Race & Ethnicity

Labor at a Crossroads: Time to Experiment

New organizing will be propelled by committed activists, but will have to be sustained by huge numbers of members and supporters.

Working America
This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . I love the breadth and gusto of the new labor organizing, which includes plenty of innovation based in old labor organizing as well. This mash-up of practical experiences will help produce breakthrough tactics and strategies. There is also a question of purpose—is our aim to improve working conditions, or is it to build a more powerful working class? These are related, clearly, but suggest different strategies and structures. Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is a laboratory for change. Here are three areas at the top of our list for exploration in this realm. Changing minds Pollsters call this “the frame”—but really, it’s ideology. Working...

Labor at a Crossroads: Can Broadened Civil Rights Law Offer Workers a True Right to Organize?

It's one way to allow victims of anti-union discrimination to sue in federal court for compensatory and punitive damages.

(AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
(AP Photo/Alex Sanz) U.S. Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, is co-sponsoring, with Rep. Keith Elison of Minnesota, legislation that would broaden the Civil Rights Act to include workers who are discriminated against for wanting to join a union. Lewis, shown here on December 22, 2014, discusses the historical film Selma and civil rights in the United States during an interview in Atlanta. Forty-nine years after Lewis and other marchers tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, memories of "Bloody Sunday" are still vivid in his mind. It was one of the defining moments of the civil rights era. This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . O rganized labor, which represents only 1...

How to Be a Walking 'Confirmation Bias' (Role Model: Mia Love)

It's easy to write off Mia Love and Allen West but these very visible blacks hurt the quest for equality.

ABC News/This Week With George Stephanopoulos
ABC News/This Week With George Stephanpoulos Representative Mia Love, Republican of Utah, appeared on the January 4 edition of the ABC News program This Week With George Stephanpoulos to defend House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in the wake of revelations that he once addressed a white supremacist group. H ave you ever been in a debate with your right-wing uncle and when you ask him for proof of his wild claims, he pulls up a Fox News article? Instinctively, you roll your eyes. Of course he sought out Fox News as a source—it’s a haven for people like him. Everything he already thinks about minorities, LGBTQ people, Muslims and single moms is there. Automatically turning to Fox News to search for information that he knows will affirm what he already believes is called a confirmation bias. On December 29, news broke that Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the new House majority whip, had addressed a white supremacist group in 2002. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David...

Scalise Scandal Rooted in Secret Societies' Hold on Paths to Power -- Through Violence

From campus rape to the House whip's 'need' to address white supremacists, it's starkly clear that American roots of gender, race and sexual violence run deep. So what are we going to do about it?

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) In this November 18, 2014, file photo, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, right, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, left, and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, following a House GOP caucus meeting. Scalise acknowledged that he once addressed a gathering of white supremacists. Scalise served in the Louisiana Legislature when he appeared at a 2002 convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), which was founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise is the third-highest ranked House Republican. There’s a direct connection between white male secret societies and group violence that roots gendered racism and raced sexism into our nation’s core. As the campus rape crisis, the Senate's CIA torture report , #blacklivesmatter movement and mainstream political acceptance of white supremacist ideology...

The True Cost of Teach For America's Impact on Urban Schools

Why are school districts paying millions in "finder's fees" to an organization that places people without education degrees to teach in urban schools—even where applications from veteran teachers abound?

(AP Photo/Andy King)
(AP Photo/Andy King) In a February 4, 2011 photo, Erin Gavin, a Teach for America teacher, listens to students during a group discussion with seventh-graders at a Brooklyn Center School in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. In 2013, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a line item that would have granted $1.5 million to TFA. In debates over education policy in urban school districts, few topics are more contentious than the role played by Teach For America, the national organization that recruits elite college graduates to teach in low-income urban and rural schools for two years. It is not uncommon to hear veteran teachers, who majored in education and often have advanced degrees, complain that their profession is diminished by what they see as a preference for TFA recruits who did not study education. Parents are heard to question the qualifications and commitment of TFA’s novice educators, given the assumption that their sign-up for a two-year stint suggests only a fleeting interest in...

Are Jews Doomed to Lose the War on Jewish Christmas?

And lo, after wandering the desert did they arrive at the promised land. (Flickr/Janne Moren)
O n this Christmas eve, the most important article of the day is undoubtedly this piece by Daniel Drezner on a deeply disturbing development in American society, namely, the War on Jewish Christmas : Chinese food and a movie. Perfectly pleasant rituals, made special by the fact that the Gentiles are all at home or at church. After a month or two of listening to Christmas music blasted everywhere, after weeks of avoiding malls and shopping centers because of frenzied Christmas shopping, finally the Jews can emerge and just enjoy a simple ethnic meal and a movie with the other minorities that make help make this country great. No longer. I don't know when it became a thing for Christian families to also go see a movie on the day commemorating the birth of Jesus, but personal experience tells me this is a relatively recent phenomenon – i.e., the past 15 years or so . All I know is that what used to be a pleasant movie-going experience is now extremely crowded. This has been my experience...

Meet the Congressional Mouthpieces of the Anti-Cuba Lobby

They hail from both parties, but they have one thing in common: something called the U.S. Cuba-Democracy PAC.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) Like his Republican counterparts who oppose the president's opening to Cuba, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, has ties to the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC. On Wednesday, December 17, he accused President Barack Obama of "vindicat[ing] the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.” This March 27, 2014, file photo shows him in his role as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, listening as the committee's ranking member, Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. This article originally appeared at AlterNet . O n Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced that Cuba would be freeing several American captives while also overhauling relations between the two countries, moving to a full normalization of relations that would include a gradual lifting of the travel and trade bans. Obama's move is in sync with public opinion. Gallup has long polled Americans about their...

How Much Did Black-White Wealth Gap Widen During the Great Recession?

A lot, says a new study from the Pew Research Center.

© Steve Debenport/iStock.
This article originally appeared at BillMoyers.com . T he average African-American household takes home around 40 percent less income than a similar white family. The gap between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics (who can belong to any race) is just over 30 percent ( Excel file ). But racial income inequality pales in comparison to the racial gap in net worth —in household wealth accumulated through one’s lifetime and passed from generation to generation—especially between whites and blacks. It’s the living legacy of hundreds of years of structural racism. And, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center , that wealth gap has grown significantly since Wall Street crashed the economy… The study’s authors note that while accumulated wealth dropped across the board during the crash, there has been “a stark divide in the experiences of white, black and Hispanic households during the economic recovery.” From 2010 to 2013, the median wealth of non-Hispanic white households increased...

Harrowing Tales of the Wrongly Deported: U.S. Border Patrol Flouts the Law and Destroys Lives

There are more than 40,000 CBP officers authorized to act like judges but without legal training. The new executive order does not change this.

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) In this July 12, 2014, photo, Central American migrants ride a freight train during their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border in Ixtepec, Mexico. The number of family units and unaccompanied children arrested by Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley has doubled in the first nine months of this fiscal year compared to the same period last year. In 2008, Nydia, a transgender woman, fled physical and sexual attacks in Mexico and was granted asylum in the United States. She was saving money to apply for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) when, in 2010, her mother died. Nydia returned to Mexico for the funeral. “I was afraid [to go back], but in the moment, I just blocked out everything that had happened to me,” she said. “When I got there, I thought ‘Oh my God, why am I here?’” When her family in Mexico rejected her, Nydia found herself alone, attacked by a gang who tried to rip out her breast implants, beat, robbed, and raped her. Nydia returned to...

Movements for Racial Justice and Economic Justice Could Converge to Form a Powerhouse for Change

(Photo by Rachel M. Cohen for The American Prospect)
What happens to a dream deferred? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? T hat was the poet Langston Hughes, in 1951. In that year, more than half a century ago, the most basic dreams of African Americans were deferred. Segregation was mandatory in the old South. Discrimination was legal everywhere in America, whether in housing, education, or employment. Blacks were not just separated, but isolated, marginalized, restricted to the worst jobs and most dilapidated neighborhoods, the most dismal schools. For many, the racism just sagged, like a heavy load. It destroyed hope that hard work would be rewarded. The deferred dreams of that era seldom produced explosions, because the state had a very efficient system of terror. Blacks who resisted were likely to be lynched, jailed, or otherwise destroyed. It is a testament to sheer grit, tenacity and courage that large numbers of blacks managed to get educations, raise families, start businesses, and enter professions at...

We Can't Forget: Black Women Are Targeted, Too

"It’s not just the brothers dying; I’m at risk too," Joanne says. "I could be the next person.”

(Photo/Kristen Doerer)
(Photo/Kristen Doerer) After talking with a protester who came to commemorate the lives of black women killed and beaten by police and the justice system, the author ponders a new hashtag: #BlackWomensLivesMatter. Here, a scene from the Washington, D.C., protests set off by a Staten Island jury's failure to indict white New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. We’ve been walking for about two hours now. We’re following the protests, Nathalie Baptiste and I, and we’ve finally made it to 14 th Street Bridge—Well not quite, we’re right before the bridge, at one of the busiest intersections. A black man has been leading the way, microphone in hand, shouting chants like “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these killer cops have got to go.” We circle around the intersection. Protesters raise their hands, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” they yell. Police cars surround us, their lights flashing. Horns blare as...

'All I Want For Christmas Is Justice!' A Protester's Dispatch

This is what the new civil rights movement looks like.

(AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
(AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek) Angelica Simmons, center, holds her arms up in the air while participating in a demonstration at a tree lighting ceremony, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in Philadelphia. The crowd, protesting the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police, rallied at the train station and marched through downtown before disrupting a tree lighting ceremony at City Hall. A t the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, the president and his family sought a moment of lightness. It was not to be had. The street in front of the White House was filled with demonstrators, who had blocked off highly-trafficked thoroughfares after the justice system once again failed to call police to account for the killing of yet another unarmed black person: Eric Garner, who died when a New York City police officer pushed Garner to the ground, wrapped his hands around the black man’s neck, and held them there while the man gasped for air. As traditional Christmas songs blared from...

Quote of the Day: 'When Cops Are Scared'

(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Laurie Skrivan)
"Cops can get into a state of mind where they're scared to death. When they're in that really, really frightened place they panic and they act out on that panic. I have known cops who haven't had a racist bone in their bodies and in fact had adopted black children, they went to black churches on the weekend; and these are white cops. They really weren't overtly racist. They weren't consciously racist. But you know what they had in their minds that made them act out and beat a black suspect unwarrantedly? They had fear. They were afraid of black men. I know a lot of white cops who have told me. And I interviewed over 900 police officers in 18 months and they started talking to me, it was almost like a therapy session for them I didn't realize that they needed an outlet to talk. "They would say things like, 'Ms. Rice I'm scared of black men. Black men terrify me. I'm really scared of them. Ms. Rice, you know black men who come out of prison, they've got great hulk strength and I'm...

#Blacklivesmatter Till They Don't: Slavery's Lasting Legacy

The historical value of black life and the casual killing of Eric Garner.

(AP Photo/Public Opinion, Ryan Blackwell)
(AP Photo/Public Opinion, Ryan Blackwell) Shippensburg University student Cory Layton, a junior from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, paints his face with the slogan "Black Lives Matter" at the 'Fight for Human Rights and Social Equity' rally at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, December 4, 2014. I n less than a month, our nation will commemorate the 150 th anniversary of the 13 th Amendment, which abolished slavery. This should be a time of celebratory reflection, yet Wednesday night, after another grand jury failed to see the value of African-American life, protesters took to the streets chanting, “Black lives matter!” As scholars of slavery writing books on the historical value(s) of black life, we are concerned with the long history of how black people are commodified by the state. Although we are saddened by the unprosecuted deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless others, we are not surprised. We live a nation that has yet to...

10 Ways the System Is Rigged Against Justice for People Wrongly Killed by Cops

Why is the legal system so biased against holding abusive officers accountable?

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez) A motorist, right, shows support for people marching during a protest after it was announced that the New York City police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner was not indicted, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared the New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. This article was orginally published by AlterNet . For more great reporting and analysis, subscribe here to AlterNet's newsletters. A s passions and protests flared on the streets of New York City following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision Wednesday not to indict the white NYC police officer whose chokehold and rough arrest killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, a key question emerges: Why is the justice system so biased against holding abusive officers accountable? The answer is both simple...

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