Tag Archives: discrimination

It’s Bigger than Paula Deen

By Guest Contributor Dr. David J. Leonard, cross-posted from Dr. David J. Leonard

The fallout from Paula Deen’s deposition and the lawsuit itself is a reminder of the ways that race and gender operate within the restaurant industry.  It’s bigger than Paula Deen.  Yet, as you read media reports, as you listen to various commentaries, you would think this is a story about an older white woman wedded to America’s racist past.  Yes, this is a story about Paula Deen, and her crumbing empire.  But that is the beginning, not the end. This is bigger than one individual, her reported prejudices, or the lawsuit at hand.  This is about a restaurant industry mired by discrimination and systemic inequalities.

Racism pervades the entire industry, as evident in the daily treatment faced by workers, the segregation within the industry, differential wage scale, and its hiring practices.  According to Jennifer Lee, “Racial Bias Seen in Hiring of Waiters:”

Expensive restaurants in New York discriminate based on race when hiring waiters, a new study has concluded. The study was based on experiments in which pairs of applicants with similar résumés were sent to ask about jobs. The pairs were matched for gender and appearance, said Marc Bendick Jr., the economist who conducted the study. The only difference was race, he said.

White job applicants were more likely to receive followup interviews at the restaurants, be offered jobs, and given information about jobs, and their work histories were less likely to be investigated in detail, he said Tuesday. He spoke at a news conference releasing the report in a Manhattan restaurant.

There really should not be a lot of difference in how the two of them are treated,” Mr. Bendick said. He was hired by advocacy groups for restaurant workers as part of a larger report called “The Great Service Divide: Occupational Segregation and Equality in the New York City Restaurant Industry.” He has made a career of studying discrimination, ranging from racism in the advertising industry to sexism in firefighting.

Mr. Bendick said that in industries, such experiments typically found discrimination 20 to 25 percent of the time. In New York restaurants, it was found 31 percent of the time.

A recent report from the ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Center) found that Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capital Grille, among others) was responsible for creating a racially hostile environment.

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New York Magazine Deems Naturally Curly A Bad Investment For No Reason

Kevin Roose, over at New York Magazine, decided to launch a column called “Dumb Money: Exposing Silicon Valley’s Stupidest Investments.” He writes:

But Silicon Valley, like any other industry, has its share of truly dumb ideas. For every start-up that changes the world and makes its founders rich, a thousand die quick, anonymous deaths.

Some of tech’s clunkers never get off the ground, but others manage to get big, high-profile investments despite having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (For example, what kind of genius decided to throw $1.2 million at NaturallyCurly, the “leading social network and community for people with wavy, curly and kinky hair?”)

Roose provides no actual evidence as to why NaturallyCurly is a bad investment. He doesn’t cite a thing – not their traffic numbers, no advertising sales, and no discussion of the exponential growth in the market they offer. But why should he? NaturallyCurly doesn’t fit the pattern – and Roose’s casual dismal underscores exactly why minorities, women of color in particular, have such a hard time breaking into the consciousness of the tech world. Continue reading

Police mistreatment of transgender man during #OccupyWallStreet arrests

by Guest Contributor justin adkins, originally published at justin adkins

My name is justin adkins.

I am a transgender man who was arrested at the Occupy Wall Street Protest October 1st on theBrooklyn Bridge. This was my first arrest. This was the second weekend I participated in the Occupy Wall Street protest. I have been coming down on the weekends because I work 2 full-time jobs to make ends meet. One of those jobs is as Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College in Massachusetts. The other is as a website developer.

I was toward the front of the march and after being trapped by the police on the bridge; I was able to watch as they arrested people one-by-one. I went peacefully when it was clear that it was my turn. My arresting officer, Officer Creer, found out I was born female when I yelled that information to the legal observer on the bridge. My arresting officer asked what I meant when I told the legal observer that I was “transgender” so I told him that I was born female. He asked what “I had down there”. Since it is a rude and embarrassing question to ask someone about his/her genitals no matter what the situation, I simply told him again “I was born female”. He asked, appropriately, if I wanted a male or female officer to pat me down. I told him it was fine if he patted me down. He then turned and asked a female officer, I believe her name is Officer Verga, to pat me down explaining to her that I am transgender. She patted me down and then preceded to refer to me as “she” even though I kept correcting her that my preferred pronoun is “he”. Luckily she disappeared after about 40 minutes, as I sat cuffed at the apex of the Brooklyn Bridge with hundreds of others.

Once we arrived at Precinct 90 in Brooklyn, the male officer taking everyone’s belongings asked if it was ok to search me. I said. “yes” and he proceeded to respectfully empty my pockets. I was arrested with a group of 5 other guys, and once they got us to the precinct, they initially put me in a cell with those same men. They asked if that was ok with me and I said yes. About 5 minutes after they took the cuffs off and shut the cell door an officer came back to the cell to move me. When he opened the door and looked my way, I was aware of what was happening. I knew that my transgender status would potentially be an issue once at the jail, which is why I told the legal observer that I was transgender. The officer glanced at me motioning to come out of the cell and then told me to put my hands behind my back as my fellow protestors looked on in bewilderment.

As we walked out past the other protestors waiting to have their pockets emptied, one woman looked at me with a puzzled look, we had connected on the long drive around Brooklyn as they tried to figure out where to take us. I told her that it looked like transgender people got “special treatment”. Within the first 15 minutes of being at precinct 90 I was being segregated and treated differently from the rest of the protestors arrested.
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Lebanon: Memoirs of an Algerian Transsexual

By Guest Contributor Simba Rousseau, cross-posted from Her Blueprint

Threatening emails, phone calls, constant surveillance by secret police and eventually prison couldn’t dissuade Randa, an Algerian transsexual and pioneer in the Arab world’s gay and transsexual movement, from going public with her life story.

“I returned home to Algeria from my last trip and that’s when the threats to imprison me started,” says Randa, who received initial threats via email and phone. “As a method of intimidating me, they started sending articles about me to my family, and they would show up at my workplace. Once, while being stopped at a checkpoint, one of the officers grabbed me in the car and told me that he could arrest and rape me and no one would know about it.”

Convinced by influential members of Algerian society, two of Randa’s friends were forced to present her with an ultimatum. Leave the country in ten days or things will get worse.

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Hours Before Rally to Restore Sanity: A Moment Less Than Sane

by Guest Contributor Dori Maynard, originally published at the Huffington Post and the Maynard Institute

The Maynard Institute’s Fault Line Framework is a diversity tool that teaches people to talk to each other with the goal of understanding. Dori J. Maynard, who has been refining the framework, will write a regular feature about living on the Fault Lines. This is her first entry.

A few hours before the recent Rally to Restore Sanity, the general manager of a Hampton Inn in Washington, D.C. kicked me out of his hotel, forcing me to stand on the street to wait for my colleague in 39-degree weather.

The incident began when I arrived early for a breakfast meeting with a program officer from one of the major foundations that supports the nonprofit I run. We were in town for the Online News Association’s annual convention and wanted to catch up.

After looking around the lobby, I settled on a seat at a table where I could watch the elevators.

Right in front of me was an older white guy wearing a t-shirt with the word “eracism” emblazoned on the back. Given that the tenor of our national conversation these days has me increasingly fearful about where this country is heading, I was touched to see him making such a strong statement and got up to tell him so.

He was in town for the rally, and we discussed that and the general mood in the nation. When the conversation ran its course, I turned to return to my seat.

That’s when the general manager stopped me and asked if I was a guest at the hotel. I explained I was not but was there for a business meeting with a guest. “Ma’am, you’ll have to leave the hotel,” he said, leading me through the lobby and toward the doors.

I thought he had misunderstood, so I repeated that I was in fact there at the invitation of a hotel guest. “Ma’am, you’ll have to leave the hotel,” he repeated. Slowly, I began to realize that this was no case of “mistaken identity.”

The general manager apparently had deemed me so undesirable that he did not think I was fit to sit in the lobby of his Hampton Inn.

Somewhat disoriented, I managed to have the presence of mind to tell the front desk clerk to call my colleague and let him know that I would be unable to meet him in the lobby as planned because I was being escorted out of the hotel.

The general manager and I watched as she spoke into the phone. Clearly, I was there to meet a paying guest. But the general manager continued to repeat, “Ma’am, you’ll have to leave the hotel.” Continue reading

Cop Sues Burbank Police Department for Discrimination

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Last week, Christopher Lee Dunn, a decorated Asian American police detective, filed a civil lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department, alleging that he was the victim of discrimination and retaliation before being unlawfully fired: Sixth Burbank officer sues department over discrimination.

Dunn, who won the Medal of Valor as a Los Angeles Police Department officer before joining the Burbank force, says that he was subjected to years of racial taunts and discouraged from joining department’s narcotics unit because he was not white. He was apparently targeted by management before eventually being run out of the department.

He isn’t the first cop with grievances against the department. In May, five Burbank police officers sued the department and seven current police officials, alleging that they tolerated an environment in which officers commonly used slurs about race, ethnicity and sexual preference directed at them, their colleagues, suspects and the public at large.

Dunn’s suit, filed separately, seeks civil penalties and compensatory damages. He specifically alleges that he was discouraged by members of an elite, “all-white” narcotics unit who said they didn’t want to work with non-whites. When Dunn was ultimately promoted, he was subjected to racist jokes and comments.

The lawsuit also alleges that Dunn was given less desirable assignments in the unit despite having more narcotics seizures than any other Burbank officer. When one of the offending colleagues was transferred, the harassment apparently got worse. More here: Sixth Minority Officer Sues Burbank Police Department.

Dispatches from Nappyville: WTF, NPR? Way to totally mischaracterize discussions about black women, hair and Michelle Obama

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

That Farai Chideya is no longer holding it down at NPR’s “News & Notes” is abundantly clear. Yesterday’s “News & Notes” segment–” The Obama Effect on Black Women’s Hair Issues–was some serious insipid nonsense. Since the dawning of the Obama era, I’ve sensed a disturbing trend in coverage of black women’s issues by mainstream media. Having a black First Lady seems to have inspired the media to take some notice of the unique lives of African American women. Good. Problem is, the gently increased coverage is shallow and inconsequential, and often has the feel of detached voyeurism–academically peering at the exotic world and strange habits of black women (oddly, this is so, even when the work is presided over by black women). A product of these travel guides to Blackchicksylvania is the “Lawd, us black wimmin’s hair sho is complicated” story, which usually includes the meme that Michelle Obama’s hair is a hot topic among black women. And so goes the “News & Notes” piece by Allison Samuels, featuring celebrity stylist Marcia Hamilton.

Listen.

Says Samuels, “We now have an African American president, with an African American wife and two African American daughters. So now we talk a lot about hair–things we probably didn’t talk about when we had First Ladies who were not African American. So, the conversation has gone from one end to the other. Should Michelle wear more natural hair? Should she cut her hair? Should she have a perm? Should she press and curl? Why do we have such an obsession, even now, in 2009, with black women and hair?”

First, I would love to know where these purported conversations about Michelle Obama’s hair are taking place. Where is this obsession with her tresses flowering? So far, I’ve seen several articles about the phenomenon (I believe Salon has peddled it, too.), but have yet to experience it among any, y’know, actual black women. As far as I can tell, in real life, no one is riding Michelle to bust out the cornrows at the next State dinner. (According to Samuels, black female bloggers are calling for Michelle and her daughters to be champions of black hair. Why’s everybody got to blame the bloggers these days? I’m plugged into the top black blogs and haven’t seen any such discussion percolating. Hmmmm.) Continue reading

Culturally Clueless FAQs—Number 4

by Guest Contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

    Change has come to America. But it took a detour around Madison Avenue. While citizens have adopted phrases like “post-racial,” the advertising industry operates in a pre-Civil Rights time warp. Whenever the topics of diversity and inclusion appear, ad executives consistently display stunning ignorance. MultiCultClassics has sought to address the issues in the past. However, the matters have evolved along with society, despite Madison Avenue’s retarded development. As a public service, this blog will answer a series of Frequently Asked Questions to enlighten the asses… er, masses.

Question: Isn’t Cyrus Mehri just another opportunistic bottom feeder in the Jesse Jackson / Al Sharpton tradition?

Answer: It’s always interesting—yet never surprising—to see individuals who protest injustices branded as bottom feeders. Then again, facing off with Madison Avenue on these issues does require lowering yourself to nasty depths.

Regardless, it’s important to recognize key differences between Mehri and Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton.

Despite occasional forays into advertising industry affairs, Jackson and Sharpton are ultra-outsiders. (Although rumors claim Black-owned agency executives told Jackson to back off when he offered to wage battles in the past.) While the two clearly understand things like exclusion and discrimination, they’re corporately clueless, at least when it comes to the ad agency business. In contrast, Mehri has done his homework. The Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc. report is nearly flawless in its examination of the inner dealings on Madison Avenue. The AAF and 4A’s couldn’t have produced a more factual, accurate document.

Additionally, the tactics employed by Jackson and Sharpton have possibly lost effectiveness over the years. One could argue that Jackson especially often resorted to intimidation that played on White guilt. Mehri, on the other hand, seeks to intimidate by proving Whites are guilty.

Advantage Mehri.

As for being opportunistic, well, let’s really consider the term. Remember, this battle has been plodding along since the 1930s. Madison Avenue has had plenty of opportunities to address matters for about 80 years. It’s not as if Mehri seized upon the moment, catching people unaware. The truth is, industry leaders have been opportunistic by perpetuating the problems via apathy and worse. Maybe we should all see this as an opportunity to create positive change.

If Mehri manages to take this drama to a courtroom, we can’t wait to learn whom Madison Avenue will call upon to defend. Even Denny Crane would take a pass on it.