All Articles Tagged "racial discrimination"

Instagram Users Respond To Legal Dreadlock Ban With Empowering #Professionallocs

September 21st, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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We told you yesterday that a federal appeals court, in a 3-0 decision, ruled that choosing not to employ someone over their choice to wear dreadlocks is not a form of racial discrimination. So an Alabama insurance claims processing company’s decision to rescind a young woman’s job offer due to her refusal to get rid of her locs was legal. However, I think we all know that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right.

So, quite a few people took to social media to speak out against the decision by posting images of themselves, at work, wearing their locs. And trust me, there is nothing “messy” about them. Check out the best responses to the appeals court decision via the hashtag, #professionallocs. And be sure to follow one of my favorite Instagram pages, @LocLivin, as they encouraged people to share their images.

Study: The Stress Of Discrimination Is Harming Your Mental Health

January 19th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

When faced with discrimination, how do you react to it? Well, according to a new study out of UCLA, you may be more affected by it than you think. Facing discrimination, both overt and subtle experiences, can have a negative impact on one’s mental health, and the mental health of those around them. The results were published in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Magazine.

“We now have decades of research showing that when people are chronically treated differently, unfairly or badly, it can have effects ranging from low self-esteem to a higher risk for developing stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression,” said Vickie Mays, Public Health professor for UCLA’s Fielding School. She teamed up with Dr. Susan Cochran of the Fielding School’s Department of Epidemiology to record the connection between such mistreatment and mental health.

For instance, in the study, it was found that the effects of discrimination go deeper than one man or woman being affected.

“We know that when people have a psychiatric disorder, it’s not good for any of us,” Mays said. “For example, it can affect parenting — a depressed mom might not be able to interact with her child in a way that best promotes that child’s development, leaving the child more vulnerable to certain behavior disorders. In that sense, we all suffer from the effects of discrimination.”

And not only that, but facing discrimination hinders our decision-making process, or in other words, how our brain processes certain data. For instance, if you feel that you will encounter discrimination again, you may try to avoid exposing yourself to things and opportunities that you worry will leave you disappointed again.

“When we’ve had these experiences and anticipate that other incidents might lead us to be discriminated against, it can interfere with our ability to cognitively function at our best,” Mays said.

Another faculty member whose past work contributed to the study was Gilbert Gee. He analyzed 300 studies from around the world, conducted over the last 30 years, including a study led by one of his postdoctoral fellows, which scanned the brain functions of South Asian women as they discussed experiences of being treated in an inferior manner. The parts of their brain that regulate emotions and stress responded the most. Through such studies, Gee found that poor mental health is consistently associated with the mistreatment individuals report, both in interpersonal insults and systemically.

“If you don’t get a job and you’re left to wonder whether it had to do with your race or gender, that can have an impact on your mental health,” Gee said. “We know that when people are worried about things, it affects their mood.”

Mays stated that prevention efforts are important for victims of discrimination. “We screen for mental health disorders when we are putting together an individual’s electronic health record, but maybe we also need to ask about their experiences with discrimination, which would identify people at risk who could benefit from prevention efforts.”

But Mays stated that prevention efforts are also necessary for those who are the individuals out here discriminating in the first place.

“We need to target prevention strategies at the perpetrators of racism, just like we’ve targeted people who are developing bullying behaviors, starting in the school system,” Mays said. ” We can do more to learn about the processes that lead people to treat others this way, and how to disrupt those through early education.”


Target Fined $2.8M For Racist Hiring Practices

August 27th, 2015 - By Chelcee Johns
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On Monday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Target will have to pay $2.8 million to previous applicants due to racist and sexist claims embedded into the store’s previous employment assessments.

The $2.8 million fee is one the largest any company has been ordered to pay due to discriminatory practices. After complaints from applicants, the EEOC launched an investigation into the retail powerhouse. The agency found three employment tests previously used by Target screened out applicants based on race and sex. Target administered the test to applicants that did not qualify for overtime, which are typically upper-level positions. The tests disproportionately left African Americans, Asians and women out of the pool to be hired.

“The test were not sufficiently job-related and consistent with business necessity, and thus violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said the EEOC to Fortune.

Target is said to have agreed to the settlement due to the fact none of the tests are still in use, not to mention the enormous resources it would take to fight the case.

“We continue to firmly believe that no improper behavior occurred regarding these assessments,” said Target spokeswoman Molly Synder.

But the EEOC has found otherwise. Not only is Target in the hot seat for discriminating on the factors of race and sex, but also for not adhering to the Americans With Disabilities Act due to it’s psychological testing.

The retail chain asked applicants questions that were then interpreted by psychologists and Target used these summaries in its hiring process. The problem here? No employer has the legal right to do any kind of medical testing in the pre-hire phase.

Target will now have to pay $2.8 million to thousands of individuals who applied during this time of questionable intake. Target says it will pay more attention to its hiring practices and the EEOC will be making sure of this each year.

Muslim Woman Claims Discrimination Against United Airlines Over Unopened Soda Can

May 31st, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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Tahera Ahmad is not a happy United Airlines customer.

According to her Facebook page, a flight attendant refused to give her an unopened can of Diet Coke. Ahmad wrote, the flight attendant was “clearly discriminating against me” after the male passenger seated next to her received an unopened beer.

The incident took place on her flight from Chicago to Washington Friday. Ahmad was presented with a can that was previously opened. Upon asking for a new closed can, for her own personal hygienic reasons, the flight attendant stated, “Well, I’m sorry. I just can’t give you an unopened can, so no Diet Coke for you.”

When Ahmad mentioned the man next to her had an unopened beer, the flight attendant quickly opened his as well. The flight attendant then told Tahera, “We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people, because they may use it as a weapon on the plane.”

To make matters even worse, when Tahera asked for her fellow passengers for help and she was told to “Shut the F*ck up!”

“I can’t help but cry on this plane because I thought people would defend me and say something,” she wrote in the post. “Some people just shook their heads in dismay. “#IslamophobiaISREAL”

United Airlines issued a statement claiming,

The flight attendant onboard Shuttle America flight 3504 attempted several times to accommodate Ms. Ahmad’s beverage request after a misunderstanding regarding a can of diet soda. The inflight crew met with Ms. Ahmad after the flight arrived in Washington to provide assistance and further discuss the matter. Additionally, we spoke with Ms. Ahmad this afternoon to get a better understanding of what occurred and to apologize for not delivering the service our customers expect when traveling with us. We look forward to having the opportunity to welcome Ms. Ahmad back

However, Tahera does not feel the apology was enough. Tahera posted a new post stating,

“It is ridiculing to my integrity to dismiss the discriminatory behavior towards me. It is truly disheartening when the discrimination of Americans as myself who are working hard every day to promote dialogue and understanding is disregarded and trivialized. This is not about a can of soda,” she said. “I was really hoping that after speaking with me they would have publicly acknowledged their lack of consistency in following procedure, the flight attendant’s rude and discriminatory behavior and accusations which led to hateful words, and the unfortunate lack of bystander intervention nor the flight attendants attempt to intervene and prevent further disrespect which created an unsafe space for me.”




Justice Department Finds Ferguson Police At Fault For Targeting Blacks

March 2nd, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

According to The New York Times, the Justice Department has found the Ferguson Police Department at fault for targeting and ticketing Blacks to balance the city’s budget.

The Justice Department is poised to release a scathing report on Ferguson Police Department’s discriminatory practices, which exploded into nationwide scrutiny last August with the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson.

The report found that Ferguson police officers levied excessive fines on African Americans, disproportionately targeting Black residents for arrests and traffic tickets to fill gaps in the town’s budget.

“Traffic fines are the town’s second largest source of income, after sales tax. The DoJ report says that financial incentives are driving law enforcement to continue unfair policies, predominantly targeting African-Americans,” RT wrote.

In 2013, according to RT, Black Americans accounted for a whopping 86 percent of the city’s arrests.

The Justice Department’s critical report will require the Ferguson Police Department to either face a civil rights lawsuit or negotiate a settlement. Investigators don’t have to prove that the department’s policies were “racially motivated,” the NY Times adds, they just need to verify that the law enforcement agency had a “disparate impact” on African Americans.

“Because such systems do not account for individual circumstances of the accused, they essentially mandate pretrial detention for anyone who is too poor to pay the predetermined fee,” Vanita Gupta, the top civil rights prosecutor at the Justice Department, told the NY Times.

The report is also expected to include a reference to racist joke that circulated among the Ferguson Police Department officers via email.

The investigation into the Ferguson Police Department was announced last September by Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I wanted the people of Ferguson to know that I personally understood that mistrust,” Mr. Holder said after returning from a trip to Missouri last year. “I wanted them to know that while so much else may be uncertain, this attorney general and this Department of Justice stands with the people of Ferguson.”

Keeping his word, Holder, who is expected to officially leave office in the next few weeks, pledged the investigation would be fair and independent. “I’m confident people will be satisfied with the results,” he said.

“Get Rid of the N****rs”: McDonald’s Sued For Firing Black Employees

January 23rd, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Bikeworldtravel /

Bikeworldtravel /

Ten former McDonald’s employees slapped the franchisee with a civil rights lawsuit claiming that supervisors from a Virginia-based McDonald’s conspired to fire them because the store had “too many black people,” The Guardian reported.

The ex-workers — nine Black and one Hispanic — also alleged that the supervisors made the following comments: “Need to get the ghetto out of the store”, and “Get rid of the n****rs and the Mexicans.”

The 10 plaintiffs accused the popular fast food restaurant of turning a blind eye to “rampant racial and sexual harassment,” Gawker said. McDonald’s, which operates on a franchise system, has long been able to escape taking responsibility for the actions of individual franchisees. But now, due to a new government ruling, McDonald’s might just have to bite the bullet for the indiscretions of its restaurants:

“McDonald’s could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators — a decision that, if upheld, would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide,” The New York Times wrote.

The group of litigants, according to the suit filed in a Virginia district court on Thursday, claimed:

“…These supervisors demeaned African-American workers; often complained there were  “too many black people in the store;” called African-American workers “bitch,” “ghetto,” and “ratchet;” called Hispanic workers “dirty Mexican;”  disciplined African American employees for rule infractions that were forgiven when committed by white employees; inappropriately touched by female employees on their legs and buttocks; sent female employees sexual pictures; and solicited sexual relations from female employees.”

The lawsuit noted that in 2013, Soweva — a franchise operator — took over South Boston and Clarksville restaurants, where the plaintiffs worked, at a time when the restaurants were predominantly Black:

“Soweva’s owner, Michael Simon, explained to workers that “the ratio was off in each of the stores,” and that he just wanted “the ratio to be equal.” Soweva’s supervisors were blunt, telling employees it was “too dark” in the restaurants, and that they were going to hire different workers…”

True to his word, the lawsuit alleges that a large number of White workers were hired in March of 2014 and about 15 Black workers were canned.

“All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” said Willie Betts, one of the terminated workers. “I had no idea what they meant by the right profile – until I saw everyone else that they fired as well.”

McDonald’s, according to The Guardian, will comment after it has seen the lawsuit.

“Employers like McDonald’s seek to avoid recognizing the rights of their employees by claiming that they are not really their employer, despite exercising control over crucial aspects of the employment relationship,” Julius Getman, a labor law professor at the University of Texas, told the NY Times. “McDonald’s should no longer be able to hide behind its franchisees.”

Do We Need Youth Curfews?

August 13th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock


Last Friday marked the first official day of Baltimore’s new curfew law, which many experts are calling the toughest in the nation – and possibly the most wrong-headed violence prevention effort in the nation as well.

According to The Source, the city’s new curfew now requires unaccompanied minors under the age of 14 to be indoors by 9 p.m. Minors over the age of 14 and under the age of 17, will have to be in the house by 10 p.m. – 11 p.m. on weekends and during the summer.

The Source further reports:

After the first curfew violation, a child’s parents or guardians may be issued a civil citation or be required to attend family counseling.  If the counseling sessions are not successfully completed, or if a child has repeated violations, parents or guardians may be subject to a civil citation or  a misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $500 and community service.

Those youth who are found to be violating the curfew will be taken to Youth Connection Centers.  When a child under the age of 13 is taken to a center or when any child’s parent or guardian cannot be located, the Baltimore City Department of Social Services’ Child Protective Services division will be notified.

Baltimore’s curfew is now the toughest law of its kind in the entire country, including amongst those areas with higher violent crime rates.”

It should also note that while various news outlets are framing the reports about curfew by highlighting individual instances of gun and other youth violence, crime is down in the city, including homicide. and has been trending downwards for some time now. So one does wonder why such extra enforcement is needed at this very moment?

According to this article in Reuters, the mayor says it is crime. And despite having the harshest enforcement, Baltimore is not the only city in America, with curfews for minors. However the American Civil Liberties Union worries that such a law will ultimately encourage “negative interactions” between the police and the community.

As reported by Reuters:

I think there is a widely acknowledged lack of trust between members of the public and the police department in Baltimore. Discussion of this falls against that backdrop,” said Sonia Kumar, an ACLU staff attorney.

She said she was also concerned about how police would react if they stop a child who is not carrying a photo identification, or if the child attempts to run away.

Other critics noted that the rec halls that were serving as collection centers for the kids by night were closed for activities and events during the day.”

It should also be noted that a fairly recent analysis of curfew laws and enforcement in California (which was done over a 18 year span) determined that “no support for the hypothesis that jurisdictions with curfews experience lower crime levels, accelerated youth crime reduction, or lower rates of juvenile violent death than jurisdictions without curfews.”

So I’m going to keep this short and jump right to the point and ask: In the wake of several high profiled incidents of police brutality and misconduct should we be giving police another tool, which could result in unnecessary profiling and possibly harassing young adults?



Turns Out, You Can Be Fired For Not Being “Black Enough”– Just Ask This Woman

August 11th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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The Black Educators Association in Nova Scotia, Canada was created in 1969 to help those in the black community receive better and more equitable educational opportunities. But according to Rachel Brothers, it’s hard to fight for others when colorism issues within the association make it so that employees aren’t even treated fairly or equal.

Brothers, a biracial woman, was an employee back in 2006 for the BEA, and worked for the company for a year. According to Brothers, via Metro News of Canada, she was up for a regional educator job against a woman named Catherine Collier, and Brothers ended up being offered the position. This didn’t sit well with Collier though, as Brothers claimed that during her entire time in that position, Collier underminded her, and was bold enough to tell Brothers that she “wasn’t black enough,” both in skin color and in the way she carried herself, to really represent those in the black community that the BEA was seeking to help. Collier reportedly felt that she should have been offered the position because she was, according to the New York Daily News, “older” and “blacker.” Because she wasn’t given the job, Collier made the job of Brothers and her assistant, another biracial woman, harder as time went on.

Brothers tried to share her concerns over Collier’s behavior with those over her, including the BEA’s head office, but nothing was really done about the situation. In fact, Brothers claims that another co-worker told her that she would be better off seeking employment with a white employer.

Eventually, Brothers was fired by the BEA, who claimed that she was guilty of financial misconduct, but Brothers said she did no such thing. She ended up filing a human rights complaint in 2008 against the Association.

It’s unclear why it took so long for Brothers’ complaint to be investigated and ruled over, but all these years later, the Human Rights Commission determined that Brothers was wrongfully fired from her post at the BEA because of “discrimination based on age, race and colour.” Though she was supposedly fired for financial misdeeds, Donald Murray, the chair of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, said that no evidence of this misconduct was presented by the BEA.

In his determination, the BEA accepted a colorist way of thinking in their company’s culture, as they didn’t do anything to quell the behavior of Collier. He said this in his report:

“Rachel Brothers lost her employment at the BEA in part because of decisions at the BEA in which her skin colour was a factor, and the problems that her skin colour created in her office for another BEA employee… It is clear to me that Ms. Brothers was undermined in part because she was younger than, and not as black as, Ms. Collier thought Ms. Brothers should be.

In Ms. Collier’s eyes, Ms. Brothers was not really black enough.”

It was determined that the BEA would have to pay Brothers $11,000 plus interest for damages in the matter, and lost income.

When Brothers was contacted by the Toronto Star to give a statement about the decision and what she went through, it seemed that she was just glad that the whole ordeal was over.

“I don’t think there is anything else to say, the facts are the facts and I am happy with the decision.”

The BEA did not issue a statement about the decision.





Study Shows Americans (Including African Americans) Prefer Doing Business With Whites

June 9th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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During a year-long study, researchers sought to answer one question: Does the average online consumer tend to avoid doing business with Blacks? The answer, according to ThinkProgress, seems to be a resounding yes!

If you Twitter-searched “business with blacks,” you’ll find that not even Black Twitter enjoys doing business with people of color. “As bad as this may sound, when doing business, I only deal with white people. They seem to have their priorities straight more than blacks,” one said. Many others shared the same sentiments.

Unfortunately, this mentality isn’t contained to a few Twitter users, a new study finds that the typical online shopper has an aversion to black sellers.

Two Stanford University researchers posted online ads to sell iPods on Craigslist. Photos in this ad either showed a dark-skinned or light-skinned hand holding the Apple device.

Here are what the lead investigators found:

-Black sellers were 13 percent less likely to get a response from customers.
-When people did respond, Black sellers were 17 less likely to get an offer.
-Offers were $1.87 less, on average, than White sellers.
-Best offers were $3.56 percent lower than White sellers.
-Due to “distrust,” consumers were 44 percent less likely to accept delivery by mail from Blacks.
-Concerned about scams, shoppers were 56 percent less likely to accept long distance payments (as opposed to in-person) such as Paypal.
-Black sellers were twice is likely to have their posts removed due to consumers randomly flagging their ads as “inappropriate.”

“. . .[D]iscrimination by consumers may in fact underlie other forms of discrimination. Given that most online sales require an eventual real life meet up to complete the transaction, we expect that our results will be informative about discrimination offline,” the authors wrote.

The lead investigators insinuate that their findings are a reflection of racial discrimination in the broader aspect of American consumer relations, beyond online interaction. If the average consumer habitually dodges doing business with Blacks, in turn, employers will shy away from hiring Black employees to sell their services and products. It’s consumer discrimination, ThinkProgress notes, that is the culprit behind the racial divide in the economy.

What’s most troubling about racial discrimination? It’s mostly unconscious and covert.

“Most of the bias that black people face today is subtle, not manifesting in outright hostility, but in white people giving favorable treatment to those who look like them,” ThinkProgress concludes.

Study Finds Loan Officers Snub Black Business Owners, Offer Unequal Treatment

June 3rd, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Three entrepreneurs — one Black, the other White and Hispanic — go undercover for an experiment. All dressed in matching khaki pants and polo shirts, they visit a few banks to apply for a small business loan. Who do you think gets the best assistance? (No prize for guessing!)

White business owners, unsurprisingly, got “better and more encouraging service,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Researchers Glenn Christensen, Jerome Williams and Sterling Bone found that loan officers were more likely to (a) ask a White entrepreneur if he needed help with his application, (b) tell them about the loan terms, and (c) give an in-depth explanation on fees.

As you might have guessed, also unsurprisingly, the Black and Hispanic business owners got the shorter end of the stick.

Bank employees were more likely to delve into the personal finances of minority entrepreneurs and less likely offer the minority spies a business card. When asked to describe their loan application process, “minority consumers framed the journey as uphill, while white consumers consistently framed their journeys as on level ground,” according to the researchers.

To give a visual description of process, the researchers asked the three groups to select a picture that best depicts their experience in applying for a loan. Minority entrepreneurs leaned towards photos of a dry faucet, a beggar, and a set of handcuffs. On the flip side, White entrepreneurs’ photo selection was a bit more scenic: a water slide and a beachfront idyll.

Before you dismiss the experiment as only anecdotal, consider the vast array of quantitative research support these findings. “In 2012, Federal Reserve data revealed that minority business owners were paying interest rates that were 32 percent higher than what whites paid for loans. Last year, research from the Kauffman Foundation showed that minority entrepreneurs were more likely to be turned down for loans and less likely to apply, for fear of rejection,” BusinessWeek added.

According to the researchers, entrepreneurs of color tend to recruit White employees on their team to increase their chances of getting approved for a small business loan. The result of this, according to the researchers, is “a cumulative debilitating effect on their psychological and physical well-being.”

Christensen, Jerome, and Bone’s study can be found in the Journal of Consumer Research.