Archive for June, 2010

Obama’s Push For Court #Diversity Hits Snag

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

(WMAZ) President Obama came into office determined to stop the rightward shift of the federal courts – after eight years of appointments by President Bush – and to add more diversity to the bench.

So far he is setting records for the number of women and minorities nominated to lifetime appointments. Nearly half of the 73 candidates he has tapped for the bench have been women. In all, 25% have been African Americans, 10% Hispanics and 11% Asian Americans.

“What’s happening so far with nominations is extraordinary,” says Sheldon Goldman, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who has tracked the confirmation process since the 1960s. “Seven out of 10 Obama court nominees are non-traditional,” meaning they have not been white men.

Yet as Obama tries to make gains in diversity among judges, he faces a deeply polarized confirmation process in the Senate. During his first 18 months in office, his administration has been thwarted by unprecedented delays. The situation, which has received little notice against the backdrop of a pending Supreme Court nomination and the administration’s complex legislative agenda, could undercut Obama’s effort to significantly infuse the federal courts with more women and minorities.

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U.S. far from an #interracial melting pot. Less than 5% of whites marry #minorities.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

(CNN) According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, one of every seven new marriages in 2008 was interracial or interethnic — the highest percentage in U.S. history. The media and blogosphere have been atwitter.

Finally, it seems, we have tangible evidence of America’s entry into a new post-racial society, proof of growing racial tolerance. Intermarriage trends are being celebrated as a positive sign that we have come to think of all Americans as, well, Americans.

But others have an entirely different take — a more ominous one. They see increasing interracial marriage rates as proof that the country is amalgamating racially.

To them, intermarriage is a putative threat to whites and America’s essential character. Their concerns are heightened by recent Census Bureau projections that the U.S. will become a majority-minority society by the middle of the century.

My research with Ken Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire, indicates that for American’s youngest residents, that future is now. Nearly half of U.S. births today are to minority women.

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For #black candidates, top spots still elusive. #africanamerican #politics

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

(USA Today) The theory was that Barack Obama’s election as president in 2008 signaled a new era for black candidates trying to win statewide contests for senator or governor.

Now, Rep. Kendrick Meek is struggling with the reality.

In Florida, the 43-year-old African-American congressman, long the presumptive Democratic nominee in the state’s tumultuous Senate race, is trying to fend off a surprise primary challenge from a Palm Beach billionaire and running a distant third in general-election matchups against a darling of the anti-tax “Tea Party” movement and the state’s popular governor.

Nationwide, the number of African Americans winning major-party nominations for the high-profile offices hasn’t risen in the wake of Obama’s election. It has gone down.

A record six black candidates claimed these nominations in the 2006 midterms. This year, no more than four have a reasonable chance to be nominated.

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No black-and-white answer for the lack of #diversity on television

Monday, June 14th, 2010

(LA Times) During Monday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on Comcast’s proposed takeover of NBC Universal, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) lamented the lack of TV shows aimed at minority viewers in general and black viewers in particular.

“We don’t have any more of that,” Waters said, adding, “I really liked `Girlfriends.’” She was referring to the sitcom about four African American women that ran on the now-defunct UPN network for six years.

GIRLFRIENDS Waters is right. While the casts of most dramas and many sitcoms have grown more diverse over the last decade (this fall, for example, the dual stars of NBC’s most anticipated drama, “Undercovers,” are African American), programs aimed at minority viewers are harder to find on both broadcast and cable television.

Veteran Producer Suzanne de Passe, a former president of Motown Television, offered up her thoughts on the disparity. Noting that it was not that long ago that the broadcast networks had such shows as “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “The Cosby Show” and “Living Single,” she laid the blame on media consolidation.

“I have witnessed what consolidation of content and distribution in entertainment and media has done to significantly slow down and diminish opportunity for minority professionals rather than accelerate and increase it,” she said. The networks that used to make shows aimed at blacks “now only offer a minority cast member here and there and a long list of contributions to minority charities under the catch-all word, `diversity,’ ” she testified.

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#Minority Population Growth Demands Better Education, Groups Say. #africanamerican #hispanic

Monday, June 14th, 2010

(Business Week) The U.S. risks a deteriorating workforce unless it rapidly improves educational achievement for minority groups who soon will become a majority in the nation, researchers say.

“If we just do a snapshot of minority performance today and project that 20 years out, we’re going to have a poorly skilled workforce,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

Census Bureau data released yesterday show whites of European ancestry will soon bear less than half the nation’s new babies. Blacks, Asians, American Indians, Hispanics and other traditional minority groups had 2.07 million children in the 12 months ended July 1, or 48.6 percent of all births, an increase from 45 percent in 2005, the Census Bureau said.

For the period ending July 1, non-Hispanic whites had 2.19 million children, or 51.4 percent of all births compared with 55 percent four years earlier, Census figures showed.

While the educational performance of blacks and Hispanics has improved in recent decades, they continue on average to score about four grade levels below whites in the 12th grade, said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation in Washington.

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Texas GOP gets tougher on #immigration. #hispanic

Monday, June 14th, 2010

(Houston Chronicle) Texas Republicans adopted another get-tough policy on immigration and bilingual education Saturday that some say will make it hard for the party to attract Hispanic voters at a time when the Texas population is turning increasingly Latino.

The platform encourages state lawmakers to create a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense “for an illegal alien to intentionally or knowingly be within the State of Texas,” and to “oppose amnesty in any form leading to citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

Texas Republicans also want to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a U.S. citizen “with no exceptions.” The platform calls for the end of day-labor work centers and emphasizes border security, encouraging “all means … (to) immediately prevent illegal aliens.”

The party’s education platform calls for the end of federally sponsored pre-kindergarten, and opposes any mandatory pre-kindergarten or kindergarten.

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Study: #Racial disparities exist with asthma care. #africanamerican #hispanic

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

(CNN) African American and Hispanic children may not be receiving the same care and treatment for asthma as Caucasian children, even when they have the same access to care.

A study published in this week’s medical journal, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, examined more than 800,000 children who were covered by the same health insurance system provided by the U.S. military. They found the prevalence and severity of asthma were higher in black and Hispanic children than their white peers.

Researchers suspect that just because patients used the same health plan didn’t necessarily mean they were getting the same care. Experts say this may be a result of the differences in the way various ethnic groups utilize the health care system or differences in the treatments received.

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Hotel industry getting serious about #supplierdiversity, and not just for political correctness

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

(Hotel Interactive) Supplier Diversity programs are at the forefront of many leading hotel companies’ initiatives and are quickly becoming an industry mainstay. In fact, many of today’s leading lodging companies are investing in diversity programs not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because companies falling under the Diversity banner are delivering real solutions to industry buyers at the right time and at the right price.

More important, these programs are not kowtowing to political correctness. In fact, hotel companies are finding themselves relying ever more on these typically smaller firms to fill gaps created by larger organizations that were overextended and succumbed to the effects of the Great Recession. Diversity classified companies are proving to be smarter and more resilient than many expected.

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Lincoln’s Ark. runoff win points to power of #black voters

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

(Washington Post) For all the millions that both sides spent on the bruising Arkansas Senate Democratic primary race, Yvonne Thomas admits she went to the polls not having much of a sense about the candidates.

What she did know, and what turned out to be the only thing that mattered in her decision to cast her ballot for the embattled incumbent Blanche Lincoln, was this: “Obama wanted us to vote for her,” said Thomas, who is African American.

Unlike in much of the South, in Arkansas it is a rare thing for the black vote to be the decisive factor in elections. African Americans here account for 16 percent of the population — about half their percentage in Georgia to the east. Arkansas is the only state from the Confederacy that has never elected a black candidate to Congress, or to any statewide office, since Reconstruction.

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New team to target #civilrights violations. #hatecrime

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

(Boston Globe) US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced yesterday that she is forming a team of prosecutors to focus on civil rights cases, including hate crimes, human trafficking, police misconduct, damage to religious property, and employment discrimination.

“We’re open for business,’’ said Ortiz. She said 10 prosecutors already on staff will be assigned to the Civil Rights Enforcement Team, which will handle criminal and civil cases.

The office has always prosecuted civil rights cases, but Ortiz said she wants to make it a higher priority and do more community outreach to encourage victims to come forward.

Full story…

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