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Racial Segregation: Righting the Wrong and Making Restitution

At a time in history when crime continues to decline, same-sex marriage is legal, and innovation is powering advances in technology and bioengineering – one issue fails to progress: racial justice.

The unemployment rate for African-Americans continues to be more than twice that of whites. Public schools are more segregated now than they were in the 1950s and young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police than their white equivalents.

Widespread media coverage and outcry at the murders inside the African-American church in Charleston, and protests sparked by the killings of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown, transform the statistics into real faces.

Yet outside the political sphere, there is a continued lack of recognition and acknowledgement in the U.S. that institutionalized racism and white privilege are pervasive.

Derald Wing Sue – professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, internationally acknowledged expert on multiculturalism and diversity, and author of Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence – said he asks his students:

“How many of you socialize with people who are racially, culturally different than yourself? How many of you go into communities of color to celebrate the community events, to attend Asian Baptist churches, the black churches, how many of you do that? How many of you live in an integrated neighborhood?”

The reality here is that residential racial segregation is condoning a system of institutionalized racism where specific demographics are bearing the inevitable, negative consequences of policies set by those in power. Ultimately, race – a social construct – becomes a crucial factor in the outcome of violence whether that violence be physical, economic, political, or legal.

In the Architecture of Segregation Paul Jargowsky describes the rapid re-concentration of poverty since 2000. The concentrated poverty is racial in nature and the result of measured policy choice. Exclusionary zoning has developed with the movement and investment toward suburban neighborhoods. The wealthier suburbs reject affordable housing, keeping poor and low-income individuals in the city or fading suburbs.

Ruth Peterson, retired professor of Sociology at Ohio State University and former director of the Criminal Justice Research Center, and Lauren Krivo, professor of Sociology and affiliated professor in Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, introduce the concept of racial-spatial divide in their work Divergent Social Worlds: Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide. In an extensive study accumulating crime and related data for 9,593 neighborhoods in 91 cities in the year 2000, the authors verify a connection between race, place, and crime, and prove that residential segregation is the principle reason why social worlds of people are so opposing. In short, the disadvantaged are isolated from the advantaged, and it runs across racial lines.

What the Architecture of Segregation Report and racial-spatial divide illustrate are two neighborhood studies showcasing structural housing policies – which stem from racial segregation – making particular groups more susceptible to cases of violence. Exclusionary zoning and private discrimination create the concentration of urban poverty, which inevitably means education disadvantages, labor disadvantages, increased welfare dependency, social disorder, and a loss of commercial business.

And it is an argument made again and again as young men like Michael Brown are killed on the streets, igniting a demand for change, but progress is still invisible and emotions raw a year later.

In a powerful reflection on race, John Metta, an African American who spoke to an all white audience at the Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ in White Salmon, Wash. said: “… People are dying not because individuals are racist, but because individuals are helping support a racist system by wanting to protect their own non-racist self beliefs.”

In the realm of racial justice, personal choice significantly reflects public policy and vice versa. Evident, are not only structural housing policies gone wrong, but also an inability to call them out.

If we commit an active effort in putting ourselves in unfamiliar situations, events, and discussions where authentic relationships and conversations can be cultivated, we can convert an increased understanding of institutionalized racism into righting the wrong and making restitution. We like to consider ourselves nondiscriminatory, multicultural, bias-free, and nonracist – yet this has yet to be transcended to a point where we are open to living side by side with each other.

It is time to demand that our political dogmas reflect the inclusive, nondiscriminatory attributes we claim to have. But first, we must represent those qualities outright.

Andrea Rocha is senior at the University of Washington and an intern at the Alliance for a Just Society. 

Bad Medicine Report Details Influence of Pharma in DC Budget Failure

Released to the Press

September 25, 2013

 

New Report Analyzes Interest Group Influence in Blocking Proposed Cost Saving Measures in Medicare

Report Finds Influence of Pharmaceutical Industry as Major Impasse to Common Sense Budget Fixes

Congress has failed to act on a commonsense, good-government approach to controlling health care costs. The significant resources the pharmaceutical industry has put toward influence and access has rendered Congress unable to act in the public interest.

Bad Medicine Report.image

 

Bad Medicine: Pharmaceuticals’ Prescription for Profits Over People, released by the Alliance for a Just Society details the overwhelming influence of Big PhRMA on congressional outcomes and finds that the imbalance created by industry spending harms both the interest of the American people and our democratic process.

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Delaying the Vote in Immigration Reform Has Not Silenced the Movement

We have the votes. Supporters of immigration reform in the House of Representatives have said it on many occasions, even before the Congressional recess,http://rt.com/files/news/1e/ae/c0/00/us-immigration-protest-1.jpg that the votes exist in the House to pass immigration reform.

Delaying the vote seems to be the House opposition’s approach to waiting for the immigration reform movement to divide itself, disengage from the efforts, or even disperse. Read more

Low-Wage Workers Not Covering Basic Needs

Today’s minimum wages are a far cry of what it actually takes to survive.

Last Thursday, thousands of fast food workers staged a strike in 50 cities across the country to draw attention to corporate wage gaps. Fast food workers are demanding $15 hourly wages; currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Perhaps it is easy for profit-hungry corporations to forget, but low-wage workers are human beings; anyone working full-time should be able to make enough to live.

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Native Americans Train to Defend Mother Earth

On August 23rd, Alliance affiliate, Indian People’s Action of Montana opened camp for a 3 day Direct Action training camp. Indian People’s Action brought Moccasins On The Ground to Montana. Drawing Native Americans from across the country to defend Mother Earth they trained activists in nonviolent direct action to stop the Keystone Pipeline that the Canadian developer, TransCanada is building to carry crude oil from the Boreal Forests of Albert, Canada across the United States to the Gulf Coast.

Many Native groups believe that the Environmental Impact Study did not adequately consider potential damage to American Indian Tribes and Tribal members in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, whose water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other vital resources could be damaged by the project.

100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters

100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters

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MARCHING ONWARD!

Sing a song, full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song, full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sum of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won

Excerpts of The Negro National Anthem

—by James Weldon Johnson

“Lift every voice and sing till Earth and heaven ring, ring with the harmony of liberty…”

 

Whites and Blacks, young and old, rich and poor took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial roaring demands to address the devastating plight of African Americans facing discrimination and income inequality.  The marchers understood that the crisis faced by black men, women, and children were actually an American crisis wedded together and born out of the twin evils of racism and economic deprivation.  Such evils robbed all people, both Blacks and Whites, of dignity, self-respect, and freedom.  Together, they sang in harmony to redress old grievances affecting Black life.

Their marching orders were clear: they demanded an end to discrimination.  Read more

“No One Should Live in Fear…” Courts Rule on NYPD “Stop and Frisk”

A simple premise behind every law that gets created: No one should live in fear. The laws we create should support that basic assumption by reducing crime. But when laws have no bearing on crime rates, yet become the very source of fear that people live with, we have crossed the Constitutional boundary, and law enforcement itself becomes the source of fear.Stop Frisk BT

New York City’s Stop and Frisk law is one of the in-depth discussions the Alliance will lead this October at our 5th Institute for Pragmatic Practice symposium. Students, activists, organizers, policymakers and scholars will address the increase in racially charged, discriminatory and dehumanizing practices by law enforcement; actions reinforced by new ever-more draconian laws; and the increased boot print of prisons and detention centers on the everyday lives of Americans. Read more

CellBlocks and Border Stops

The Institute for Pragmatic Practice, Union Theological Seminary and the Alliance for a Just Society are hosting our fifth symposium,

Cell Blocks & Border Stops. Hundreds of organizers, academics, policy leaders, journalists, theologians and grassroots activists will convene and examine the intersection of immigration control and mass incarceration, and to consider the future of activism and organizing in these areas.

Today, more than seven million people are under control of the criminal justice system (prison, probation, parole or detention) exceeding the combined populations of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Eleven million immigrants-roughly the population of Ohio-are out of compliance with federal immigration law, and at constant risk for harassment, detention, and deportation.

Counting friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors, tens of millions of people today are directly affected by the sprawling immigrant control and criminal justice systems. Poor Black and Brown people have been born this burden most heavily, driven by long-standing beliefs in racial inferiority and white supremacy.

REGISTER HERE– http://bit.ly/clblocks

But these systems leave few untouched.

Join us and noted scholars and activists Cornel West and Pramila Jayapal among many other noted speakers to end the dehumanization of millions of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

[Click here for a full event Agenda.]

REGISTER here– http://bit.ly/clblocks

Women with Cancer: Prisoners’ rights versus the Profit of Corporations

sherrie

Sherrie Chapman

Rahul Gupta and Danisha Christian
Contributed to this Series

Sherrie Chapman found a lump in her breast. A prisoner in a California Corrections facility, Sherrie persisted in demanding an examination by prison medical personnel. Her pleas were not answered until 9 years later, when lumps were visibly protruding from her breast.  Even after receiving a mammogram that revealed immediate follow-up tests were needed, medical personnel denied Sherrie personnel any sort of additional testing including a biopsy, ultrasound or fine needle aspiration.

She eventually underwent two mastectomies.  Subsequently, staff ignored her chemotherapy appointments and confiscated her medication. She filed a lawsuit against the prison, received a settlement of $350,000, but sadly, at the age of 42, Sherrie died in prison from the cancer she fought so tirelessly to beat.

Her death was one of many, among other violations against women and men, which forced the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to be under federal court supervision. “In California, inmates’ health care has been under federal court supervision for the past six years after a judge found that the state failed to provide inmates with adequate medical treatment. Read more

Food Stamps and Farmers: The House of Representatives Got it So Wrong

After failing to pass a Farm Bill that included farm subsidies and food assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) in June, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a skeleton of a Farm Bill on July 11—without the food stamps. The House effectively left 46 million Americans wondering how to feed themselves and their families.

The response from House Republican leadership? House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio shrugged and said: “If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. (check out an irreverent look at Mr. Boehner) You’ve heard that before. My goal right now is to get the Farm Bill passed. We’ll get to those other issues later.” (NY Times, July 11)

So the hungry and indigent just have to wait until pigs fly, or Christmas comes in July. Congressmen who own farms themselves will get their subsidies, along with family farmers who actually need the federal support. Meanwhile, those other issues like food security; will have to wait. Indefinitely.

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