Category Archives: Discrimination

Martin Luther King Jr.’s final, lesser-known campaign is more relevant than ever

Source: A.T. McWilliams, Quartz, April 4, 2018

In the weeks leading up to his assassination 50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was preparing for his greatest demonstration yet. The Poor People’s Campaign—King’s coalition across racial groups, united in their fight to end poverty— aimed to recruit over 1 million people to occupy the National Mall. From Latino farmers’ rights activists to white Appalachian coal miners, King’s lesser-known dream sought to bring disparate communities together in the name of economic justice.

In planning the Poor People’s Campaign, King didn’t just set the stage for a new chapter of the civil rights movement. He provided a playbook for modern progressive politics, centered on the power of multicultural movements. Now, as the American working class includes more and more people of color—and Donald Trump tempts white voters with false promises—progressives can best honor King’s legacy by taking a page from the book he left behind….

KING: Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, his legacy is still being written

Source: The Atlantic, Special Issue, 2018

Articles Include:

The Chasm Between Racial Optimism and Reality
JEFFREY GOLDBERG
Five decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., equality, for many, remains a distant dream.

I. THE MAN
My Father Chose Nonviolence
BERNICE A. KING
During another polarizing period in America’s history, Bernice A. King lays out three actions that she thinks her father would offer today.

The Young Man Who Became a Civil-Rights Icon
PATRICK PARR
Before he led the Montgomery bus boycott or marched on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. was a chain-smoking, pool-playing student at Crozer Theological College just discovering his passion for social justice.

The Arc of a Life
ELI LEE
A timeline

How Martin Luther King Jr. Recruited John Lewis
VANN R. NEWKIRK II
The Georgia congressman on what it was like to know the iconic activist

Coretta Scott King and the Civil-Rights Movement’s Hidden Women
JEANNE THEOHARIS
She was far more than her husband’s helpmate, but along with many other leaders of the era, her leadership was hidden in plain sight.

‘Martin Luther King Jr.’s Unfinished Work on Earth Must Truly Be Our Own’
BENJAMIN E. MAYS
Five days after King was assassinated, his “spiritual mentor” Benjamin Mays delivered a eulogy for his former student.

Martin Luther King Jr. Saw Three Evils in the World
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Racism was only the first.

II. RACISM
On Equality
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In 1967, the civil-rights leader foresaw that white resistance to racial equality would stiffen as activists’ economic agenda grew more ambitious.

Racism Is ‘Built into the Very Bones’ of Mississippi
JESMYN WARD
Jesmyn Ward reflects on choosing to raise her children in her home state.

The Whitewashing of King’s Assassination
VANN R. NEWKIRK II
The death of Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t a galvanizing event, but the premature end of a movement that had only just begun.

‘Let My People Vote’
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In June 1965, the Voting Rights Act languished in the House Rules Committee after passage in the Senate. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this letter to the New York Amsterdam News urging its passage as the first step in ensuring access to the ballot.

Jesse Williams and John Legend Talk Race in America
ADRIENNE GREEN
“America is cool because of black people. Our music is black. Our aesthetic is black … We are as American as you can be, and what do we get for it?”

III. POVERTY
The Crisis in America’s Cities
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Martin Luther King Jr. on what sparked the violent urban riots of the “long hot summer” of 1967

Where Have All the Rioters Gone?
MATTHEW DESMOND
Good jobs in black communities have disappeared, evictions are the norm, and extreme poverty is rising. Cities should be exploding—but they aren’t.

The Geography of Oppression
LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER
Shooting from a helicopter, the artist LaToya Ruby Frazier documented how King’s assassination affected the physical structures of cities.

How Much Had Schools Really Been Desegregated by 1964?
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Ten years after Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr. condemned how little had changed in the nation’s classrooms.

Still Separate and Unequal
EVE L. EWING
The civil-rights activist’s vision for education was far grander than integration alone. How disappointed he would be.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Call For a Poor People’s Campaign
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In early 1968, the activist planned a massive protest in the nation’s capital.

America’s Moral Malady
WILLIAM J. BARBER II
The nation’s problem isn’t that we don’t have enough money. It’s that we don’t have the moral capacity to face what ails society.

How the Civil-Rights Movement Aimed to End Poverty
A. PHILIP RANDOLPH AND BAYARD RUSTIN
“A Freedom Budget for All Americans” proposed spending billions of federal dollars to provide jobs and basic welfare to all citizens.

IV. MILITARISM
Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
“We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.”

Freedom Ain’t Free
CLINT SMITH
Martin Luther King Jr. was bailed out of Birmingham Jail by a millionaire. Incarcerated people today aren’t so lucky.

The Civil-Rights Movement’s Generation Gap
BREE NEWSOME
Activist Bree Newsome on bridging the divided perspectives of the young and old.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Protest Against a Racist Court System
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
On Easter Sunday in 1958, the civil-rights leader led a “prayer pilgrimage” in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the inequality of a young man’s death sentence.

How Kara Walker Recasts Racism’s Bitter Legacy
ADRIENNE GREEN
The artist’s works turn the brutality of history inside out.

Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
“The greatest irony and tragedy of all is that our nation, which initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world, is now cast in the mold of being an arch anti-revolutionary.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Mourns Trayvon Martin
LAUREN K. ALLEYNE
A poem

Related:
Nonviolence and Social Change
Source: Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr delivered a lecture calling on the “dispossessed of this nation” to revolt in nonviolent struggle. We reprint it here in full.

Strong Medicine: Fighting the Sexual Harassment Pandemic

Source: Kenneth Robert Davis Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 79, Fall 2018, Date Written: March 26, 2018

From the abstract:
A pandemic of sexual harassment has stricken the country. A recent EEOC report shows that, depending on how the question is posed, between 25 and 85 percent of women respond that they have experienced harassment in the workplace. The report also states that 90 percent of incidents go unreported. Victims do not believe that their employers will be receptive to their complaints, and many fear censure or retaliation. The law is limited in its capacity to deter a pandemic that has psychological, sociological, and cultural causes. Nevertheless, the law has a role to play, particularly in the workplace. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, and the courts have long recognized sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination. The Act has established a framework focused on conciliation, and, where efforts at settlement fail, on litigation. Regrettably, this framework has failed to achieve its mission of deterrence. In Meritor Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court established the elements of hostile-work-environment claim. A plaintiff must prove that she was subjected to unwelcome, discriminatory words or conduct of a sexual or gender-related nature so severe or pervasive that they altered the conditions of her employment. In applying this standard, federal courts have rejected claims alleging highly offensive and even egregious misconduct. Several reasons account for the failure of current law to curtail sexual harassment in the workplace. One of the primary reasons is the law’s focus on conciliation and litigation. Under the current model, complainants file grievances with the EEOC, which seeks to settle disputes. If efforts at settlement fail, the current approach authorizes a federal court action. Settling cases may do little to deter abuses. After entering into a settlement agreement, an employer may slip back into complacency. Litigation also fails to promote deterrence because the current framework focuses on compensating victims. To strengthen Title VII’s deterrent impact, this Article proposes that Congress supplement the current model by granting the EEOC expanded enforcement powers. The EEOC should have broad authority to initiate civil enforcement proceedings in federal court and in quasi-judicial enforcement proceedings. Rather than compensating victims, the purpose of such proceedings would be to identify instances of workplace harassment, and, where appropriate, sanction irresponsible employers. Because the EEOC, in such enforcement proceedings, would not seek relief on behalf of victims, the elements that establish injury would be superfluous. In such proceedings the EEOC should merely have to prove that discriminatory, sexual or gender-related words or conduct would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. By adopting the “highly offensive to a reasonable person” standard, Congress would maximize prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual Harassment and Solidarity

Source: Marion G. Crain, Kenneth Matheny, Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-03-04, March 26, 2018

From the abstract:
In the waning months of 2017, Americans endured an almost daily barrage of news reports describing sexual harassment by powerful men in entertainment, media, politics and law. While sexual harassment had been headline news before — most notably, during the 1991 Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas debacle — never had so many victims joined hands and come forward demanding change. The media spotlight presented a tremendous opportunity to reframe sexual harassment from an individual, personal and idiosyncratic instance of sexual desire to a common abuse of gender and economic power affecting millions of working women and men on a daily basis. Feminist legal scholars have known for years that expectations about appropriate gender roles create an environment where sexual harassment functions to protect male privilege. But the message that sexual harassment is a systemic feature of workplace gender inequality never reached the general public. Instead, the mainstream media’s systematic focus on sexual harassment as a twisted manifestation of male sexual desire grabbed headlines and implied that when the harasser is discharged, the story ends. But sexual harassment is about much more than men behaving badly. It is a structural problem linked to unequal pay and occupational segregation by sex.

One might think that labor unions would come forward as advocates for such a large segment of workers suffering economic disadvantage in the workplace. Yet despite the frequent use of the word “solidarity” in media reports about #MeToo, organized labor was conspicuously absent from the dialogue. While union leaders made public statements denouncing sexual harassment and promised to redouble union efforts to eradicate it, most disclaimed legal responsibility for preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Not all the blame for labor’s passive stance can be laid at labor’s doorstep, however. Unions are hamstrung by a legal structure that creates a fundamental role conflict where they represent a workforce that includes both potential harassers and victims, and NLRA protection for worker concerted action for mutual aid has been cabined by courts and the Board to the point that labor’s tradition of solidarity is barely recognizable.

What, then, are the prospects for engaging unions in combating workplace sexual harassment? And how could a more proactive role for labor be realized within the existing legal structure? The answer is both deceptively simple and complex: unions must take sexual harassment seriously. This means not only cleaning labor’s own house, but dedicating resources to efforts in partnership with feminist, civil rights and “alt-labor” groups in a coordinated campaign to challenge sexual harassment at the worksite and sectoral levels, modeled on the Fight for $15. A new, more collaborative understanding of solidarity will be essential. Unions should dedicate legal expertise to translating solidarity into labor law, pressing for an understanding of concerted activity for mutual aid that includes eradicating sexual harassment for the benefit of all workers. Finally, if ensuring redress for victims of sexual harassment were at the front of union consciousness, unions could invoke that goal as a lever to challenge employer rules that tend to silence efforts to raise rights-consciousness among victims or undermine claims assertion, such as rules prohibiting discussion of workplace investigations and arbitration clauses banning class claims. Ultimately, challenging sexual harassment could re-brand labor unions and offer an opportunity for partnerships with their social justice allies that would capture hearts and minds.

When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

Source: Paul Kiel, ProPublica, March 2, 2018

There’s ample evidence many people don’t file for bankruptcy simply because they can’t pay an attorney. It’s a fixable problem.

Related:
How the Bankruptcy System Is Failing Black Americans
Source: Paul Kiel with Hannah Fresques, ProPublica and the Atlantic, September 27, 2017

Black people struggling with debts are far less likely than their white peers to gain lasting relief from bankruptcy, according to a ProPublica analysis. Primarily to blame is a style of bankruptcy practiced by lawyers in the South.

TOO BROKE FOR BANKRUPTCY: How Bankruptcy Fails Those Who Need It Most
Source: ProPublica, 2017

The Mark of a Woman’s Record: Gender and Academic Performance in Hiring

Source: Natasha Quadlin, American Sociological Review, Volume 83, Number: 2, April 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Women earn better grades than men across levels of education—but to what end? This article assesses whether men and women receive equal returns to academic performance in hiring. I conducted an audit study by submitting 2,106 job applications that experimentally manipulated applicants’ GPA, gender, and college major. Although GPA matters little for men, women benefit from moderate achievement but not high achievement. As a result, high-achieving men are called back significantly more often than high-achieving women—at a rate of nearly 2-to-1. I further find that high-achieving women are most readily penalized when they major in math: high-achieving men math majors are called back three times as often as their women counterparts. A survey experiment conducted with 261 hiring decision-makers suggests that these patterns are due to employers’ gendered standards for applicants. Employers value competence and commitment among men applicants, but instead privilege women applicants who are perceived as likeable. This standard helps moderate-achieving women, who are often described as sociable and outgoing, but hurts high-achieving women, whose personalities are viewed with more skepticism. These findings suggest that achievement invokes gendered stereotypes that penalize women for having good grades, creating unequal returns to academic performance at labor market entry.

State of the Union

Source: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, Pathways, Special Issue, 2018

From the summary:
The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality is pleased to present its fifth annual report examining the state of the union. In this year’s report, we provide a comprehensive assessment of gender inequality in eleven domains ranging from education to health, employment, earnings, poverty, sexual harassment, networks, and more. The report concludes with a discussion of the most promising sciencebased policies for reducing gender inequality at home and in the labor market.

Articles include:
Gender Identification
Aliya Saperstein
The traditional gender binary just doesn’t work. When respondents of a national survey were asked about their femininity and masculinity, 7 percent considered themselves equally feminine and masculine, and another 4 percent responded in ways that did not “match” their sex at birth (i.e., females who saw themselves as more masculine than feminine, or males who saw themselves as more feminine than masculine).

Education
Erin M. Fahle and Sean F. Reardon
Despite common beliefs to the contrary, male students do not consistently outperform female students in mathematics. It’s only in high school that the male advantage in mathematics surfaces. What’s going on?

Health
Mark Duggan and Valerie Scimeca
For women and men alike, life expectancy has stagnated for the last several years, primarily due to increases in drug poisoning deaths and in the suicide rate. The male-female life expectancy gap, which favors females, fell from 7.6 years in 1970 to 4.8 years in 2010, a reduction of more than one-third.

Employment
Melissa S. Kearney and Katharine G. Abraham
After rising steadily for many decades, the overall female employment rate has been falling since 2000. Why has it fallen? Are there straightforward policy fixes that could increase women’s employment?

Earnings
Emmanuel Saez
When gender differences in labor force participation, fringe benefits, and self-employment income are taken into account, women earn only 57 cents for each dollar earned by men.

Poverty
H. Luke Shaefer, Marybeth Mattingly, and Kathryn Edin
Are women more likely than men to be in deep poverty, official poverty, and near poverty? Yes, yes, and yes.

Safety Net
Linda M. Burton, Marybeth Mattingly, Juan Pedroza, and Whitney Welsh
Why do women use safety net programs more than men? A hint: It’s not just because they’re more likely to be eligible for them.

Occupational Segregation
Kim A. Weeden, Mary Newhart, and Dafna Gelbgiser
Nearly half of the women in the labor force would have to move to a different occupation to eliminate all occupational segregation by gender. This is a classic case of stalled change: If recent rates of change are extrapolated, it would take 330 years to reach full integration.

Discrimination
David S. Pedulla
A new science of gender discrimination is being built with audit studies and other experiments. A key result: Gender discrimination is more likely to emerge when the applicant’s commitment to work can be called into question or when an applicant is behaving in a gender-nonconforming way.

Workplace Sexual Harassment
Amy Blackstone, Heather McLaughlin, and Christopher Uggen
The workplace is rife with sexual harassment. By age 25 to 26, one in three women and one in seven men experience behavior at work that they define as sexual harassment.

Social Networks
Adina D. Sterling
Although men used to have more social ties than men, now the gender gap has reversed and women have the larger networks. But women still have fewer coworker ties than men … and coworker ties matter a lot.

Policy
Marianne Cooper and Shelley J. Correll
What are the most promising science-based policies for reducing gender inequality at home and in the labor market?

Inside IBM’s Purge of Thousands of Workers Who Have One Thing in Common

Source: Peter Gosselin, Ariana Tobinmar, Mother Jones & ProPublica, March 22, 2018

….But when high tech suddenly started shifting and companies went global, IBM faced the changing landscape with a distinction most of its fiercest competitors didn’t have: a large number of experienced and aging US employees.

The company reacted with a strategy that, in the words of one confidential planning document, would “correct seniority mix.” It slashed IBM’s US workforce by as much as three-quarters from its 1980s peak, replacing a substantial share with younger, less-experienced and lower-paid workers and sending many positions overseas. ProPublica estimates that in the past five years alone, IBM has eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over, about 60 percent of its total US job cuts during those years. (Read more about how ProPublica got the story here.)

In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked US laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees…..

Libraries Respond to #MeToo Movement

Source: Julia Eisenstein, American Library Association, March 9, 2018

Libraries have long been in the forefront when it comes to responding to social justice issues. The current focus on the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements are no exception. ….

…. The University of Minnesota (U of M) Libraries runs a regular blog titled A Matter of Facts. Kimberly Clarke and Karen Carmody-McIntosh wrote the February 7 post Me Too: Hashtag and Social Movement. In it contains links to resources regarding the origin of the #MeToo movement Helpful books, ebooks, databases, journal articles are available only to U of M faculty and students, but the Newspaper, Magazine articles and websites are available for anyone to view.

Many academic libraries are creating LibGuides on sexual harassment providing links to resources for both scholars who are researching sexual harassment and survivors of sexual harassment. Examples include Tulane University’s Howard Tilton Memorial Library guide on Sexual Violence Prevention Resources, the University Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign guide on Sexual Harassment, and New York’s Adelphi University guide on Sexual Harassment Resources. ….

Related:
Harassment Resources