United States News

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

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

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

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

Concept of 'diversity' breeds Donald Trump thinkin

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 Jeneba Ghatt

I have a problem with the concept of “diversity” just for its sake alone.

If it is known that a selective school or a job has diversity goals or hires, many times students and workers of color are thought of, among their peers, managers and superiors, to be beneficiaries of special admission programs, not necessarily qualified or thought to have earned their spots in the class.

The concept of diversity admission and hires can also create the scenario where the competence of people of color gets challenged.  We are perceived to have been pushed along all of our lives, and are thought to be incompetent until proven otherwise.

This is the type of thinking has created an atmosphere where mainstream media ignores all challenging issues the country is going through with its budget crisis, joblessness and wars, and instead, focuses on the unreasonable demands of a loud-mouth business mogul and reality TV star.

Yesterday, the President released his long form birth certificate to appease the requests of so-called “Birthers.”  For two and a half years, these individuals refused to believe Obama was born in the United States, despite evidence proving he was.  Lawsuits were filed, and the news media, recently led by Donald Trump, focused on this issue.

In a statement to the press yesterday, the president acknowledged, “I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. “

He was certainly right about that. This morning, news stories indicated that members of the Tea Party movement, some conservatives, and others, are still not satisfied, and demanded that President Obama release his undergraduate and law school records.

The reason? They question Obama’s qualifications to have been admitted to Harvard Law, despite the fact that while there, he excelled, earning the distinction of being the first Black Editor-In-Chief of the very select Harvard Law Review.

To be fair, this is not the first time that opponents of a president or a presidential candidate demanded to see the academic credentials of the candidate or president at the time.  Interesting enough though, in recent history, never were the records readily released by the candidate, without first being leaked or revealed by a news organization.  And each time, the leak revealed mediocre grades:

  • George Bush never released his grades but leaked transcripts that showed he was a solid C student at Yale college (where his father attended) yet managed to get admitted to Harvard Business School.
  • Sarah Palin, former Republican Vice Presidential nominee (and possible 2012 presidential candidate), according to an Associated Press report, switched colleges six times in six years, including two stints at the University of Idaho, before graduating there in 1987.
  • John Kerry’s leaked records obtained by The Boston Globe, showed he was a C student at Yale.
  • Al Gore was also a C student at Harvard, according to a Politics Insider report
  • Ronald Reagan’s academic transcripts have never been released, though we know he was a student actor, cheerleader and graduated from the non-Ivy League Eureka College
  • John McCain finished 894 out of 899 at the naval academy, according to the Daily Paul.

That George Bush got into the very competitive Harvard business program with a C-average perhaps shows that his pedigree and family connections got him admitted, notwithstanding his grades.  Arguably, this type of legacy admission could be considered a form of Affirmative Action, and one which many children from affluent families annually benefit.

That form of preferential admission is tolerable and rarely questioned.  There is a double standard, however, for Affirmative Action programs that benefit students of color.

Thus, the biggest problem with quotas, which are based on a simple numerical admission of certain students, employees or contractors, based on color alone and not merit, is that they are wrongly confused with Affirmative Action.

The latter is comprised of programs created based on an acknowledgment that historical and institutional racism, inferior schools in certain urban communities, absence of word-of-mouth or legacy access that, say a George W. Bush may have, do and have limited many minorities’ admission into competitive programs.

Affirmative Action has been challenged in the federal contracting scenario at the United States Supreme Court in Adarand Constructions v. Pena, and in the academic setting in Hopwood v. Texas, and in a way, that limits how they can be instituted.

In spite of these cases, schools, governments and employers still take affirmative steps to diversify their ranks, acknowledging the value of doing so, and understanding that the student body and workforce can be enriched by people from varying backgrounds and experiences.

When White students, employees, or contractors get locked out of an opportunity, some automatically assume it is because a less qualified minority took a position reserved for that “diversity” slot. That assumption is unfair, and many times inaccurate.

Nonetheless, beyond college and later in life, the perception of being unqualified until proven otherwise persists.  I can relate.  For example, while on a firm-wide retreat, I got upset when I noticed that a very competitive law firm partner purposefully attempted to skip my turn in the game, and for no other reason, I assume, than he didn’t think I would get the answer right, although he had yet to work with me before, and had no basis for that assumption.

Later, during that same game, when I got an answer right no one else could figure out, I got irritated to see how amazed and shocked everyone was, including lawyers Junior to me, over the fact I stumped them all. It had me thinking that, despite doing well enough to go to a good law school and get into a top ranked law firm, the expectations of me, being the only black lawyer in an office of 60, and my intelligence, are still low, notwithstanding.

And, perhaps because of still-existing sensitivities about my own past in corporate America and of having to defend my credibility and qualifications, I find myself having the President’s back a lot recently. Perhaps, I've developed a send of solidarity or have empathy. and also  I am concerned for my own children.

I have big plans for them, and at their young ages, I am already actively involved in their education. I guide them  and want them to earn high marks in all levels of their schooling, and want them eventually excel in their college entrance exams and get into top colleges, universities and post-graduate schools based on merit.

It is a dream that many parents have for their children.  Alas, you cannot control what others think about you, and I will have to remember to teach them that. Notwithstanding, it can be a nuisance to have to need to prove you belong all the time,  to get skipped over, to not be asked to join study groups, or to be presumed to be a quota baby, especially when others do not have to go through the same type of second-guessing, and get the benefit of the doubt automatically.

Posted on www.communities.washingtontimes.com

Barack Obama: Affirmative Action's Best Poster Child?

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

In his new digs at The Daily Caller, Mickey Kaus notes the latest talking-point attacks regarding whether President Obama deserved admission to elite universities, and posits that it's as good a time as any to debate affirmative action:

The biggest problem with race preferences is that they taint the achievements, not just of those who benefit from them, but of everyone in the beneficiary group-even those who would have gotten into the college or gotten the job, etc., without the preference. That is an unfairness Obama may acutely feel. Race preferences are a big reason blacks feel they have to be twice as good as everyone else to measure up in society's eyes-which is a powerful argument for ending the preferences.The amazing thing isn't that we would have a debate on this divisive issue now but that Obama's been able to duck it for so long-in part by preemptively hinting that he'd replace race-based preferences with class-based preferences.

All of that seems wrong to me.

The reason that President Obama has been able "to duck this" is that opponents of affirmative action realize that if he was in fact a beneficiary, he is perhaps the ideal example of the policy gone right. His admission to Harvard Law School demonstrably wasn't tainted by the notion that he didn't belong there: He made sure of that by graduating magna cum laude, his peers selected him editor of the Harvard Law Review, and classmates and professors gush on and on about how impressed they were by the guy. Then there's the institution's perspective. Harvard University is obsessed with training future leaders. In Barack Obama, they got a United States Senator ... and we haven't even gotten to the obvious argument, as offered by Matt Yglesias:

If it's true that Barack Obama couldn't get into college without a boost from affirmative action, then the fact that he later went on to become President of the United States of America would surely go to show that affirmative action is a good idea! The concern that super-talented people were getting locked out of opportunities is exactly the sort of thing affirmative action is supposed to resolve.

As it happens, I oppose race-based affirmative action, despite the fact that it may have worked out quite well in the case of Barack Obama. The country where he grew up wouldn't have elected him president. Times change. The notion of advantaged people like Sasha and Malia Obama benefiting from racial preferences is a much better argument against the policy than the experience of their father.

But there are better arguments still.

Contra Kaus, "the biggest problem with race preferences" is that ours is an increasingly multi-racial, multi-ethnic country, and it is going to get increasingly unhealthy for institutions to define their own preferred racial mix. Among other things, doing so inevitably pits various out-groups against one another -- that's what happens in zero sum games, and it isn't as though the U.S. is immune to suspicions and resentments developing among minority groups in economic competition.

Class-based affirmative action would still disproportionately benefit historically disadvantaged racial minorities, and it would do so without the need to rethink and re-debate the appropriate racial diversity mix every few years. In fact, there would be a built-in fairness corrective: The more a racial group emerged from the American underclass, the less its members would receive special benefits.

It is perfectly rational that principled opponents of affirmative action do not desire to frame the issue around the experience of Barack Obama. He is a terrible poster child for almost every coherent argument they typically make. That's why we'll know, if Obama and affirmative action emerge as a big issue, that his ideological opponents are cynically stoking the racial anxieties of Americans, whether to win votes from folks antagonistic to our first black president, or merely because media attention is guaranteed to any candidate inclined to raise racially fraught subjects in a presidential campaign.

Kaus concludes by suggesting that no one would doubt Obama's bona fides if he were performing better in the White House. Does that make sense? Voters strongly opposed to affirmative action tend to also be deeply skeptical that "deserved" Ivy League educations lead to excelling in office. And GOP partisans can hardly conclude 8 years of George W. Bush by lamenting that the other team's president is suspect because he benefited from help getting into a good school!

It's that kind of double standard that fuels the dismay some black liberals are feeling right now. "In professional life," Adam Serwer wrote yesterday, "black people are often subject to random, arbitrary standards on the basis of race, and it's profoundly disheartening to watch this happen to the first black person to become president of the United States, because it implies that there's really no end to it, regardless of one's personal talent or the heights one manages to achieve."

Posted on www.theatlantic.com

'Gangbangers and Maids' No More

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 13, 2011

By Daniel Holloway

Since Arizona enacted its harsh immigration law last year, anti-Hispanic sentiment has played prominently in our national conversation. But no amount of finger-pointing from angry white politicians and their angry white supporters can change one immutable fact: The United States is becoming browner.

As the dust settles from the 2010 census, the extraordinary growth of the Hispanic population has come into focus. The census counted 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States in 2010—up from 35.3 million in 2000—representing 16.3 percent of the total population. The Hispanic boom was responsible for most of the nation's 56 percent population growth in the last decade.

When Hispanics look to American film and television, they have traditionally found themselves underrepresented on screen. But Kathryn Galan, executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, is among those who believe that that is changing. "We think that the recent advances in Latino casting"—particularly in the latter part of the 2010-11 television season, Galan added—"is a direct result of our having identified the fact that the 2009 season was terrible for Latinos," she said. "That coupled with the 2010 census has encouraged much more Latino casting."

NALIP will kick off its weekend-long annual conference, the New Now, Friday at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, Calif. The conference will feature a TV-actors roundtable, presented by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and a screening of the film "America," presented by the Screen Actors Guild. On Thursday, NALIP will host a special pre-conference Latino edition of Back Stage's Actorfest.

"Our organization was created to increase the quality and content of images by and about Latinos," Galan said. "Where we have images about Latinos, we need Latino performers to perform them."

'Modern' Marvel

One of the most prominent Hispanic performers on television is Sofia Vergara of ABC's "Modern Family." Vergara will receive NALIP's Outstanding Achievement Award at the conference, and Galan points to the actor—and to the complexity of the character she portrays—as an example of the strides being made by Hispanics on screen, noting that it represents a far cry from the '90s, when "the media only showed Latinos as gangbangers and maids."

Consuelo Flores is the equal employment opportunity director for AFTRA's Los Angeles local and will moderate the union's NALIP panel. She agrees that Vergara's "Modern Family" role, in which the actor plays an intelligent and outspoken woman who marries into a Caucasian family, is a significant landmark. Flores stressed the importance of seeing Hispanic actors represented in series that are racially diverse. In the NBC series "The Event," for example, Lisa Vidal plays the first lady opposite Blair Underwood, who is African-American, as the president. "It's not ever mentioned that she's Latina, but it doesn't have to be," Flores said. "The fact that she is Latina and playing the first lady is the point."

Flores' colleague Ray Bradford, AFTRA's national director for equal employment opportunity, reiterated the importance of making sure that actors of color are given the opportunity to play such "nonethnic-specific" roles. "It's very obvious that if you're trying to cast a Latino character, your first outreach would be to Latino performers," Bradford said. "But we all know that the vast majority of roles and characters that are written are what we call 'nondescript'—the judge, the jury, the grocery store clerk. Those are the roles where the vast amount of employment opportunities lie. According to our contracts, we encourage casting directors, talent agents, and employers to really be broad in their outreach for nondescript roles, and that's what we're seeing."

Though the television networks have yet to set their fall schedules, Bradford, Flores, and Galan spoke of the current pilot season in hopeful terms. This year's crop of pilots features several roles for Hispanic actors, including an untitled NBC show, starring Jimmy Smits as the mayor of Los Angeles, that is expected to have several Hispanic characters.

Market Watch

Adam Moore, SAG's associate national director for affirmative action and diversity, said that as the media landscape broadens, more Hispanic content creators are finding platforms, leading to more jobs for Hispanic performers. "There are purely more outlets for entertainment now, between really quality programming on cable, new-media opportunities, independent filmmakers getting the opportunity to get content out there in a variety of ways," Moore said. "There are just more opportunities out there for underrepresented communities to tell their own stories."

But Galan looks at the increase in opportunities and sees good business sense at work. With the Hispanic market growing faster than any other, media companies must figure out how to appeal to Latinos. She noted that though the full results of the census were not released until last month, the television networks began receiving briefings on it as early as December and January.

"They were reminded that this market is larger and, more important, has grown much faster across the nation," Galan said. "It really is a broad-based consumer and media market."

Posted www.backstage.com

Democracy in any country is a constant work in progress

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 10, 2011

By James Zogby

'Will Arabs be able to form real democracies?" That question, or some variation on it, is one I am frequently asked these days. Answering it, however, requires more than a simple yes or no.

For starters, one must understand the false assumptions about what constitutes a "real democracy", as well as the often naive misperceptions about how democracies emerge, function and evolve.

Democracies are more than an election, and it's not the first election that matters, but the subsequent ones that matter more.

I was in Yemen in 1993, having been invited to speak there on democracy and elections. The country was about to hold its first post-unification parliamentary contest and the air was as thick with politics as the city's walls were with posters.

As I visited the headquarters (or more accurately, qat chewing sessions) of each of the competing political parties and heard their election strategies for winning this contest and their plans for the future of the country, I also listened to their complaints.

"The ruling party keeps tearing down our signs," went one common concern. "They are paying people to vote and telling them for whom to vote," went another. There were many more.

Having been involved in politics and elections since my childhood, none of this was new to me, and I told them so. "That happens in Chicago all the time," I would say, not to mention in many other places.

A US State Department official who was present at one session complained to me afterwards about these comments. I rejected the criticism, arguing that I could not pretend that America's democracy was a flawless model to be emulated, like a swimsuit-wearing pinup - a sort of "Cindy Crawford of democracies". Because holding the US up as perfect is not only false, it sets the bar too high, beyond the reach of others.

The issue is not the flaw in an election, but whether or not processes were being put in place to impartially adjudicate complaints and take action to correct problems before the next election.

Unfortunately, this did not occur in Yemen; each election after the first was less, not more, open. This, in turn, undermined confidence in political processes in general, and democracy in particular.

All of this illustrates a key point: democracies aren't born, they are made over time.

Early in President Bill Clinton's term in office, I was invited to the National Archives to hear the president address how he planned to "mend, not end" the nation's Affirmative Action programme.

Waiting for the speech to begin, I was struck by the murals that surround the ceiling of the building's main hall. They portray scenes of the "Founders" who were, of course, all white men of means (mostly landowners, merchants and professionals). As I looked at them, I thought to myself: "Did these men, many of whom were slave-holders, have any idea what would become of their fledgling and imperfect enterprise?"

It is important for us to remember that when, in 1788, the vote was taken in Virginia to ratify the newly drafted Constitution of the United States, it passed by the thin margin of 89 to 79. Those numbers reflected the limits on the franchise in the new democracy.

Only white men of wealth were entitled to vote. Nor should we forget that it took another seven decades before slavery was abolished; six further decades before women were given the right to vote; and even longer still before the franchise was fully extended to African Americans.

The point here should be clear: America's democracy was not born perfect. To the contrary, it was extremely imperfect. But equally important to recall is how this democracy has continued to grow and expand.

Even now, after evidence of wide-spread problems that called into question the results of the 2000 and 2004 presidential contests, and the Supreme Court decision that opened the doors for unlimited amounts of undisclosed corporate funds to play a role in elections, it is painfully clear that the US still faces real challenges to its democracy, and much hard work remains.

So what lessons can new democracies gain from the American experiment?

The first is that while the shape and pace of the new democracies that may emerge in Arab countries will vary depending on customs and conditions, the test of their vitality and their validity will be in their ability to self-correct, change and expand.

And second, while elections and expanding political participation are important, it is also imperative that governments respect basic human rights and freedoms. These include providing citizens with the right, individually and collectively, to redress grievances; protecting them from abuse at the hands of the state; and creating an independent judiciary that guarantees due process, rule of law and protects individual rights.

If new democracies do this, they will be starting ahead of where the United States started its enterprise.

Posted on www.thenational.ae

Fix system for all students

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. March 31, 2011

By William Eastman

The topic of affirmative action is visceral and arouses emotional debates. This letter is written in response to two pieces published in The Daily Targum — the March 24 column "Remove all bias from academia" and Tuesday's letter "Affirmative action provides level playing field." I appreciate the opinions of both authors and the fact they expressed them civilly. Often, we can let our emotions get the better of us. I would like to take a moment to amiably disagree with both authors' presentations of the critical issue of affirmative action.

Both letters present a binary of the typical sort — against affirmative action or for it. Often in political issues our opinions are constrained to two choices —Republican/Democrat, pro-life/pro-choice, raise taxes/lower taxes, etc. Such constraints limit our discourse and our options. There are merits to affirmative action and there are also flaws, but what is most important is we recognize that, like the author of the letter says, the concept of the American dream can sometimes allow us to forget there is inequality in this country, and it plays itself out most emphatically in education.

Systemic inequality in America's education system is a grave threat to our country's future. Anyone who believes every child is given a fair opportunity need only travel from a school in the affluent suburbs of New Jersey to an inner-city school to recognize the huge "education gap." This inequality predominantly affects minorities, who live in poorer neighborhoods due to both formal and informal discriminations that plagued our great nation. Research has shown the strongest predictor of students' success is not the color of their skin, but the quality of their teachers and their access to educational resources. Students of all backgrounds suffer from poor teachers and a lack of access to necessary educational resources. Affirmative action focuses on the individual, not the flawed system.

An individual approach is the source of a lot of personal scorn toward affirmative action. Students who do not benefit from affirmative action feel they have been personally discriminated themselves and sometimes rightfully so. Affirmative action, as is, assumes a person's background based upon their race/ethnicity. We all know this can be extremely problematic. The author of the column is right to point out that it is unfair to benefit one person based solely on the color of their skin, not their personal experience. But the author of the letter is also right to recognize there must be some way of correcting the discriminations that led to such inequality. The way to do so is to focus on improving opportunity in the United States through educational reform that will give all students a sound education from the start and create a society that is well equipped and diverse in all aspects.

Inequality in the United States is like a tree with a compromised foundation, and affirmative action is a process that trims the highest reaching — most successful — branches of that tree. By focusing on alleviating the most talented, highest-reaching students from a decaying structure we forget it is the system that is flawed, and we ignore all those who never make it to the top, or even to the middle, because of the system that fails them.

Bad schools fail students. It is not the other way around. If we are to argue the merits of affirmative action, I would compel the participants in such an important debate to recognize what we are really talking about — equality in education. The inequalities in education in the black community are reflective of the societal discriminations blacks suffered. A government strong enough to inflict injuries on its people must be strong enough to redress those injuries. It is high time we work together to fix the flaws in the education system so our nation may thrive. As the graduation rate in the United States drops, we must be conscious that our strongest competitors in Europe, East Asia and elsewhere around the world have a high school graduation rate, and almost all of their students go on to some form of higher education.

It is in our national interest to work to make sure every student has a chance, regardless of where they grow up or what color their skin is. Whether or not we support affirmative action should not prevent us from recognizing this national imperative to fix our schools. When we do, we will realize the American dream, and we will transform our national future. I implore the great minds of the University and the nation, regardless of their personal beliefs, to begin a national discourse on how we can fix the broken education system in a way that works for all, not just the privileged. Let us not wait. The time to act is now.

Posted on www.dailytargum.com

'Bahamianisation is affirmative action without quotas', says Senator

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. March 30, 2011

BAHAMIANISATION has become "affirmative action without quotas", according to FNM Senator Dion Foulkes.

Despite the policy's mandate to promote multi-faceted advancement of Bahamians of all races, Mr Foulkes said that the initiative now closely mirrored the United States due to the historical discrimination of blacks in both countries.

Mr Foulkes said: "The US Federal Government in the 1960s and 1970s developed a policy, and in many respects made that policy law, to guarantee economic, educational, and social opportunities for minorities in the USA."

Mr Foulkes added: "One essential difference between affirmative action and Bahamianization was the use of quotas.

"Because black Bahamians are the majority in the Bahamas the question of quotas never arose."

During his debate on various bills to facilitate the privatisation and sale of BTC in the Upper House yesterday, Mr Foulkes defended his party's commitment and direct involvement in the economic, educational and social advancement of Bahamians.

Mr Foulkes said: "Employment opportunities have been the main focus of the Bahamianization policy, even though, it is not limited to employment.

"Bahamianization is more than jobs," he added. "It is also about land and business ownership, about the deepening of Bahamian culture and strengthening of social cohesiveness."

Lending his support to the BTC legislation, FNM Senator Dr Duane Sands said that the various bills would propel the country forward as able participants in the Information Age.

During his contribution, Dr Sands highlighted the country's lackluster response to globalisation in various industries throughout history.

Dr Sands cited the downturn of sponging, forestry operations, and pineapples, and the minimal participation in the industrial revolution.

Dr Sands said: "Globalization, or more importantly, our response to globalization and the flexibility required to respond, has not been pretty."

Dr Sands added: "We have arrived at a defining moment. We have sought to keep our eyes on the real prize. We have sought to avoid repeating the hard lessons learnt."

Posted on www.tribune242.com

An Open Letter to Liberal Supporters of the Libya War

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. March 28, 2011

By Robert Naiman

Middle East historian and blogger Juan Cole recently wrote a polemic against progressive U.S. critics of new U.S. war in Libya. In his polemic, he wrote, "I hope we can have a calm and civilized discussion of the rights and wrongs here."

I strongly agree with Juan that it is important for progressive critics of U.S. foreign policy to try to have a calm and civilized discussion about the issues that have been raised by the U.S. military intervention in Libya. In general, it's important to try to have calm and civilized discussions about all issues of public policy, even when - especially when - the underlying issues are matters of life and death. The alternative is nasty polemics, and a principal effect of nasty polemics is to exclude people from discussion who don't want to engage in nasty polemics. In this way the effect of nasty polemics are anti-democratic; nasty polemics tend to demobilize people and cause them to disengage, when what we need is the opposite: more engagement and more mobilization.

In this particular case, the decision of the Obama Administration to engage the country in a new Middle East war without Congressional authorization represents a long-term threat to the U.S. peace movement, because the U.S. peace movement is engaged in a long struggle to try to influence U.S. policy in the direction of less war, and Congress is a key arena in which the peace movement tries to assert influence over U.S. policy. If you take away power from Congress to determine issues of war and peace, you substantially reduce the power of the U.S. peace movement to influence issues of war and peace. Taking away Congressional war powers is to the peace movement like taking away collective bargaining is to the labor movement: a direct threat to our ability to move our agenda on behalf of our constituents.

There doesn't appear to be any plausible way right now to try to completely undo the fact that the Obama Administration has made this power grab for the war-making power of the Executive Branch, which goes beyond anything that the last Bush Administration did on war powers. Whatever else may be true about them, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 were authorized by Congress. In the case of the Iraq war, there was a vigorous Congressional and public debate before the war took place.

There's a lot to fault about the limits of that debate, but at least there was one. And the arguments that the Bush Administration made - many of them false - in order to get Congressional approval for the war served as benchmarks for future debates over the continuation of the war, when the war and occupation moved far away from the initial justifications for them, as wars and occupations often do. This contributed significantly to efforts to end the Iraq war, which is a key reason that Congressional debate and authorization are important, even when they don't prevent a war from starting. To the extent that the need for Congressional debate and authorization prevents wars from starting, it is mainly through its deterrent effect: if you get to the point where there is a Congressional vote on an authorization, you've probably already lost in the short run. But if Congressional approval is necessary, then the only wars that are going to start are ones that Congress will approve.

But although there's no plausible way right now for Congress to try to completely undo what President Obama has done to Congressional war powers, now that Congress is back in session - the Senate comes back today and the House comes back tomorrow - Congress can try to limit the damage of this precedent by asserting its own war powers. Congress could, for example, expressly prohibit the introduction of U.S. ground forces into Libya. Congress could establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the conflict, or require explicit authorization beyond a certain time period. Congress could establish a ceiling on how much money the Pentagon can spend on the conflict without further authorization. [You can contact your Representative here.]

This is not, as some would have it, "merely an issue of process." Is the right to challenge the government's ability to arrest and detain you "merely an issue of process?" Of course, it is not. The right to challenge the government's ability to arrest and detain you helps keep innocent people out of jail. The right of Congress to debate and authorize a military intervention before it takes place if the country or its armed forces have not been attacked helps keep us out of unjust wars. Habeas corpus doesn't keep all innocent people out of jail, and the need for Congressional debate and authorization doesn't stop all unjust wars, but if keeping innocent people out of jail is something that you care about, the weakening of habeas corpus is not something that you should take lightly; and if stopping unjust wars is something that you care about, the weakening of Congressional war powers is not something that you should take lightly.

If you still think that the weakening of Congressional war powers is something unimportant to the general public - "inside baseball" - consider this: you've probably received at some time an email from some organization that has asked you to take some action on some issue of war and peace. The last time you were asked to take some action, what action were you asked to take? Probably the last action you were asked to take was to write or call your representatives in Congress. So, when the Administration acted without Congressional authorization, when it established a precedent that Congress will have less say about when the country goes to war, it was reducing your ability to intervene in U.S. government policy; it was reducing the ability of organizations you support to intervene in U.S. government policy.

And the precedent that has been set here, especially if Congress does not take affirmative action to reassert its war powers, is extremely dangerous. If President Obama can engage the country in a war in Libya with a "recess bombing" which has not been authorized by Congress, what's to stop a future President from doing the same thing in Iran? Suppose that some Iranians organize an armed insurrection against the Iranian government. Suppose that the Iranian government moves to suppress the insurrection with force. Suppose the Iranian government appears to be on the verge of putting down the insurrection, and the armed insurgents appeal for outside military assistance. And suppose there that were a Congressional recess coming up. If the Administration waits until the Congressional recess so it can bomb Iran in support of the armed insurrection without Congressional authorization, would that be ok with you?

The claim that the President had to act when Congress was out of session because it was an emergency conveniently ignores the fact that it was it an emergency that was foreseen when Congress was in session. The Security Council debated when Congress was in session. The Arab League debated when Congress was in session. And the U.S. military operation was planned when Congress was in session. Indeed, the same day that the Administration went to the Security Council, it briefed some Members of Congress - while Congress was in session. Moreover, of course, Congress can come back into session anytime. If it was an emergency, Congress could convene.

Every country is different, and every military intervention is different. But there are some patterns here that should trouble us.

One pattern is the invocation of an apparent emergency to short-circuit debate over a U.S military intervention that may turn out to have a much greater cost, duration and scope than people were made aware of at the time of the emergency that was used to sell it. In Iraq, it was Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction: "don't let the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud." In Afghanistan, the emergency was the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In Libya, the emergency was the expected Libyan government assault on Benghazi. Note that while in the case of Iraq, the weapons of mass destruction story turned out to be a hoax, in the case of Afghanistan, there really was a terrorist attack on 9/11. But the "emergency" effect was the same. Because it's an emergency - it's always an emergency - there's no time to think, no time to deliberate, no time to debate, no time to evaluate possible alternative courses of action. There's only one possible course of action, and that's already been decided: war. The role assigned to the public by the Administration is just to agree with what's already been decided.

Nine years after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda is essentially gone from Afghanistan and 100,000 U.S. troops remain; more than a thousand Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed. The authorization of force for the invasion of Afghanistan has been used as the basis for U.S. military intervention in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines, as well as for the indefinite detention facilities at Guantanamo and Bagram. Now that you know what was inside the bag, don't you wish that we had had the opportunity to examine its contents more carefully before we purchased it?

Eight years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were no weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein has been executed, the Baath Party is illegal in Iraq, thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, the US-installed Iraqi government suppresses demonstrations with force, and we're still there. Don't you wish that we had had more opportunity to examine the contents of this bag before we purchased it?

And now we have a new war. And in this case, we didn't get to examine the bag beforehand at all, or even make a purchase. We've just been informed that the purchase was complete - and here's your bag. And there a lot of unanswered questions. How much is this war going to cost, at a time when many in Washington want to cut nutritional assistance for poor children, rent subsidies for poor families, and Social Security benefits? Now that Libyan government forces have retreated and rebel forces are advancing, are we "protecting civilians," or are we supporting the rebel offensive? If we are intervening in a civil war, shouldn't Congress debate that? If actual effect of our military activity on the ground is to support a rebel offensive to overthrow the Libyan government militarily - regardless of Administration statements that that is not our objective - shouldn't Congress debate that?

What is the exit strategy? Italy has proposed an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to end the violent conflict in Libya, allowing Qaddafi to go into exile. What is the position of the U.S. on the Italian proposal? Does the U.S. support real negotiations to resolve the crisis, or is it the de facto position of the U.S. that the war must continue, with the U.S. de facto supporting the armed rebels' offensive, until the Libyan government is overthrown by force? If it is the de facto U.S. position that the war must continue until the Libyan government is overthrown, what is the U.S. plan for running Libya after the Libyan government is overthrown? Are the armed rebels to become the new Libyan government? Has a determination been made that armed rebels from Benghazi will be accepted by people in Tripoli as their legitimate government? If people in Tripoli organize an armed rebellion against a new government led by people from Benghazi, what will our position on that be? Will we assist the new government in suppressing such a rebellion with force? And what role is envisioned for Western oil companies in a new Libyan government's management of Libya's oil wealth?

It was precisely to try to prevent the situation that we are in now - a new war that Congress has not had the opportunity to debate and authorize - that Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973. Congress was trying to prevent the President from circumventing Congress by creating "facts on the ground." Contrary to what many have claimed, President Obama has not obeyed the War Powers Resolution in the case of the U.S. military intervention in Libya. The War Powers Resolution - which is a law, here's a link to the U.S. code - states explicitly that military force must be used pursuant to Congressional authorization unless the U.S. or its armed forces are attacked:

(c) Presidential executive power as Commander-in-Chief; limitation The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

As a candidate for President in December 2007, former constitutional law professor and then U.S. Senator Barack Obama understood the issue perfectly well. He was asked by the Boston Globe:

In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

And Obama responded:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

This was the same Barack Obama who said, also as a candidate for President, in March 2007:

I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution.

The Administration's assault on the war powers of Congress is extremely grave. It is essential for efforts to prevent wars in the future that Congress take steps to limit this assault on Congressional war powers. You can communicate with your Representative here.

Posted on www.huffingpost.com

Morris: Forming to the Left, a Challenge to Obama

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. March 24, 2011

By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

If President Barack Obama submits his intervention in Libya to Congress for its approval and he was still Senator Barack Obama, he would vote against his own use of force resolution.

Obama has taken the first step into quicksand and will find it impossible to extricate himself.  He has been lured by center-right governments in the UK and France to embrace the cause of saving Libyan civilians, a fight he probably cannot accomplish without ground troops and likely cannot win without regime change.

Bush-43 spent six years trying to convince us that Iraq was not another Vietnam.  Now Obama is trying to sell the idea that Libya is not another Iraq.  But, of course, it is.  In both cases, we face a hostile dictator who, with his political and military cronies, has made a good living by abusing his own people.  Even if Gadaffi goes, his clique is as likely to trigger a guerilla war as Saddam's did in Iraq.  And, in both countries, we intervene as a foreign power, distrusted by the population.  And, in each case, we face a nation where the crowded cities and the vast open spaces around them make guerilla war highly possible.

Add to this mix that Obama took the action consulting only with the U.N. Security Council, not the U.S. Congress.  He, even now, refuses to send a war powers resolution to Congress.

He begins the war with only 51% approval for the intervention among Democrats.  A Democratic president cannot sustain popular support for a war by relying on Republicans.  Obama is setting in motion the same forces that toppled Humphrey and Johnson in 1968 and Hillary in 2008.  He is betraying his political base and will pay for it at the polls.

In President Clinton's move to the center of 1995-1996, he took care to cave into the demands of Jesse Jackson to preserve affirmative action, despite the president's personal preference to make it gender and racially neutral.  He did so precisely to avoid a primary fight so that he could accommodate the Republican Congress on domestic policy and budget issues without worrying about his left flank.

Obama has cut no such deal with the likes of Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.  If Obama stays in Libya, Kucinich probably gets into the race.  If Obama continues to stay, Kucinich will move up in the polls.

At the very least, Kucinich's challenge will hamper Obama's attempts to move to the center since complying with Republican demands for spending cuts will enrage his liberal constituents.  At the most, Kucinich's candidacy will attract funding and credibility and become a serious political movement.  Can't you see Michael Moore hopping on board?

How did Obama get embroiled?  It started with European pressure on Hillary.  The Secretary of State did not like being the odd-woman-out as the European club berated the U.S. for failing to protect Libyan civilians.  Never mind that they let the Kurds get gassed by the hundreds of thousands and the Rwandans get exterminated by the millions.  Now, the European establishment was determined to act.

Hillary, obsessed by the desire to fit in, came out - in private - for military action and, together with Samantha Powers and Susan Rice, convinced Obama to act.  The subtext of this decision was that the president couldn't sit back and let slaughter proceed in Libya and have his 2008 presidential runner-up chaffing at the bit to stop it, always with the threat of leaks and, eventually, going public and resigning.

So now the escalation begins.  From no-fly zones enforced by bombing to no-drive zones for armor policed from the air.  From protecting civilians to ousting Gadaffi.  From toppling a regime to stopping a civil war.

There is a strong isolationist wing in the Democratic Party.  It is not like the isolationists of the right who see nobody as worthy of our support.  It is based on those who say that we should tend to our own needs before we go abroad "in search of monsters to destroy" (words of John Quincy Adams).  Obama used them to get nominated.  Now Kucinich will use them to rob him of his base.

Posted on www.gopusa.com

Affirmative Action Since Obama Shattered the Highest Glass Ceiling

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. A little over two years ago, a black man educated at Ivy League schools was democratically elected to the most powerful office in the world. Most people saw the election of Obama to the U.S. presidency as decisive evidence that affirmative action policies are no longer necessary, if they ever were. Obama seemed to agree with that; while running for president he admitted that when his daughters apply to college, they “should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged.” Yet in spite of a slight trend in high court decisions striking down affirmative action, and ballot initiatives spearheaded by Ward Connerly passing around the country banning affirmative action, the Obama administration has taken the opposite route, continuing to mandate and expand affirmative action policies.

The Obama administration is aggressively using federal agencies to expand affirmative action. Hospitals and healthcare providers recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) that they are “federal contractors” based on their TRICARE participation and must provide OFCCP with an affirmative action plan or risk being audited and fined. This surprised many hospitals, since they do not have contracts with the federal government in regards to TRICARE.

Obama is working with Democrats in Congress to implement more affirmative action. The Obamacare legislation containsrace-based preferences. Contractors who demonstrate efforts to train individuals from underrepresented minority groups will receive preferences when applying for contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services. The federal stimulus funds also include preferences. Since the Recovery Act dollars come from the federal government, they are subject to federal law set-asides for “Disadvantaged Business Enterprises,” which include minorities and women.

Two years ago, Obama rejected a proposed federal rule that would have reduced gender preferences for women in contracting. The reduction was proposed due to finding that women were only underrepresented in contracting agreements in four out of 140 recognized industries. Obama signed a spending bill instead that affirmed federal law requiring that at least five percent of federal contracts go to women-owned businesses. This goes against a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruling handed down just a few months earlier in 2008, which struck down a Defense Department rule that funneled billions of dollars annually into defense contracts for minority and women-owned firms.

The Obama administration has proactively intervened in high-profile lawsuits defending affirmative action. In 2008, the Obama administration filed an amicus brief in federal court in favor of upholding a race-conscious admissions system at the University of Texas at Austin. That case is currently at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Department of Justice again intervened in the Ricci v. DeStefano lawsuit, defending the City of New Haven’s race preferences against the white firefighter plaintiffs. The Supreme Court came down on the side of the white firefighters in 2009 – reversing the decision by the Court of Appeals of which Obama’s Supreme Court appointee Sonia Sotomayor had previously been a part of.

Obama is implementing his own unofficial form of affirmative action by appointing minorities and women who support race and gender preferences to top posts in his administration, ensuring its perpetuation. Most of them were educated in Ivy League schools and did not come from disadvantaged backgrounds - providing more evidence that affirmative action is not necessary. Sotamayor graduated from Princeton and Yale. Eric Holder, Obama’s Attorney General, graduated from Columbia. Jacqueline Berrien, a graduate of Harvard Law School and former Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was appointed by Obama to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

There are indications that the Department of Justice is engaging in reverse discrimination by selectively enforcing voting rights. Last year, the DOJ dropped charges that had been brought by the Bush administration against two New Black Panther Party members for voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008 – even though the court was likely to rule against the defendants. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was asked to investigate the dismissal, and their final report is about to be released. The DOJ has also made it clear that it intends to use outdated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to favor minorities when redistricting Congressional districts, even though there is no longer evidence of real discrimination.

When affirmative action was first set in place by presidential Executive Orders in the 1960s, it was intended to ensure that qualified minorities and women were not being overlooked. “Affirmative action” was never designed to give them preferences over others who were equally qualified. The far left and their counterparts in the courts have taken the plain wording of these orders and used it to justify preferences and quotas. Ironically, that same wording is now used in ballot initiatives Ward Connerly runs in various states to ban affirmative action.

By continuing to promote affirmative action, Obama is catering to a radical constituency on the left. Polling reveals that substantial majorities of Americans want to end affirmative action. If there was any issue where it would make sense for Obama to diverge from the left, it is affirmative action. Obama’s father comes from a powerful Kenyan tribe, and had the wealth and connections to send him to Harvard. There is speculation that ancestors of both Obama’s father and mother may have been slave owners. It is a disappointment that someone with such a privileged upbringing and success in life would ironically perpetuate increasingly irrelevant and harmful practices.

Posted on www.townhall.com

American Association for Affirmative Action Observes the 50th Anniversary of the First Presidential Order Mandating Affirmative Action in Employment

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.

March 14, 2011

The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), an organization of affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity professionals, acknowledges the first presidential order mandating affirmative action in federal contractor workplaces. Executive Order 10925 was signed by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961.

Executive Order 10925 imposed on all covered contractors a general obligation requiring positive steps designed to overcome obstacles to equal employment opportunity. In the order, the President incorporated two fundamental concepts: nondiscrimination and affirmative action.

SECTION 301. Except in contracts exempted in accordance with section 303 of this order, all government contracting agencies shall include in every government contract hereafter entered into the following provisions: "In connection with the performance of work under this contract, the contractor agrees as follows: "(1) the contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin. The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. Such action shall include, but not be limited to, the following: employment, upgrading, demotion or transfer; recruitment or recruitment advertising; layoff or termination; rates of pay or other forms of compensation; and selection for training, including apprenticeship. The contractor agrees to post in conspicuous places, available to employees and applicants for employment. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=58863

In signing the order, President Kennedy implemented the recommendations of President Eisenhower's Committee on Government Contracts, headed by Vice President Richard M. Nixon. The committee wrote:

Overt discrimination, in the sense that an employer actually refuses to hire solely because of race, religion, color, or national origin is not as prevalent as is generally believed. To a greater degree, the indifference of employers to establishing a positive policy of nondiscrimination hinders qualified applicants and employees from being hired and promoted on the basis of equality.

"Affirmative action was, at its inception, a bi-partisan issue, supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. It was also a call to take positive steps in removing the barriers to equal employment opportunity," said Gregory T. Chambers, president of AAAA.

In fifty years there has been much progress for women and minorities in the workforce, higher education and in contracting. In 2011, we have more diversity in all of these sectors and in the White House itself. Much remains to be done, however, as evidenced in the nearly one-hundred thousand charges of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year.

Since 1961, affirmative action policies have become law both in the United States and throughout the world. While controversial in some sectors, it remains one of the most effective means of removing barriers in hiring, promotions and pay, from the entry level to the executive suite.

Executive Order 10925 was modified by President Johnson's Executive Order 11246 and subsequent laws that are now enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). "We acknowledge the foresight and courage of President John F. Kennedy in signing Executive Order 10925 in 1961," added Mr. Chambers. "We must continue the legacy of the Kennedy Order and work to achieve the vision of equity and fairness through positive action in employment, education and government contracting."

American Association for Affirmative Action 888 16th Street, NW, Suite 800 Washington, D.C. 20006 (202) 355-1399 * (800) 252-8952 * Fax: (202) 355-1399 http://www.affirmativeaction.org.

For information about the AAAA Access, Equity and Diversity Summit Atlantic City Convention Center, June 28 - 30, 2011 Email: aaaa2011summit(at)affirmativeaction(dot)org

Founded in 1974, the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) is a national not-for-profit association of professionals working in the areas of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity. AAAA assists its members to be more successful and productive in their careers. It also promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action to enhance access and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities.

Posted on www.prweb.com

Damning diaspora data

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. March 10, 2011

Many Malaysians have voted with their feet, as they emigrated to greener pastures, citing affirmative action policies as hindrances to returning to their homeland, observes Martin Jalleh.

Below are some statistics gathered from various sources and highlighted in 2010 to show how serious the problem is:

  • 785,000 Malaysians are working overseas. Unofficially, the figure is well over 1 million (or even 1.5 million) (Malaysian Employers Federation executive director, Shamsuddin Bardan).
  • Of those who have left, nearly 40 per cent of them have settled in Singapore; 30 per cent in the Organisation for Economic Co-operationa and Development (OECD) countries such as Australia, USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand; 20 per cent in other Asean countries and 10 per cent in the rest of the world.
  • An Australian immigration agency in Perth with offices in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor has reportedly said that the number of Malaysians enquiring about moving to Australia had spiked by 80 per cent since 2008.
  • There were only 9,576 Malaysians living abroad in 1960. The number of migrants from Malaysia rose sharply to 1,489,168, a near 150-fold increase over the 45-year period (World Bank)!
  • The number of Malaysians relocating to Singapore jumped from 120,104 in 1981 to 303,828 in 2000. The number of Malaysian migrants to Australia, meanwhile, went up to 92,337 in 2007.
  • 140,000 left the country, probably for good, in 2007. Between March 2008 and August 2009, that figure more than doubled to 305,000 (a recent parliamentary report.)
  • About 80 per cent of the country’s workforce have only secondary school education.
  • Around 350,000 Malaysians, half of whom have tertiary education, are working abroad the National Economic Action Council (NEAC).
  • The number of Malaysian researchers, scientists and engineers working overseas exceeds 20,000 with 40 per cent of them in the United States and 10 per cent in Australia.
  • 304,358 Malaysians had migrated from March 2008 till August 2009 compared with 139,696 Malaysians in 2007.
  • Around 7,000 plus research scientists, i.e., about 70 per cent of the total in Malaysia, working overseas.

Bird-brained over brain drain

In response to the disturbing diaspora scenario, the government announced in December 2010 the setting up of a “Talent Corporation” under the Tenth Malaysia Plan to attract and retain highly-skilled human capital. Operating under the PM’s Department, it would commence operations in January 2011.

Judging from the statements of the political elite in 2010 and their contradictions with one another, Talent Corp will probably turn out to be Talent Crap and will eventually meet a fate similar to past attempts.

Malaysians living abroad have often cited affirmative action policies as hindrances to returning to their homeland. In response, Najib said that affirmative action would be made “market-friendly, merit-based, transparent and needs-based” under the New Economic Model.

His deputy Muhyiddin Yassin insisted that the economic plan would protect the Malay agenda. Malay rights groups jumped on the Deputy PM’s bandwagon, Najib backtracked and called the policy a “trial balloon”!

In an article entitled “Treat returnees as real national assets” Khairy Jamaluddin wrote on the “need to offer enough opportunities and scholarships to our top performers all the way through to university and prepare a lucrative and rewarding career path for them so they end up contributing here rather than elsewhere”.

On 16 June 2010, Nazri Aziz was on a different wave-length: “Sending overseas students causes brain-drain where some of them won’t want to come back after studying there for a few years. If you keep sending students overseas, when are we going to improve our standards (locally)?”

He also believed that the money saved from the scrapping of the Public Service Department’s (PSD) overseas scholarships could be put to better use in “improving the facilities” of local universities. Two days earlier, Nazri had said the government “did not have the ‘capacity’ to finance the studies of the growing pool of bright students in the country”!

Commenting on Talent Corp on 24 July 2010, respected academician and retired politician Toh Kin Woon said that it may not succeed because the government has failed to tackle the real causes of the diaspora – “racial discrimination; the lack of an open, democratic space; and declining quality of our country’s education”.

Stripping the government bare of its hypocrisy, Toh said that the “haemorrhage of skills, knowledge and talents” was mainly due to the “continued resort to using race as a tool by power elites at the Federal Government ostensibly to help the Bumiputeras, but whose aim is in fact to nurture cronies. The victims of this race-based policy are the poor and middle class of all ethnic groups”.

Posted on www.aliran.com

CLEGG: At age 50, affirmative action looks tired

Posted March 3, 2011 By Roger Clegg

This Sunday will mark the 50th anniversary of the first time the phrase “affirmative action” was used in the civil rights context, in Executive Order 10925, which President Kennedy signed on March 6, 1961.

Ironically, it is clear that the phrase in Kennedy’s document meant taking positive steps, proactive measures - affirmative action, get it? - to make sure racial discrimination did not occur, that individuals were treated “without regard” to race by government contractors. But it did not take activists, bureaucrats and judges long to turn the principle of nondiscrimination on its head.

Fifty years is a long time. It means that about seven out of 10 Americans have never lived a day of their lives when there wasn’t affirmative action. Even if we make the generous assumption that it took a decade for the phrase to be twisted into its current meaning, that still means more than half of Americans have always lived under a legal regime in which politically incorrect discrimination was banned but politically correct discrimination was permitted, even encouraged, even required.

Some will object that while 50 years is a long time, it is not so long when compared to the length of time we had slavery and then Jim Crow laws in the United States. It also will be pointed out that racial discrimination of the politically incorrect kind still exists and that the effects of past discrimination still can be traced.

All of this is true but beside the point - for two reasons. First, as a legal matter, it is irrelevant because the Supreme Court has rejected attempts to justify racial preferences by pointing to historical, societal discrimination. Second, and as a policy matter, the court was right to do so.

There will always be people - of all colors - who will engage in racial discrimination. But as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote not long ago, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Continuing institutionalized racial preferences is a very bad way to address the aberrant racial discrimination of the old variety that still exists. Instead, just enforce the civil rights laws.

As for the continuing effects of slavery and Jim Crow, it is certainly possible that some individuals may be able to argue that this accounts for their current disadvantage - but not all: It will not be true for recent immigrants, for example, and many times an individual’s poverty may be a result of bad choices he or his parents or grandparents made. Conversely, it makes no sense to discriminate against, for example, white immigrants and their descendants who have no ties to slavery or Jim Crow.

In any event, there is no reason to use race as a proxy for disadvantage or advantage. The playing field may not be level, but there are people of all colors at both ends of it. There is no reason to give preferential treatment to, say, a black American who is not economically disadvantaged. Nor is there any reason to deny admission into, say, a social program on the grounds that the individual is poor for a reason that cannot be traced to racial discrimination. A child’s poverty may instead be a result of the fact that his parents just immigrated from a poor country or are alcoholics, or something else - but what difference does that make?

In addition, with every tick of the clock it becomes harder to claim that the only or even the principal cause of the racial disparities we see is discrimination. In 2011, the implosion of the black American family - not slavery - is the principal hurdle facing that community.

Consider: More than seven out of 10 black Americans, more than six out of 10 American Indians and more than five out of 10 Latinos are born out of wedlock - versus fewer than three out of 10 whites and fewer than two out of 10 Asians. See any connection between those figures and how well the different groups are doing socioeconomically? Those disparities have gotten worse, not better, as we have gotten further and further away from 1961.

There are those who believe racial preferences were needed in the 1960s, in the immediate aftermath of Jim Crow. I’m not one of them, but I respect that point of view. Now, however, it is 2011, and I respectfully suggest that times have changed.

Every day you can pick up the paper and read the latest census figures, which demonstrate that America is increasingly a multiracial and multi-ethnic country. Black Americans no longer make up the largest minority group - Latinos do. The number of Asian-Americans is growing rapidly, too. So now, according to studies my organization has published, racial preferences in universities are commonly awarded to Latinos over Asians. Where is the historical or moral justification for that?

What’s more, individual Americans - starting, most obviously, with President Obama - are more and more likely to be multiracial and multi-ethnic. Mr. Obama’s wife and, accordingly, their children, have not only black American, but white and American Indian blood; their White House predecessors, the George W. Bush family, includes Latinos.

In a society like this, it is simply untenable to have a legal regime that sorts us according to our skin color and what country our ancestors came from and treats some better and others worse depending on which silly little box is checked on various forms. There are other costs, too, besides division and unfairness, many of them borne by the supposed beneficiaries: stigmatization, stereotyping, mismatching of individuals with jobs and schools, and on and on.

Fifty years is long enough. Mr. Obama himself has acknowledged that, for example, his daughters ought not to be given preferential treatment in college admissions over a disadvantaged white kid; does he have the political courage to follow this acknowledgment with an executive order of his own? If not, will Congress follow the lead of the voters in California, Washington state, Michigan, Nebraska and Arizona and put an end to this nonsense? If the political branches will not act, will the Supreme Court reclaim the colorblind guarantees of the civil rights laws?

Posted on www.washingtontimes.com

African American Teenagers More Supportive of Affirmative Action, School Desegregation Than White Youth, Study Finds

Posted March 1, 2011 AUSTIN, Texas — African American teenagers are significantly more supportive than whites of affirmative action and school desegregation, according to a new psychology study from The University of Texas at Austin.

Rebecca Bigler, professor of psychology and director of the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab at The University of Texas at Austin, and Julie Milligan Hughes, a developmental psychologist at the College of New Jersey, published their findings in the March issue of Developmental Psychology.

The study reveals differences of opinion within both racial groups on the use of race-conscious policies to promote racial equality. Among both African Americans and whites, the researchers found a strong connection between the respondents' disapproval of race-conscious policies and the belief that racial inequalities have disappeared in the United States.

The researchers theorize that adolescence may be an especially significant stage of cognitive development when racial attitudes begin to take shape. During this critical stage of development, parents need to have direct conversations about race and racism with their teenagers to increase their understanding of racial disparities in the United States, Bigler said.

"The most common mistake — especially with white parents — is they want their children to believe we live in a society where race doesn't matter, and they believe that being 'color mute' will achieve this goal," Bigler said. "Direct conversations at home and in the classroom about prejudice and discrimination can significantly improve children's attitudes about race."

As part of the study, the psychologists surveyed 210 high school students between the ages of 14 and 17 about their views on affirmative action and school desegregation. In a series of studies, African American and white adolescents from diverse economic backgrounds answered questions about their knowledge of the history of racism and perceptions of racial discrimination. They also completed Implicit Association Tests (IAT), in which they reported their reactions to racial groups by associating positive and negative words with images of African American and white faces.

According to the findings:

  • By age 16, African Americans supported school desegregation and affirmative action programs more strongly than whites.
  • Overall, whites scored higher than African Americans on a short quiz about racism in U.S. history, but were less likely than African Americans to believe that racial inequalities persist.
  • African American respondents who knew more about historical racism were more supportive of an affirmative action policy.
  • IAT scores reflecting racially biased attitudes were significantly higher among whites than African Americans.
  • Whites with unfavorable implicit or unconscious perceptions of African Americans were more likely than their peers to view race-conscious social policies negatively. This finding suggests the respondents' negative views of African Americans led them to view racial integration as an unimportant goal, Bigler said.
  • Whites who perceived greater racial disparities in contemporary society — and attributed those disparities to racism — were more supportive of both types of programs than their peers.

Posted on www.utexas.edu

Affirmative Action Planning--Going Beyond Development to Actual Implementation

Posted February 23, 2011 On March 4, 2011, Sonia Chapin, SPHR, CCP, of Berkshire Associates Inc., a human resources consulting and technology firm that assists companies in building the ideal, balanced workforce, will present to companies how to put their affirmative action plans (AAPs) into action, at the Northern Virginia Chapter Society for Human Resource Management's (NOVA SHRM) monthly meeting.

This interactive session, will take attendees beyond preparing their affirmative action plans, to actually implementing them. Sonia will teach HR professionals how to breathe life into their AAPs by sharing specific steps and strategies to maximize their plans through effective and compliant development and implementation.

This seminar speaks to HR professionals who are involved in affirmative action and equal employment opportunity compliance. For more information on this presentation or Sonia Chapin, please contact Berkshire at 800.882.8904 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              800.882.8904      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, ext. 1307.

About Sonia Chapin: As Manager of Affirmative Action Outsourcing for Berkshire Associates Inc., Sonia Chapin is responsible for the development and implementation of affirmative action planning, comprehensive audit support, and compensation services. Sonia's expertise in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations, along with organizational analytics and an in-depth knowledge of employment related regulations has assisted hundreds of clients in saving millions in potential liability.

About Berkshire Associates: Berkshire Associates is a human resources consulting and technology firm specializing in helping companies build the ideal, balanced workforce. As an industry leader, Berkshire provides the latest solutions for applicant management, compensation management, affirmative action, workforce planning, diversity, and professional training. For over 25 years, Berkshire has services the nation's most recognizable companies; and as a result has mastered providing clients with cost-effective solutions to everyday human resources challenges.

About NOVA SHRM: NOVA SHRM stands for the Northern Virginia chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. Since being chartered in 1979 with just 14 members, the chapter has grown to nearly 700 members today. The chapter is an affiliate of SHRM, the premier HR professional organization representing over 200,000 members worldwide. NOVA SHRM is a 100% chapter, which means it limits its membership to those HR professionals who are members of SHRM. Today, it is one of the largest 100% chapters in the United States.

Posted on www.prweb.com

Controversial Cookie Sales Prompt Debate

Posted February 21, 2011 An affirmative action bake sale at Florida State has caused controversy and is now setting the tone for an upcoming debate between the Florida A&M debate team and the sale's organizers on Thursday, Feb. 24.

According to a Facebook event page, FSU's College Republicans held the affirmative action bake sale on Jan. 25 at The Union. Cookies were given out for free but portions varied upon race. Blacks and Latinos received a whole cookie, Asians received a half cookie and whites received a quarter cookie.

The event's controversy has added much excitement and publicity to the debate. As students look forward to the showdown, FAMU's debaters are motivated because of the ability to tackle such an issue.

Lucas Melton, 22, a senior political science student from Columbus, Ga., and a member of the FAMU debate team, says that he anticipates "the chance to take on another ideological side head-on in a public format with civility."

The excitement is only additional though, because the sale is not the reason for the debate. The FAMU debate team actually challenged FSU's College Republicans last semester, but the group has just accepted the invitation. Coincidentally, college Republicans did not formally accept the challenge until early February, after their bake sale.

According to Melton, the debate team intends to only argue politics and not racial issues to symbolize political mobilization. Affirmative action is only one of the political topics that will be debated, and Melton insists that the topic will be argued from a political standpoint.

"Affirmative action was and still is in some respects a United States policy when it comes to legislation, so that's why it's being debated," Melton said. "We're not debating black versus white. We're not debating black supremacy versus white supremacy because neither exists."

Other FAMU students are having difficulty separating the politics and racial issues in affirmative action though.

Alex Davis, 18, a freshman history major from Tallahassee, said that politics and race couldn't be separated due to historical racial oppression through politics.

While Davis said that he will not assume college republicans intention in holding the bake sale, he argues that "it wasn't a wise decision" because they should have expected a controversy.

A statement written in the bake sale's description on Facebook seems to corroborate college republican's expectations.

"It's time to make some noise on campus, College Republicans, and what better way to do it than to have an ‘Affirmative Action Bake Sale' in the Student Union." Kayla Westbrook, executive director of the College Republicans, wrote.

Westbrook then encouraged participants to stay on point and reiterate what MLK was saying and that the reason why we are holding this event is in protest to the racism that is used in college admissions.

The debate will be held at FSU's HCB building near the Oglesby Union in room 102 at 7:30 p.m.

Posted on www.thefamuanonline.com

Equal Parts a Mess, Affirmative Action and the Gender Correlation

By Daniel J. Durand

If all is fair in love and war, what about the battle of the sexes? Gender-related affirmative action policies are a tough nut to crack politically, and seem to lead to quite a bit of media hype and strong feelings amongst activists. While it seems easy enough to get lost in the sea of information available to society today through social networking, what needs to be remembered is that there are primarily two sides to this issue, both of which offering alternative extremes: those who would continue and expand affirmative action programs, and those who would do away with them altogether.

Along with the easily-identified sides of this issue, there are several key bits of misinformation which add a healthy amount of confusion to the mix. The oft-quoted statistics claiming that women make less money for performing the same tasks as men and the idea of male and female “dominated” jobs are both examples of talking points based on a grain of truth, and then misinterpreted to support a bogus claim. How people are really affected by affirmative action and the reflection of public opinion also tends to be skewed. These topics will be dissected in further detail later in the paper, which has been broken into the following parts:

  1. What is affirmative action, and how does it relate to gender-issues?
  2. What are the main arguments for or against affirmative action policies?
  3. What does public opinion have to say?
  4. Is affirmative action still necessary?

Hopefully, with an understanding of this particular issue, more people will be able to decide for themselves which side they are on, and base their opinions on fact rather than speculation and political banter.

What is Affirmative Action, and how does it relate to gender-issues?

Affirmative action is a set of political practices aimed at ending discrimination in society, primarily the workforce, through the preferential hiring of women and minorities, and to make up for past discrimination against those same groups by offering incentives to those entering traditionally minority-lacking fields. The hope is to improve diversity and make sure that the “little guy” is fairly represented. Various forms of affirmative action policies exist throughout the world and for various groups and causes, with the primary goals of equality and fair representation remaining the motivation.

As far as gender-related affirmative action goes, much of it is aimed towards women, thanks largely to the feminist movement. Women have been recognized as being an oppressed minority due to their relatively small numbers in the workplace when compared to men and the number of “male-dominated” careers. While some affirmative action for men exists, the practice has been primarily associated with womens rights. Historically, the concept comes from the trend in society for women to be stay-at-home mothers, caring for children and performing household work. Traditional families would live off of the sole income of the “man of the house”, while women would usually seek employment only when faced with extreme necessity, i.e. Rosie the Riveter, or when the man’s income was not enough to meet household demands.

What are the main arguments for or against affirmative action policies?

Supporters of affirmative action argue that the policies increase diversity and offer incentives to those at a disadvantage. Grounded in the ideal that diversity is a good thing, they believe that it should be encouraged regardless of the means through which it is created, as diversity may not always occur without social adjustment. Furthermore, affirmative action compensates for past oppression against minorities. Those opposed to the idea of affirmative action counter by stating that affirmative action is reverse-discrimination, and beneficiaries of the practice are not always capable or deserving. Meanwhile, people who belong to minorities and do succeed in society may be doubted, as who can tell if their success is truly their own, or the result of a handout (Messerli, 2010)?

To illustrate this, imagine a person is applying for a job. They are a man with the appropriate level of education and an outstanding resume. Now suppose this person were to be competing for the same job with a woman. The female applicant is just as qualified as the male. Who should the employer hire?

If the employer chooses the woman over the man, supporters of affirmative action would say the employer is contributing to diversity in the traditionally male dominated workforce. While the male may feel discriminated against because of his gender, the supporters would argue that the end justifies the means because of the diversity created by hiring a woman. Critics of affirmative action would call this “reverse-discrimination”, as the deciding factor in hiring was in fact gender; the reason anti-discrimination laws were created in the first place. As for the woman, the fact that she was selected for the position based on her anatomy, and not for her ability, undermines the fact that she was hired. Why should she have tried so hard to get the position when all they really needed was to be a woman?

On the other hand, if the employer chooses the man, the woman may feel discriminated against because of her gender, making a sort of lose-lose situation for the employer. Many companies and even universities now have quotas dictating how many of each gender and race to include on their rosters, which makes affirmative action even nastier because somebody has to decide just how many of each group are to be included. Who decides when the roster is diverse enough?

What does public opinion have to say?

According to one telephone survey carried out by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, 63% of those surveyed supported affirmative action policies for women. 29% opposed, while 9% were unsure. The survey included one thousand adults in the United States (2009).

A Gallup poll found that between 53% and 59% of American adults supported affirmative action policies aimed at women. However, when asked whether or not affirmative action policies were needed today, a slight majority replied that they were not. 76% of respondents were against policies that preferentially hired women if it meant lowering hiring standards, and 67% favored policies that would hire women while maintaining hiring standards (USA Today, 2005).

Based on these results, it appears that people in general are supportive of affirmative action- but only when it keeps merit in mind. Americans like the idea of diversity, but not when it compromises quality. If a person is hired only because of their gender, most Americans would look at the situation unfavorably, but would support hiring a good employee who happens to be a woman.

Is affirmative action still necessary?

So just how effective have these policies been? According to UnderstandingPrejudice.org, affirmative action has been beneficial to both women and minorities. Their article “Ten Myths About Affirmative Action,” cited findings by the U.S. Labor Department and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to support this claim (Plous, 2010).

Equal Rights Advocates, another organization with goals similar to those of Understanding Prejudice, has a page on their website filled with statistics relating to women and affirmative action. According to the page, the percentage of women in the workforce has increased across the board since affirmative action started, though some women still felt there was a “glass ceiling” for women striving to reach upper-management level positions. Meanwhile, the number of female-owned businesses has increased dramatically (Equal Rights Advocates, 2002).

As for gender-dominated fields, they do exist, though not in the way one might think. Male-dominated fields include construction, mechanical, and truck-driving, while female-dominated professions include hairdresser, daycare services, and receptionist. Careers that have roughly equal amounts of both men and women are, among others, administrative, legal, bookkeeping and owning a restaurant (Lucassen, 2002).

Though it is commonly stated that men make more than women for doing the same job, with women making approximately 76 cents for every dollar a man makes, the simple fact is that this not true. In the CNNMoney article The 76-cent Myth by Jeanne Sahadi, “all the wage-gap ratio reflects is a comparison of the median earnings of all working women and men who log at least 35 hours a week on the job, any job. That's it.” (Sahadi, 2006). In other words, the study is not comparing men and women with the same qualifications who work the same job. The reason for the 24-cent difference is because most working women have lower-paying jobs than working men.

What about women and higher education? The article Affirmative Action Coverage Ignores Women—and Discrimination referenced when the University of California did away with gender preferences in 1998. Apparently, because of the number of women applying, while the University did have an acceptance policy, they never based enrollment on gender. (Jackson, 1999). Furthermore, an article by USA Today stated that approximately 57% of college students in the United States are female, with some schools resorting to affirmative action aimed at male students in order to maintain some semblance of a gender balance (Marklein, 2005).

To sum up, there are more women pursuing a higher education than men. The jobs that are available to both men and women pay men and women the same rate, though most women make less than men at the end of every pay period. Furthermore, while legally anyone is able to pursue any type of career, there are still gender-dominated fields. So what does it all mean?

Looking at the evidence, one might conclude that women are pursuing the careers they want to pursue. The high number of female college students proves they are pursuing some sort of career, while the presence of more female-dominated careers proves that many women are pursuing a common interest. In other words, women have the same opportunities as everyone else- they just prefer some over others.

Furthermore, the reason women make less than men is because, in our society, many women take on a job only to bring in a second income, and many of the female-dominated careers are low-paying. It is still common in our society for the man to make the sole or primary income, while the woman takes the stay-at-home-mother route. If these conclusions are accurate, that means that affirmative action may well have done its job, and it may be time to start thinking about phasing it out.

References

USA Today. (2005, May 20). Gallup Poll results. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/news/polls/tables/live/0623.htm

Angus Reid Public Opinion. (2009, June 4). Americans Support Affirmative Action Programs. Retrieved from http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/36242/americans_support_affirmative_actions_programs/

Jackson. (1999). Affirmative Action Coverage Ignores Women—and Discrimination. Retrieved from http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1442

Lucassen. (2002, November 11). Male and female dominated fields, 2001. Retrieved from http://www.cbs.nl/en-GB/menu/themas/arbeid-sociale-zekerheid/publicaties/artikelen/archief/2002/2002-1076-wm.htm

Equal Rights Advocates. (2010). The Glass Ceiling. Retrieved from http://www.equalrights.org/publications/reports/affirm/glassstats.asp

Plous. (2003). Ten myths about affirmative action. Retrieved from http://www.understandingprejudice.org/readroom/articles/affirm.htm

Marklein. (2005, October 19). College gender gap widens: 57% are women. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2005-10-19-male-college-cover_x.htm

Messerli. (2010, August 12). Should affirmative action policies, which give preferential treatment based on minority status, be eliminated?. Retrieved from http://www.balancedpolitics.org/affirmative_action.htm

Sahadi. (2006, February 21). The 76-cent myth. Retrievd from http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/21/commentary/everyday/sahadi/index.htm

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