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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Indentured Servants in America - New York Times

Indentured Servants in America - New York Times

March 12, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Indentured Servants in America

A must-read for anyone who favors an expansion of guest worker programs in the U.S. is a stunning new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that details the widespread abuse of highly vulnerable, poverty-stricken workers in programs that already exist.

The report is titled “Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States.” It will be formally released today at a press conference in Washington.

Workers recruited from Mexico, South America, Asia and elsewhere to work in American hotels and in such labor-intensive industries as forestry, seafood processing and construction are often ruthlessly exploited.

They are routinely cheated out of their wages, which are low to begin with. They are bound like indentured servants to the middlemen and employers who arrange their work tours in the U.S. And they are virtual hostages of the American companies that employ them.

The law does not allow these “guests” to change jobs while they’re here. If a particular employer is unscrupulous, as is very often the case, the worker has little or no recourse.

One of the guest workers profiled in the report was a psychology student recruited in the Dominican Republic to work at a hotel in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The woman had taken on $4,000 in debt to cover “fees” and other expenses that were required for her to get a desk job that paid $6 an hour.

But after a month, her hours were steadily reduced until she was working only 15 or 20 hours a week. That left her with barely enough money to survive, and with no way of paying off her crushing debt.

The woman and her fellow guest workers had hardly enough money for food. “We would just buy Chinese food because it was the cheapest,” she said. “We would buy one plate a day and share it between two or three people.” She told the authors of the report: “I felt like an animal without claws — defenseless. It is the same as slavery.”

Steven Greenhouse of The Times recently reported on a waiter from Indonesia who took on $6,000 in debt to become a guest worker. He arrived in North Carolina expecting to do farm work but found that there was no job for him at all.

The report focused primarily on the 120,000 foreign workers who are allowed into the U.S. each year to work on farms or at other low-skilled jobs. In most cases the guest workers take on a heavy debt load to participate in the program, anywhere from $500 to more than $10,000. Worried about the welfare of their families back home, and with the huge debt hanging over their heads, the workers are most often docile, even in the face of the most egregious treatment.

The result, said the report, is that they are “systematically exploited and abused.”

Some of the worst abuses occur in the forestry industry. The report said, “Virtually every forestry company that the Southern Poverty Law Center has encountered provides workers with pay stubs showing that they have worked substantially fewer hours than they actually worked.”

A favorite (and extremely cruel) tactic of employers is the seizure of guest workers’ identity documents, such as passports and Social Security cards. That leaves the workers incredibly vulnerable.

“Numerous employers have refused to return these documents even when the worker simply wanted to return to his home country,” the report said. “The Southern Poverty Law Center also has encountered numerous incidents where employers destroyed passports or visas in order to convert workers into undocumented status.”

Without their papers the workers live in abject fear of encountering the authorities, who will treat them as illegals. They are completely at the mercy of the employers.

President Bush has been relentless in his push to greatly expand guest worker programs as part of his effort to revise the nation’s immigration laws. To expand these programs without looking closely at the gruesome abuses already taking place would be both tragic and ridiculous.

“This is not a situation where there are just a few bad-apple employers,” said Mary Bauer, director of the Immigrant Justice Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has initiated a number of lawsuits on behalf of abused workers. “Our experience is that it’s the very structure of the program that lends itself to abuse.”

Thursday, March 08, 2007

N.Y. Times- An Unjust Expulsion

March 8, 2007

An Unjust Expulsion

The Cherokee Nation’s decision to revoke the tribal citizenship of about 2,800 descendants of slaves once owned by the tribe is a moral low point in modern Cherokee history and places the tribe in violation of a 140-year-old federal treaty and several court decisions. The federal government must now step in to protect the rights of the freedmen, who could lose their tribal identities as well as access to medical, housing and other tribal benefits.

This bitter dispute dates to the treaties of 1866, when the Cherokee, Seminole and Creek agreed to admit their former slaves as tribal members in return for recognition as sovereign nations. The tribes fought black membership from the start — even though many of the former slaves were products of mixed black and Indian marriages.

The federal courts repeatedly upheld the treaties. But the federal government fanned the flames when a government commission set out in the 1890s to create an authoritative roll of tribal membership. Instead of placing everyone on a single roll, it made two lists. The so-called blood list contained nonblack Cherokees, listed with their percentage of Indian ancestry. The freedmen’s list included the names of any black members, even those with significant Cherokee ancestry.

The issue exploded in the 1980s when tribal authorities excluded the freedmen from voting on the grounds that they weren’t Cherokee by blood. The Cherokee version of the Supreme Court ruled last year that the law was unconstitutional. The expulsion vote was a response to that ruling and to a pending federal lawsuit by the freedmen, which charges both the tribe and the federal government with violating the treaty and the Constitution.

Advocates for the expulsion say it is about self-determination. But the tribal history makes clear that it is about discrimination — and that it is illegal. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has been curiously silent, should bring the Cherokee government into compliance with the law and require it to restore the tribal rights of the expelled members.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Education, Education, Education-Op-Ed Columnist N.Y. Times

March 5, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist N.Y. Times

Education, Education, Education


It’s an article of faith that the key to success in real estate is location, location, location.

For young black boys looking ahead to a difficult walk in life, the mantra should be education, education, education.

We’ve watched for decades — watched in horror, actually — as the lives of so many young blacks, men and boys especially, have been consumed by drugs, crime, poverty, ignorance, racial prejudice, misguided social pressures, and so on.

At the same time, millions of blacks have thrived, building strong families and successful careers at rates previously unseen. By far, the most important difference between these two very large groups has been educational attainment.

If anything, the role that education plays in the life prospects of black Americans is even more dramatic than in the population as a whole. It’s the closest thing to a magic potion for black people that I can think of. For boys and men, it is very often the antidote to prison or an early grave.

A new report from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston tells us that young adults in general have been struggling in the labor market. Many have been left behind by the modest economic recovery of the past few years, especially those with limited education credentials.

The report, which focuses on black males, emphasizes the importance of education in overcoming this tough employment environment:

“For males in each of the three race-ethnic groups (blacks, Hispanics and whites), employment rates in 2005 increased steadily and strongly with their educational attainment. This was especially true for black males, for whom employment rates rose from a low of 33 percent among high school dropouts to 57 percent among high school graduates, and to a high of 86 percent among four-year college graduates.

“The fact that only one of every three young black male high school dropouts was able to obtain any type of job during an average month in 2005 should be viewed as particularly distressing, since many of these young men will end up being involved in criminal activities during their late teens and early 20s and then bear the severe economic consequences for convictions and incarcerations over the remainder of their working lives.”

There is no way, in my opinion, for blacks to focus too much or too obsessively on education. It’s the fuel that powers not just the race for success but the quest for a happy life. It represents the flip side of failure.

The differences in rates of employment between white men and black men narrow considerably as black men gain additional schooling. After comparing the percentage of the male population that is employed in each race or ethnic group, the Northeastern study found:

“The gap in [employment to population] ratios between young white and black males narrows from 20 percentage points among high school dropouts, to 16 percentage points among high school graduates, to eight percentage points among those men completing 1-3 years of college, and to only two percentage points for four-year college graduates.”

For anyone deluded enough to question whether education is the ticket to a better life for black boys and men, consider that a black male who drops out of high school is 60 times more likely to find himself in prison than one with a bachelor’s degree.

Black males who graduate from a four-year college will make, over the course of a lifetime, more than twice the mean earnings of a black high school graduate, which is a difference of more than a million dollars.

According to the study, “Black males with college degrees and strong literacy/math skills also are far more likely to marry and live with their children and pay substantially more in taxes to state and national government than they receive in cash and in-kind benefits.”

This is not a close-call issue. It is becoming very hard for anyone to succeed in this society without a college education. To leave school without even a high school education, as so many males — and especially black males — are doing, is extremely self-destructive.

The effort to bolster the educational background of black men has to begin very early. It’s extremely difficult to turn a high school dropout into a college graduate. This effort can succeed on a large scale only if there is a cultural change in the black community — a powerful change that acknowledges as the 21st century unfolds that there is no more important life tool for black children than education, education, education.