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The 113th Congress Will Be The Most Diverse in History

November 14, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From ThinkProgress:

Though Congress remains whiter, older, and more male than the nation as a whole, the incoming class will be the most diverse in history.

The 113th Congress will be more representative of the United States from race to religion, and from gender to sexual orientation. It will look more like America with 4 new African American representatives, 10 new Latinos, 5 new Asian Americans and 24 women in the House or Senate.* It will believe more like America with the first two Hindu congresspeople, the first Buddhist senator, and the first non-theist to openly acknowledge her belief prior to getting elected. It will love more like America, with 4 new LGBT congresspeople or senators, including the first openly bisexual congresswoman and the first openly gay congressman of color. And it will be younger, with four new congressmen born in the 1980s.


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New Orleans women’s health advocacy organization regroups after arson attack

June 06, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Intersectionality, Poverty

From Institute for Southern Studies:

A New Orleans nonprofit that works to address the HIV/AIDS crisis among women of color is regrouping after its offices were destroyed by arson last month, opening a temporary office today in a nearby church.

The attack comes amid a spate of violence against women’s health organizations across the South.

On May 24, someone broke into the building where Women With a Vision (WWAV) rented office space, setting it on fire. No one was injured in the blaze, but the group lost most of its office equipment and outreach material.

“They really got the room of the office that they thought was at the heart of our work, and so we do feel like it was intentional,” said WWAV Executive Director Deon Haywood (in photo).

WWAV was founded in 1991 by a grassroots collective of African-American women in response to the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities of color. The organization provides education and resources to individuals engaging in high-risk behaviors including injection drug use and unsafe sex practices.

WWAV also advocates for the human rights of sex workers, calling for an end to the local district attorney’s use of a centuries-old “crimes against nature” law to charge people arrested for sex work with felonies and to force them to register as sex offenders.

“We’ve had some issues with people not liking our work, or feeling like why are we helping certain populations of people — you know, formerly incarcerated people, people struggling with addiction, or poor or low-income women of color, and the transgender community,” said Haywood.

Monday 4-23-2012 Link Roundup and Call to Action for Six Year Old Charged with Battery

April 23, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, White Privilege

Yep, it’s been a while, but here we go:

  • Police in Georgia arrested a 6-year-old girl for a temper tantrum. Ask the school to stop using police on elementary students

    Salecia Johnson is six years old. On April 13, her teachers say she had a temper tantrum in class — but instead of putting her in time-out, the school called the police.

    Salecia was handcuffed, charged with battery, and kept in police custody for an hour before her parents found out what was going on. Though all charges have been dropped, Salecia — a 6-year-old — now has an arrest record.

    Salecia’s mom, Constance, says that “Salecia has been traumatized by this experience. She’s afraid to return to school and recently woke up in the middle of the night saying ‘they are coming to get me.'” Constance wants to make sure that this incident won’t affect Salecia’s future, and she wants answers about why police officers were involved in the first place.

    So Constance started a petition on Change.org demanding that Salecia’s arrest be removed from her record and that Creekside Elementary pledge to stop involving police in school discipline.

    Click here to add your name.

  • More than one-third of US executions took place in Texas

    The Economist maps out every American execution since 1976, when the Supreme Court announced the modern constitutional regime governing death penalty cases after effectively suspending all executions nationwide for four years. Over one-third of all executions during this period took place in Texas, for a total of 481 people killed by that state. Of

  • Women Of Color Directed 1 Percent of TV Episodes Last Season, Make $23,325 Less Than Male Writers

    Between 2005 and 2009, the number of minority writers in television has fluctuated between nine and ten percent—as the report puts it, “it appears that minority writers are at best treading water when it comes to their share of television employment.” The median salary for white male television writers in 2009 was $108,000. For all minority writers, the median salary was $84,675. The pay gap between white male television writers and minority writers of both genders was $8,007 in 1999, $10,688 in 2007, and in 2009, rose to $23,325.

  • Two Years later, BP’s Oil Spill Wreaking Havoc in the Gulf

    Two years later, BP insists the Gulf is well on the road to recovery. A PR blitz rolled out in late 2011 titled “Best Season” called on tourists to visit the Gulf, without even mentioning the Deepwater Horizon disaster. “The sun’s out,” the narrator says, “and the water’s beautiful.”

    But a new report by Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies [PDF] finds that the Gulf Coast is far from recovery–and many communities are still reeling from the aftermath of the disaster.

  • Bodies Have Histories: Musing on Makode Linde and ‘that’ Cake

    Now I have questions. Where were the women who have experiences with FGM? Were they in the room? Why or why not? If they were not in the room, is this another example of the White Savior Industrial Complex? (shout out to Teju Cole).

    Quite simply, did he talk to any women who had experienced FGM, both those who see it as a cultural tradition and those who deplore it? If yes, what did they say? If no, why is he speaking for these women?

    What would have been the response of a woman who has dealt with FGM to Makode’s work? I don’t know, it isn’t my place to say. But as a Black feminist, it is certainly my place to ask.

  • Near-death explained

    NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness. Needless to say, this view is utterly incompatible with the belief of many materialists that the material world is the only reality.

  • Miss the days of 56K dial-up? What 10 Big Web Sites Looked Like 10 Yrs Ago

    The year was 1997. Apple was a struggling computer company, AOL was a booming Internet service provider, Microsoft was on the verge of releasing Windows 98, and the Web was a very different place. Through the magic of the Wayback Machine, we can travel back in time and revisit the past.
    Take a walk down memory lane with us as we journey back in time and take a look at what the Web used to be.

Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia

March 28, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Education, Intersectionality, White Privilege

Carmen Gonzalez and Angela Harris’ introduction to the forthcoming book, Presumed Incompetent, is available online now on SSRN. The abstract:

Presumed Incompetent is a pathbreaking account of the intersecting roles of race, gender, and class in the working lives of women faculty of color. Through personal narratives and qualitative empirical studies, more than 40 authors expose the daunting challenges faced by academic women of color as they navigate the often hostile terrain of higher education, including hiring, promotion, tenure, and relations with students, colleagues, and administrators. One of the topics addressed is the importance of forging supportive networks to transform the workplace and create a more hospitable environment for traditionally subordinated groups. The narratives are filled with wit, wisdom, and concrete recommendations, and provide a window into the struggles of professional women in a racially stratified but increasingly multicultural America.

Legislative Wins and Losses

August 20, 2011 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality

The Women of Color Policy Network released two reports this month summarizing both state and federal legislative impacts on women of color, noting that attacks on economic security, immigrant rights, and reproductive rights present numerous challenges ahead for women of color.

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HWE and Remedial Action

May 08, 2011 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, White Privilege, Workers' Rights


The 4th Circuit recently vacated, in part, the District Court’s ruling, in EEOC v. Xerxes, on defendant’s summary judgment motion in a Title VII racially hostile work environment claim. Specifically, in Xerxes (fiberglass tank manufacturer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota), the 4th Circuit held that there was an issue of material fact as to when the employer had notice of complaints of discrimination from three African-American, male employees — and thus whether the employer took prompt remedial action — which is enough to avoid dismissal at the summary judgment stage and allow the case to proceed before a jury trial.

The alleged harassment included name-calling such as “Black Polack,” “Buckwheat,” and “boy;” White co-workers’ frequent used of the N-word; and the discovery of a note (delivered on a piece of fiberglass) in the locker of an African-American employee that included the following language: “KKK plans could result in death, serious personal injury….”

The 4th Circuit summarized:

To survive summary judgment on a claim of a racially hostile work environment, the EEOC “must demonstrate that a reasonable jury could find [the] harassment (1) unwelcome; (2) based on race; and (3) sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive atmosphere. In addition, the EEOC must present sufficient evidence of a fourth element: that there is some basis for imposing liability for the harassment on the employer.

Where an employee has been harassed by a coworker, the employer may be liable in negligence [under the fourth element] if it knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take effective action to stop it. Once the employer has notice, then it must respond with remedial action reasonably calculated to end the harassment.

[…]

It is possible that an action that proves to be ineffective in stopping the harassment may nevertheless be found reasonably calculated to prevent future harassment and therefore adequate . . . as a matter of law….In such cases [courts] consider the timeliness of the plaintiff’s complaint, whether the employer unduly delayed, and whether the response was proportional to the seriousness and frequency of the harassment.

EEOC v. Xerxes, No. 10-1156 (4th Cir. April 26, 2011), the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, (internal citations and quotations omitted)

Although, in his concurring opinion, Judge Wilkinson noted that “[t]he undisguised ugliness of the incidents alleged here stands as a rebuke to complacency and a reminder that the task of racial reconciliation in our country remains incomplete,” he continues: “[t]here is a danger also, if the law requires too heavy an employer fist, that we stiffen interpersonal relationships; punish those inadvertent insensitivities that can arise even among persons of good will….”

Overall, notwithstanding the fact that this particular case survived summary judgment, the decision and law is still replete with pro-corporation/pro-employer language and is unsurprisingly dismissive of what it terms or refers to as the “stray,” “inadvertent,” or “isolated” racial epithet, as if these racially derogatory and hostile remarks occurred in a vacuum.

Race discrimination claims, which have increased over the past two decades, are routinely dismissed by a predominantly white male judiciary because the judges don’t find the plaintiff’s story “plausible.” (note: plausibility is the legal standard for determining whether a plaintiff’s claim can survive a defendant’s motion to dismiss — that is, the question is whether the plaintiff has enumerated sufficient facts to demonstrate s/he has a “plausible” claim).

Consider one particular example, where the 11th Circuit Court determined that a black-male plaintiff had not established a racially hostile work environment, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even after he had been repeatedly called “boy” by his supervisor and coworkers, and his supervisor had referred to placing a noose around someone’s neck. The Court held that the conduct was not severe and pervasive enough to rise to a level of hostile work environment. This case is not the exception, but the norm in the jurisprudence across the country.

A 2009 study, “The Myth of the Color Blind Judge,” concludes:

“Our interpretation is that race affects a judge’s ability to appreciate the perspective of a plaintiff of another race. Thus, White judges as a group are less able to identify and empathize with African American plaintiffs, making it inherently more difficult to find the plaintiffs’ arguments plausible and credible. This interpretation helps explain why White judges deny African American plaintiffs’ claims so often.

“In contrast, it appears that African American judges are more capable of transcending their own demography and do not let color influence their decision making. They can identify with African American plaintiffs, but also with plaintiffs of other races. At the same time, African American judges still discern between more or less credible claims, holding for plaintiffs only about half of the time.”

Even while law school populations become more relatively diverse, the non-transparent judicial selection/appointment process is still governed by a homogeneous group of well-connected, privileged class of White males, whose inherent biases serve as a normative experiential framework in adjudicating discrimination claims.

With respect to women of color represented in the profession, much less the judiciary, an ABA report notes:

Women of color experience a double whammy of gender and race, unlike white women or even men of color who share at least one of these characteristics (gender or race) with those in the upper strata of management. Women of color may face exclusion from informal networks, inadequate institutional support, and challenges to their authority and credibility. They often feel isolated and alienated, sometimes even from other women.

Furthermore, state courts do not fair any better.