Mormons and Black Folk

Went to college in the West. One of the schools we played sports against every so often was Brigham Young. Starting in the mid-late 60′s, as a result of the Civil Rights movement, the pushback against the racist teachings of the Mormon Church historically and at that time became much more intense. While there certainly are Mormons who are racist, as there are in just about any other religion – Mormons weren’t really a part of the Southern racism which drove segregation and Jim Crow. It fell into the category of “other”…

Historically, the issue surrounded Church Founders views and “revelations”. Revelations which were not inconsistent with anti-abolition racial attitudes at the time of the founding of the Church.

BYU Choir - These Folks Can Sing!

Mormons were a bit thin on the ground here in Northern Virginia until the mid 60′s. I remember my parents always attending various social events for the Links, my Mother’s Sorority, and the black fraternities at the Marriott Key Bridges.  Bill Marriott, the founder of the Hotel Chain was probably the local area’s best know Mormon. I asked my Dad, why the various events were always at the Marriott – and he said “It’s because it’s the only major hotel in the area which will rent ballroom facilities to black folks.” Turns out, Marriott Hotels didn’t segregate, whereas every other hotel from the HoJos to the Hilton did in the South. Many black organizations were loyal to Marriott for a generation because of that.

You can’t regulate what someone thinks of you, but it is ultimately their actions towards you which really count.

Mormons, particularly those from the Wast – are about the “whitest” folks in America. I’m a big fan of the NBC show, “The Sing Off”, and have to confess that I love the sound of a Choir, whether Gospel or “traditional” (maybe because I can’t sing a lick). The Brigham Young University Choir is one of the best of the best from year to year, and this year the guys doing A Capella on the Sing Off were very good. BYU Choirs also compete against HBCUs in Gospel. One of the Sing Off segments involved singing traditional R&B this year, to which several of the singers had a laugh about some white boys from BYU trying to sing Soul Music coming from a background where not much beyond pops and country is played on the radio. Good sense of humor.

So, if Mitt Romney is the Republican Presidential candidate – will most black folks not be voting for him because he is a Mormon… Or because he is a Republican. I honestly think that Republican thing, and the bad racial freight attached to that is what counts, anymore.

Has the Mormon Church Truly Left Its Race Problems Behind?

The Mormon Cathedral in DC, euphemistically called "The Wizard of Oz Cathedral" by locals as it rises majestically above the Beltway

It’s looking more and more likely that Barack Obama will be facing Mitt Romney next November. According to recent polls, Romney’s much-debated “Mormon Problem”—considered by some to be a main roadblock to the Republican nomination in 2008—has decreased in salience among the white evangelicals on whom he’ll probably depend in both the primary and general elections. But one element of the Mormon problem that’s yet to be vetted will come into stark relief should this match-up take place: the Mormon Church’s troubling history of racial exclusion.

This history is a long one, stretching back to the inception of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in the 1830s. Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of Mormonism, ran for president in 1844 as a moderate abolitionist; ordained a black man, Elijah Abel; and offered to adopt one young black convert, Jane Manning James, as his spiritual daughter. Yet earlier in his life, Smith wrote anti-abolitionist screeds replete with racist sentiment typical of Christian pro-slavery apologists of antebellum America. In one 1836 letter to missionaries in the South, Smith excoriated northern abolitionists as the instigators of discord among southern slaves who, he argued, were generally happy.

Other figures early in the Church’s history illustrated such prejudices as well. The Mormon Prophet Brigham Young stated in 1852, “Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the priesthood.” Up until the mid-twentieth-century, some prophets perpetuated the idea that blacks were spiritually inferior, the permanently cursed descendants of Ham and Cain (a myth once popular in many American churches). In 1931, Church President Joseph Fielding Smith, the great-nephew of Joseph Smith Jr., wrote a widely distributed treatise—still available on Kindle—asserting that blacks were “fence-sitters” during a pre-mortal battle between God and Lucifer. When they were sent to Earth, according to Fielding Smith, blacks were marked with darkened skin as a permanent reminder of their perfidy. Until 1978, black men were forbidden from holding the Mormon priesthood, a sacred status that almost every Mormon male attains, and black couples could not marry in Mormon temples, a revered ceremony that Mormons believe unites the family for eternity.

This aspect of LDS history will probably prove less of a problem for Romney than for his Church, which is actively trying to change the dominant perception of Mormons as all but exclusively white. Romney’s presidential bid does not rely on the black vote, and he has put distance between himself and the history of racial exclusion once practiced by his church. On “Meet the Press” in 2007, Romney tearfully recalled the moment in 1978 when he heard that the Church had lifted the century-and-half-long ban on blacks holding the Mormon priesthood. “I was driving home from … law school. … I heard it on the radio and I pulled over and literally wept.” Since then, Romney has reached out to some black communities; a January 2008 Salt Lake Tribune article reported that Romney aided poor Massachusetts Haitians—using the French he acquired as a young missionary—while serving as the Church’s regional leader in Boston in the 1990s…

Read the rest here.

Republicans Block Black Farmer Settlement… Again

Your name is big brotherYou say that you're watching me on the tele,Seeing me go nowhere,Your name is big brother,You say that you're tired of me protesting,Children dying everyday,My name is nobodyBut I can't wait to see your face inside my door...You've killed all our leaders,I don't even have to do nothin' to you, You'll cause your own country to fall

Senate leaves without funding black farmers suit

A Republican senator blocked a measure on Thursday that would have compensated black farmers in one of the largest civil rights settlements in U.S. history, again delaying action on a decades-old bias lawsuit.

The settlement, agreed to in February, would provide $1.25 billion to compensate black farmers who were left out of federal farm loan and assistance programs for years due to racism.

Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan requested unanimous consent to approve funding for the settlement but an objection from Republican Senator John Barrasso scuttled the attempt.

This was the last opportunity to finalize the settlement before the Senate breaks for the August recess.

While the 2008 farm bill earmarked $100 million for the farmers, the remaining $1.15 billion to uphold the deal requires approval from Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives twice passed legislation that would appropriate the funds, but equivalent action stalled in the Senate.

Measures for the funding have come to the Senate floor seven times, and each time failed to pass due to partisan squabbles, said John Boyd Jr, head of the National Black Farmers Association.

Boyd likened the delays in funding the settlement to the discrimination experienced by black farmers involved in the lawsuit.

“It shows that some of the same treatment that happened to the black farmers at the Department of Agriculture is transpiring with the Senate’s inaction to help black farmers,” he said.

The unanimous consent request also sought to appropriate funds for American Indians in the Cobell class-action lawsuit against the Interior Department over the mismanagement of Indian trust fund accounts.

Previous objections to the funding requests have centered on the mega-spending bills they were attached to, as well as a lack of clarity on how the compensation would be paid for.

The measure brought to the floor on Thursday was solely about the settlements, and included offsets required under congressional ‘pay-as-you-go’ rules mandating new spending be offset with cuts elsewhere so not to add to the deficit.

Barrasso objected to portions of the Cobell settlement and called for a full chamber vote when the Senate returns from the August recess in September.

With an August 13 deadline for the black farmers settlement looming, Boyd said he would seek an extension from the Obama administration as well as more engagement in speeding up the funding process.

“This is a shameful situation,” Boyd said. “(Senators) can’t put aside their political bickering and pass a bill so that the black farmers can get on with their lives.”

Boyd said the pressure is on President Barack Obama to step forward with more concrete plans to help since “the Senate dropped the ball.”

The original Pigford class-action lawsuit, named after North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford, was settled in 1999.

The first case awarded more than $1 billion in payments and debt relief to black farmers, but tens of thousands of farmers missed the filing deadline. The new settlement allows these farmers to pursue their claims.

Boyd said earlier in the week that black farmers would turn their attention to midterm elections and look to oust the senators not supporting the measure, especially in southern states where they represent a large portion of the voting block.

“Why do we want to send somebody back to the Senate that won’t help us at a time of need?” he said.

This is a real picture of Mary, a Circus Elephant which was lynched by an angry mob in 1916.

Sen. David “Diaperman” Vitter Goes Birther

Facing the worst ecological and economic crisis of any state since Oklahoma and the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression…

Louisiana Senator, David “Diaper-man”  Vitter signals his support for the “birthers”.

Yeah – if I was him, I’d want to talk about anything except my record!

The Specter of Billy-Bob Crow And the Right’s Fright!

As pointed out in the previous post, the conservative right has adopted a tactic last seen utilized by white supremacist groups. That the white folks in this country are persecuted. Now the white supremacist variant of this was that white people were prevented from 1) getting a job, 2) going to college, or 3) wining a business contract because of 1) Civil Rights, or 2) Affirmative Action, or 3) the dumbing down of one or more institutions to make room for women, or minorities…

Damn the reality, damn the statistics – white folks is under attack, Ya’ll!

Not surprisingly in a political movement which perpetually and psychotically sees America under attack from everything from socialist peanuts to communist kumquats, fear is manufactured nightly by the avatars of white despondency with pepper fueled tears  and a “News” organization in Faux whose carnal knowledge of the news is best compared to that of the boy’s lurid adventures told over beer to his peers…

While carrying the same rubber in his wallet he acquired in a pique of dare fueled courage in High School…

Through college.

That is, that if the news were sex, Faux’s association with it would make the Virgin Mary look like a Harlot.

Tim Wise hits another one out of the park with this one…

Black Power’s Gonna Get You Sucka: Right-Wing Paranoia and the Rhetoric of Modern Racism

Prominent white conservatives are angry about racism.

Forget all that talk about a post-racial society. They know better than to believe in such a thing, and they’re hopping mad.

What is it that woke them up finally, after all these years of denial, during which they insisted that racism was a thing of the past?

Was it the research indicating that job applicants with white sounding names have a 50 percent better chance of being called back for an interview than their counterparts with black-sounding names, even when all qualifications are the same?

No. Continue reading

Taking Aim At Tea Bagger Racism

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There is a full frontal attack on black Americans by the Glenn Beck Tea Bagger right. Been a while coming, but it looks like forces are aligning to step up and call what is going on for what it is.

NAACP considers resolution decrying racist elements in tea-party movement

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will propose a resolution this week condemning racism within the tea party movement.

The resolution, scheduled for a vote as early as Tuesday by delegates attending the annual NAACP convention in Kansas City, calls upon “all people of good will to repudiate the racism of the Tea Parties, and to stand in opposition to its drive to push our country back to the pre-civil rights era.”

NAACP leaders said the resolution was necessary to make people aware of what they believe is a racist element within the tea party movement.

“I think a lot of people are not taking the tea party movement seriously, and we need to take it seriously,” said Anita Russell, head of the Kansas City chapter of the NAACP. “We need to realize it’s really not about limited government.”

Russell said she was “pretty certain” the resolution would pass.

Tea party leaders deny that the movement is racist and said the resolution is unfair.

“I just don’t see racism in the tea party movement,” said Brendan Steinhauser, director of campaigns for FreedomWorks, which organizes tea party groups. “Racism is something we’re absolutely opposed to.”

“The NAACP has more of a political agenda now, but I would hope that they would appreciate the fact that the tea party movement has a lot in common with the civil rights movement. I’m personally inspired by what the civil rights movement did, and I want them to know that.” Continue reading

Republikkkan Hayaration on Thurgood Marshall

It all comes out eventually.

Republicans Attack Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall and Arthur Shores, February 29, 1956. Gelatin silver print. Visual Materials from the NAACP Records, Prints and Photograph

Like we couldn’t see this one coming… This has been rolling around in the Rethugly “Groupthink” for a while.

Kagan may get confirmed, but Thurgood Marshall can forget it

As confirmation hearings opened Monday afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.

“Justice Marshall’s judicial philosophy,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, “is not what I would consider to be mainstream.” Kyl — the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event — was ready for a scrap. Marshall “might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge,” he said.

It was, to say the least, a curious strategy to go after Marshall, the iconic civil rights lawyer who successfully argued Brown vs. Board of Education. Did Republicans think it would help their cause to criticize the first African American on the Supreme Court, a revered figure who has been celebrated with an airport, a postage stamp and a Broadway show? The guy is a saint — literally. Marshall this spring was added to the Episcopal Church’s list of “Holy Women and Holy Men,” which the Episcopal Diocese of New York says “is akin to being granted sainthood.” Continue reading

“Hayta”ration as a Platform

One of the things the Tea Baggers group has been wildly successful at is letting Republicans let out their inner bigot.

Yet another example of the stream of invective and racism pouring our of Rethugly mouths…

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

Jan Brewer: Most Illegals Running Drugs

While “a lot” of illegals hopping over Mexico’s border into Arizona are looking for work, most are running drugs for cartels, says Gov. Jan Brewer in comments yesterday that elicited a chorus of critics who slammed her for everything from political posturing to racism. “I believe today, that the majority of the illegal trespassers are under the control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in,” Brewer said.

Brewer’s office later backpedaled, saying most human smuggling run by drug rings, which “are by definition smuggling drugs.” Malarkey, one Mexican senator tells theAP: “Traditionally, migrants have been needy, humble people who in good faith go looking for a way to better the lives of their families.” Border Patrol acknowledged some illegals are carrying drugs, but that most “drug smuggling is done by people who intend to do that. That’s their livelihood.” AG Terry Goddard, Brewer’s presumptive Democratic opponent, said Brewer “does not understand the difference between illegal immigration and the organized criminals who are members of the violent drug cartels who pose a very a real danger.”

The New Jim Crow – “Culture Wars” In America – Really a Race War

This one from Truthout – Hat Tip!

This is a powerful analysis of the forces behind the “culture wars” and the desire to preserve Jim Crow as a functional entity by the right wing in America by Cary Fraser. Follow the link below to the original where support documentation is provided in the form of footnotes and links. As one example of this, work by Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness) has shown that during the height of Jim Crow, blacks went to prison at roughly four times the rate of whites; today the black imprisonment rate is seven times that of whites. (Another good reference in the prison industrial Jim Crow element of this is by Robert Perkinson – Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire.)

As I have reported here in The New Jim Crow series – the New Jim Crow impacts nearly every aspect of life for minorities in America, starting with access to education, credit, the ability to start business and conduct commerce, through access to jobs.

The New Jim Crow, Ubiquitous and Masked as "Culture Wars"

Coming to Terms With Equality and Diversity: America’s Ongoing Culture Wars

The recent decision by the Texas School Board of Education to revise the curriculum in the state to reflect a more “conservative” approach to social studies and history has highlighted the ongoing debate about the role of education in American society and culture. The explicit desire by the conservative majority on the Texas School Board to impose an ideological orientation in elementary and secondary education – including a shift of focus away from the civil rights movement and slavery, an emphasis upon ensuring that students be taught that the idea of the separation of church and state is not in the Constitution and promotion of the need to safeguard American sovereignty from threats posed by organizations such as the United Nations – is a barometer of the increasing uncertainty that has overtaken the conservative factions in American society. The election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president, on the basis of a well-executed campaign that demonstrated the increasing electoral influence of multi-ethnic coalitions in American politics, has served as a catalyst for reactionaries of all stripes to seek ways to reverse the movement of American society toward a greater openness and engagement with the wider world, including the diverse communities of color within the country. A recent article in the Wall Street reports that recent statistics suggest that population growth among minority groups in the United States will exceed growth rates among whites in the near future.(1) If that demographic shift takes place, the United States will become a country where there is no single ethnic group or race that will constitute a majority within the population. The promise of greater cultural and ethnic diversity in the American population is a guarantee of the erosion of the white-supremacist ethos that has defined American society over the course of its history. Continue reading

The Small Business President vs. The New Jim Crow

One of the reasons the right wing despises Obama so much is his focus on small business. Which is the same reason they despised Bill Clinton. Follow my logic here -

After the Civil War, the majority of skilled artisans in the South were black. The people who built wagons, coopers, dressmakers, furniture makers  - and many of the skilled labor jobs prior to the industrial revolution were done by either slave, or free black labor. By 1860, there were more free blacks in Virginia than black folks slave or free in most of the northern states.

What Jim Crow really was about was stopping these people’s economic progress, such as to preserve white supremacy. Ergo though the destruction of the black artisan class businesses, Southern whites prevented the emergence of a new, black merchant class – who by nature of existing skills was in position to dominate certain industries when freed from the “Black Codes”. A merchant class, who would have followed the logical progression of gaining a piece of political power through wealth.

In America today, according to Forbes Magazine and numerous other sources, black folks a 3 times more likely to start a business than their white counterparts. And despite receiving only .3% of the Venture Investment in this country, are – according to the same studies 8 times more likely to succeed when they do get Venture financing. Only in America does that not translate into quickly shifting 30% of the investment money into more successful enterprise.

Indeed, the Bushit Administration was quite possibly the most hostile administration in history to small business, and was especially toxic to Minority owned business, as I have documented in previous articles, in reducing the quantity of SBA Loan Grantees to black owned business by 60% over 8 years, while holding it the same or increasing it to non-Minorities. The Bushit administration was also adamantly pro BIG business. So much so as to flat-line R&D and emerging technologies in a number of previously competitive industries like Telecom and Energy.

So why don’t Republicans want small business to succeed? Because the wrong color folks just might make a success at it, and in doing so threaten the old-boy power structure.

The New Jim Crow… Not much different from the old.

Jim Crow in Alaska

Obama pushes for Hill passage of small business agenda

President Barack Obama turned the spotlight to his small business agenda Friday, urging congressional passage of legislation meant to boost federal assistance to a key segment of the economy.

Among the proposals highlighted by the administration is a $30 billion government lending program offering capital to community banks that boost their small-business lending. Banks with assets worth less than $10 billion would be able to borrow money from the Treasury at a dividend rate as low as 1 percent provided they use the cash to make more small-business loans this year than they did in 2009.

Other proposals being pushed by the president include an elimination of capital gains taxes on certain small business investments.

“Ensuring that small businesses can thrive is about more than our economic success,” Obama said at the White House after a meeting with small business leaders. “It’s about who we are as a people. It’s about a nation where anybody with a good idea and a willingness to work can succeed. That’s the promise of America.”

Legislation enacted in March included new business tax credits for hiring additional workers, as well as a measure allowing companies to write off, instead of depreciate, new equipment.

Many small businesses, however, are still struggling to regain their footing in the wake of the recent recession. The Commerce Department reported Friday that retail sales fell for the first time in eight months in May, widely missing analyst expectations.

Total retail sales fell 1.2 percent to $362.5 billion last month, compared with April’s upwardly revised 0.6 percent increase. It was first decline since last September, when retail sales fell 2.3 percent.

Data from the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that small companies have generated 64 percent of the net new jobs every year over the past 15 years. Those businesses, however, were particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. A Senate report last year found that American businesses with fewer than 20 employees have suffered steeper job losses than larger companies.

SC Republican Senator Calls President Obama, Nikki Haley “Ragheads”

Nikki Haley, Republican candidate for Governor in South Carolina has been the object of a number of accusations, including two fellow Republicans stepping up to say they had affairs with Haley, a married woman.

So what has the normally lock step redneck good ol’ boys up in an uproar about Haley? I mean, she isn’t the first woman to run for office in South Carolina.

Turns out the issue is… this reputedly unfaithful Mrs.  is only semi-white.

South Carolina State Republican Senator, Jahn M. "Jake" Knotts

SC Senator Calls Haley, President ‘Ragheads’

South Carolina GOP state senator Jake Knotts is under fire from his own party after using a racial slur to describe Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and President Obama. “We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,” Knotts said during an online political talk show, people present at the broadcast tell the State. Haley, currently the front-runner, is a Christian convert of Indian descent. The chairwoman of South Carolina’s Republican Party urged Knotts to apologize, and Haley’s campaign condemned the remarks. “Jake Knotts represents all that is wrong with South Carolina politics,” said a Haley spokesman. “He’s an embarrassment to our state and to the Republican Party. South Carolina is so much better than this, and the people of our state will make that quite clear next Tuesday.”

This comment was followed by the usual backpedal -

The South Carolina politician who used the term “raghead” to describe Nikki Haley and President Obama says his comment has been—wait for it—taken out of context. “My ‘raghead’ comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest,” state Senator Jake Knotts tells the State. He said he was speaking during a “freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub.” And “since my intended humorous context was lost in translation, I apologize,” said Knotts, who couldn’t resist one more dig at the gubernatorial candidate. “I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.”

Illegal Immigration Spawning Criminal Activty? Not According to the Numbers.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has characterized a massive rise in  “murder, terror and mayhem” and used it as justification for the state’s controversial new immigration law . Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a televised interview last weekend: “We are out here on the battlefield getting the impact of all this illegal immigration, and all the crime that comes with it.”

So if you took a look at the crime statistics along the border, you would expect it to be as dangerous as any city…

U.S.-Mexico border isn’t so dangerous – Border Patrol agents face less danger than street cops in cities, data show

The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.

The Customs and Border Protection study, obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request, shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff’s deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.

In addition, violent attacks against agents declined in 2009 along most of the border for the first time in seven years. So far this year assaults are slightly up, but data is incomplete.

“The border is safer now than it’s ever been,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling.

Border ‘Mayhem’? An Illegal Immigration Fact Check Shows Violence Declining

In many of the U.S. border communities themselves, local law enforcement officials report violent- and property-crime rates that have fallen over the past year, and, in several cases, are among the lowest in the country.

Cities like Tucson; Chula Vista, California ; and Lardeo, Texas , have all seen year-over-year drops in violent crime, murder, and rape. El Paso, Texas, continues to have one of the lowest rates of violent crime of all U.S. cities, just behind Honolulu, according to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report.

So how about crime in Arizona?

But FBI crime reports for 2009 says violent crime in Arizona declined. And violent crimes in southwest border counties are among the lowest in the nation per capita — they’ve dropped by more than 30 percent in the last two decades. Of America’s 25 largest cities, San Diego — with one out of four residents an immigrant — has the lowest number of violent crimes per capita.

Republican Antics – Clowning With the “I” Word

Back during the Clinton Administration Republicans hounded Clinton and eventually Impeached him in the House…

For a Blow Job.

They wasted 4 years of the Congresses’ time, ignoring looming threats which directly led to terrorist success on 911 to do damage to a legitimately elected President.

They are trying to do it again.

Clinton impeachment: fires a blank

Seven Republicans Call for Special Prosecutor in Sestak Case

The seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee today called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Joe Sestak’s suggestion that he was offered a White House job in exchange for dropping his (ultimately successful) challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa, who has been pressing this issue for months, called for a special prosecutor in April. He alleges that the White House may have violated anti-bribery provisions of the federal criminal code as well as prohibitions on government officials interfering in elections and using federal jobs for a political purpose if it made the offer. Continue reading

Anti-Discrimination Laws in NY In the 40′s

Interesting article on the history of anti-discrimination laws in NY, which preceded much of the rest of the country by 20 years. So much for Mr. Paul’s “pricerples” -

Before the US Civil Rights Laws: Anti-Discrimination Action in New York State

Rand Paul’s criticism of the federal civil rights legislation of the 1960s can be better evaluated by looking at the workings of similar legislation that appeared on the state level two decades before.

In 1945, New York became the first state since Reconstruction to pass anti-discrimination legislation. At the time, there was plenty of biased behavior in the state based on race, religion, and nationality. Naturally, members of New York’s diverse ethnic population—plus many liberals of all backgrounds—found these discriminatory practices deeply offensive. As a result, the new legislation banned discrimination in employment on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin and established a New York State Commission Against Discrimination to enforce this ban. In subsequent years, the law was expanded to cover discrimination in public accommodations, with gender discrimination added to the list of violations.

This law has a personal dimension for me. In 1946, my father, Jacob (“Jack”) Wittner, went to work as a field representative for the New York State Commission Against Discrimination. For nearly two decades, he took complaints of discrimination from aggrieved individuals, investigated these complaints, and wrote up determinations for the commissioners, who issued such determinations more or less as he wrote them. In the mid-1960s, he became director of investigations for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and in later years worked for the federal government at enforcing its equal employment opportunity guidelines. Continue reading

Arizona – 4 Hispanics on a Streetcorner…Is a Riot!

Old joke from the Civil Rights Era -

1 black person on a street corner is trouble

2 black people on a street corner is a conspiracy

3 black people on a street corner is a crime

4 black people on a street corner is a riot.

They have virtually no black folks in Arizona – so Hispanics are just going to have to do.

HB 2281  outlaws curriculum that is anti-American and that advocates the violent overthrow of the U.S. government (I imagine there is a Tea Bagger exemption?).

The bill creates a mechanism by which books will be judged to be in compliance. American Indian and African American classes are exempted. The clear target is the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies  (MAS)  program. The Arizona Department of Education has “has begun telling principals to remove teachers who speak English with an accent from classes with students who are still learning English.”

Arizona’s Superintendent for Public Instruction, Tom Horne is on record claiming that only things from Western Civilization (Greco-Roman) should be taught in Arizona schools. Pre- Colombian Indigenous knowledge from this continent – the foundation for the highly successful MAS program – is considered outside of Western Civilization.

Arizona Outlaws Ethnic Studies – Because they’re racist against white people

Well, this should quiet down all the racial tension in Arizona: Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill designed to outlaw the Tucson school district’s ethnic studies program—just hours after UN human rights experts issued a report condemning that very law. The measure is the brainchild of Arizona schools chief Tom Horne, who believes that the Mexican-American studies classes taught in Tucson high schools teach Latino students to resent white people. “It’s just like the old South, and it’s long past time we prohibited it,” Horne, a Republican running for Attorney General, tells the AP.

He’s pushed for the law since 2006, when he heard that a Hispanic activist had told a class that “Republicans hate Latinos.” The law bans any classes designed to promote solidarity among a particular ethnic group. Tucson’s schools offer Mexican-American, African-American and Native-American studies programs, but district officials say they think all are in compliance with the law.

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