AAPF Updates

Michigan's Affirmative Action Ban Overturned

(CN) - The 6th Circuit has overturned Michigan's ban on affirmative action at public colleges and universities and in government hiring, finding the voter-approved prohibition is unconstitutional because it places an impermissible burden on racial minorities. A result of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Affirmative Act remained largely unchanged until the late 1990s.

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled "universities cannot establish quotas for members of certain racial groups" but may "consider race or ethnicity more flexibly as a 'plus' factor in the context of individualized consideration."

In 2006, Michigan voters approved a statewide ballot proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution "to prohibit all sex- and race-based preferences in public education, public employment, and public contracting."

Proposal 2 forced Michigan's public colleges and universities "to modify the policies they had in place for nearly a half-century to remove consideration of 'race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin' in admissions decisions. No other admissions criteria - for example, grades, athletic ability, or family alumni connections - suffered the same fate," according to the opinion written by Judge Ransey Guy Cole, Jr.

The day after the amendment passed, several interest groups and individuals filed a federal suit against then-Governor Jennifer Granholm, the Regents of the University of Michigan, the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University and the Board of Governors at Wayne State University.

The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality said Proposal 2 violated the U.S. Constitution and federal statutory law. Michigan's then-Attorney General Michael Cox intervened as a defendant.

A group of University of Michigan faculty members, prospective and current students filed a similar suit in District Court against Governor Granholm. Their case was consolidated with that of a U of M Law School applicant and Toward a Fair Michigan, a non-profit corporation formed to ensure implementation of Proposal 2. Attorney General Cox again intervened, and replaced Governor Granholm as the representative of Michigan in the litigation.

The District Court rejected their argument "that Proposal 2 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution." A motion for summary judgment was granted, and the appeals followed.

In the 2-1 opinion, Judge Cole wrote that the ban "unconstitutionally alters Michigan's political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities." Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey agreed.

The decision further states that "the stark contrast between the avenues for political change available to different admissions proponents following Proposal 2 illustrates why the amendment cannot be construed as a mere repeal of an existing race-related policy. Had those favoring abolition of race-conscious admissions successfully lobbied the universities' admissions units, just as underrepresented minorities did to have these policies adopted in the first place, there would be no equal protection problem."

Judge Julia Smith Gibbons dissented the opinion, stating, "Proposal 2 is not unconstitutional under traditional equal protection analysis."

"Michigan has chosen to structure its university system such that politics plays no part in university admissions at all levels within its constitutionally created universities," she continued. "The Michigan voters have therefore not restructured the political process in their state by amending their state constitution; they have merely employed it."

Michigan's current Attorney General, Bill Schuette, is planning to appeal the court's ruling.

Read more.

South Africa election: Why some poor black voters may ditch the ANC this time

May 17, 2011 By Scott Baldauf,

Since South Africa's black majority finally won their freedom from the white apartheid regime 17 years ago, most blacks have voted reliably for the African National Congress (ANC). But ahead of Wednesday's municipal elections, voters in a number of poor black townships say they may ditch the once-vaunted party of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela – even if that means voting for the white-run Democratic Alliance (DA).

"I would have wanted to vote for the black-administered government, but I don't eat patriotism," says Miyetani Kuzumuka, a voter in the Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg. "The ruling party has taken us for granted too long, yet no service delivery is worthy of talking about in our poverty-stricken townships."

This year, Mr. Kuzumuka says his entire family will try a new political party.

"I do think there is growing disenchantment, directed at the national leadership and the political class of the ANC in general," says Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg. "But the thing is not about whether the garbage crisis or the billing crisis is resolved. It's about 'These [ANC leaders] don't care about us.' "

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu says voters should keep things in perspective.

"Yes, there are problems of unemployment, health care, and poor education, but we have a huge responsibility at hand in providing service delivery to more than 50 million South Africans as opposed to the former apartheid regime that only catered [to] a few white people," he says, adding that the ANC has only been in power for 17 years, while the former apartheid regime had ruled since the 17th century.

Sheluzani Baloyi of the Diepsloot township, however, is not buying it. The mother of three said she has been patient enough with the ANC since 1994, but now "it's time to think out of the box."

The ANC talks about uplifting the black community through affirmative-action programs, she says, but the "Black Economic Empowerment [program] is only benefiting those that surround the president, including their families, while the ... nation is languishing in ... poverty."

Bekezela Tshabalala of Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, says he is hearing good things about the DA, which has won praise for its governance of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province.

"If what is happening in Cape Town is anything to go by, then the DA are likely to get my vote," says Mr. Tshabalala. But he still has doubts about the DA, because many of its senior members supported apartheid.

DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko says her party is giving the ANC a run for its money.

"Our record is there for everyone to see" in Cape Town, says Ms. Mazibuko. "This time, the DA, under Helen Zille will steal a few municipalities from ANC."

Posted on www.csmonitor.com

India's politician of love

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 14, 2011

By Ammu Kannampilly

CHENNAI, India — Kumar Sri Sri wants to bring a bit of love to India's parliament.

Even in a democracy known for its political diversity, the 35-year-old part-time make-up artist stands out as founder and leader of one of the country's unlikeliest political groups, the All India Lovers Party (ILP).

Motivated by the prejudices he had to overcome to marry his own wife, Kumar created the ILP in 2008 to support couples who wish to marry despite parental disapproval over differences in caste, religion, and social rank.

Those who stray outside the norm can end up estranged from their parents or, in the worst cases, as victims of "honour killings" carried out by outraged relatives to protect what they see as the family's reputation and pride.

The ILP's political platform demands affirmative action in the workplace, as well as free housing and childcare for couples living without family support.

Sitting in the party HQ, a small room papered with political posters in Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu, he boasted how he had helped 25 couples get married in the last three years.

"My goal is that we must get at least 10 people from the party in the national parliament by 2014," said Kumar, who has an unashamed desire for lasting fame.

"Even after I die, my name should be known, for creating the All India Lovers Party," he told AFP.

Kumar first tried to make a splash as a movie star.

After dropping out of school in 1989, he headed to Chennai, home to India's massive Tamil film industry, where he struggled to break into a business where connections count for everything.

"When I left my village I had told everyone I will either come back as a big star, or I won't return," he said.

He worked as a waiter in a diner and a video store clerk before finally landing a job in the film studios, as a junior make-up artist.

It was at this time that he met his future wife, Mangadevi, a make-up assistant whose father was a tailor on the film sets.

Laughing, Mangadevi recalls how Kumar "would come by, talk to my father, and leave. Then one day he told me, 'I love you'."

The couple dated for nearly a decade while they worked and tried to win over Kumar's parents, who wanted their son to marry someone wealthy.

"My parents wanted a girl who would come with a hefty dowry, maybe 200,000 ($4,500) or 500,000 rupees ," he explained.

Unable to secure his parents' support, the couple eventually went ahead and got married without telling Kumar's family.

"It made me realise all the problems lovers face, because their families want them to marry according to caste and money," Kumar said.

"People laughed when I told them I wanted to create a party for lovers, but I know there are millions of lovers in this country who will vote for me."

The ILP has around 20 volunteers who help paste posters and hand out leaflets, and Kumar claims a 100,000-strong following, although his survey techniques are questionable.

"I know because they call and talk to me. I get at least 15-20 calls a day from people who want to support the party," he said.

His salary from his two jobs, as a make-up artist and a neighbourhood milkman, pays for the ILP's running costs.

The party logo is a heart pierced by Cupid's arrow and, just in case the meaning still isn't clear, the heart is filled with an image of the world's most famous monument to love, the Taj Mahal.

A few months after he launched the party, Kumar met Lakshmi, 23, and Srinivasan, 36 -- his first success story.

The Chennai-based couple fell in love while working in the same clothing shop, but Srinivasan's parents objected, citing the vast difference in their social backgrounds.

His father held a coveted government job, working for the railways, while her father was a poor labourer.

Seeing Kumar's posters around town, Lakshmi's father got in contact and asked him for help, after which Kumar arranged a meeting with both sets of parents.

"I told them, don't worry about money, they are both young and they can work hard and make money," he said.

The couple married in August 2008, with grudging consent from Srinivasan's parents.

"If we hadn't met Kumar Sri Sri and we weren't married now, I can't imagine how unhappy I would have been," Lakshmi said.

But not everyone is enamoured of Kumar's politics.

The conservative Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) party has campaigned against the ILP, objecting in particular to Kumar's support for Valentine's Day.

"It's against our tradition, it's against our culture, it's trying to spoil the family system of our nation," said HMK organising secretary Thomas Kannan.

"We want to nip it in the bud, these type of people," he said.

It is clearly going to be some time before Kumar's ambition flowers into political success.

When the ballots were counted Friday in Tamil Nadu's state election, Kumar had only managed a couple of hundred votes and lost his deposit in the Chennai constituency he contested.

But his enthusiasm was undimmed.

"No problem! It's my first election, there are many ahead of me.

"One thing I know for sure though is that without love there can be no success. Without love you can't do anything," he said.

Posted on www.google.com

Civil rights movement the 'most heroic' in United States history

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 14, 2011

By Lara Marlowe

THERE WERE 13 passengers, seven blacks and six whites, on the first two Freedom Rider buses that left Washington DC in May 1961. John Lewis, the black rider today known as “the conscience of the US Congress”, was attacked in South Carolina.

Otherwise, the group travelled peacefully as far as Alabama.

The Freedom Riders were demanding enforcement of a Supreme Court decision, handed down the previous year, banning racial segregation on inter-state buses, in restaurants, toilets and waiting rooms in bus terminals.

The Ku Klux Klan, in collusion with local police, was determined to stop the protest. In Anniston, Alabama, 50 years ago today, an angry white mob smashed the windows of the first bus and slashed its tyres. A Klansman pulled his car in front of the bus. Someone in the crowd threw a molotov cocktail through a window. The passengers barely escaped with their lives.

The second bus was attacked in Anniston bus station, where Klansmen beat passengers unconscious and stacked them “like pancakes” in the back of the bus, eyewitnesses said.

Most of the Washington Freedom Riders gave up, but a student group from Nashville, Tennessee, resumed the struggle. After still more Riders were beaten with baseball bats, tyre irons and bicycle chains, a bus eventually reached Jackson, Mississippi, on May 24th. Its passengers were arrested and sent to the notorious Parchman prison.

Over the ensuing four months, buses from all over the US converged on Jackson, carrying 436 Freedom Riders in all. Most were arrested and sent to Parchman. “It energised feelings in the north,” recalls Calvin Trillin, who covered the story as a young Time magazine reporter. “Until then, Americans thought of racism as a southern, regional problem. They just thought that was the way southerners were. It was treated more as an embarrassment than as an outrage that had to be stopped.”

That same year, a young African-American named James Meredith demanded to be admitted to the University of Mississippi, known as Ole Miss. Seven years had passed since the Supreme Court ruled segregated schools were illegal, in Brown vs Board of Education. But Mississippi’s governor swore no schools would be integrated as long as he was in office.

On September 30th, 1961, President John F Kennedy sent federal marshals to escort Meredith into Ole Miss. A white mob attacked them. Two people were killed and hundreds were injured in a night of rioting.

Calvin Trillin says the real turning point in American public opinion came in May 1963, with images of police dogs snarling at black children and of protesters swept away by high-power water hoses in Birmingham, Alabama. The violence continued to escalate: the black activist Medgar Evers was shot dead outside his home in Mississippi. The Ku Klux Klan dynamited a Baptist church in Birmingham, killing four little girls. In mid-1964, three civil rights workers – two of whom were white – were murdered by the Klan in Mississippi.

Without the civil rights movement and the affirmative action programmes that grew from it, Barack Obama would never have become President of the United States, says David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine and author of The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.

“The civil rights movement, specifically the years between 1954 and 1968, with Brown vs Board of Education and the assassination of Martin Luther King jnr, is the most successful, most heroic public and political movement in the history of the United States,” says Remnick. “Race is the most painful and prolonged epic story of the United States. It defines the country. And so, to have an African-American in the White House is not the end of the story. But it is a very important marker.”

Soul-searching about the reality of progress and the apparent indifference of today’s youths have dominated commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders. Due to the flight of whites and a parallel system of private schools in Mississippi, education in the nation’s poorest state is still segregated. Activists like Alan Bean, the Texas-based founder of Friends of Justice, say the mass incarceration of young black men is a forgotten but fundamental civil rights issue.

Leonard Pitts jnr, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald newspaper, questions whether anyone today still has the courage of the Freedom Riders. It’s easy to claim one would have got on that bus, Pitts writes. “Then you remember the savagery, the violent attacks from people mortally outraged that these young men and women travelled in integrated groups and ignored segregation signs.”

Belief in non-violent protest has also withered, Pitts says. “It was not just a high Christian ideal, but also sound and effective strategy, the idea being that through the willingness to sacrifice your body, you made it clear as air to a watching world which side had the moral high ground, and which did not.”

Posted on www.irishtimes.com

Diversity is a perversity to be shed

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 12, 2011

By Walter Williams

The terms “affirmative action,” “equal representation,” “preferential treatment” and “quotas” just don’t sell well. The intellectual elite and their media, government and corporate enthusiasts have come up with diversity, a seemingly benign term that’s a cover for racially discriminatory policy. They call for college campuses, corporate offices and government agencies to “look like America.”

Part of looking like America means if blacks are 13 percent of the population, they should be 13 percent of college students and professors, corporate managers and government employees. Behind this vision of justice is the silly notion that but for the fact of discrimination, we’d be distributed equally by race across incomes, education, occupations and other outcomes.

There is absolutely no evidence that statistical proportionality is the norm anywhere on Earth; however, much of our thinking, laws and public policy is based upon proportionality being the norm. Let’s look at some racial differences while thinking about their causes and possible remedies.

While 13 percent of our population, blacks are 80 percent of professional basketball players and 65 percent of professional football players and are the highest-paid players in both sports. By contrast, blacks are only 2 percent of the NHL’s professional ice hockey players. There is no racial diversity in basketball, football and ice hockey. They come nowhere close to “looking like America.”

Even in terms of sports achievement, racial diversity is absent. Four of the five highest career home-run hitters were black. Since blacks entered the major leagues, of the eight times more than 100 bases were stolen in a season, all were by blacks.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently ordered Dayton, Ohio’s police department to lower its written exam passing scores so as to have more blacks on its police force. What should Attorney General Eric Holder do about the lack of diversity in sports? Why don’t the intellectual elite protest? Could it be that the owners of these multibillion-dollar professional basketball, football and baseball teams are pro-black while those of the NHL and major industries are racists unwilling to put blacks in highly paid positions?

There’s one ethnic diversity issue completely swept under the rug. Jewish Americans are less than 3 percent of our population and only two-tenths of 1 percent of the world’s population. Yet between 1901 and 2010, Jews were 35 percent of America’s Nobel laureates and 22 percent of the world’s.

If the diversity gang sees underrepresentation as “probative” of racial discrimination, what do they propose we do about overrepresentation? Because if one race is overrepresented, it might mean they’re taking away what rightfully belongs to another race.

There are other representation issues to which we might give some attention with an eye to corrective public policy. Asians routinely get the highest scores on the math portion of the SAT, and blacks get the lowest. Men are 50 percent of the population, and so are women; yet men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. The population statistics for South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana and Vermont show that not even 1 percent of their populations is black. On the other hand, in states such as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, blacks are overrepresented in terms of their percentages in the general population.

There are many international examples of disproportionality. For example, during the 1960s, the Chinese minority in Malaysia received more university degrees than the Malay majority — including 400 engineering degrees compared with four for the Malays, even though Malays dominate the country politically. In Brazil’s state of Sao Paulo, more than two-thirds of the potatoes and 90 percent of the tomatoes produced were produced by people of Japanese ancestry.

The bottom line is there no evidence anywhere that but for discrimination, people would be divided according to their percentages in the population in any activity.

“Diversity” is an elitist term used to give respectability to acts and policy that would otherwise be deemed as racism.

Posted on www.columbiatribune.com

Justice Clarence Thomas and the Wounds That Don't Heal

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 12, 2011

One day many decades from now, long after we're all gone, some bright legal historian will write the definitive biography of United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. It will undoubtedly include at least a chapter or two on the justice's eternally roiling relationship with his fellow black professionals, especially black judges and lawyers. And it will probably cite an ongoing kerfuffle in Georgia as an example of what the justice faced, and why, even 20 years after contentiously ascending to the High Court.

As well told by veteran Supreme Court correspondent Tony Mauro, officials in Augusta, Georgia, are under fire from some local judges and lawyers for inviting Justice Thomas to speak at the dedication of a new courthouse to be named in honor of the memory of John Ruffin Jr. Ruffin was a civil rights attorney who later -- in 1994! -- became the first black member of the Georgia Court of Appeals. He died last year. The new courthouse is scheduled to open May 18th. And Justice Thomas is on his way. (As Mauro pointed out, here's good local coverage from the Augusta Chronicle).

Of the criticism the justice's visit has engendered locally, Mauro wrote:

"It's not [Thomas'] fault, but his judicial philosophy is the antonym of what Judge Ruffin's was and what it is in the vast majority of the minority community," Richmond County State Court Judge David Watkins was quoted as saying in The Augusta Chronicle. The paper also quoted a close friend of Ruffin as saying, "I know of no way we could dishonor John Ruffin more than to have Clarence Thomas speak for this occasion."

Some of those folks evidently also are angry because they were not consulted before Thomas was given the invitation. But the officials who made that decision, last fall, say they figured it was a no-brainer. Justice Thomas is from Georgia and also the circuit justice for the 11th Circuit, which covers Georgia. And because courthouse ceremonies often involve herds of dutiful lawyers and solemn judges, local officials probably figured, too, that the justice would get a more polite reception than he did twice before when he appeared at the University of Georgia.

But it turns out that even the specter of Thomas raises the same hackles with some judges and lawyers as he does with some students and professors. It would be easy to attribute such disdain to the old arguments -- he benefited from affirmative action and then turned his back on it, etc.-- but I think that would be a mistake. Or at least a working theory that needs some serious updating. There are many other, more contemporary reasons-- some of law, some of politics -- why black jurists (and many white ones) would reasonably and justifiably list Justice Thomas far down their list of most admirable justices.

Let's start with the most recent trouble spot -- the justice's wife, Virginia Thomas, and her ongoing Tea Party advocacy. Never mind the issue of the justice's perceived conflict of interest to hear the looming court battle over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Within the past month, the Tea Party has been linked to an email which depicted President Obama and his family as primates. But if Virginia Thomas has used her bully pulpit to publicly decry such conduct I was unable to find it via Google. Do you think that such an episode might impact the way some people view Justice Thomas today?

Let's now look at a recent legal reason. Just six weeks ago, in Connick v. Thompson, Justice Thomas turned his back upon a man, John Thompson, who had spent 14 year on death row after being wrongfully convicted -- railroaded when officials failed and refused to disclose material evidence that ultimately exonerated him. When Thompson was finally released from prison, he sued the district attorney and won his case. Justice Thomas, writing his first majority opinion of the year for a 5-4 court, overturned that jury verdict. It was a bitterly-divided case -- the dissent was scathing -- and it produced a terribly unjust result.

The fact that Thompson is black and was railroaded is meaningful to different people in different ways, of course. To me, it's a blunt reminder of America's continuing willingness to toleratepervasive racial disparity in its criminal justice system. It is a disgrace. For example, since the current death-penalty regime was reinstituted by the Supreme Court in 1976, the percentage of blacks executed under it is 34.78 of the total amount, reports the Death Penalty Information Center. The current population of American blacks, reports the 2010 Census, is nearly one-third of that -- 12.6 percent.

There are many ways to explain those figures, some more legitimate than others. So let's go directly to the source: the Supreme Court itself. Go back and read McCleskey v. Kemp, a 1987 Supreme Court capital case out of Justice Thomas's home state. He wasn't on the court back then, but the court ruled against a black defendant whose lawyers argued that the state's capital punishment scheme was inherently unfair because prosecutors sought the death penalty far more often when black people were accused of killing white people as opposed to the other way around. For the majority, Justice Lewis Powell wrote: "At most, the [study showing such statistics] indicates a discrepancy that appears to correlate with race. Apparent disparities in sentencing are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system."

Four years later, Justice Thomas joined this group. And where has he been since in the eternal fight to at least try to provide equal justice for all? No one can complain about him being neutral. He's been on the ramparts, all right. But fighting for the other side. As evidenced tellingly by hisThompson ruling, in which he made up a new rule to protect prosecutor at the expense of a victim, he has been outright hostile, and persistently so, toward criminal defendants, including black ones, during his tenure on the bench. That started early on in his court tenure in 1992 in hisconcurring opinion in Georgia v. McCollum -- a case about racial disparity in jury selection -- and it continues to this day.

So it's no surprise at all that Justice Thomas strikes a particular nerve with people who pay attention to these areas of law and justice. It's no surprise they resent him despite his high office. The wounds he opened up with them 20 years ago when he got the job have never healed. His personality and his jurisprudence do not allow for it. Worse, each new court term seems to generate from him opinions and choices that open new wounds. Justice Thomas isn't just against affirmative action in the workplace where a person's job is on the line. He is also clearly against empowering the rule of law to equalize the disparities in the criminal justice system -- where a minority defendant's life and liberty are typically on the line.

And that, I suspect, is why Judge Ruffin's friends and colleagues believe he will be spinning in his grave next week when Justice Thomas comes to crown the courthouse.

Posted on www.theatlantic.com

Racial quotas at UCT

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 12, 2011

By James Myburgh

Over the past few months the American media has taken something of an interest in the race-based admissions policy of the University of Cape Town. In late November the New York Times ran an article on the topic, and in the past week National Public Radio has run a similar report.

UCT requires that applicants classify themselves according to the old apartheid designations of white, coloured, Indian and black. Differing admissions criteria are then applied depending on which of these racial categories the applicant belongs to.

For instance, for entry into the MBChB programme a "Black" applicant needs to score 36 points on their matric results and 15 (out of 30) points on the National Benchmarking Test; a "Coloured" applicant 40 and 16 points; an "Indian" or "Chinese" applicant 46 and 24 points; and a "White" applicant 47 and 24 points.

The ultimate goal of the policy is to ensure that composition of the university ultimately comes to reflect the racial proportions of society as a whole. As the University states: "As a matter of policy we aim for a student body which has a significant number of international students and where the local component of our student body increasingly reflects the demographics of the South African population."

Perhaps not surprisingly both the NYT and NPR view the debates, within the university, around this policy through race conscious American lenses. The Times states that UCT is "engaged in a searching debate about just how far affirmative action should go to heal the wounds of an oppressive history." The NPR report meanwhile begins by stating: "Universities in South Africa are wrestling with an issue familiar to many Americans: affirmative action."

By framing their articles in this way - as an issue of "redress" for past wrongs - both reports morally prejudge the debate and, in many ways, miss the point. It is useful, from a historical point of view, to contrast UCT's current policy with the principles articulated in the early 1980s when the National Party government moved to begin desegregating the English universities.*

Up until 1983 a person who was not white had had to apply, individually, for a ministerial permit if they wished to study at a ‘white' university. Clause 9 of the Universities Amendment Bill, introduced that year, provided for the permit system to be replaced by a quota system. The number of black students allowed in each ‘white' university would be stipulated annually by the appropriate Minister of State.

Although representing something of a practical improvement on the existing system UCT, Rhodes, Wits and Natal all objected to this "quota clause" on principle. The Vice Chancellor of Wits, Daniel du Plessis, stated "The fundamental issue is that the Witwatersrand University holds that race, colour, religion and gender are not academic criteria, and that no non-academic criteria should intrude into the selection process of an academic institution. This is basic to our philosophy and policy."

UCT meanwhile took out advertisements in the Cape Town newspapers objecting to the government's transfer to the university of this "obligation of denying admission to black students who qualify on academic grounds" and involving the university in the enforcement of "objectionable discriminatory laws."

The Vice Chancellor of UCT, Stuart Saunders, stated that the reason the four universities "find the Bill totally unacceptable" reflects the fact "that these universities have, for more than a quarter-century, actively rejected racial criteria for admission to university." He also claimed that the legislation was "imposing upon the university itself the distasteful and objectionable task of rejecting students on racial grounds because of a quota imposed upon it"; and argued that, "race classification is an objectionable and irrelevant consideration whether it be applied through permits or quotas."

In parliament, in June 1983, the Progressive Federal Party MP, Alex Boraine, also spoke passionately against the Bill. He stated:

"The quota system is a system which restricts admission on the grounds of race. It is based, therefore, on race classification on the Population Registration Act. When one applies for a permit or when one applies under the quota system one produces one's birth certificate. That is the kiss of death, as it were, for a young Coloured, Indian or Black student, because the moment he applies he is not asked for his matriculation certificate-they do not ask him how well he did at school or what his symbols were, but he is asked what his colour is. That is the quota system. It is racially enshrined."

He then asked rhetorically, "What are we to make of this quota system? Where does it come from? What is its inspiration?" His answer:

"In the 19th Century this was imposed in order to limit the admissions of Jews to institutions of higher learning and was applied in the 19th Century by Tsarist Russia and extended in the 20th Century particularly to countries in Eastern Europe but also to others. It is perhaps not without coincidence that during the rule of Stalin [in the Soviet Union], such as system was also applied. This hon. Minister has learned well from what has taken place in Tsarist Russia and in the Soviet Union. Perhaps the most infamous of all took place in Nazi Germany."

Boraine proceeded to cite the Law against the Overcrowding of German Schools and Higher Institutions adopted by the national socialist government in Germany in April 1933. This had decreed that, "In the admission of new students attention is to be paid to the number of German students who are not of Aryan descent ... may not exceed in each school and faculty the proportion of non-Aryans to the entire German population [1.5%]. That proportion will be uniformly determined for the entire nation."

He commented: "Whenever they admitted a student after the rise of Hitler and the Nazis they had to produce a birth certificate in order to determine whether they had any Jewish blood. This was a racial decree and I want to say to hon. members on the other side that this quota system is nothing more and nothing less than an approximation of the Hitler decree."

When an MP objected that this was untrue, Boraine responded:

"It is the truth. Tell me why it is not the truth? Exactly the same approach is being followed here. What I am in effect saying, is that members on that side have sat at the feet of the Soviet Union and of the Nazis and have learned, and now they are introducing a quota system where Blacks are denied entrance into our universities, not on the basis of academic merit, but purely and solely on the basis of race."

Although the legislation was passed by parliament, allowing direct black entry into the formerly ‘white' universities, the quota provision was never actually enforced. As Saunders stated in 1986 "I think the Government came to realise how repulsive a quota system based on race is for any university and has wisely decided not to apply it. They would be even wiser to repeal the legislation. For as long as it stands on the statute books it must be recognised in principle. Using it would do enormous damage to our universities in the world of international scholarship recalling that the Stalin regime and Hitler imposed racial quota systems."

In April 1991 the Education Minister, Louis Pienaar, announced that the offending section was to be removed from the statute books: "Although quotas were never determined, the deletion of this provision indicates once again the government's commitment to recognise the autonomy of universities and demonstrates its undertaking to abolish racial discrimination from the statute book."

From the mid-1980s UCT applied a corrective action policy based upon real disadvantage students had suffered at the hands of apartheid discrimination (but not, on principle, on race). The university pursued this policy of ‘equal opportunity affirmative action' up until the mid-1990s. According to its pre-1996 mission statement UCT strove "to maintain a strong tradition of non-discrimination in regard to race" both in the constitution of its student body and in the selection and promotion of its academic and administrative staff. Students would be selected on merit, although special criteria would be used to identify disadvantaged students with potential, and they would be given extra assistance to help them succeed.

In 1994 the African National Congress came to power and increasingly asserted, under Thabo Mbeki's leadership, its African nationalist agenda. Like many other racialist movements through history it made the demand that the universities, along with all other sectors of society, limit the proportion of minorities to their percentage of the population.

Instead of resisting or opposing this principle UCT adopted it as its own. Where it moderated it, and balanced it against other competing considerations, was in its application. This may have been a shrewd decision, politically and tactically, given the power of the ANC, and its racial demands, at the time. (UCT does seem to have done much better than some other universities in manoeuvring, albeit in a somewhat slimy way, through the transition.)

But its decision to place race at the centre of its admissions policy, and apply (in all but name) racial quotas, represents a complete betrayal of the principles it once invoked in the struggle against Apartheid-era discrimination.

Perhaps more importantly it represents a profound intellectual failure. The contribution of our universities to public debate in South Africa, over the past decade, has been pathetic.

Perhaps the main reason for this was that so many academics simply floated along, as UCT did as an institution, with the tide of the ascendant racial nationalism. South Africa is now dealing with destructive consequences of that project. It is difficult to see what contribution UCT can make to understanding and correcting these, for as long as it clings to the odious racial principle that lay at the heart of it.

Posted on www.politicsweb.co.za

Black economist says Cuba needs affirmative action

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 12, 2011

By Juan Tamayo

Black Cubans, already with the worst jobs and lowest salaries, will need “affirmative action” as the government tries to slash its inflated payrolls, a black Havana economist and former Communist Party member wrote Wednesday.

Esteban Morales, 68, made it clear in his lengthy essay that he supports Cuba’s “extraordinarily humanist” revolution and believes it took great pains to outlaw racism and provide equal opportunities for blacks over the past 52 years.

An economist who has written previously on race, he also attacked black Cubans who criticize the revolution as racist, saying they have embraced a U.S. strategy for sparking a “political confrontation” that would change the island’s regime.

In unusually direct language, however, Morales also complains that blacks rank at the bottom of several economic measurements, that Cuban schools do not teach courses on race, and that government socio-economic statistics should be broken down by skin color.

He was “separated” from the Communist Party last year for a similarly harsh essay in which he warned that a burgeoning string of corruption scandals was a bigger threat to the country’s stability than “the counterrevolution.”

Morales’ latest essay essentially argues that questions about race must be a priority for the Raul Castro government as it tries to fix the stagnant economy by slashing state spending – on jobs and subsidies -- and allowing more private enterprise.

Blacks and mestizos “have always historically been the least qualified, the most disadvantaged in the workplace, with the worst jobs, the lowest salaries and the lowest retirement benefits,” Morales wrote in his 4,311-word essay, published in his eponymous blog.

Castro himself spoke of the need to increase the number of blacks and women in leadership positions during a speech last month to a Communist Party congress last month. The 2002 census shows 65 percent of Cubans identify themselves as white, and 35 percent as black or mestizo.

Morales went well beyond that, noting that fewer blacks than whites have relatives abroad who can send them cash remittances. He added that black Cubans in Florida also earn less – and therefore can send less to the island – because of U.S. racism.

Blacks and mestizos on the island also have a harder time finding well-paying jobs and tend to “take refuge … in illegal activities, prostitution and pimping, the illegal re-sale of products,” he noted. They make up 57 percent of the prison population, he added.

Morales’ essay notes that Cuba faces many challenges in race relations but adds that he would focus only on four, -- starting with the need to create an array of school courses on modern-day racism.

“How is it possible that in a multicolor nation like Cuba … there’s no scientific treatment of those problems” he wrote . University-level education is “especially plagued by prejudices on the racial issue, weak institutional attention to it, ignorance and even fear of studying it.”

Cuba’s National Statistics Office (ONE) should include racial breakdowns when it reports economic and social data such as unemployment, salaries, housing conditions, education levels and life expectancy, Morales noted in his second challenge.

In his third, he urged Cubans to demand equal racial representation in all fields, and in his last he urged Cuba to embrace “the so-called affirmative action” as a way “to balance out the different historical points of departure for the racial groups that today make up our society.”

Cuban government officials have long cringed at the possibility of using affirmative action on the island, arguing that it would explicity admit that the revolution had failed to eradicate race-based discrimination.

Morales’ harshest criticism went to Carlos Moore, a black exile who has attacked Cuba’s leadership as almost exclusively white and argued that blacks were denied the most visible jobs when Cuba opened its doors to foreign tourism in the 1990s.

Morales alleged that some of Moore’s publications were financed by groups that received CIA money. Moore, a black rights activist now living and teaching at a university in Brazil, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Posted on www.miamiherald.com

After cresting in Memphis, flooded Mississippi River takes aim at poverty-stricken Delta

The intern blog below is a commentary on the communities that are being impacted by the recent natural disasters in the South based on the article that can be found below the commentary. The South has been bombarded with natural disasters this past month. First, tornados devastated Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia. Now communities along the Mississippi River are facing massive flooding and some fear that the worst is yet to come. As with most natural disasters, poor people of color are being hit the hardest and the question is usually whether the government is doing enough to help them. Millions of dollars of property have been destroyed and communities have been fragmented. I wonder what the overall impact of these disasters will be in comparison to Hurricane Katrina and if there will be a racial connection. I am interested in the historical aspect of housing discrimination that puts poor people of color in the most vulnerable locations. It would be interesting to research redlining policies from the first half of the 20th century and see if the areas that have been hit the hardest by these disasters correlate. I am doubtful that much will be done about housing inequalities in the near future because people with higher incomes would not be willing to live in potentially dangerous areas.

After cresting in Memphis, flooded Mississippi River takes aim at poverty-stricken Delta

By Associated Press

VICKSBURG, Miss. — William Jefferson paddles slowly down his street in a small boat, past his house and around his church, both flooded from the bulging Mississippi River that has rolled into the Delta.

“Half my life is still in there,” he said, pointing to the small white house swamped by several feet of water. “I hate to see it when I go back in.”

The river was taking aim at one of the most poverty-stricken parts of the country after cresting Tuesday at Memphis, Tenn., just inches short of the record set in 1937. Some low-lying Memphis neighborhoods were inundated, but the city’s high levees protected much of the rest of Memphis.

Downstream in Louisiana, inmates were filling sandbags to protect property in Cajun swamp communities that could be flooded if engineers open a spillway to protect the more densely populated Baton Rouge area. Fear was high among residents there.

Jefferson’s Vicksburg neighborhood has been one of the hardest hit in the historic city that was the site of a pivotal Civil War battle. Jefferson refuses to leave, so he spends his days in the sweltering sun watching the water rise and sleeping in a camper at an intersection that’s likely to flood soon, too.

“If you don’t stay with your stuff, you won’t have it,” he said. “This is what I do every day. Just watch the water.”

Over the past week or so in the Delta, floodwaters along the rain-swollen river and its backed-up tributaries have already washed away crops, forced many to seek higher ground and closed some of the dockside casinos that are vital to the state’s economy.

The state gambling industry is taking a hit: All 19 casinos along the river will be shut down by the end of the week, costing governments $12 million to $13 million in taxes per month, authorities said. That will put some 13,000 employees temporarily out of work.

But the worst is yet to come, with the crest expected over the next few days. The damage in Memphis was estimated at more than $320 million as the serious flooding began, and an official tally won’t be available until the waters recede.

To the south, there were no early figures on the devastation, but with hundreds of homes already damaged, “we’re going to have a lot more when the water gets to where it’s never been before,” said Greg Flynn, a spokesman for the Mississippi emergency management agency.

Across the region, federal officials anxiously checked and reinforced the levees, some of which could be put to their sternest test ever.

In northwestern Mississippi, crews have been using dirt and sand to make a levee higher at the Bolivar-Coahoma county line in the north Delta, said Charlie Tindall, attorney for the Mississippi Levee Board.

About 10 miles north of Vicksburg, contractors lined one side of what is known as a backwater levee with big sheets of plastic to keep it from eroding if floodwaters flow over it as feared — something that has never happened to the levee since it was built in the 1970s.

In Vicksburg, the river was projected to peak Saturday just above the record set during the cataclysmic Great Flood of 1927.

Jimmy Mitchell, 46, and his wife and two children have been living in a loaned camper for more than week at a civic arena in Tunica.

“There’s no sewage hookup. You go in a barn to take a shower,” said Mitchell, who is from the small community of Cutoff. “We have no time frame on how long we can stay.”

As Mitchell and friends sat outside chatting in the breeze, children rode bikes nearby.

“Cutoff is a community where everybody lives from paycheck to paycheck. It’s also a community where everybody sticks together,” Mitchell said.

Widespread flooding was expected along the Yazoo River, a tributary that is backed up because of the bloated Mississippi. Rolling Fork, home of the bluesman Muddy Waters, was also in danger of getting inundated.

Farmers built homemade levees to protect their corn, cotton, wheat and soybean crops, but many believed the crops would be lost entirely.

Vicksburg National Military Park, where thousands of Civil War soldiers who died in an 1863 battle are buried, was expected to remain dry. The park is the site where Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s troops entrapped a Confederate army under Lt. Gen. John Pemberton, forcing its surrender. The victory effectively split the Confederacy in half.

Vicksburg was forecast to see its highest river level ever, slightly above the 56.2-feet mark set in 1927. Farther south in Natchez, forecasters said the 1937 record could be shattered by 4 feet on Saturday.

The Mississippi crested in Memphis at nearly 48 feet, just short of its all-time record of 48.7. Officials said the river level had decreased slightly on Wednesday, and they were doing a flyover to assess the most heavily damaged areas.

Some homes had polluted floodwaters near their first-floor ceilings, while others were completely submerged. Snakes and other creatures slithered in the foul water, and officials warned of bacteria. Nearly 500 people in Memphis were in shelters.

The passing of the crest was of little consolation for many.

“It doesn’t matter. We’ve already lost everything,” said Rocio Rodriguez, 24, who has been at a shelter for 12 days with her husband and two young children since their trailer park flooded.

On the downtown Memphis riverfront, people came out to gawk at the river. High-water marks were visible on concrete posts, indicating that the level was dropping slowly.

“It could have been a lot worse. Levees could have broke,” said Memphis resident Janice Harbin, 32. “I’m very fortunate to stand out here and see it — and not be a victim of the flood.”

In Louisiana, jail inmates filled sandbags to protect property in St. Martin Parish, which could be flooded if authorities open a second floodway to take pressure off levees that protect Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

On Monday, the corps began opening the Bonnet Carre spillway near New Orleans. The second floodway, Morganza, is upriver from Baton Rouge and could be opened this weekend.

The floodway pours into the Atchafalaya River, and on to the Gulf of Mexico. Communities such as Morgan City on its southern end were sandbagging against the expected floodwaters, and hoping for the best.

“Everybody is just scared. They don’t know what to do,” said St. Martin Deputy Sheriff Ginny Higgins, who was overseeing prisoners who stuffed sandbags in stifling heat and humidity while clad in black and white striped jumpsuits.

Sharonda Buck, an unemployed 18-year-old mother, lives in a house with 12 relatives in Vicksburg. The water has been creeping into their yard and the power company said electricity will be cut off Wednesday morning. They spent Tuesday walking the railroad tracks through their neighborhood, kids throwing rocks in flooded yards.

“I really don’t know what we’re going to do. We’re trying to find somewhere to stay, that’s all I know,” she said.

Inequalities Complicate S. Africa College Admissions

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 10, 2011

By Anders Kelto

Universities in South Africa are wrestling with an issue familiar to many Americans: affirmative action.

South Africa is still coping with the aftermath of apartheid and a lingering educational gap between black and white. Now, a series of public debates about college admissions has reopened a national dialogue on race.

During apartheid, the University of Cape Town, which sits on the lower slopes of Devil's Peak, was an all-white university. But now, there are black, white, Asian and mixed-race faces in nearly equal numbers — it's the kind of diversity usually reserved for promotional materials.

The way in which the university has achieved this diversity, however, is somewhat controversial. To be admitted, white students must score the equivalent of straight A's. Meanwhile, black and mixed-race students can get in with plenty of B's. The University of Cape Town doesn't make this policy a secret — admission cutoffs are listed by race in the prospectus.

The vice chancellor, Max Price, says the policy reflects the fact that black students in South Africa are still highly disadvantaged.

"Even 15 years after the end of apartheid, it's still the case that 80 percent of black students go to very poor township schools or rural schools," he says. "Their teachers are poorly qualified, the schools are poorly equipped, and the result is that on the national exams, they perform poorly."

The government has gone to great lengths to improve an educational system that once taught black students how to wash dishes rather than learn math and science. And though some improvements have been made, the gap between black and white is still immense.

Price says that without race-based admission goals, schools would be nearly as white as they were during apartheid, despite the fact that whites make up fewer than 10 percent of the population. He says that would be unacceptable.

"People would think there was something wrong," he says. "It would produce social unrest; it would produce a sense that the country hasn't changed."

Bringing Positive Change

Across town, engineer Michael Tladi reviews blueprints for a new government hospital. Tladi is black and grew up on the streets of Pretoria, bouncing between children's homes after his mother abandoned him. He went to an underfunded township school and earned good — but not great — marks. His teachers saw his potential and encouraged him to apply to the country's top schools.

He was elated when he received an acceptance letter from UCT.

" 'You have been chosen to come and study at UCT' — I didn't even read further. I just ... I was so excited," Tladi recalls.

But like many disadvantaged students, he was overwhelmed when he arrived.

"I was not prepared financially, I was not prepared academically and I was not prepared for the new environment," he said.

He struggled and almost dropped out, but he eventually completed a degree in engineering and got a job with the provincial government. He also volunteers at a children's home and says he hopes his story can inspire underprivileged kids.

"I just hope that my success out of UCT can bring a positive change," he says. "Because they know that I was in the same place, same lifestyle — they can see that they also can do it."

Creating A Sense Of Entitlement?

Back on campus, Cynthia Ngebe sits with friends in the cafeteria. She says affirmative action is a necessary evil.

"It's giving people an opportunity," she says. "Like, in some families now, they're going to have engineers for the very first time, you know?"

But others, like Amanda Ngwenya, disagree. She worries that the policy is creating a sense of entitlement among her black peers.

"It means they think that, 'Because I'm black, I deserve special privileges. Because I'm black, I need to be treated differently,' even though they are just as capable," Ngwenya says.

It's a sticky debate, complicated by the legacy of apartheid. But as South Africa's past grows more distant, the question becomes: When, if ever, should race not matter?

Posted on www.npr.org

Tavis Smiley: This Presidential Race Will be Most Racist in History Due to Tea Party and Trump

The intern blog below is a commentary on Tavis Smiley’s opinion of the role that race will play in the 2012 presidential election based on the video that can be found below the commentary. As the nation gets ready for the 2012 presidential election season to begin, the Republican Party is weighing its options for potential candidates to run against Obama. In the video posted below, Tavis Smiley opines that the 2012 election will be “the ugliest, the nastiest, the most divisive, and the most racist… in the history of this republic”. The comments of Tea Party supporters and leaders have made the truth in Smiley’s statement apparent. Former Tea Party spokesman Mark Williams stated, “It is the duty of every American Citizen to do everything within their power to disrupt and defeat the domestic enemy that currently occupies the corridors of power in Washington and a dangerous number of state capitols”. This comment, in addition to others, forced him to resign. Even though his words were condemned, I know that many people agree with him, which makes me fearful of the tactics that will be used in the 2012 elections. However, I think that the fact that Osama Bin Laden was killed under Obama’s watch will prove to be a large benefit to his campaign. The New York Times reports that between April and May, Obama’s approval rate went up by 11%. This fact makes me believe that Smiley’s ominous prediction will prove to be true. The Republican Party will have to resort to divisive tactics to have a chance of posing a legitimate threat to Obama.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAzeZ4nFsBU&feature=player_embedded

TAVIS SMILEY, PBS: I said over a year ago that this was going to be, this presidential race, Lawrence, was going to be the ugliest, the nastiest, the most divisive, and the most racist, the most racist, in the history of this republic. I did not know that that race to the bottom would begin so quickly. One can disagree with the Tea Party…

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, HOST: Why did you see this coming?

SMILEY: I saw it coming because it’s pretty clear given how the Tea Party has acted, given that Donald Trump is now playing to the worst in the Tea Party, that this would be possible. I don’t want to demonize or cast aspersions on the Tea Party broadly. I believe that there’s a certain angst that many people in that entity feel, and I share that angst about government. I don’t believe that it’s the solution to reduce government. Government does have a role to play. We’ve got to figure out, we can figure out and debate what that role is, but there have been semantics they’ve engaged in that made it clear to me: showing up at rallies with guns, and the Secret Service, you know, working overtime to protect this president. More threats against his life than any president in the history of the nation, indeed, presidents combined. So the evidence is pretty clear that they would do anything and say anything in order to make sure he does not get reelected.

Nigeria-Gouvernment: President to Appoint 13 Female Ministers

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 5, 2011

President to Appoint 13 Female Ministers - In a bid to fulfil his campaign promise of having 35 per cent representation of women in his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan may appoint 13 female ministers in his post-May 29 cabinet, even as women politicians battle professionals over slots."Research has shown that countries with greater gender equality have higher standards of living and significantly more achievements in all facets of the society.

"Reports have also shown that where women leaders are present in critical numbers and are able to participate effectively, economically, politically, and socially, the result is more socially responsive governance," the president had observed recently at the Mentorship Summit for African Women, organised by the Centre for African Women Leaders Think-Tank in Abuja.

While the president and First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan were in Obudu, Cross River State, for a week-long retreat, ministerial lobbyists stormed the tourism centre seeking enlistment in the next cabinet.

LEADERSHIP can now authoritatively report that the next Jonathan-Sambo administration would have no fewer than 13 female ministers as a fulfilment of the affirmative action promised the women while they were being wooed ahead of the just concluded polls.

Speaking with our correspondent at the weekend, a presidency source disclosed that, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Jonathan would constitute a 43-man Federal Executive Council (FEC) that would help him implement his developmental blueprint for the nation.

Out of the 43 ministerial positions, LEADERSHIP gleaned that 13 slots would go to the women while men would take the rest.

The presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo and his successor, Umaru Musa Yar' Adua, each had 43 ministers with one representing each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and each of the six geopolitical zones.

Should this be the case, the president would have ignored the advice asking him to trim his cabinet in a bid to reduce the cost of governance and free more money for investment in decaying infrasturcture.

"President Goodluck Jonathan would fulfil his 35 per cent political appointments including the ministerial slots to the women and this means there are going to be 13 ministers since he would forward 43 names to the Senate as ministers representing each of the 36 states including Abuja while the remaining six would represent the geo-political zones. And every other appointments to be made would follow suit," said a top government source.

Speaking further, the source who does not want his name in print said: "The only problem is, if the governors or party leadership failed to send women's names to the president as ministerial nominees. But this would not stop him from fulfilling his promise to the women who constituted the largest voting bloc in the country. Don't forget he has power to name whoever he wants as his ministers."

When asked to disclose the intrigues going on and whether the First Lady would be involved, our source, who has been playing a sensitive role since the Obasanjo administration in the State House, disclosed that Patience had been receiving ministerial lobbyists since she returned from the Obudu retreat because she has promised those who campaigned for her husband that their labour would not be in vain.

His words: "The First Lady would play a prominent role in the composition of the female ministerial nominees because of her personal involvement in the campaign that ushered in President Goodluck Jonathan. So many women or groups of women have been coming to meet with the First Lady. So don't be surprised to see names like Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Senator Grace Bent, Kema Chikwe, Hajiya Ciroma, Dame Anenih, Iyabo Obasanjo and a few others on the ministerial list."

He said: "Women are divided over how to go about it; while those who are thoroughbred politicians are going through Her Excellency, the First Lady, some who are professionals are doing their lobbying through other contacts. To the professionals, the slots to be given to the womenfolk should be given to them and not to politicians who would not justify such a confidence imposed in them.

"This group is being led by a woman who is currently occupying a sensitive position where she generates revenue to the federal government (name withheld) but the other group is claiming that they were the ones who worked for the victory of the president."

According to the president, "If South Africa could give 40 per cent of political appointments to women; I don't see why giving our women 35 per cent is impossible." It would be recalled that Jonathan is the first Nigerian leader to appoint a woman as Minister of Petroleum even as he also gave directive to the military to begin recruiting women as combatant soldiers.

Just last week, the president, who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Salamatu Husseini Suleiman, at the Mentorship Summit for African Women, organised by the Centre for African Women Leaders Think-Thank in Abuja, commended Nigerian women for their massive support towards his success in the presidential polls.

"I am assuring you that all the promises made in my manifesto on 35 per cent representation of women in governance will be fulfilled," he said, adding that women have occupied various leadership positions in the country and performed excellently."

Posted on www.afriquejet.com

Ruling reserved over affirmative action

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 4, 2011

Johannesburg - The Johannesburg Labour Appeal Court on Wednesday reserved judgement on an attempt by the SAPS to contest an earlier ruling promoting a white woman police officer to superintendent.

Trade union Solidarity, which is representing Captain Renate Barnard, said it was expected to take between three months and a year for a ruling to be made.

The union's Dirk Hermann said arguments in court on Wednesday centred on how to apply affirmative action in line with the Constitution. He said the matter might end up in the Constitutional Court.

On February 26 last year the Labour Court ordered the police to promote Barnard to superintendent after she was denied the move because of her skin colour.

"She applied for a promotion as superintendent of the complaints investigation unit for the first time in 2005. She has been working as a captain in the same unit since 2004," Hermann said.

A selection panel twice identified Barnard as the best candidate for the post in the inspectorate, created to improve service delivery to the public. The job was advertised in September 2005. Barnard and other candidates applied for it.

Service delivery jeopardised

After interviews were held, the panel allocated a mark of 86.67% to her, which was 17.5% higher than the next-highest score allocated to a Captain Shibambu.

The panel found the difference in Barnard and Shibambu's scores so great that service delivery would be jeopardised if Shibambu was appointed in the post.

Although the panel recommended Barnard for appointment, Assistant Commissioner Rasegatla resolved not to appoint her because doing so would not be in line with affirmative action policies. The position was not filled.

When the position was again advertised in 2006, Barnard reapplied and was once again the most suitable candidate. This time Rasegatla decided she should be appointed. In his recommendation to former police commissioner Jackie Selebi, he pointed out that other candidates had had a year to improve to compete with her, but had not done so. Selebi turned down her appointment on the grounds that it would not promote affirmative action.

He subsequently withdrew the post

One more party for Dalits in Uttar Pradesh

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 4, 2011

By Arpit Parashar

The political development of the last week have thrown a new, surprise candidate in the power equation of caste politics. Former bureaucrat Udit Raj, the man at the forefront of the campaign to push for OBC and SC/ST reservations in the private sector, has formed a new socio-political front called the Upekshit Dalit Mahapanchayat in Uttar Pradesh.

Though politicians have heard of Raj's efforts, most of them have not taken notice of the development. A senior BJP politician, speaking to the media “off the record” after a press conference, laughingly dismissed the “concept” of upekshit (marginalised) Dalits as imaginary.

However, one must not forget that the initial reaction of the mainstream parties to the formation of now-successful Dalit parties, like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), was one of dismissal. The Congress often ridiculed the rise of Mayawati’s BSP two decades back. It seemed to tell the BSP, “Align with a mainstream party, or you will lose relevance.”

Ironically, in the case of Uttar Pradesh, the BSP has become the mainstream party and the Congress a marginal player.

The Mayawati brand of politics and the successful assertion movement led by the Kanshi Ram’s Backward and Minority Communities Employees’ Federation (BAMCEF) has translated into successful electoral campaigns and subsequent victories for the BSP over the years. She is presently serving her fourth term as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, after having served three short terms between 1995 and 2003.

And, she won in Uttar Pradesh on her own by engineering a major social change last time around. She came to power without any support from the Congress, the BJP, or the Samajwadi Party in 2007.

Why then has Raj formed a front that will only weaken a successful movement of the country’s most underprivileged and oppressed castes? Observers believe that Raj’s movement is an attempt at addressing the problems that the Dalits face under Mayawati. They point out that power, as is always the case in Uttar Pradesh, benefitted a particular caste group.

“The question is not what Mayawati can do to [Dalits], but what we can do to us,” writer and journalist Chittibabu Padavala wrote about the meaning of Mayawati’s victory in 2007 in The Economic and Political Weekly.

The Dalits have definitely benefited, not just by their own assertion but with consistent efforts of the state government too. Caste atrocities have reduced, affirmative action has been taken and they are much better represented in the administrative and political structures now. But, looking deeper, one finds it is only the Jatavs, who are reaping benefits this time.

Raj says, “Only Jatavs!” And, why is it so? “Because Mayawati is a Jatav too,” says Raj.

Politicians and observers say that while power has changed hands and the traditional ruling castes are no longer the ones in power, the state has seen the emergence of a new feudal system with Jatavs as the dominant caste.

Jatavs make up nearly 57 percent of the Dalits in Uttar Pradesh, and eight to nine per cent of its total population, almost same as that of the Yadavs. The BSP broke the backbone of Samajwadi Party’s successful Yadav-Thakur voter base, using its stronghold among the Jatavs in 2007.

Jatavs are now emerging as an assertive caste in the state, especially with their numbers in the administration growing rapidly in the past decade. “A simple analysis of the data on recent appointments in the police and the administration shows a 30 to 35 per cent increase in the number of appointments of Jatavs,” a senior BSP minister told Tehelka on the condition of anonymity.

Many top postings are recommended from Lucknow. Many other happen almost by default when the candidate is Jatav. It is considered a safe bet to have a senior Jatav officer in any district administration.

The Jatavs have been politically conscious and involved since the time of Babu Jagjivan Ram of the Congress in the 1960s. Then when Kanshi Ram and Mayawati came together, Jatavs took the BAMCEF’s assertion movement forward. And they still do: they form a large chunk of the BSP cadre.

“This constant hammering of her caste’s identity has made them politically forward looking,” Raj says.

The other castes among the Dalits, on the other hand, are still underrepresented in the state government jobs, making up barely five to eight per cent of the force in the administration and the police in the state, that too only on lower posts. Off the record, senior officials in Uttar Pradesh say that most of the housing schemes for Dalits in the state have benefited Jatavs more than any other caste.

“Fruits of governance have gone to just one caste. There is no difference between this regime and the other regimes in the past. Rather, the discrimination is much more open under Mayawati’s rule,” Raj alleges.

The socioeconomic rise of the Jatavs has on the one hand made them confident, and they have stood up to the higher castes in the state, while on the other hand they have also fallen prey to the feudal practices alien to the Jatav society.

They are traditionally a more equal caste and not patriarchal. But, that has changed over the past decade and has often resulted in crimes against lower Dalit castes.

The number of rape cases involving Jatav men has seen a constant rise in western Uttar Pradesh, a phenomenon, senior police officials say, has not been noticed before. Jatavs are often caught in cases of atrocities against other lower Dalit castes as well as the higher castes.

In the Jewar village in Greater Noida near Delhi, where an international airport and India’s first F1 racing track will come up soon, a minor girl from the Valmiki community was raped by a Jatav man in 2008.

Her ordeal did not end there. She was married off to the man who raped her within a few days. The villagepanchayat consulted both the families in the presence of the police and elders made the decisions. The girl now has two children and is not allowed to even step outside the house.

This is not the only such case. There have been many similar cases across western Uttar Pradesh involving Jatavs, information on which is regularly fudged to keep the official counts down.

While Mayawati represents the political force that has consolidated the Dalit vote, Raj partly represents the Dalit movement outside of electoral political framework working towards a caste-less society. He has led campaigns across the country as head of various Dalit unity groups to open up the communities to conversion to other religions. Thousands of Dalits have embraced Buddhism, Islam and Christianity and snubbed the Hindutva forces, irking the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and similar groups repeatedly.

Raj has also challenged Mayawati many a time over the past decade to embrace Buddhism and put an end to the casteist politics altogether. “The objective is the revival of Buddhism to create a caste-less society, so that the decadent social structure can be changed,” he says.

But, Mayawati has consistently attacked him and leaders from all other lower Dalit castes in a derogatory way, he alleges. “Mayawati has been repeatedly pointing out who belongs to which caste. She called Ram Vilas Paswan a Dusadh, pointed out that Bangaru Laxman is a Valmiki, and called me a Khatik,” he said.

“And then in 2008 she announced that her successor will only be a chamar. She has discriminated within the party and openly too. But, you cannot, in India, in a democracy, say who will be your successor and treat the voter base like it is your kingdom. Why preach about the Bahujan samaj when you openly discriminate and say only a chamar will be the successor? Why not any Ambedkarite, irrespective of the caste?” he questions.

Raj formed the Indian Justice Party in 2003, after quitting a government job in 2001. He had ideas very different from that of the BSP. He wanted to push for an equal education system, job reservations for Dalits in the private sector and unite the voters on those lines.

But, now he says it is not the way to go forward. A sense of disillusionment over the four years of Mayawati’s present rule has changed his approach. “I have realised that ideology, development and even honesty do not play a very important role in Uttar Pradesh. Caste configurations and equations do,” he says.

The main agendas of his party have not attracted the communities or the voters. Hence, the new front with a different approach, he says.

Dalit leaders from other parties have joined him too. Ram Nihore Rakesh from the Congress convinced him to form the Upeskshit Dalit Mahapanchayat to fight the rights of castes lower in hierarchy, like Pasi, Dhobi, Kori and Khatik.

“These castes are not aware, educated and conscious of participation in the government and about their rights in governance,” Raj says.

He realises that the caste system cannot be rooted out so easily; it will exist; people in Uttar Pradesh will vote along caste lines.

He now plans to unite leaders representing the marginalised sections from all parties and bring them together. He also wants to collaborate with other parties representing marginalised groups, like the Peace Party, which represents the Muslims in the state.

Jats found the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Yadavs and Gurjjars found Mulayam Singh Yadav, Thakurs found Amar Singh and Jatavs found Mayawati. Maybe it is time for another ignored section of Uttar Pradesh to find representation in the state, where caste loyalties run deep.

Whether Udit Raj succeeds and his ideas translate into votes and electoral success in the 2012 assembly elections or not, he can still play a very important role in bringing debate to the Dalit discourse and push the political system a step closer towards the marginalised within the Dalits.

Posted on www.

Oklahoma House reprimands Rep. Sally Kern

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 4, 2011

By Michael McNutt

The House of Representatives on Monday publicly reprimanded Rep. Sally Kern for disparaging comments she made against blacks and women during a debate last week on affirmative action.

The House took the action about an hour after Kern, R-Oklahoma City, made a tearful apology on the House floor.

Rep. Mike Shelton, one of four blacks in the 101-member House, made the motion to reprimand her. Kern made the motion to unanimously accept it.

“I made my apology, and I do understand that just saying you’re sorry does not make everything right,” Kern said.

A member objected, and a roll-call vote was taken. The House voted 76-16 to reprimand Kern. It’s the third public reprimand the GOP-controlled House has issued against members — all Republicans — this session. Rep. Mike Reynolds, of Oklahoma City, was scolded for interrupting the pastor of the day, and Rep Randy Terrill, of Moore, was reprimanded for making comments considered threatening to the House speaker.

Shelton said the reprimand was necessary because Oklahoma is working hard to improve its image.

“We are trying to be a player within the United States as well as the world,” he said. “The comments by Sally Kern make us step back and it makes people look at the state of Oklahoma as a different place.

“We must recognize Oklahoma is changing and it’s changing fast,” Shelton said. “Our population is becoming more diverse and that we need to learn to be more accepting of others.”

MAKING AN APOLOGY

During her apology on the House floor, Kern, who three years ago did not apologize for telling an Oklahoma City Republican group that the homosexual agenda is a bigger threat than terrorism or Islam to America, said she was sorry for her comments during last week’s debate.

“I certainly stumbled in my words the other night,” said Kern, who spoke from the lectern and addressed the full House.

She said several people had read her latest comments, including House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee. She quoted Scripture a couple times.

“I said some words that were not real thought out and that offended many African-Americans and many women,” Kern said. “That was not my intent. ... I take full responsibility for it and I am truly sorry.”

Kern said Monday she didn’t speak with contempt or malice during her eight-minute speech last week. She submitted a written apology Thursday, which was accepted by Steele.

Monday was the first time the House met since Wednesday night’s debate.

Kern cried toward the end of her apology, which lasted several minutes.

“My poor choice of words were hurtful and offensive to many,” Kern said. “I am offering my apology and asking for your forgiveness.

“I hope that you will find it in your heart to accept it,” she said.

MOTION TO REPRIMAND

Shelton made a motion to publicly reprimand Kern after her speech. He was told he would have to get it scheduled with Floor Leader Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa. An hour after Kern’s speech, Shelton was recognized to make his motion requesting the reprimand.

Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, voted against the reprimand. He said Kern said some stupid things during the late-night debate but that she did the right thing by apologizing.

“If we reprimand for what somebody says in debate we could have a very detrimental, chilling effect on free speech,” he said.

Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, said the reprimand “flies in the face of every Sunday school lesson I’ve ever had.”

“Kern issued a sincere apology,” he said. “My faith teaches me that I’m to forgive.”

Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, said he took constitutional privilege, which allowed him to abstain from the vote, because he wasn’t on the House floor when Kern made her comments.

Three Democrats voted against the reprimand, drawing criticism from Sen. Judy Eason McIntire, D-Tulsa.

Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, told The Oklahoman it was up to the Republican-controlled House to determine if any action should be taken against Kern. Fallin said it’s appropriate that Kern apologized; she doesn’t think Kern should resign.

“It was very unfortunate that Representative Kern misspoke and made the comments that she made,” Fallin said. “I certainly do not support the comments that she made on the House floor. All Oklahomans work very hard no matter what your race, color or creed is, men or women. It’s just an unfortunate comment. She has apologized; I accept her apology.”

WHAT WAS SAID

During a debate Wednesday night, Kern said minorities and women earn less than men because they don’t work as hard and have less initiative. She made the comments while debating for Senate Joint Resolution 15, a measure that would allow the state to not abide by affirmative action guidelines.

Kern said equal opportunity should be based on ability regardless of color and gender.

Kern questioned whether blacks were in prison “just because they’re black ... or could it be because they didn’t want to work hard in school?

“I taught school for 20 years, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t want to work as hard,” she said.

Talking about her own sex, Kern said, “Women usually don’t want to work as hard as a man. Women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be at home more time, wanting to have a little more leisure time.

“I’m not saying women don’t work hard,” she said. “Women like ... to have a moderate work life with plenty of time for spouse and children and other things like that. They work very hard, but sometimes they aren’t willing to commit their whole life to their job like a lot of men do.”

Posted on www.newsok.com

Renate Barnard case in Labour Appeal Court - Solidarity

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 2, 2011

By Dirk Hermann

One of SA's biggest affirmative action cases comes before Labour Appeal Court on Wednesday

Solidarity, on behalf of Captain Renate Barnard, and SAPS to face off in court

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and Solidarity will face off in the Labour Appeal Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, this coming Wednesday (4 May) at 10:00. The case in which Solidarity is representing Captain Renate Barnard has been carrying on for more than five years. This landmark affirmative action case may change the way affirmative action is applied in South Africa. The Labour Court has already ruled in favour of Barnard, but the SAPS appealed the ruling.

"The big test in the case is whether absolute representivity can be enforced through affirmative action at all costs. The case will show if affirmative action outweighs service delivery," Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, said.

In Barnard's case, Commissioner Jackie Selebi, former police chief, intervened and prohibited her appointment in a new key position at the police's national inspectorate, the complaints investigation division, in Pretoria.

A selection panel identified Barnard as the best candidate for the post of superintendent in the inspectorate - created to improve service delivery to the public - on two occasions. The inspectorate investigates complaints on service delivery received from the public.

The post was advertised in September 2005. Barnard and several other candidates applied for it. After interviews had been held, the selection panel allocated a mark of 86,67% to her, which was 17,5% higher than the mark allocated to a Captain Shibambu, the only other serious candidate.

The panel found that the difference in Barnard and Shibambu's scores was so great that service delivery would be jeopardised if Shibambu was appointed in the post. They recommended Barnard for the position, but Assistant Commissioner Rasegatla, the divisional commissioner, decided it should be left vacant due to considerations relating to affirmative action.

The post was, however, advertised again a year later and Barnard reapplied for it. A selection panel once again identified her as the only realistic candidate. This time Rasegatla decided that she should be appointed in the post. In his recommendation to Selebi, he pointed out that other candidates who could have promoted representivity had had a year to improve in order to compete with her, but had not improved sufficiently.

According to court documents, Rasegatla wrote to Selebi that failure to give her recognition and to appoint her in the post was likely to send her the wrong message.

Selebi nevertheless turned down her appointment on the grounds that it would not promote affirmative action. He subsuequently withdrew the post.

Posted on www.politicsweb.co.za

Trump or Obama: Who do you think was the better student

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 2, 2011

By RosaMaria Pegueros

“Trump Pivots From Obama’s Birth Certificate to College Grades: Says the President needs to explain how he got into Harvard” --so reads the headline immediately after President Barack Obama’s release of his long-form birth certificate.

Reality show star and financier Donald Trump can play stupid games that feed the appetites of the slow-witted and small-minded Fox Network viewers, calling into question the president’s place of birth and even his practice of Christianity. But there is one thing, aside from his color, that one cannot question about Obama: his intellectual brilliance. That the buffoonish Trump, a child of privilege and showman à la Barnum and Bailey, now attacks the basis of Obama’s authority, is simply ludicrous. It can, however, be read in a more sinister light: here comes the attack on affirmative action.

Former President George W. Bush was a graduate of Yale and Harvard; I never heard Donald Trump question W's college standings even though it was news to no one that W was an indifferent student. At Yale, he was a "legacy” admission, that is, the child of an alumnus who is given special consideration because of his status. By the time W applied to the graduate school in business at Harvard, his father was president of the United States. As the late governor of Texas, Ann Richards, once said about the elder Bush, “Poor George. He can't help it - he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

One of the ways that racists and conservatives have attempted to discredit the achievements of people of color has been to attack affirmative action and those who have benefited from it, attempting to embarrass those who are seen as its beneficiaries. Originally, the mandate for affirmative action grew out of executive orders by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Affirmative action can be seen as a distillation of the intent of these major pieces of legislation. Finally, students of color would not be barred by their skin color or ethnic backgrounds from attending any college or university in the country, nor would they be relegated to sitting on a chair in the hallway instead of in the classroom with the white students.  But with these attempts to remedy discrimination against nonwhites came the backlash that has continued to bedevil the application of affirmative action standards.

Affirmative action is perhaps the third most controversial issue faced by the Supreme Court, after abortion and gay rights, and considered a “must change” by conservatives.  When I started college in 1968, affirmative action was brand new. It didn’t take long before I got that message that we students of color were occupying seats that should have rightfully gone to white students.  It made no difference how well I did in school; I was taking somebody else's “rightful” place. I grew a thick skin, but some notable figures did not.

The most famous of these is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. A native of Pin Point, Georgia, he grew up in hardscrabble circumstances. Instead of being proud of his achievements, Justice Thomas is shamed by having been helped by affirmative action. He has chosen to identify as a conservative.  The distinguished African American jurist A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., took Justice Thomas to task for that choice, asking “just whose values are you seeking to conserve?” The elevation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, filling the seat of Justice Thurgood Marshall, a great hero of the civil rights movement, has been a source of sorrow and consternation to the African American community and all those who fought for civil rights.

At the very least, conservatives would like educated African Americans, Latino-Americans and other nonwhite groups to feel apologetic for the hand-up offered by affirmative action. What they really want is for us to cede the advances we have made in educating and raising the standard of living for our peoples. They would want us to return to the way things used to be, when the sons of the wealthy attended the best universities to be given their “gentlemen’s C’s.”

This is President Barack Obama’s sin: he not only attended, he excelled. His father was not a white alumnus of an Ivy League college who sent the school a nice contribution so his dimwitted son could get some fancy letters after his name. Oh no. Obama was left to be raised by his mother, a white woman, who, when things got tough, accepted food stamps so she could keep her mixed-race boy fed. Ultimately he was, as many poor children are, raised by his grandparents: his white grandparents who loved their grandson even though he was half black; the smart little boy who grew up to go to the best schools in the country, to graduate with the highest honors, and eventually, to become the most powerful man in the world.

Ooooo, those anti-miscegenation, white hoodwearing, good ol’ boys are steaming mad about having a smart black man in the White House; THEIR white house.

Tough. And if Donald Trump wants to see his grades, President Obama should say, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”  Who do you think was the better student?

Posted on www.mylatinovoice.com

Shedding the stain of joblessness

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. April 29, 2011

By Maura Kelly

Recently, one of my closest friends – let's call him Franz – left a frustrating job. After five months with the company, his nerves were shot. His boss – the kind of monomaniacal entrepreneur who favours frenetic midnight phone calls to discuss matters of minor importance – had hired him for a management job, but Franz was consistently undercut by the head honcho's dictatorial machinations. He was having trouble keeping his cool but I repeated advice a friend had given to me once, long ago: finding a job is always easier when you have a job. Franz griped that he was working such long hours he wouldn't have the time or energy to look for a new position until he quit – and eventually, fed up beyond the point of patience, he gave a month's notice.

A new study out of UCLA has found that, unfortunately, sticking it out would have been wise: When making hiring decisions, prospective employers discriminate against the unemployed, even when they are essentially identical to employed applicants – and even when they've been out of work for only a few days. The UCLA researchers analysed three different studies in which participants were asked to rate jobseekers according to their resumes: half the participants were told an applicant was still employed, while the other half was told he or she had been unemployed for a few days. George Ho, lead researcher, told ABCNews.com:

"We were surprised to find that, all things being equal, unemployed applicants were viewed as less competent, warm and hirable than employed individuals. We were also surprised to see how little the terms of departure mattered. Job candidates who said they voluntarily left a position faced the same stigma as job candidates who said they had been laid off or terminated."

Does this mean we should start talking about affirmative action programmes for the unemployed? Not necessarily, but it does mean that employers should be aware of their propensity to make biased judgments – which could have serious consequences for the people they so easily dismiss. Prolonged joblessness is a vicious cycle, leading to increased melancholy and loss of confidence, which make it tougher to find work; and, of course, the longer one is unemployed, the less appealing one looks to people making hiring decisions. There are also real physical repercussions to unemployment: a wide-ranging McGill University study, for example, found that unemployment increased the risk of premature death by 63%. (It had nothing to do with no longer being able to afford adequate healthcare.)

You could argue – and I'm sure many employers do – that someone who's been unemployed for a long time has lost job skills that might be necessary, or hasn't, say, become proficient using newly-developed computer programs that are popular in the industry. But why assume the worst? Someone who's been unemployed for a while is likely to be very grateful for his or her new gig; to work harder than a peer who might be coming straight from another job; and even to accept a lower starting salary. It's also possible he or she has used the unpaid time to acquire new skills. In other words, there are plenty of reasons that an unemployed job applicant might actually be a better hire than an employed equivalent.

There are also things that the unemployed can do to make themselves more appealing: namely, get involved in a meaningful activity that willteach you new things, and feature it prominently on your cv. When I asked Ho, via email, if he thought that was good advice, he agreed with me.

"I would recommend that the unemployed fill the gaps on their resumes with activities such as volunteering, part-time or contract work, school, entrepreneurship, and so on because our research shows that even the most minimal gap (one month or less) can lead to devaluation. If a gap exists, and there is no activity to fill in the gap, our research findings suggest that providing a reason indicating the cause of unemployment was in no way attributable to them (eg, employer went out of business) would alleviate unemployment stigma."

Or, I suppose, you could do what Franz did.

Before he quit, he'd been steadily employed since graduating from college – and except for the most recent case, he'd always found a subsequent job before leaving the previous one. During the first few days of unemployment, he applied for three gigs. An outfit he was very interested in working for put him through a series of tests and interviews over the course of five weeks, including a day-long meeting with some of his potential co-workers. When the desirable company said, "No thanks", he was crushed; he'd put all of his eggs in that basket. Then leads that had seemed plentiful during his first few days of unemployment dried up.

So, he teamed up with a few friends, and went into business for himself.

Posted on www.guardian.co.uk

Hindu group alleges bias in listing India on 'Watch List'

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. April 29, 2011

The decision of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to place India in the 'Watch List' of countries along with Russia,Afghanistan and Cuba raises questions of bias and flawed methodology, a Washington-based eminent Hindu group said here.

"USCIRF's decision to club India in with a dozen or so of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world, while overlooking others, again raises questions of bias and flawed methodology," Prof Ramesh Rao of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) alleged.

"The Commission's censure of India in 2011, despite that country's celebrated pluralism and absence of any significant recent religious discord -- despite provocative terror attacks -- seems based more on a disagreement over some states' effort to monitor coercive and forced conversions," Rao said.

The USCIRF decision, however, was not unanimous.

Commissioners Felice Gaer and William Shaw dissented, describing the listing of India on the watch list as "ill-advised and inappropriate".

HAF was the only organization invited to testify by USCIRF that demanded India's removal from the watch list, and its arguments were echoed by the two commissioners in their public dissent.

Besides Rao, the author of HAF's annual Hindu human rights report, Suhag Shukla, HAF's Managing Director and Legal Counsel testified before the USCIRF Commissioners in Washington last month arguing that India did not belong on the watch list due to its robust human rights mechanisms and independent judiciary that comprehensively probed incidents of inter-religious violence.

They insisted that the "predatory proselytizing" supported by many US churches vitiates inter-religious harmony in India as well as other countries and must be considered in any comprehensive analysis of international religious freedom, a media release said.

"We are disappointed that the compelling evidence we presented did not move the majority of commissioners away from their deeply flawed assumptions about India," Shukla said.

"But continuing to call out bias within quasi- government bodies, such as USCIRF, that lack Hindu, Buddhist, or Sikh representation and bringing to light the damaging role that predatory proselytization plays in inter-religious relations around the globe are guiding principles and imperative for HAF," Shukla said.

Shukla and Rao offered evidence of the Constitutional and legal accommodations provided to India's minorities, including the existence of separate personal and family laws for Muslims and Christians, governmental subsidies for the annual Haj pilgrimage for Muslims and the right of all religious communities, except Hindu, to independently control their respective places of worship free from government interference.

They also highlighted India's affirmative action policies and reservations in government and educational institutions, intended to afford economic and social advantages to religious minorities.

Posted on www.expressindia.com

ZANU PF sends support to Malema in South Africa

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. April 28, 2011

By Tererai Karimakwenda

Zimbabwe’s Affirmative Action Group (AAG) announced this week that they were sending a delegation to South Africa to support Julius Malema, the highly controversial Youth League leader of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. Malema is facing hate language charges due to his insistence on singing a racially charged ANC song from the liberation struggle.

The AAG said the trip was in solidarity with Malema as “an honorary member” who supports empowerment issues. But some observers have said it appears to be a ZANU PF strategy to appease the ANC, after a recent row with President Jacob Zuma over the recent SADC troika summit in Lusaka.

The AAG delegation is due to leave on Friday, represented by the group’s President Supa Mandiwanzira and Secretary General Tafadzwa Musarara. Mandiwanzira is a devout ZANU PF supporter who is also heading up a new weekly newspaper called The Patriot.

“We know who Supa is and who he represents,” said former student leader and activist Mfundo Mlilo, adding that the gesture appears to be a ZANU PF attempt to reach out to the ANC.

Mlilo explained that the position of South Africa on Zimbabwe is changing because the country has a huge economy and therefore a “big brother” responsibility in the region.

The activist believes the AAG trip is also a sign that ZANU PF does respond to pressure, despite the non-caring image they like to portray. “And this pressure needs to continue,” he added.

Reports said the AAG will also be taking a written letter of support to Malema. The letter reads in part; “On behalf of the Affirmative Action Group, the vanguard of broad-based black economic empowerment in Zimbabwe, I would like to categorically state that, as our honorary member, the group is fully behind you during and after your court trial proceedings. Our entire membership is disturbed and extremely infuriated by the goings- on at the Equality Court.”

Malema was taken to the Equality Court by the human rights group Afriforum, who want him to stop singing the lyrics “Dubuli’bhunu”, which mean “Kill the Boer”. The group says these are hate lyrics that are partly responsible for the ongoing murders of white farmers in the country.

Posted on www.swradioafrica.com