December 10th, 2013
(Reuters) – The city of Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against Bank of America in U.S. federal court in California, accusing it of discriminatory mortgage lending in the city's minority communities.
The lawsuit, filed by City Attorney Michael Feuer, accused the bank of engaging in a "continuous pattern and practice of mortgage discrimination" since at least 2004, according to a court filing.
A spokesman for Bank of America could not immediately be reached for comment.
The complaint alleged that the bank's practices led to a wave of foreclosures in minority neighborhoods that continued to hurt the city's property tax revenues and increased the need for city services.
It seeks damages caused by the bank's alleged discriminatory practices, including lost revenue.
December 8th, 2013
(Business Insider) Bloomberg Businessweek has a new behind-the-scenes look at a huge Merrill Lynch racial discrimination lawsuit brought by black brokers that ended with a $160 million settlement.
"The Man Who Took On Merrill" by Karen Weise reveals the litigation strategy that convinced the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to issue the landmark ruling finding that the case brought by a broker named George McReynolds could move forward as a class action.
This decision was crucial to getting Merrill to settle, since a class-action lawsuit representing 1,200 plaintiffs is much more high-stakes than a case filed on behalf of a single plaintiff. The class action alleged Merrill prevented black brokers from succeeding by giving them less assistance earlier on in their careers than whites and by socially ostracizing them.
December 6th, 2013
(Salon.com) A black female professor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College was formally reprimanded by school officials after three of her white male students were upset by a lesson she taught on structural racism.
Shannon Gibney says that the students reacted in a hostile manner to the lesson in her Introduction to Mass Communication class, with one of them asking her, “Why do we have to talk about this in every class? Why do we have to talk about this?”
“His whole demeanor was very defensive. He was taking it personally. I tried to explain, of course, in a reasonable manner — as reasonable as I could given the fact that I was being interrupted and put on the spot in the middle of class — that this is unfortunately the context of 21st century America,” she explained in an interview with City College News.
Gibney says that, after this initial comment, another white male student said, “Yeah, I don’t get this either. It’s like people are trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys. Why do we have to say this?” These students continued to argue and disrupt the lesson until Gibney told them that if they were troubled by her handling of the subject, they could file an official complaint with the school’s legal affairs department.
December 4th, 2013
(The Root) An Olympic gold medal won by African-American track-and-field legend Jesse Owens is being auctioned off, the Associated Press reports.
The medal, won at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, is currently held by SCP Auctions, one of the largest auctioneers and private sellers of important sports memorabilia, and represents a significant part of African-American—and world—history. When Owens broke the world record for the 100-yard dash, it destroyed the Nazi myth of Aryan supremacy, the AP notes. The medal was obtained from the estate of one of Owens’ friends, entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
Overall, Owens won four medals that year—for the 100- and 200-meter, the 400-relay and the long jump—in the games, which Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was hoping would showcase his people’s superiority.
December 1st, 2013
(NBC) Dr. Ileana L. Piña was born in Havana, Cuba and moved to Miami with she was six in 1959.
In July 2011, Dr. Piña joined Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Centeras professor of medicine and epidemiology and population health, and vice chief for academic affairs, respectively. Her primary role is to reduce re-admission rates for heart failure patients. She also serves as a principal investigator for 11 ongoing research projects and presented on several topics at this year’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.
Most recently, Dr. Piña was the first Hispanic and female to win the Chairman’s Award for volunteerism from the American Heart Association for her dedication to educating the community about heart health across diverse populations.
How does it feel to be recognized for your long-time dedication to heart health?
Humbling. Blessed. I think there are so many people that deserve this award more than me. I’m humbled to take it especially because I am an immigrant.
At what age did you realize you wanted to study medicine? And what pulled you towards studying cardiology specifically?
I have always loved the smell of hospitals. I was very poor, and my father died when I was nine – he had a heart attack at 49. He took me to school that morning and was dead by 3pm. After he died, my mother and I moved into the projects in Miami. When he died, we didn’t have education [about heart disease] – the American Heart Association had been founded, but that education didn’t get to immigrants like us. My mother died when I was 19 of cirrhosis of the liver.
November 29th, 2013
(Los Angeles Times) A civil court jury on Monday returned a $1.1 million verdict against the City of Los Angeles, finding in favor of a black firefighter who said he had been discriminated against during a nearly three-decade career because of his race.
The verdict comes after 16 days of deliberation — and six years after another jury ruled against Jabari S. Jumaane, who alleged a pattern of racial bias, harassment and retaliation in the Los Angeles Fire Department when he worked as a fire inspector. That decision was overturned after an appeals court granted a new trial, agreeing that there had been jury misconduct in the original case.
According to a 2012 report by the city’s office of the independent assessor on fire department litigation, Jumaane’s allegation of jury misconduct included a declaration by a juror who “claimed to have witnessed racially motivated misconduct by fellow jurors.”
The retrial jury’s ruling is a blow to a department that has found itself accused of systematic discrimination — particularly against black firefighters — in the past.
November 26th, 2013
(Los Angeles Times) UCLA is conducting an internal investigation into allegations by an African American judge that excessive force was used by campus police officers when they stopped him on suspicion of not wearing a seat belt.
UCLA officials say David S. Cunningham III, a former Los Angeles Police Commission president, ignored officers' orders to stay in his car.
Cunningham has filed a complaint against the officers, saying they shoved him against his car, handcuffed him and locked him in the back seat of their police cruiser.
"During the course of the traffic stop, police officers instructed the driver to stay inside the vehicle and returned to their patrol car to run a routine license and registration check," UCLA said in a statement released late Monday afternoon. "Despite these instructions, the driver left the vehicle – an escalating behavior that can place officers at risk."
Cunningham "stood in the roadway" and refused to get back in his car, the statement said. As a result, he was temporarily handcuffed. He was released at the scene shortly after being cited for failing to wear a seat belt.
November 24th, 2013
(ESPN) The Fritz Pollard Alliance, an influential group that promotes diversity and job equality in the NFL, called on players Thursday to stop using the N-word on the field after highly publicized incidents involving the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.
Harry Carson and John Wooten, the organization's executive director and chair, respectively, released a statement saying a number of game-day officials commonly have heard players use the N-word during games.
"As former players (along with thousands of others) who have worked hard in different eras of the game to leave proud legacies for those who follow us, we are appalled and extremely disappointed to learn that the worst and most derogatory word ever spoken in our country is being used during games as well as casually in the locker room," the statement reads.
The Alliance also has called on the league to punish players who use the racial slur on the field through immediate ejections and subsequent fines, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
November 22nd, 2013
(NY Daily News) An internal audit from a civil rights lawyer commissioned by Barneys to investigate its security practices gives the store a clean bill of sale when it comes to racial profiling.
San Francisco attorney Michael Yaki found no internal policies permitting or encouraging racial profiling of customers for security reasons and pointed the finger at the NYPD for causing two recent high-profile profiling cases brought by black shoppers, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
In the five-page report obtained by the AP, Yaki said Barneys didn’t ask the NYPD to get involved when Trayon Christian, 19, bought a $349 Salvatore Ferragamo belt at its flagship Madison Ave. store April 29 or when Kayla Phillips, 21, bought a $2,500 handbag there Feb. 28.
November 20th, 2013
(theGrio) The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has released a new analysis detailing the significant gap in wages earned by African-American women and Latinas compared to white, non-Hispanic women and men.
The November 2013 report, Closing the Wage Gap is Crucial for Women of Color and Their Families, states that while on average, women earn 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, black women earn only 64 cents per dollar, and Latinas earn 54 cents.
Based on the most recent Census data, the analysis covers women working in full time, year round employment across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“The current economy has left women of color in precarious economic circumstances and they continue to encounter substantial barriers to advancement,” the analysis states. “African-American and Hispanic women are more likely than white men to work in jobs that pay at or below minimum wage, and they have also experienced slower wage growth than women overall.”