Democrats admit racial unity still a pipe dream in USA

Publié le par hort

Dems say march to racial unity not over
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press
A historically diverse field of Democratic presidential candidates — a woman, a black, an Hispanic and five whites — denounced an hours-old Supreme Court affirmative action ruling Thursday night and said the nation's slow march to racial unity is far from over.
"We have made enormous progress, but the progress we have made is not good enough," said Sen. Barack Obama, the son of a man from Kenya and a woman from Kansas. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first female candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, drew the night's largest cheer when she suggested there was a hint of racism in the way AIDS is addressed in this country. “Let me just put this in perspective: If HIV-AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34 there would be an outraged, outcry in this country," said the New York senator.
In their third primary debate, the two leading candidates and their fellow Democrats played to the emotions of a predominantly black audience, fighting for a voting bloc that is crucial in the party's nomination process.One issue not raised by questioners, the war in Iraq, dominated the past two debates. Queries about AIDS, criminal justice, education, taxes, outsourcing jobs, poverty and the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina all led to the same point: The racial divide still exists."There is so much left to be done," Clinton said, "and for anyone to assert that race is not a problem in America is to deny the reality in front of our very eyes." While the first two debates focused on their narrow differences on Iraq, moderator Tavis Smiley promised to steer the candidates to other issues that matter to black America. In turn, the candidates said those issues mattered to them."This issue of poverty in America is the cause of my life," said John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee.
Said Obama: "It starts from birth." Obama criticized President Bush's No Child Left Behind program. "You can't leave money behind ... and unfortunately that's what's been done," he said. Clinton spoke of her efforts in Arkansas to raise school standards, "most especially for minority children." Delaware Sen. Joe Biden urged people to be tested for the AIDS virus, noting that he and Obama had done so. Cracked the Illinois senator: "I just want to make clear I got tested with Michelle," his wife, Obama said drawing laughter from the predominantly black audience. The debate was held at Howard University, a historically black college in the nation's capital. Black voters are a large and critical part of the Democratic primary electorate, making the debate a must-attend for candidates seeking the party's presidential nomination.
A half century of desegregation law — and racial tension — was laid bare for the Democrats hours before they met. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court clamped historic new limits on school desegregation plans.Clinton said the decision "turned the clock back" on history, and her competitors agreed. The conservative majority cited the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case to bolster its precedent-shattering decision, an act termed a "cruel irony" by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent. The 1954 ruling led to the end of state-sponsored school segregation in the United States. Obama, the only black candidate in the eight-person field, spoke of civil rights leaders who fought for Brown v. Board of Education and other precedents curbed by the high court. "If it were not for them," he said, "I would not be standing here."
Biden noted that he voted against confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion. He said he was tough on Roberts. "The problem is the rest of us were not tough enough," he said, seeming to take a jab at fellow Democrats. "They have turned the court upside down."  All the Democratic candidates in the Senate opposed the confirmation of conservative Justice Samuel Alito, another of President Bush's nominees. Clinton, Biden and Obama voted against Roberts; Sen. Chris Dodd voted for his nomination. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the first major Hispanic candidate, said race is about more than passing new laws and appointing new justices. "The next president is going to have to lead," he said, vowing to do so.
Dodd said "the shame of resegregation in our country has been occurring for years." The nomination fight begins in Iowa and New Hampshire, two states with relatively few minorities. But blacks and other minority voters become critical in Nevada, South Carolina and Florida before the campaign turns to a multi-state primary on Feb. 5. About one in 10 voters in the 2004 election were black, according to exit polls, and they voted 9-to-1 for Democrat John Kerry. In some states, blacks make up a bigger share of the voters. In South Carolina, for example, blacks made up about 30 percent of the electorate in 2004, but were more than half of the voters in the state's Democratic primary. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the country's only black governor, introduced the candidates with a warning that a dispirited GOP "is not enough to elect a Democratic president nor should it be. We need to offer a more positive and hopeful vision ... to run on what we are for and not just what we are against." Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska  Sen. Mike Gravel also debated.


Walgreens to settle race lawsuit

 America's largest pharmacy chain, Walgreens, has agreed to pay $20m to settle a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination against black workers.
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) - a watchdog agency - says Walgreens sent black staff to low-performing stores in black areas. African-American employees, including pharmacists and managers, were also denied promotions, the EEOC claims. The settlement deal must still be approved by a federal judge. "We commend Walgreens for working cooperatively with us to reach an amicable settlement of this case without protracted litigation," EEOC Chair Naomi Earp said in a statement. Walgreens, which has denied the allegations throughout, said it was glad to have resolved the issue.
Sharing the money
The EEOC launched its case after carrying out an investigation into 12 complaints filed by current and former Walgreens staff across the country. Most of the complaints in the class action suit came from workers and former staff in St Louis, Florida, Detroit and Kansas City. Lawyers say the $20m (£9.8m) will be split among lawyers who handled the case and the more than 7,500 employees who brought a class action against the company. Walgreens says it is the largest US pharmacy chain by sales, with more than 5,638 stores in 48 states and Puerto Rico, and recorded sales of $47.4bn (£24.5bn) in the 2006 financial year.
 Universal cleared over race bias 
Film studio Universal Pictures did not sack a black assistant director from the 2003 movie 2 Fast 2 Furious because of his race, a judge has ruled.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Universal four years ago on behalf of Frank Davis. Davis said he was the victim of racial discrimination but Universal said he was fired because of poor job skills. Davis settled his own claim for an undisclosed sum last month but the EEOC decided to continue with its action. Judge Gary Allen Fees said the evidence "convincingly demonstrates that Davis lacked the background and experience" to serve as first assistant director.
'Complete vindication'
The Los Angeles federal judge said Davis' "inadequate performance, not race" persuaded Universal to replace him. Universal president and chief operation officer Ron Meyer said he was "extremely pleased with the court's decision". He described it as "a complete vindication for Universal and its employees". Anna Park, an EEOC regional lawyer, said she was disappointed by the ruling but pleased Davis received a settlement. "Despite today's decision, we hope individuals who feel discriminated against in Hollywood know that they can come forward to complain about discrimination," Ms Park said.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Sunday, 8 July 2007

'Racist' Lima restaurant closed
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

A popular restaurant in Lima has been temporarily closed down after several complaints that people withdarker skin were refused entry. The Café del Mar in Miraflores, a wealthy district of the Peruvian capital, is the first restaurant to beshut for alleged discrimination. It will be closed for 60 days and was fined about $70,000 (£35,000). Campaigners hope this is a first step in tackling Peru's deep divisions along racial and economic lines.Officials from Peru's consumer protection agency and the municipality of Miraflores sealed the doors and placed signs on the entrances.
'Symbolic sanction'

For many human rights campaigners the closure is an important step in combating Peru's racial and economicdiscrimination. Wilfredo Ardito is one of them: "This is a symbolic sanction. It is the first time happily that this practice in this terrible act of racial selection of the customer has been closed and we consider that this is the first step."  "Racism is something permanent in our society but it's terrible that even a place open to the public is practising this kind of situation," he said.

The Peruvian government only began imposing fines for discrimination in 2004 but a bill which passed through Congress some months ago reinforces existing legislation with jail sentences for those convicted of racial discrimination. For centuries the white elite in Peru has held onto wealth and power despite the majority of the population being of indigenous or mixed descent.  But now there is more social mobility in Peruvian society and it seems the government of President Alan Garcia realises that Peru's social and economic inequality is hindering its development.

Publié dans African diaspora

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