Posts Tagged ‘racism’

By REV. DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER II

This week, the House of Representatives will have a chance to end a pernicious legacy of slavery. Lawmakers will vote on the Raise the Wage Act, which would boost the minimum wage across the country to $15 an hour by 2024. This would be a crucial step toward the first federal minimum wage increase in more than a decade.

A just-released Congressional Budget Office report finds that a $15 minimum wage would have tremendous benefits for low-wage workers of all races and ethnicities. Yet the stakes are particularly high for black workers. The share who would benefit from the Raise the Wage Act is far larger than the share of white workers who would benefit—38 percent compared with 23 percent.

There’s another provision in the legislation—eliminating the subminimum tipped wage—that corrects a wrong that goes much further back than the previous federal minimum wage increase. For workers regularly making more than $30 a month in tips, employers can currently pay as little as $2.13 an hour. That subminimum wage has been frozen at this level for decades. Should the Raise the Wage Act pass the House, it will mark the first time that either chamber of Congress has moved to eliminate the subminimum wage, which not only deepens economic inequalities but also happens to be a relic of slavery.

You might not think of tipping as a legacy of slavery, but it has a far more racialized history than most Americans realize. Tipping originated in feudal Europe and was imported back to the United States by American travelers eager to seem sophisticated. The practice spread throughout the country after the Civil War as U.S. employers, largely in the hospitality sector, looked for ways to avoid paying formerly enslaved workers.

One of the most notorious examples comes from the Pullman Company, which hired newly freed African American men as porters. Rather than paying them a real wage, Pullman provided the black porters with just a meager pittance, forcing them to rely on tips from their white clientele for most of their pay.

Tipping further entrenched a unique and often racialized class structure in service jobs, in which workers must please both customer and employer to earn anything at all. A journalist quoted in Kerry Segrave’s 2009 book, Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities, wrote in 1902 that he was embarrassed to offer a tip to a white man. “Negroes take tips, of course; one expects that of them—it is a token of their inferiority,” he wrote. “Tips go with servility, and no man who is a voter in this country is in the least justified in being in service.”

The immorality of paying an insufficient wage to workers, who then were forced to rely on tips, was acknowledged at the time. In his popular 1916 anti-tipping study, The Itching Palm, writer William Scott described tipping as an aristocratic custom that went against American ideals. “The relation of a man giving a tip and a man accepting it is as undemocratic as the relation of master and slave,” Scott wrote. “A citizen in a republic ought to stand shoulder to shoulder with every other citizen, with no thought of cringing, without an assumption of superiority or an acknowledgment of inferiority.”

Several states sought to end the practice in the early 1900s, often in recognition of its racist roots. But the restaurant industry fought back and was powerful enough to roll back local bans on tipping. And tipped workers—along with most others, as the act applied to industries that together made up only one-fifth of the labor force—were excluded from the first, limited federal minimum wage law passed in 1938.

It took until 1966 for advocates to win a base wage for tipped workers, and that amounted to only 50 percent of the minimum wage already guaranteed to other workers. Congress continued to raise the subminimum tipped wage until 1996, when Herman Cain, who headed the National Restaurant Association at the time, offered legislators a bargain: The industry would accept a small increase in the minimum wage as long as the tipped wage was frozen at $2.13 an hour.

Congress agreed to the deal, and the tipped minimum wage remains just $2.13 to this day. Employers are supposed to pay the difference if tips don’t bring workers to the full regular minimum wage. But too often that law is not enforced. When the Department of Labor conducted an unusual compliance sweep of 9,000 full-service restaurants between 2010 and 2012, they found that 84 percent had violated the subminimum wage system.

A century later, the industry lobby continues its fight to uphold this two-tiered pay system. Where social movements have gotten cities to pass minimum wage hikes, the lobby has pressured state legislatures to ban local wage increases altogether. The industry also fought to overturn voter-approved initiatives in Maine and Washington, D.C., that would have ended the subminimum tipped wage, while they lobbied legislators in Michigan to keep the issue from reaching the ballot in the first place.

That’s why national action to finally reverse this particular vestige of slavery is so vital. No one can live on $2.13 an hour—a poverty wage.

We may live in a very different society from 150 years ago, but the subminimum tipped wage still exacerbates the inequalities passed down from that time. Workers in the restaurant industry are far more likely to be poor or near-poor than the general population. Sure, upscale restaurants where wealthy patrons offer servers good tips on expensive menu items can provide a good living, but those jobs are few and far between—and dominated by white men.

Research also shows that tipping itself has a racial component: Customers generally give white workers bigger tips than black workers, regardless of service quality. Thanks in part to segregation within the industry and discrimination from patrons, restaurant worker poverty rates are highest for women and people of color.

Ending the subminimum wage would right one of the historical wrongs keeping certain groups of workers from receiving the full protections they are due, but ultimately, low wages driven by racism hurt workers of all races. Three times as many white workers as black workers stand to get a raise if the federal minimum wage hike passes. Undoing systemic racism opens up opportunities for all people.

With a Republican Senate and president, the Raise the Wage Act might not become national law in the immediate future. But a vote by the House to end the subminimum tipped wage would send an unmistakable signal to the several states considering similar legislation: The days of these racist tiered wage systems are coming to an end.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/17/william-barber-tipping-racist-past-227361

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by Bob Yirka

A team of researchers from the University of California and Stanford University has found that the tendency to see people from different racial groups as interchangeable has a neuronal basis. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes studies they conducted with volunteers and what they found.

One often-heard phrase connected with racial profiling is “they all look the same to me,” a phrase usually perceived as racist. It implies that people of one race have difficulty discerning the facial characteristics of people of another race. In this new effort, the researchers conducted experiments to find out if this is valid—at least among one small group of young, white men.

In the first experiment, young, white male volunteers looked at photographs of human faces, some depicting black people, others white, while undergoing an fMRI scan. Afterward, the researchers found that the part of the brain involved in facial recognition activated more for white faces than it did for black faces.

In the second experiment, the same volunteers looked at photographs of faces that had been doctored to make the subjects appear more alike, regardless of skin color. The researchers report that the brains of the volunteers activated when dissimilarities were spotted, regardless of skin color, though it was more pronounced when the photo was of a white face.

In a third series of experiments, the volunteers rated how different they found faces in a series of photographs or whether they had seen a given face before. The researchers report that the volunteers had a tendency to rate the black faces as more similar to one another than the white faces. And they found it easier to tell if they had seen a particular white face before.

The researchers suggest that the results of their experiments indicate a neural basis that makes it more difficult for people to see differences between individuals of other races. They note that they did account for social contexts such as whether the volunteers had friends and/or associates of other races. They suggest that more work is required to determine if such neuronal biases can be changed based on social behavior.

Brent L. Hughes et al. Neural adaptation to faces reveals racial outgroup homogeneity effects in early perception, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1822084116

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-07-neuronal-alike.html

By Doug Criss

There’s a predictable pattern to the aftermath of too many deadly police shootings: Neighbors and anti-police brutality groups take to the streets. Groups supporting the officers stand up for them. Social media lights up over whether the victim “did something” to provoke the officer.

But none of that holds true in the case of Justine Ruszczyk, a white Australian bride-to-be who was killed by Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American black police officer in Minneapolis.

And that, say experts, speaks volumes about the state of America today.

What didn’t happen the days after the shooting

Ruszczyk was shot to death on Saturday after she called 911 to report a possible sex assault in an alley near her home.

A vigil was held for Ruszczyk, but there weren’t widespread protest marches, like the ones Black Lives Matter held last year after Philando Castile’s shooting death at the hands of an officer in nearby Falcon Heights.

When one pro-police Blue Lives Matter website had a story about the shooting, it only offered a theory on why the officers’ body cams were off.

Why the reaction is different this time

David Love, a Philadelphia journalist who’s written about race issues for CNN and others, has a theory why.

Because the race and nationality of the victim and police officer aren’t what has typically garnered headlines, people who normally speak up aren’t saying much.

There is no centralized structure for the Black Lives Matter movement, which results in non-uniform response.

New York Daily News writer Shaun King wrote a column in which he said “Police brutality jumped a racial fence.” Otherwise, Love says he hasn’t seen too many people from the movement express any anger or outrage about the shooting. That’s surprising, because in some past cases, Black Lives Matter has spoken up when the victim was white.

As for those who “back the blue,” Love says he hasn’t seen a lot of pro-police groups rally to Noor’s side, either.

“It seems very often that their response is in the lens of ‘black vs. blue,’ which is unfortunate because life is a little more complicated than that,” he told CNN.

What we’re likely to see

Love theorizes a different group of people may take the lead in rallying for the victim in this case: “people who may not have emphathized with the victims (in police shootings in the past) because the victims have been mostly black.”

Love compares it to media coverage of murders during the civil rights era. Killings of black people in the South during that period often received scant national attention. But if the violence took the life of a white person — such as the “Mississippi Burning” case — more people across America paid attention.

What else accounts for the different response

Pro-police groups are often quick to speak out when an officer is accused in a fatal shooting. But Noor isn’t white and that has made a difference, says Marcia Chatelain, a fellow at the New America Foundation and co-host of a podcast on the death of Freddie Gray.

“Because it’s an officer of color who, so far, is the only one accused of something here, it has shaped the response from pro-police groups like Blue Lives Matter, which usually has a very defensive response to officer-involved shootings,” she told CNN.

Chatelain feels the media response has been different, too.

“I’m pretty sure reporters haven’t been digging into (Ruszczyk’s) background, trying to find narratives to justify the shooting,” she said.

Too often in cases involving unarmed black men, Chatelain says, information on the victim’s criminal history or prior arrests makes its way into stories — even when they are irrelevant to the case.

What it says about America

So what does this say about America in 2017, where the race, gender or national identity of a victim or police officer can affect the public’s reaction to a shooting?

“It says despite the rhetoric about the US being a melting pot or whatever, people have different experiences based on their racial background,” Love said. “Those experiences give us, sometimes, a different set of lenses and a different view of reality. And we have to find some way of bridging that divide … to help people understand the experiences of other people.”

The different reaction to the shooting also proves that America is still learning how to deal with its tortured racial past, said Phillip Atiba Goff, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and president of the Center for Policing Equity.

“We haven’t reckoned with our history,” Goff told CNN, “so it shouldn’t surprise us to see a different reaction.”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/us/minneapolis-shooting-upended-outrage-trnd/index.html

by Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay Z

Seventeen years ago I made a song, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” I flipped the Latin phrase that is considered the bedrock principle of our criminal justice system, ei incumbit probatio qui dicit (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies). If you’re from neighborhoods like the Brooklyn one I grew up in, if you’re unable to afford a private attorney, then you can be disappeared into our jail system simply because you can’t afford bail. Millions of people are separated from their families for months at a time — not because they are convicted of committing a crime, but because they are accused of committing a crime.

Scholars like Ruthie Gilmore, filmmakers like Ava Duvernay, and formerly incarcerated people like Glenn Martin have all done work to expose the many injustices of the industry of our prison system. Gilmore’s pioneering book, The Golden Gulag, Duvernay’s documentary 13th and Martin’s campaign to close Rikers focus on the socioeconomic, constitutional and racially driven practices and polices that make the U.S. the most incarcerated nation in the world.

But when I helped produce this year’s docuseries, Time: The Kalief Browder Story, I became obsessed with the injustice of the profitable bail bond industry. Kalief’s family was too poor to post bond when he was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sentenced to a kind of purgatory before he ever went to trial. The three years he spent in solitary confinement on Rikers ultimately created irreversible damage that lead to his death at 22.

Sandra Bland was also forced to post bail after her minor traffic infraction in Prairie View, Texas, led to a false charge of assaulting a public servant (the officer who arrested her was later charged with perjury regarding the arrest). She was placed in a local jail in a pre-incarcerated state. Again, she was never convicted of a crime. On any given day over 400,000 people, convicted of no crime, are held in jail because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.

When black and brown people are over-policed and arrested and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper. This pre-incarceration conundrum is devastating to families. One in 9 black children has an incarcerated parent. Families are forced to take on more debt, often in predatory lending schemes created by bail bond insurers. Or their loved ones linger in jails, sometimes for months—a consequence of nationwide backlogs.

Every year $9 billion dollars are wasted incarcerating people who’ve not been convicted of a crime, and insurance companies, who have taken over our bail system, go to the bank. Last month for Mother’s Day, organizations like Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change did a major fundraising drive to bail out 100 mothers for Mother’s Day. Color of Change’s exposè on the for-profit bail industry provides deeper strategy behind this smart and inspiring action. This Father’s Day, I’m supporting those same organizations to bail out fathers who can’t afford the due process our democracy promises. As a father with a growing family, it’s the least I can do, but philanthropy is not a long fix, we have to get rid of these inhumane practices altogether. We can’t fix our broken criminal justice system until we take on the exploitative bail industry.

http://time.com/4821547/jay-z-racism-bail-bonds/

In a decision released Wednesday, the office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that “these registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans.”

The Patent Office said it will continue to treat the patents as though they are valid while the team appeals the decision. The team has two months to do that, and the whole process could take years.

In the meantime, the Redskins can continue using the logos.

But the decision, if upheld, would make it harder for the team to claim ownership of its brand. If it wants to go to court against a counterfeiter making T-shirts with the team’s logo, for instance, it will be harder to show that the organization owns the brand. The team will have to illustrate that they have always used the logos, rather than relying official trademark registrations.

The decision came in response to a suit brought by five Native Americans.

“We are extraordinarily gratified to have prevailed in this case,” said Alfred W. Putnam, Jr., Chairman of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, which represented the five men and women.

The board also canceled the registrations in 1999, but a federal judge overturned that decision in 2003, saying there was no proof that the name was disparaging at the time of registration. Some of the patents date back to the 1960s.

Thanks to Pete Cuomo and Dr. Lutter for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/18/news/companies/patent-office-redskins/index.html