Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What you don't know about Civil Rights CAN hurt you...

"Civil Rights" is not the name of a movement...

"Civil Rights" is not a type of organization..."Civil Rights" is not a method of protest...

Civil 'Rights' are the rights and privileges guaranteed by law to all citizens of the United States. The Civil Rights movement was an organized and protracted effort to ensure that the rights guaranteed by law were equally extended to all Americans. Civil Rights Organizations were those groups who worked to ensure the fair and equal application of the laws, foremost among them being the 14th amendment to the Constitution which reads in part:
"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."In its truest sense, the struggle over civil rights has never really abated. That's because Civil 'Rights' are, in essence, matters of law; and the laws from which they derive are dynamic. Their meanings and applications are subject to change with each interpretation. By Stare Decisis - as courts render new decisions, their precedent becomes the new practice, so a law that you wrote or read yesterday, could be interpreted to mean something completely different next year. And when you factor in the role of politics and how federal appointments to District Courts are often made along political and ideological lines, you come to realize that our Civil 'Rights' are extremely fragile.

We as activists must not only concern ourselves with securing Civil Rights for all Americans, but we must be equally focused upon protecting those Civil Rights that now exist. Because on any given Monday a court decision, a ballot initiative, or a legal appeal could change the law or its application and strip away a right you had previously taken for granted.Which brings me to
Gross vs FBL Financial Services Inc

Jack Gross went to work at FBL Financial Services back in 1987. He worked his way through the ranks, and by 1999 he had been named the Claims Administration Vice President. A couple years later, Jack's job title and duties began to change. He noticed that the duties and responsibilities that he once had, were being shifted to a younger employee. In 2003 Jack noted that his position as "Claims Project Coordinator" lacked a real job description or clearly defined duties, but his younger co-worker had all but assumed the functional equivalent of his old position.In 2004 Jack Gross sued FBL Financial Services for Age Discrimination. The trial lasted a mere 5 days and Jack Gross prevailed. The jury found that Jack Gross proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he was demoted and his age was a motivating factor in the demotion decision. They awarded him $46,945.00 for lost compensation.Not surprisingly, FBL appealed.... They filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, informally referred to as a "Cert Petition" with the Supreme Court. A Cert Petition is a formal request for the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court. The Supreme Court granted the Writ of Certiorari and on June 18th, Justice Thomas rendered the 5-4 decision of the court which held that: A plaintiff bringing an Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) disparate-treatment claim must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that age was the "but-for" cause of the challenged adverse employment action. The burden of persuasion does not shift to the employer to show that it would have taken the action regardless of age, even when a plaintiff has produced some evidence that age was one motivating factor in that decision. In a nutshell, the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts decision in favor of Jack Gross, and also put forward a new legal standard for ruling in Age Discrimination cases. The conservative majority on the court (Thomas, Scalia, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy) ruled that a plaintiff in an age discrimination case must not only prove that age was "A" motivating factor in an adverse employment action or decision; they must prove that age was "THE" motivating factor. And unless or until the plaintiff can present direct evidence of the employer's primary personal motivations, the employer should not be required to prove anything. With the writ of Certiorari, the case was remanded back to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for retrial. And yesterday, the 8th Circuit Court issued a new ruling in favor of FBL Financial Services... The preponderance of the evidence still shows that FBL Services was considering Jack Gross' age when deciding to demote him, but as of yesterday morning, that no longer meets the legal standard of an Age Discrimination Claim. You see, protection from discrimination or adverse employment actions on the basis of ones age is still a 'Civil Right', but is is now a right guaranteed in a law that is virtually impossible to assert. I said all of that to say this... Our Civil Rights are fragile. Like the picture above, these Rights are like a candle in the wind. If we are not vigilant, if we do not safeguard and protect them, they will be lost...The courts have been busy chipping away at them, bit by bit, for a number of years. We must remember that the protections and safeguards that we fought so hard to secure in the 50's and 60's are not promised to our children. Whether or not they are passed on to the next generation will depend on what we do today. Because on any given Monday, things can change... just like yesterday morning.
The ACLU and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights call for reform at the US Commission on Civil Rights

Long time readers of the blog and WNB Newsbrief will note that we've been talking about the ideological shift and politicization of the US Commission on Civil Rights for the last couple years. (See
HERE, and HERE, and HERE, and HERE). Through a series of Bush-era politically motivated appointments, the 8-member Commission is now composed of 4 staunch conservatives who are absolutely ideologically opposed to the goals and precepts of the American Civil Rights movement and 2 right-leaning 'quasi-independents'.But at long last, the call for reform is now picking up steam. On November 18th, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the ACLU went to the Congress to call for dramatic reform within the agency.The groups called for reforms that would broaden the commission's mandate so that it can better investigate and address civil rights issues and work to strengthen U.S. commitments on human rights. In particular, they are seeking a change in the way that members are appointed to the commission to ensure that commissioners remain independent. Currently, members are appointed by Congress and the president and are not required to undergo a confirmation process.The commission was created with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 as an independent fact-finding body charged with investigating and reporting on civil rights and making recommendations to the federal government on how to fix the problems it uncovered. Through its fact-finding work, it helped lay the foundation for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.Over the past few years, however, the commission has taken positions hostile to civil rights issues, such as opposing the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006, urging the Senate to vote against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill, encouraging the elimination of school desegregation programs, and opposing the Employee Free Choice Act.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

WE ARE 100 1909-2009

100 years ago, a small multiracial group of progressive thinkers came together to share a bold dream: An America free of the racial oppression that sullied the soul of our nation. The NAACP was born of that noble vision.The new organization launched a 30-year struggle to end the horror of lynch mobs. Then we fought to reverse the Jim Crow laws, and two decades later, segregation was made illegal. In the 1960's, the NAACP took up the fight for economic and political inclusion... and just a few months ago, an African-American president was elected.I've only been CEO of the NAACP since September, but I want to take this opportunity to thank you -- whether you're a veteran NAACP member who was there during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, or whether you joined us two years ago to protest the treatment of the young men of the Jena 6.The NAACP has always embraced the impossible. Our triumphs have not been ours alone. Ending lynch mobs against African Americans also ended the horror for White Catholics, the second largest group of lynching victims. Our fight against discrimination helped all disenfranchised members of our country open locked doors and break through barriers of inequity. I want to thank you for all you have done... and all you will do as we recommit to the struggle. Because the journey is not over. Black unemployment is twice that of white Americans. A majority of employers preferred to hire a white criminal than a black man without a criminal record, according to several surveys. African American children disproportionately attend segregated, poor quality schools. Mass incarceration is harming far too many people of color when drug treatment and other approaches would have better outcomes. The health disparities in our communities are well-known. Now as we face our second 100 years, we can begin to see the realization of the vision of a new land where all live in safe communities and law enforcement respects and protects our neighborhoods. A land where all children can blossom in quality schools... where every worker has a fair chance for employment, education and advancement. Because of your idealism, your willingness to dream big dreams, to set big goals... and to do the hard work, the NAACP has changed our country in our lifetime.Join me in celebrating... and in taking the next steps to realize our vision of justice and equality for all. And take a look at this Washington Post story about what your NAACP is doing now.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

DECLINE to SIGN 'Ban on Affirmative Action Petition'

The NAACP cannot and absolutely refuses to let anyone defeat the gains of diversity in America. America's national security and American businesses benefit by recruiting men and women from diverse races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. We contend that the government has a “compelling interest” in promoting diversity in education and the workplace. Diversity and racial integration are essential to a smoothly functioning, high quality military. A diverse and racially integrated workforce is essential for US companies to compete in an increasingly global economy. We need diversity because US companies must be able to access a diverse pool of talented students from the best schools so that they can train, promote, and build a high caliber workforce capable of meeting the diverse needs of customers in the global marketplace.

Affirmative Action Programs serves as a remedy for minorities who have systematically been excluded and discriminated against. Preferences should be designed to help and not hinder and implemented when there is a “most compelling reason” or” intermediate scrutiny”. This dynamic is crucial to combat and overcome the persistent, lingering effect, and practice of discrimination toward minority groups in our country. We do not desire “reverse discrimination” which only serves to foster anger, resentment, and stir the flames of racial hatred. Americans favor affirmative actions in the abstract but oppose racial preferences; therefore, America supports Affirmative Action.

Affirmative Action would not be necessary, if a serious commitment to hiring of minorities and women regardless of race, color, sex, physical handicap, national origin, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation were in effect. If true equal opportunity was afforded to qualified individuals regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, disability, or sexual orientation and people were promoted to the fullest realization of equal employment opportunity for minorities and women through a fair system, Affirmative Action would not be necessary. If a “fair system” covered all aspects of employment relationships for current employees and future employees, including recruitment, hiring, assignment of duties, promotion, tenure, compensation, selection for training and termination; Affirmative Action Programs would not be needed.

The U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged that we do not yet have a colorblind society. Therefore, we need affirmative action programs.
What does affirmative action do? It sets up a proactive system that identifies barriers that have kept people out of positions, and it develops a means, a mechanism: for taking those barriers apart and ensuring that qualified women, qualified minorities, qualified blacks, Hispanics, Asians and others, have an opportunity to compete on a level playing field with anyone else; for a job, for a contract, for a seat in public education. That's what affirmative action is all about." If most Americans were color blind, or gender blind, then we would not need these programs. Because of affirmative action business, politics, education and so many other positions, and people in those positions look like all Americans. People ought not forget why this law was adapted in the first place. This should tell the world the whole story and the reasoning behind Affirmative Action Programs. Until there is no discrimination in hiring and politics, we will need affirmative action. When people start telling “half truths” about why these programs are needed, they endorse “hate mongers” and those with other motives. The Anti- Affirmative Action movement is aimed at shutting down much of the progress that's been made over the past few years in terms of employment, public contracting and public education. This is an orchestrated serious, well funded campaign which is an effort to roll back the gains of the last decades, but we shall not be moved.

To work, Affirmative Action must help all races, and create equal opportunity where demographics are reversed and hire the best people qualified. The NAACP stands resolute in support of Affirmative Action Programs and vehemently opposes any attempt to dilute its aims. The NAACP will bring to bear the necessary resources to facilitate the desired outcome, which results in the America our “fore-fathers” longed and many yet search for. We have not arrived, we will not go “backwards” but we are determined to seek new gains. Check our resume.