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Entries in Racism (9)

Sunday
Apr282013

Georgia High School Has First Integrated Prom

iStockphoto(WILCOX COUNTY, Ga.) -- A high school in Georgia had its first integrated prom on Saturday night.

For decades, there were two proms at Wilcox County High School; a white prom and a black prom. These segregated proms were organized and thrown by parents, and the school itself avoided endorsing any prom festivities.

The integrated prom was not organized by the school either, by a group of students, black and white, who decided that a prom they could all attend was long overdue.

Mareshia Rucker was one of the students who created integrated prom Facebook event to raise awareness and support for the prom.

“We were doing that so that we could get the word out and so that some people would begin to donate and help us out in what we were doing,” Rucker explained.

The community responded, and many supplies and funds needed to throw the prom were donations.

“It's just time for a change and we have it this evening, which is good,” Adelle Lawson, told ABC’s Good Morning America the day before the prom. That night, Lawson’s grandchild celebrated prom with white students for the first time.

Even though the integrated prom was by all accounts a success, there was still a segregated prom, thrown by white parents.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul202012

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling Trial Begins

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A civil rights trial against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-styled "America's Toughest Sheriff," began Thursday in which Arpaio and his department stand accused of racially profiling Latinos in Maricopa County.

The class-action suit, which started with a complaint by a retired Mexican schoolteacher who was stopped in Arizona in 2007, has grown to encompass all Latinos who were stopped without probable cause from 2007 until the present.

"It's our view that the problem starts at the top," said Stan Young, an attorney for the plaintiffs, at the start of the federal trial Thursday.

Plaintiffs are not asking for damages, but rather an apology from the department and a change in policy.  If found guilty, Arpaio will not face jail time or fines.

"The point is to reform the practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and get them to stop racial profiling people because they're Latino," said Omar Jadwat, a senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants Rights Project, which is representing the plaintiffs.  "As Americans, we expect we're not going to be stopped because of how we look and sound, that we're not going to be arrested because of our race."

Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres was visiting Arizona from Mexico and had been carrying his visa, Mexican identification and permit when the car he was riding in was pulled over by police in Queen Creek, Ariz., five years ago.  Officers informed him that he was stopped for speeding but did not give him a citation or take him into custody.

Ortega, one of several passengers, was asked to produce identification and obliged.  Even though he produced the necessary papers to prove he was in the country legally, Ortega said he was told to exit the vehicle.

"After exiting the vehicle, the officers pushed Mr. Ortega against a Sheriff's Department vehicle and patted him down over his entire body in a rough manner," court documents stated.

Officers removed everything from Ortega's pockets and kept him handcuffed for 40 minutes before he was driven to the Sheriff's Office in Cave Creek and placed in a holding cell for four hours with no explanation as to why he'd been arrested.  He was not given access to an attorney, phone or food, court documents stated.

He was cuffed again and driven to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, where he was once again placed in a holding cell for one hour, according to court documents.  An immigration official took a look at Ortega's identification and told him he was free to go.

"Mr. Ortega is frightened to walk on the street or be seen in public in Maricopa County because he fears that the sheriff's officers will come and arrest him again because he is Hispanic and does not speak English," court documents stated.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

Arpaio is expected to take the stand at some point during the bench trial.

The U.S. Justice Department has also filed a separate suit against Arpaio, alleging discriminatory policing, use of excessive force, running the county's jail unconstitutionally and taking illegal action to silence critics.  A trial date has not been set.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr102012

Trayvon Martin Case Becomes Rallying Point for Racists

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- In Detroit, far from the Florida town where black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, drivers were shocked to see an electronic highway sign with the word "Trayvon" followed by a racial slur.

The sign's offensive message Sunday night was quickly taken down, but it was the latest incident in which racists, neo-Nazis or white supremacists have used the controversial case as a rallying point.

Martin, 17, was unarmed when he was shot by George Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain.

The shooting has spawned outrage in the black community, with protests and demands that Zimmerman be arrested for murder.

But Zimmerman claims the shooting had nothing to do with race, and that he shot Martin in self defense after the teenager knocked him down, slammed his head into the ground and went for Zimmerman's gun.

In the weeks after the shooting, outraged supporters of the Martin family held rallies and protests demanding that Zimmerman be arrested.  Electronic roadside signs had been used throughout Central Florida to alert people to the rallies.

And the New Black Panther Party offered a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman.

A backlash has been growing, though, with distinct racist undertones.

At Ohio State University last week, the words "Long Live Zimmerman" were scrawled across the side of the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, a part of the university's Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

"It's a hate crime," Larry Williamson Jr., director of the Hale center, told ABC News.  "Some people see it as just graffiti but if you see something done in such a negative way, you're going to have a community that feels hate."

In Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place, the specter of racism is ubiquitous.  A group of armed neo-Nazis from the National Socialist Movement have descended upon the town, touting their intention to patrol the town to protect whites against a race riot.

The Rev. Terry Jones, the controversial pastor who once threatened to burn copies of the Koran, announced last week his plan to hold a rally on April 21 at the Seminole County Courthouse in support of Zimmerman and his constitutional rights.

And reporters covering the emotionally charged story have been inundated with angry tweets and social media messages, with some of the messages verging on threats.

Capt. Robert O'Connor of the Sanford Police Department told ABC News, "Law enforcement agencies in the area are monitoring a variety of activities and groups to ensure that conditions remain peaceful."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb172012

Teacher Sues for Right to Say 'N-----' in Class

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A white Chicago school teacher who was suspended for leading a class discussion about the "N-word," race relations and racism has sued the school district for what he sees as unjust punishment.

Lincoln Brown, 48, a sixth-grade writing and social studies teacher at Murray Language Academy, said he turned a bad classroom situation -- in which one student wrote a rap calling another student a n***** -- into "a teachable moment."

"I looked at it and it had some words in it that were very offensive to me and that's when we came into this discussion of the N-word," Brown said of the October incident. "And I used the curriculum from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and followed their advice on how to tackle these kinds of problems, not to avoid them. The whole lesson basically was about racial profiling, racism and also being very careful about how you use words in public."

His principal, Greg Mason, who is black, heard the discussion and came into the room to listen further, Brown said. Mason stayed for 10 minutes, and then left and came back 10 minutes later, as the discussion had turned to racial stereotypes in movies.

"I brought up Spike Lee's comments about rap music and racial profiling in movies and, ironically, I thought I was being fully supported [by Mason]," Brown said.

The students were engaged in the discussion, and later told Brown how much they enjoyed it, he said. And he never heard a word about it from the principal.

Two weeks later, however, Mason called Brown into his office and accused him of misconduct, specifically abuse of language in front of students and other charges, Brown said. Later, he was told he was receiving a five-day suspension.

Brown, shocked by the allegations and punishment, appealed to the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education, which denied his appeal.

"It's something I can't accept and can't have on my record and more importantly it's not who I am," said Brown, who grew up in the neighborhood, attended schools where he was in the white minority and grew up to teach in predominantly African-American schools for more than 25 years.

Brown said he has taught many lessons, albeit more structured ones, on the use of the "N-Word" and other contentious race issues over the years, including teaching the book "Huckleberry Finn."

He said he always used the advice given by the Southern Poverty Law Center to help guide the discussions about the word, and drew on those guidelines when the discussion arose in October.

"I have no regret over the way I handled it, but not everybody agrees. It's a hot-button issue," he said, noting that he wished Mason had told him during or immediately after the lesson that he was unhappy with the discussion.

Brown's attorney, William Spielberger, said his client's First and Fifth Amendment rights were breached, as his rights to free speech and due process were not respected by the school district.

He noted that Brown's family was deeply involved in civil rights causes, and his parents named him Lincoln in honor of the president, Abraham Lincoln.

"These type of accusations can ruin a person's career," Spielberger said.

Neither Mason nor the school district returned calls for comment about the lawsuit.

The suit was filed Thursday and Brown began serving his first day of suspension Friday, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb082012

Air Marshals Speak of Sexism, Suicide, Bigotry within Community

Former air marshal Steve Theodoropoulos. ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Managers at the Federal Air Marshal Service regularly made fun of blacks, Latinos and gays, took taxpayer-paid trips to visit families and vacation spots, and acted like a "bunch of school kid punks," current and former air marshals tell ABC News.

One supervisor was even photographed in 2006 asleep on a flight, carrying a loaded pistol, the air marshals said.

In interviews aired Tuesday night on World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline, the air marshals describe a culture of incompetence, bigotry and sexism on the part of senior managers at some offices that has endured for the last decade and raises questions about the professionalism and performance of the force entrusted with preventing acts of in-flight terrorism.

"Sooner or later, if you do not have people operating at their peak efficiency, then you take the risk that a terrorist is going to get away with his dirty deed," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D.-Florida, who asked for an inspector general's investigation of the allegations made by current and former air marshals two years ago.

"The culture is, hate African Americans, hate females, go after gays and lesbians cause we don't like the way they think," said former air marshal Steve Theodoropoulos.

It was Theodoropoulos, working in the Orlando air marshal office, who provided a photograph to reporters in 2010 of a "distorted air marshal Jeopardy game board" with classifications that were racial slurs aimed at minority and gay air marshals.

"Category pickle smokers was directly aimed at gay males," he said of the board, which he discovered in a training room at the air marshal office in Orlando.  The air marshals say it was removed in 2009.

Other categories included "Our Gang" for African-Americans, "Geraldo Rivera" for Latinos, and "Ellen DeGeneres" for gay female air marshals.

One of the five women listed on the board later tried to commit suicide, according to Theodoropoulos and other air marshals familiar with the case.

Air marshals who were military veterans were listed as "Operators" because they were often called away for training and perceived to be shirking their flight assignments.

"Anybody that's not like them, they're against," said Theodoropoulos.  "I mean, how do you operate under those conditions?"

Sen. Nelson says the attitude calls into question the judgments and training of air marshals involved in the incident.

"This behavior went well over the line," said Sen. Nelson.  "This is unprofessional, this is unacceptable and it should have been corrected two years ago when I first reported it to the Inspector General."

The Inspector General's report is scheduled to be made public on Thursday, but according to an advance copy obtained by ABC News, the investigation found "a great deal of tension, mistrust and dislike between non-supervisory and supervisory personnel in field offices around the country."

[CLICK HERE TO READ EXCERPTS FROM THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S REPORT]

The report, which was triggered by a CNN broadcast about the Jeopardy board in 2010, concludes that the allegations, perceived and real, "posed a difficult challenge for the agency" but, according to a survey of air marshals, "do not appear to have compromised the service's mission."

The survey found that 76 percent of air marshals asked said "people they work with cooperate to get the job done."

But the Inspector General also warned that "these allegations add unnecessary distraction at all levels at a time when mission tempo is high and many in the agency are becoming increasingly concerned about workforce burnout and fatigue."

John Pistole, who oversees the air marshals as head of the Transportation Security Administration, said security had not been compromised by the behavior of some air marshals.  "Absolutely not," Pistole told ABC News on Tuesday.  "The national security mission is always paramount."

"TSA took a proactive approach to the issues raised and has developed and implemented solutions ahead of the conclusion of the investigation," said the TSA in a statement to ABC News.

But some members of Congress questioned the report's conclusion that the mission was not compromised.  The Inspector General's report also failed to fully investigate many of the more damning allegations made against air marshal managers.

"Our review does not support a finding of widespread discrimination and retaliation" within the Federal Air Marshal Service, the report said.

Other air marshals, still working undercover on flights and unable to reveal their names publicly, alleged that managers regularly scheduled themselves on flights so they could visit family or vacation spots.  In one example, the air marshals provided a photograph of a manager who arranged to fly to Brussels at Christmas time, and then jumped a fence to sit next to the Baby Jesus in a nativity crèche in the city's main square.

Theodoropoulos has had his own issues, stemming from an altercation with a bartender that led to his dismissal from the air marshals after a 20-year career in law enforcement.  He and his union say the government used a relatively minor incident as a way to get rid of a whistleblower and send a message to other air marshals to keep quiet. 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Exclusive: ‘White Only’ Pool Sign Owner Explains

A female landlord, Jamie Hein, had a sign that read, "Public Swimming Pool, White Only" hanging on a gate at her house and her private pool. (Photo credit: Ohio Civil Rights Commission)(NEW YORK) -- An Ohio landlord accused of discriminating against an African-American girl with a “white only” sign at her swimming pool told ABC News that the sign was an antique and a decoration.

“I’m not a bad person,” said Jamie Hein of Cincinnati. “I don’t have any problem with race at all. It’s a historical sign.”

The sign in question reads, “Public Swimming Pool, White Only.” It is dated 1931 and from Alabama.

Hein, 31, was unapologetic about the racist origins of the sign that she displayed at the entrance to her pool. She said she collects antiques and was given the sign as a gift. She also said that even though the sign seems to indicate that the pool is public, the pool is on her private property and “everybody has to ask before getting in my pool.”

Michael Gunn, 40, is the man who took issue with Hein’s sign and filed a discrimination charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. He was a tenant in one of Hein’s properties.

“We invited my daughter, who is African-American, to visit and swim in the pool for the Memorial Day weekend,” Gunn wrote in his complaint. “The owner, Jamie Hein, accused my daughter of making the pool ‘cloudy’ because she used chemicals in her hair. Days later, she posted a sign on the gate to the pool which reads, ‘Public Swimming Pool, White Only.’”

Hein said that the sign had nothing to do with Gunn’s daughter and that it was already up at the time of that party, but cannot be seen when the gate is open.

Gunn said the family previously, “had unrestricted access to the pool area,” but Hein said that was not the case. She said everyone, including her own father, has to ask permission before swimming in her pool.

Gunn did not respond to requests for comment. In his complaint, he wrote that he moved out of Hein’s property in June “in order to not expose my daughter to the sign and the humiliation of the message.”

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission found on Sept. 29 that Hein did violate the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign, but Hein has asked that the decision be reconsidered. The sign has since been stolen.

“I’ve never said anything to that child,” Hein said. “If I have to stick up for my white rights, I have to stick up for my white rights. It goes both ways.”

The commission will meet to come to a final decision on Jan. 12, according to Brandi Martin, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep272011

UC Berkeley Bake Sale Ignites Protests, Debates

ABC News(BERKLEY, Calif.) -- A controversial bake sale sparked tense protests and counter-protests Tuesday over racism, diversity, and affirmative action at the University of California, Berkeley.

Hundreds of students gathered on the school's Sproul Plaza to voice their opinion on whether the state's public universities should allow affirmative action, and the dispute was centered around a bake sale.

College Republicans planned a "satirical" bake sale at which the price of items would be determined by the buyer's race, gender, and ethnicity. The bake sale was met with outrage on the campus as student groups claimed racism and a return to Jim Crow laws.

A protest organized by the black student union drew the largest number of participants, as members dressed completely in black and walked silently across the plaza and then lay down on the ground for two hours. The group held signs with phrases like "Can UC Us Now?"

"It was kind of tense," said Maura Mooney, 18, a freshman at the school. "The Republicans were all silent and pretty angry. They didn't say anything, and people were challenging them to debates and asking them questions and they weren't very vocal."

Mooney said that other attendees brought bull horns and shouted chants at the Republicans, including "New Jim Crow, we say hell no." But the Republicans merely handed out fliers in response.

According to Republican organizers, the bake sale was meant to be "satirical," where baked goods would cost $2 for white people, $1.50 for Asians, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women would get a 25-cent discount from all of those prices. The group, however, did not enforce their price structure during the protest, and sold out of baked goods by early afternoon.

Club members said the sale is a way of taking a stand against pending legislation that would let the University of California consider a student's race or national origin during the admissions process.

Yvette Felarca, a graduate of Berkeley who helped organize a counter-protest with the By Any Means Necessary educational advocay group, said that she thought her side had won the day's debate.

"Ultimately I think they know they are a real minority on this campus, with their political sentiment of open racism, and with the hundreds of students coming in and out all day today to counter demonstrate," said Felarca, who graduated in 2005. Felarca noted that when she graduated from the school of education, there were no black students in her graduating class.

In response to the planned event, Associated Students of the University of California approved a resolution that "condemns the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group."

UC Berkeley's Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri, and Vice Chancellor Harry LeGrande sent out a campus-wide letter early Tuesday condemning the bake sale and endorsing the ASUC resolution.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep272011

UC Berkeley Republicans' 'Pay-by-Race' Bake Sale Still On

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BERKELEY, Calif.) -- The "Increase Diversity" bake sale planned by a group of Republican students in Berkeley, Calif., will still be happening Tuesday despite anger and criticism from fellow students who have called the event racist -- a reaction that the organizers say they hoped for.

At the University of California, Berkeley, College Republicans have scheduled a bake sale where the price of items depends on your gender and race.  Baked goods will cost $2 for white people, $1.50 for Asians, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans.  Women get a 25-cent discount.

Club members say the sale is a way of taking a stand against pending legislation that would let the University of California consider a student's race or national origin during the admissions process.

A posting on the event's Facebook page laid out that the sale was to draw attention to SB 185, a bill currently being considered by Gov. Jerry Brown, which would authorize California public universities admissions to consider race and background.

Affirmative action in public college admissions was banned in California when voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996.

"The Berkeley College Republicans firmly believe measuring any admit's merit based on race is intrinsically racist.  Our bake sale will be at the same time and location of a phone bank which will be making calls to urge Gov. Brown to sign the bill," the statement read.

"The pricing structure of the baked goods is meant to be satirical, while urging students to think more critically about the implications of this policy," the statement read.

Berkeley College Republicans club president Shawn Lewis said the message that they are trying to get across has been misconstrued.

"It certainly is stirring emotions, and that's what we want," Lewis said.  "But we certainly don't want people to think we are making fun of racial issues or laughing at them, because that's not the message of the bake sale."

In response to the planned event, Associated Students of the University of California approved a resolution that "condemns the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group."

Campus Democrats President Anais Lavoie says she isn't impressed with the College Republicans' method.

"The way that they made the statement, the words that they used, the fact that they humorized and mocked the struggles of people of color on this campus is very disgusting to me," she said.

According to the original event page, the pricing structure was put in place "to ensure the fairest distribution, and make sure that there are a DIVERSE population of races of students getting BCR's delicious baked goods."

"Hope to see you all there! If you don't come, you're a racist!" the original event page read.

The page has since been taken down and replaced with less controversial text.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep252011

Provocative Bakesale Incites Debate over Racism

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BERKLEY, Calif.) -- An "Increase Diversity" bake sale planned by a group of students in Berkley, Calif., in which the price of baked goods will depend on the buyer's gender and race is drawing cries of racism, which is just what the organizers say they wanted.

The bake sale, run by the Berkeley College Republicans, was created in reaction to SB 185, a bill currently being considered by Gov. Jerry Brown, which would authorize California public universities to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national/geographic origin in the admissions process.

"The Berkeley College Republicans firmly believe measuring any admit's merit based on race is intrinsically racist," reads the description of the event on its Facebook page. "Our bake sale will be at the same time and location of a phone bank which will be making calls to urge Gov. Brown to sign the bill…The pricing structure of the baked goods is meant to be satirical, while urging students to think more critically about the implications of this policy."

The price of a baked good is $2 for white people, $1.50 if you're Asian, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans, the original Facebook event read. Women of all races get a discount of 25 cents.

According to the original event page, the pricing structure was put in place "to ensure the fairest distribution, and make sure that there are a DIVERSE population of races of students getting BCR's delicious baked goods."

"Hope to see you all there! If you don't come, you're a racist!" the original event page read.

The page has since been taken down and replaced with less controversial text.

Shawn Lewis, the president of the Berkeley College Republicans, planned the bake sale.

"The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset," Lewis told ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco. "But it's really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions."

Lewis said several members who created the event on Facebook have been threatened or received nasty comments.

"It certainly is stirring emotions, and that's what we want," Lewis told KGO-TV. "But we certainly don't want people to think that we're making fun of racial issues or laughing at them because that's not the message of the bake sale."

But Campus Democrats president Anais LaVoie has asked for an apology.

"The way they made the statement, the words that they used, the fact that they humorized and mocked the struggles of people of color on this campus is very disgusting to me," LaVoie said.

One student looked at the situation more humorously.

"Being black, this whole event is even irritating for me because now everyone wants me to buy them cupcakes at a discount," Raymond Stone wrote on the Facebook event page.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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