accuracy and considering the specifics of a person's case.
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:53
Yesterday, Colorlines hosted a Twitter chat in conjunction with this month's installment of its Life Cycles of Inequity Series, "Why Young, Black Men Can't Work." We invited our online community to weigh in on the issues of long-term unemployment, racial inequity in hiring practices, and disparities in job opportunities between black and white high school graduates. Not only was the discussion lively and insightful, but our hashtag #livesofblackmen even trended nationwide in the states of California, Texas and Minnesota and in the cities of Chicago, DC, Philadelphia and Boston.
Here's the conversation-in-tweets, as compiled by Race Forward, which launches its brand new Storify page today.[&lt;a href="//storify.com/raceforward/livesofblackmen-twitter-chat-confronts-black-male" target="_blank"&gt;View the story "#LivesofBlackMen and Unemployment" on Storify&lt;/a&gt;]
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:03
On Monday President Obama asked Congress for an emergency $2 billion to address the flows of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minor children arriving at the U.S-Mexico border. Arrivals of children, already estimated at 52,000 this year, are expected to reach a record 90,000. Obama asked for money to fund the addition of immigration judges, detention facilities and enforcement efforts to stem the tides of new arrivals. He also asked that Congress expand Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's powers to allow him to expedite the deportations of youth, many of whom are being held in converted Army bases across the country, the New York Times reported.
With the failed prospects of immigration reform, the flows of primarily Central American unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border has become the immigration flashpoint of the moment. But Obama, as he does with most matters immigration-related, has responded with an enforcement-first approach. In so doing, the administration and Republican lawmakers both have perpetuated several key falsehoods about the crisis. Here now, some myth-busting on the top three myths both political parties are guilty of perpetuating:
Myth: The current refugee crisis is a creation of President Obama's making.
Republican lawmakers are having a field day casting Obama administration policy, namely DACA--a program initiated in 2012 which gave a narrow class of undocumented youth short-term work authorization and protection from deportation--as responsible for the sudden uptick of new migrants. In early June, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions even called Obama "personally responsible" for the influx, Think Progress reported. It's become popular political fodder for politicians with midterm elections on the mind. However, humanitarian groups like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Women's Refugee Commission have noted the jump in unaccompanied minor border crossings since late 2011 (PDF), long before Obama announced DACA in June of 2012.
What's more, in interviews with hundreds of detained youth, multiple agencies and researchers have found that the vast majority have no idea about the existence of DACA, let alone the notion that they might take advantage of it for themselves.
Some have also theorized that smugglers are advertising DACA or the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), a Bush-era law which allows unaccompanied minors to be released into the custody of family or a sponsor while they await a deportation hearing in front of a judge, as the U.S. laying out the welcome mat for migrant children. In a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson gave credence to the theory that the influx is due in part to migrants swayed by smugglers' false "promisos" of a free pass once they arrive in the U.S. Smugglers may be using the falsehood to drum up business for themselves, says Michelle Brané, the director of the Women's Refugee Commission's Migrant Rights and Justice program, but endemic gang violence and abject poverty are the decisive motivating factors creating the demand for their services. "People decide to leave first, and then they look for a way to leave," says Brané.
"Just because [migrants] think the U.S. is nicer than we actually are doesn't mean that they don't need protection and don't qualify for protection," says Brané.
Myth: Telling parents in Central America to stop sending their children, and quickly deporting the ones who are here, will fix the problem.
It's not just Republicans, though. The Obama administration, too, has fallen prey to a simplistic understanding of the situation.
On Thursday, President Obama used an ABC News interview to directly address parents in Central America. "Do not send your children to the borders," Obama said. "If they make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it." Media efforts to discourage families from sending their children on the treacherous, often deadly journey, have historically been ineffective, says Lauren Heidbrink, an anthropologist at National Louis University who has researched the issue from Guatemala. Most of the children fleeing Guatemala are rural, often extremely poor, and don't necessarily watch TV or have access to newspapers. Parent-shaming oversimplifies the crisis, says Heidbrink. "The decision-making process to send a child is far more complicated than just a bad, misinformed parent sending their child."
What's more, most families pay smugglers to get their children out of the country, with fees ranging from $7,500 to upwards of $10,000--with interest, says Heidbrink. The interest payments alone, often paid for by families taking out loans on their land, can threaten families' very livelihoods. "The concern about rapid deportations is the conditions that spurred migration have not changed in any way, shape or form and in fact the conditions they're returning to are complicated by all the debt they have," says Heidbrink. This forces them to remigrate funneling them into a cycle of migration and deportation.
Myth: This is an immigration problem.
The Obama administration called the bracing flows of tens of thousands of migrant children at the U.S. borders a "humanitarian crisis." But the administration is responding to it like it's an administrative one, say critics. The proposed efforts to expedite deportations and roll back Bush-era TVPRA humanitarian protocols for dealing with unaccompanied child migrants is a serious concern for child advocates. "What the administration is proposing is that the process for adjudicating those claims be shortened, without the benefit of an immigration judge or legal representation, Kevin Appleby of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops told CBS. "It is akin to sending a child back into a burning building and locking the door."
Conditions in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are all unique, but families are sending their children out of the country by and large to flee rampant violence, corruption, political instability and entrenched poverty. Youth, who are primary targets for gang recruitment, are particularly vulnerable. To stay in their home countries is to die, said children interviewed for a 2012 Women's Refugee Commission report (PDF). Indeed, nearly 60 percent of children interviewed by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights had viable claims meriting U.S. protection, CBS reported. "It's not an immigration issue," says the Women's Refugee Commission's Brané. "It's a refugee issue."
"For us to say that that they cannot stay, that we don't want them because there's so many is absurd," says Brané. "Protection standards aren't about how many people qualify, they're about whether people need protection or not."
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:03
You've probably heard that the Supreme Court laid down a pretty bad decision on Monday in the Hobby Lobby case, essentially giving some corporations the right to deny coverage of certain types of contraception to their employees based on religious freedom.
We won't know the exact impact of this ruling until we see how many of the eligible corporations (closely-held private companies that most are interpreting based on the IRS definition that they be 50 percent owned by five or less people) actually choose to use this right given to them by the Supreme Court on Monday. Nine out of 10 businesses are estimated to be closely held, and an estimated 52 percent of private sector employees work for closely held companies. So we're talking about a potential impact on just a few thousand employees, or a few million, depending on how many businesses choose to exercise this right. We know that in addition to Hobby Lobby, there are at least 82 other companies who've already been challenging the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate.
While much proverbial ink has been spilled speculating about the impact this will have, few have talked about how women of color might fare under this ruling. On its face there is nothing about this ruling that singles out women of color. But because of our political and economic realities, women of color often bare the brunt of the negative impacts of restrictions on women's health anyway. Here are three reasons why women of color may fare worse under this decision:
1. The Cost of Birth Control
Those who can't afford to pay for their birth control out of pocket if their employers deny coverage will face the biggest challenges. Women of color are more likely to be low-income, and also more likely to work a minimum wage job. And as Justice Ginsberg pointed out in her dissent, getting an IUD could cost as much as an entire month's rent working at the minimum wage. And let's not forget that contraceptives aren't only prescribed for preventing pregnancies--they're also used to manage severe menstrual symptoms and conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis. Women of color who are already struggling to make ends meet may face increased burdens. That could mean doing things like splitting one pack of pills between two women each month, as Kimberly Inez McGuire reports two Latina women living in South Texas have been doing.
Elizabeth Dawes Gay, writing at Ebony, elaborates on how this impacts black women specifically:
"In 2011, more than half of Black people were covered by private (usually employer-sponsored) health insurance, either through their own employer or that of a family member, and 57 million adult women of all races were covered through employer-sponsored insurance. If the behavior of companies like Hobby Lobby becomes the norm rather than the exception, it could impact contraceptive access for millions of people in the U.S. and have a disproportionate impact on Black women who, with lower income and wealth on average, may not be able to afford to pay for their contraception out-of-pocket."
Renee Bracey Sherman also wrote about how this decision could affect Black women. For Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, already low rates of contraceptive use could be even lower if this decision places another economic barrier in their way.
2. The Risks of Unplanned Pregnancy
The risks of having to carry an unintended pregnancy to term are much higher for women of color, especially black women. Black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, which means potentially being unable to prevent a pregnancy due to the financial barriers put in place by their religious employers. And it's not just death that women of color are at higher risk for during childbirth--it's also infant mortality, low-infant birth weight and premature delivery--all things that pose significant long-term risks to the mother and child.
Women of color have already had to deal with a long history of reproductive control at the hands of employers and the government. From slave owners' manipulation of Black women's reproduction, to non-consensual sterilization of Latinas in public hospitals, to welfare reform and family caps limiting the number of children welfare recipients can have, women of color have long had to fight for the right to control their own reproduction. This case just adds another layer to controlling fertility, this time at the hands of employers.
At this point it's no longer news that those in our communities who are the most vulnerable suffer the most when increased restrictions and barriers are put into place--and pregnancy and reproduction has been a hotbed of these kinds of restrictions over the last few years. As the Obama administration figures out how they might fill the gap left by this ruling (even the majority opinion, written by Justice Alito, offers this as a solution), we have to keep in mind that women of color are once again going to be relying on a safety net to get basic needs met. And that's a safety net with more and more holes.
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 11:05
This fall, students of color will for the first time in U.S. history constitute a majority of the nation's public school students. But teachers of color are only 17 percent of the nation's teaching force. Black men make up just 2 percent of the nation's schoolteachers. Diversifying the nation's teaching force--namely by encouraging men of color to join it--is in the nation's educational interests, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has emphasized for years.
A new program out of South Carolina's Clemson University is aiming to do just that. NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports on Call Me Mister, a program that mentors young black men and trains them to become teachers. By the fall the program, which seeks to convert young black men one at a time into someday teachers, will have placed more than 150 teachers in classrooms in eight states:
SANCHEZ: These men are intent on changing the lives of black boys who are struggling with school and with life. Like Marshall Wingate once did.
MARSHALL WINGATE: I actually could relate to a lot of kids because my father has been locked up. I remember seeing him beat my mom, I seen a lot that I shouldn't have seen and I actually kind of grew up too fast as they say.
SANCHEZ: Wingate, now 21, has been student teaching for a year sharing his story with boys he says desperately want someone to care about their struggles.
WINGATE: That's just my main goal. I really love kids at the end of the day, I love kids, it just brings me joy.
Listen to the story in full at NPR.
New America Media - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:00
A for-profit, family-owned company is not a religious person with the right to choose the health care coverage of its employees according to its conscience. Or at least that is how it should be.Nevertheless, in the eyes of the U.S.... La Opinión http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 09:35
Someone in Robin Thicke's world thought it would be a good idea for him to do a Twitter Q&A with VH1 to help prompte his new album, "Paula," dedicated to his estranged ex-wife Paula Patton. VH1 tweeted, "Have a burning question for @robinthicke? Submit your ?s for tomorrow's Twitter Q+A using #AskThicke!"
As Callie Beusman pointed out over at Jezebel, people had plenty of questions about all of the sexist and misogynist drama that's embroiled the singer's career over the past year. One hilarious example, "On a scale of R. Kelly to Phil Spector, how do you intend to 'Get Her Back?' #AskThicke"
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 09:33
One of the more controversial parts of Kara Walker's new exhibit at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn has been all the mindless selfies that people have taken in front of the giant sphinx centerpiece. Now there's a website called sugarselfie.us that pokes fun at the phenomenon by allowing users who can't make it to the exhibit in person the ability to take their own offensive virtual selfies.
Let's see how many actually get the joke.
Hyphen Blog - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 07:47
Sarah Ha writes about some of the educational barriers facing AAPI communities and lists organizations you can join to help advocate for students.
Colorlines - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 06:42
Here's what I'm reading up on this morning:
- The bodies of three teen Israeli settlers are found near Hebron; the Israeli Air Force launches a massive attack in retaliation.
- France's former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is held for questioning in a new corruption probe related to an old corruption probe.
- A federal judge overturns the conviction of an NYPD officer who identified women he wanted to kidnap, roast, and eat alive.
- Beyoncé is named the most powerful celebrity by Forbes.
- Google will soon shut down its first social network site, Orkut.
- Nigeria and Algeria, the last of two countries from Africa left at the World Cup, go home following losses.
- The United States will play (and, in my prediction, will lose to) Belgium today at 4:00p ET (you can watch it for free on Univision).
New America Media - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 05:40
When she was a teenager, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud would ride around the small village of Pierrevert in the hills of southeastern France. But her little moped could only take her so far. “I would ride all day but my world... Andrew Lam http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=8
New America Media - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 05:30
Photo by Quyen Tran Every once in a while, someone comes along who challenges your assumptions and forces you to rethink everything you thought you knew about history, culture and identity.Take, for instance, Grace Lee Boggs. Before Martin Luther King Jr.... Genetta M. Adams http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 13:54
VNRN) - A lightning fast appellate hearing in Danang today affirmed the two-year sentence imposed on blogger Truong Duy Nhat (Tr??ng Duy Nh?t) for allegedly “abusing the rights of freedom” in writing his blog “Another Point of View” (M?t Góc... Vietnam Right Now http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 13:35
According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center (pdf), 63 percent of Americans believe blacks are responsible for their own inability to succeed.Those polled ranged from those who identified as "solid liberals" to those who identified as "steadfast... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:53
President Obama spoke at a press conference at the White House Rose Garden to address mounting pressure over immigration reform and a humanitarian crisis at the border. He made clear that despite some support, there will be no vote on crucial comprehensive immigration reform--and continued to blame some Republicans for stalling a bill. Obama's administration, meanwhile, has deported more people than another other in the history of the United States.
Obama stressed that if Congress can't move forward on immigration reform, he'd be forced to take administrative action. The only clear plan he laid out today, however, was to increase enforcement at the border.
Pablo Alvarado, who leads the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, made a short statement in response to Obama's remarks:
This is a pivotal moment in the movement for migrant rights. What comes next will be defining moment for the President and for the country. In de-linking his immigration policy from his legislative reform strategy, the President is now free to do the right thing, and he can fulfill the promise of being a transformative president.
The President's enforcement-first strategy and his misguided deportation policy were premised on the possibility of legislative reform, but it is now very clear Congress itself is broken.
We fully expect the President to maximize use of existing authority to ameliorate the injustice of the status quo, and we pledge to work with the administration to fend off the attacks from nativists that will surely come, if and when, he does the right thing. Until then we will continue to escalate opposition to unnecessary and unjust deportations.
Obama, who also highlighted a Fourth of July naturalization ceremony this Friday at the White House, says he'll be looking to take more action in the coming months. For now, however, he will certainly increase enforcement at the border.
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