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Posts Tagged ‘Civil Rights’

The Great Race: Minority Advancement in the Corporate World

April 4th, 2013 No comments

By: *Chantal Jones

Blog Topic: Minorities in the Corporate World

The Great Race: Minority Advancement in the Corporate World

There is much to say about the strides that minorities have been making in the corporate world. Minorities have made their footprints in executive positions in some of the highest revenue generating corporations. For example, Rodney Adkins is an African American who is the Senior Vice President of IBM Systems and Technology Group; Pamela Culpepper, who is Hispanic, is the Senior Vice President of PepsiCo; Carolynn Brooks, an African American woman, is the Vice President of OfficeMax, Inc.; and lastly, Cindy Brinkley, a Caucasian woman, is the Vice President of talent development at AT&T.[1]

Largely as a consequence of affirmative action programs, established during the Civil Rights movement, minorities recently begun to participate in certain areas of society in ways previously restricted to privileged members of the majority group.[2]   These affirmative action programs had their most direct and immediate effect on minorities that were well-prepared and poised to take advantage of any opportunity that arose in the occupational system.[3]

However, these programs were seen as a gift and a curse because while they have been successful in giving minorities great opportunities to advance in the workforce, minorities’ intellect and credentials have been called into question, which created yet another obstacle to overcome. Affirmative action programs are starting to become obsolete; however, they have been replaced by Diversity programs that were created to increase diversity amongst corporations.

As a minority with aspirations of being successful in the corporate world, I recognize the challenges that we face. I am appreciative of diversity programs, but I think that it is unfortunate that these programs have to be created at all just to ensure equality in “the land of the free.” I do believe that minorities have come a long way by establishing themselves in executive positions in the corporate world, but I think there is much more work to be done. I am very optimistic that minorities will increasingly climb the ranks of the corporate world as long as they remain prepared and ready, when opportunity knocks.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Chantal Jones is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Chantal  click here to visit her page.
[1]Black Enterprise, Top Executives in Diversity: Our editors identify the leaders of corporate inclusion, Black Enterprise (June 1, 2011), http://www.blackenterprise.com/mag/top-executives-in-diversity.
[2] Elijah Anderson, The Social Situation of the Black Executive, in 2001 Race Odyssey: African Americans and Sociology, 316, 317 (Bruce R. Hare ed., 2002).
[3] Elijah Anderson, The Social Situation of the Black Executive, in 2001 Race Odyssey: African Americans and Sociology, 316, 320 (Bruce R. Hare ed., 2002).

Light Skin v. Dark Skin: Is this issue still relevant?

November 12th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

By: *Jade Morrison

We have long seen the struggle between “house” and “field Negros” as they were divided based on skin complexion. Spike Lee highlights this phenomenon in his 1988 film entitled “School Daze.” Lee in this film shines light on racism based on skin tone and hair texture in the African American Community.[1] More recently, the African American community took to social media to discuss Gabrielle Douglas’ hair texture, referring to it as “unkempt,” after she won the gold medal during the Olympics.[2] Is colorism still alive? Is the legal community taking this issue seriously?

Are wealthy African Americans expected to look, dress and speak with a certain dialect? Trina Jones in a recent article discussed the social and economic desirability of African Americans (and other ethnic minorities) with lighter skin tones.[3]  Jones shares a case study highly relevant to the legal profession:

A typical example might involve two African- American female associates at a law firm: L.K. Johnson and Shymeka Smith. L.K. Johnson, has permed hair, wears understated jewelry and dresses conservatively. She socializes with her coworkers, avoids committee work involving racial or gender issues. . . . L.K. lives in a predominantly White suburban neighborhood and is very careful to always use standard, crisply enunciated, English. Shymeka Smith has long, flowing dreadlocks and wears African-inspired attire and bold, colorful jewelry. Shymeka tends not to socialize with her coworkers, has been vocal and actively involved in the firm’s diversity committee, lives in the inner city . . .”L.K. is promoted to partner and Shymeka is denied promotion.

Assuming roughly the same talent level, one could argue that Shymeka was passed over because she chose to embrace her racial identity rather than to downplay or distance herself from that identity. That is, Shymeka was harmed because her identity performance did not conform to mainstream norms. According to Professor Kenji Yoshino, Shymeka failed to “cover;” that is, she failed to “mute the difference between herself and the mainstream.”[4] Instead of reflecting racial differences, what Shymeka should have done was to minimize those differences by adopting a racial performance closer to Johnson’s. [5]

Does colorism affect the socioeconomic class of African Americans? Although most courts today recognize colorism claims under Title VII on the grounds of interracial discrimination, however, only a few plaintiffs actually recover under this theory. [6] Colorism claims are mostly seen in the context of employment discrimination. The legal community must take this phenomenon seriously. Colorism affects African Americans and other racial minorities in their everyday lives. The Media and professional establishments have created a stereotypical ideal African American image throughout the course of history. This image is demonstrated by L.K. Johnson in Jones’ article. African Americans should not be forced to choose between their cultural identities and their profession.  Lawyers should not shy away from pursuing colorism claims because of the low rates in which plaintiffs succeed. These claims will help move toward equality for African Americans within their own communities. This will create true diversity, not a superficial concept of diversity based on one’s skin complexion of an organization’s employees.

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*Jade Morrison is currently the External Managing Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Jade Morrison, click here to visit her page: Jade Morrison

[1]        SCHOOL DAZE (Columbia Pictures 1988)

[2]        Gabrielle Douglas Responds to Her Hair Critics, Oprah.com (Aug. 12, 2012) http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Olympian-Gabrielle-Douglas-Responds-to-Her-Hair-Critics-Video_2.

[3]        Trina Jones, Intra-Group Preferencing: Proving Skin Color and Identity Performance Discrimination, 34 N.Y.U. REV. L. & SOC. CHANGE 657 (2010).

[4]        Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights; Devon W. Carbado & Mitu Gulati, Working Identity, 85 CORNELL L. REV. 1259 (2000);

[5]        Kenji Yoshino, Assimilationist Bias in Equal Protection: The Visibility Presumption and the Case of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” 108 YALE L.J. 485, 500 (1998).

[6]        See Hansborough v. City of Elkhart Parks and Recreation Dept., 802 F.Supp. 199 (1992); Walker v. Secretary of Treasury I.R.S, 713 F.Supp. 403 ( 1989); Burch v. WDAS AM/FM, No. CIV.A. 00-4852, 2002 WL 1371703 (E.D. Pa. MAR. 12, 2003); Brack v. Shoney’s, Inc., 249 F. Supp. 2d 938 (W.D. Tenn. 2003).

Affirmative Action Programs in Colleges and Universities

November 5th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

Written by: *Staci Pesin

As Law Students, we have all taken Constitutional law in law school, and if not you will shortly.  For those of you who have taken Constitutional law, we should all be familiar with these most recognized cases: Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, and Marbury v. Madison. However, there is a case that you might not be familiar with, the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which was an affirmative action case.  In 2003, the Supreme Court held in Grutter v. Bollinger  that the University of Michigan was allowed to use an affirmative action based admission policy in the interest of promoting diversity at their school.

Nine years later, the Supreme Court has decided to hear another affirmative action case.  This case took place in Texas. A Caucasian student alleged that the University of Texas denied her admission because of her race and that the school gives preferential treatment to African American and Latino applicants.  The University of Texas has a race-based admission plan where it admits the top ten percent of high school students. With many high schools in Texas heavily made up of minority students, racial diversity has increased at the university.  In addition, The University of Texas also has a class-based program for economically disadvantaged students, which has also increased racial diversity at the university.

Carolyn Warner, a student writer for The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, suggests that it is time to end race-based affirmative action but notes that racial diversity in schools is a compelling government goal.  She suggests we focus on fixing the class gap which would help bridge the racial gap.  Studies have shown that affirmative action programs based on race help the economically advantaged and the author suggests that with class-based affirmative action we will be helping the economically disadvantaged as well as minorities.  Her ultimate goal is certainly noble, however fixing the class gap is not going to happen overnight.

 

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Staci Pesin is currently the Senior Managing Editor on the Delaware Campus. To learn more about Staci Pesin, click here to view her personal page: Staci Pesin
Article written by Carolyn Warner, Student Writer for The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice See:  http://blogs.law.uiowa.edu/jgrj/?p=797  to read the full article.

Colorblind Or Simply Blind?

October 29th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: The Economics of Discrimination

Written by: *Peter A. Galick

Racism and racial inequality have purveyed nearly every facet of American society since before its inception.  On the other hand, some have asserted that we now live in a post-racial society, that is, a society that has transcended racial barriers and has entered an age of equality.  These bold assertions came into the popular limelight upon the election of Barak Obama as the 44th President of the United States.[1]   For a short time, it appeared that we, as a society, had in fact become colorblind, making Reverend Martin Luther King’s dream a reality.[2]   Then, just as publicly as America had “transcended” racial barriers, the widely-publicized case involving the shooting of Trayvon Martin made it perfectly clear that American society is still battling the demons of our shameful history.[3]   This drastic shift in attitudes has not only exposed a major issue affecting the daily lives of all Americans, but it has also lead to an extremely difficult question: is colorblindness a worthy goal in today’s society, or do attempts to discount race intentionally ignore practical realities?

Scholars have debated whether we do exist in a post-racial society, and whether a post-racial society can exist at all.[4]   I truly believe a post-racial society can exist.  While it can be said that the very notion is an impossible ideal, I believe otherwise.  What I do not believe, is that a colorblind society could exist today.  Nor do I believe that colorblindness is even a good thing were it possible in today’s society.  A conscious and informed discussion on race and racial inequality must take place if America is to ever truly transcend racial barriers. Perhaps one day, the “impossible” ideal will be met, but until that day, a colorblind society is a blind society.

 

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Peter A. Galick is the Editor-in-Chief of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Peter A. Galick, click here to visit his page: Peter A. Galick
[1] See, e.g., Adam Nagourney, Obama Elected President as Racial Barrier Falls, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 5, 2008, at A1, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/us/politics/05elect.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[2] I Have a Dream Speech (January 9, 2012, 1:41 PM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/16/i-have-a-dream-speech-text-martin-luther-king-jr_n_1207734.html
[3] Bianca Prieto, Trayvon Martin: ‘We are Gathered Here Today to Demand Justice’ In Teen’s Fatal Shooting, ORLANDO SENTINEL, Mar. 14, 2012, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-14/news/os-trayvon-martin-shooting-death-rally-20120314_1_shooting-death-bryant-chief-bill-lee
[4]E.g., EDUARDO BONILLA-SILVA, RACISM WITHOUT RACISTS: COLOR-BLIND RACISM AND THE PERSISTENCE OF RACIAL INEQUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES (2d ed. 2006); DERRICK A. BELL, FACES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL: THE PERMANENCE OF RACISM (1992); Neil Gotanda, A Critique of “Our Constitution is Color-Blind,” 44 STAN. L. REV. 1, 68 (1991); Reva B. Siegel, Discrimination in the Eyes of the Law: How “Color Blindness” Discourse Disrupts and Rationalizes Social Stratification, 88 CAL. L. REV. 77, 78, 84-107 (2000).

Fisher v. University of Texas: An Objective Analysis

October 29th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

Written by: *Jay S. Patel

The use of race in admissions has been hotly debated; proponents extolling its use to create diverse student bodies, critics denouncing it as a form of “reverse discrimination”. Recognizing these competing objectives, the Supreme Court has continually balanced the appropriateness of affirmative action policies against the weighty interests of equal protection.

Equal Protection and Affirmative Action
Equal protection generally forbids the government from treating citizens in an unequal manner. [1]  If a state or the federal government attempts to treat citizens in an unequal manner, their conduct will be reviewed under three different governing standards. Because affirmative action necessarily involves race, any policy purporting to use race is reviewed under the most rigorous standard: strict scrutiny. [2]  Strict scrutiny analysis bars the use of race unless its inclusion furthers a legitimate and compelling governmental interest and the use of race in the policy is narrowly tailored to that end. [3]  Supreme Court jurisprudence has also added two limitations in affirmative action cases. University officials can only use race as a plus factor, that is, they can view an applicant’s race in light of their entire application. [4]  Additionally, officials cannot assign specific “points” for an applicant’s race, or set aside a fixed number of seats for minority applicants. [5]

University of Texas Plan: Proper or Improper?
The University of Texas plan is proper under Grutter. Provided the Supreme Court does not overrule Bakke and its progeny, the University of Texas plan passes constitutional muster. The University of Texas demonstrated that after the passage of the “Top Ten” law, minority enrollment dropped to levels not seen since the mid 1990’s.[6]  Given the increases in the minority population in Texas in the interim, the state demonstrated a compelling interest in creating a diverse class that provided benefits for all matriculants.[7]  Their interest was legitimate by Grutter’s prescription.  Grutter asked whether a contested program was narrowly tailored to achieve an overall goal: a rich, vibrant and diverse class of matriculants.[8]  On this, it was successful. The program did not set aside seats for minority students, nor did it award special “points” to minority applicants.[9]  Its use of race was nominal and only one of many factors which was considered in a methodical and precise formula designed to admit the top students.[10]

Conclusion
Under the rigorous standard set forth by the Supreme Court in equal protection cases, and the special factors prescribed to govern affirmative action policies, the University of Texas policy should be upheld as proper under Grutter.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Jay S. Patel is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Jay S. Patel click the link to visit his personal page: Jay S. Patel
[1] See Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 326 (2003); U.S. Const. amend XIV, § 1.
[2] Grutter, 539 U.S. at 326.
[3] Id. (emphasis supplied).
[4] Id. at 334 (quoting Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 315 (1978) (opinion of Powell, J.)
[5] See Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 270 (2003).
[6] Brief of Respondent at 10, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, No. 11-345 (2012).
[7] Id.
[8] Grutter, 539 U.S. at 328.
[9] Brief of Petitioner, supra note 6, at 11.
[10] Id. at 11-14 (relaying in significant depth the methods employed to judge applicants and noting the minimal use and impact of race in admissions).

ACLU vs. Morgan Stanley

October 29th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

Written by: *Megan A. Hunsicker

On October 15, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) filed a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley for violating the Fair Housing Act, particularly for discriminating on the basis of race in the secondary mortgage market, which is where high-risk loans are bundled and marketed to investors.

Specifically, the ACLU alleged Morgan Stanley sought high-risk loans disproportionally concentrated in non-white neighborhoods—“Subprime loans were five times more likely to be found in African American neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods”—with the expectation that those loans would default.

That practice directly conflicts with the provisions in the Amendments to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, which state that, “‘pooling or packaging loans’ on the basis of race is a violation of Title VIII.”  While the government has attempted to litigate the harms of the subprime crisis under fraud principles, this lawsuit is the first major lawsuit to advance claims under the Civil Rights Act.

If the lawsuit is successful, the implications will be profound and staggering, considering the damages suffered from predatory lending practices, which triggered the foreclosure crisis, and the importance of framing the issue and damages as a civil rights violations.

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*Meghan A. Hunsicker is the Internal Managing Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Meghan A. Hunsicker, click here to view her page: Meghan A. Hunsicker
Sources:
John A. Powell, Civil Rights Today: The Landmark Case of Adkins et. al. v. Morgan Stanley, EQUAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (October 17, 2012), http://www.equaljusticesociety.org/2012/10/17/civil-rights-today-the-landmark-case-of-adkins-et-al-v-morgan-stanley/