Economics and Discrimination

Blog category: The Economics of Discrimination

By: *Alexandria MacMaster

While the awareness of discrimination and its effect on the economics of those being discriminated against is on the rise, there is still an unknown and subtle discrimination that directly hurts the economics of struggling groups.  One group in particular that is struggling, especially in the criminal court system, is African American women.  Geneva Brown writes in her Article, “The Wind Cries Mary” in the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development that African American women are targeted as a group to become imprisoned in some of the “for-profit” prisons through the criminal justice system.  She also goes on to point out the harm of having many of these African American women imprisoned goes much further than just potentially harming these specific women.  A point that should be emphasized in our conversations regarding discrimination and economics is that having African American women incarcerated is taking away the matriarch of family units in struggling families.  Regardless of whether or not anyone agrees with the high number of incarcerated black women being a product of discrimination, the fact alone that so many are incarcerated  is reason enough to break down why they are incarcerated, and how that can be rectified.   African American women being taken away from their families displaces their children, many of whom end up in foster care, or become homeless or criminals themselves.  This is not something that does our society or our economy any good. Communities and families’ futures are limited when African American women are incarcerated and it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

For a review of the article, click here.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Alexandria MacMaster is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Alexandria MacMaster, Click here to visit her page: Alexandria MacMaster

Illegal Immigration and American Jobs

Blog Category: Immigration

By: *Melissa Chapaska

Many would not dispute the claim that illegal immigration is a problem for American workers because it limits the number of jobs available and lowers wages for citizen workers. But, as research suggests, the accusation that illegal immigration has a negative impact on American jobs may be unwarranted. While illegal immigration adversely affects some American workers by reducing wages and the availability of jobs, these short-term pitfalls are overshadowed by the seemingly positive long-term effect that illegal immigration has on the American job market. Illegal immigration has provided businesses with a cheap labor force, which has allowed many businesses to become profitable. Beyond the positive effect illegal immigration has on the economy, American workers also directly benefit as businesses are able to expand, creating higher-paying, skilled positions for American workers.

We are a nation of laws. As such, illegal immigration must be addressed. However, in addressing the problems associated with illegal immigration, we should also remain mindful of the benefits that illegal immigration continues to have on American businesses and the economy as a whole.

 

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Melissa Chapaska is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Melissa Chapaska, click here to visit her page: Melissa Chapaska

Main Article:

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/immigration-and-american-jobs/ 

Related Article:
http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/01/news/economy/immigration_economy/index.htm

 

Should Affirmative Action be Socioeconomically Based?

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

By: Patrick Gallo*

The landmark case of Grutter v. Bollinger solidified the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions.  In Grutter, the Supreme Court held that “… the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the [University of Michigan] Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”[1]  The Supreme Court limited such a ruling to a finite period of twenty-five years, suggesting that one day race would no longer be a metaphorical hurdle to opportunity.[2] Specifically, in Grutter, the University of Michigan Law School employed an individualized “holistic review” of law school applicants, awarding a “plus” to minority students in order to achieve a “critical mass” of minority students and promote “…’cross-racial understanding’ … to break down racial stereotypes, and ‘enable… [students] to better understand persons of different races….’”[3]

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Grutter is being revisited in Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin and consequently has placed affirmative action on the chopping block.  The premise underlying affirmative action is that “[y]ou do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race … and then say, ‘[y]ou are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”[4]

Deborah Archer, a law professor at New York Law School, argues that race-conscious admissions programs need to be continued because “[r]ace-conscious admissions programs…are designed to overcome the systemic racism and serve as a vital pipeline to educational and professional opportunities for minority students.”[5]

David Sacks and Peter Thiel contend, however, that “[t]he basic problem is that a racist past cannot be undone through more racism. Race-conscious programs betray Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind community, and the heightened racial sensitivity they cause is a source of acrimony and tension instead of healing.”[6]    Sacks and Thiel further maintain that race-conscious programs do not help the disadvantaged, but rather, “primarily benefit minority applicants from [the] middle- and upper-class” while “hurt[ing] poor whites and even many Asians….”[7]  Thus, Sacks and Thiel conclude that “[i]f preferences were truly meant to remedy disadvantage, they would be given on the basis of disadvantage, not on the basis of race.”[8]

Via Fisher, the Supreme Court can preserve its milestone decision in Grutter, or vitiate it altogether and with it, affirmative action.  Alternatively, Fisher also provides the Supreme Court with an opportunity to carve out a new kind of affirmative action that is socioeconomically based.  Such would be appropriate considering that today’s greatest metaphorical hurdle and impediment to success is arguably one’s socioeconomic status rather than one’s race.[9]

 

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Patrick Gallo is one of the Articles Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Patrick Gallo, click here to view his page: Patrick Gallo

[1] Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 343 (2003).

[2] See id. at 343.

[3] Id. at 330.

[4] David Leonhardt, Rethinking Affirmative Action, NY TIMES, Oct. 13, 2012 (quoting a 1965 speech of President Lyndon B. Johnson “that laid the groundwork for affirmative action”), available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/sunday-review/rethinking-affirmative-action.html?pagewanted=all.

[5] Deborah Archer, Why We Need Race-Conscious Admissions, THE NATIONAL JURIST, Oct. 2012, Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 13.

[6] David Sacks & Peter Theil, The Case Against Affirmative Action, STANFORD MAGAZINE, available at http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=43448.

[7] Id. (citing Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution).

[8] Id.

[9] See Rachel Potucek, Affirmative action: Pros and Cons, K-STATE PERSPECTIVE, Fall 2003 (quoting Professors Krishna Tummala and John Fliter), available at http://www.k-state.edu/media/webzine/0203/aapros&cons.html; see also Leonhardt, supra, Rethinking Affirmative Action; Spencer Lindsay, Status, Not Race, Should Be Basis of Affirmative Action, THE BADGER HERALD, Apr. 25, 2012, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-badger-herald/status-not-race-should-be_b_1455359.html.

For more information concerning the foregoing topic you can visit the following:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57529223/supreme-court-takes-up-affirmative-action/?pageNum=2&tag=page

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-06-17-diversity17_ST_N.htm

 

 

 

 

Light Skin v. Dark Skin: Is this issue still relevant?

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

By: *Jade Morrison

We have long seen the struggle between “house” and “field Negros” as they were divided based on skin complexion. Spike Lee highlights this phenomenon in his 1988 film entitled “School Daze.” Lee in this film shines light on racism based on skin tone and hair texture in the African American Community.[1] More recently, the African American community took to social media to discuss Gabrielle Douglas’ hair texture, referring to it as “unkempt,” after she won the gold medal during the Olympics.[2] Is colorism still alive? Is the legal community taking this issue seriously?

Are wealthy African Americans expected to look, dress and speak with a certain dialect? Trina Jones in a recent article discussed the social and economic desirability of African Americans (and other ethnic minorities) with lighter skin tones.[3]  Jones shares a case study highly relevant to the legal profession:

A typical example might involve two African- American female associates at a law firm: L.K. Johnson and Shymeka Smith. L.K. Johnson, has permed hair, wears understated jewelry and dresses conservatively. She socializes with her coworkers, avoids committee work involving racial or gender issues. . . . L.K. lives in a predominantly White suburban neighborhood and is very careful to always use standard, crisply enunciated, English. Shymeka Smith has long, flowing dreadlocks and wears African-inspired attire and bold, colorful jewelry. Shymeka tends not to socialize with her coworkers, has been vocal and actively involved in the firm’s diversity committee, lives in the inner city . . .”L.K. is promoted to partner and Shymeka is denied promotion.

Assuming roughly the same talent level, one could argue that Shymeka was passed over because she chose to embrace her racial identity rather than to downplay or distance herself from that identity. That is, Shymeka was harmed because her identity performance did not conform to mainstream norms. According to Professor Kenji Yoshino, Shymeka failed to “cover;” that is, she failed to “mute the difference between herself and the mainstream.”[4] Instead of reflecting racial differences, what Shymeka should have done was to minimize those differences by adopting a racial performance closer to Johnson’s. [5]

Does colorism affect the socioeconomic class of African Americans? Although most courts today recognize colorism claims under Title VII on the grounds of interracial discrimination, however, only a few plaintiffs actually recover under this theory. [6] Colorism claims are mostly seen in the context of employment discrimination. The legal community must take this phenomenon seriously. Colorism affects African Americans and other racial minorities in their everyday lives. The Media and professional establishments have created a stereotypical ideal African American image throughout the course of history. This image is demonstrated by L.K. Johnson in Jones’ article. African Americans should not be forced to choose between their cultural identities and their profession.  Lawyers should not shy away from pursuing colorism claims because of the low rates in which plaintiffs succeed. These claims will help move toward equality for African Americans within their own communities. This will create true diversity, not a superficial concept of diversity based on one’s skin complexion of an organization’s employees.

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*Jade Morrison is currently the External Managing Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Jade Morrison, click here to visit her page: Jade Morrison

[1]        SCHOOL DAZE (Columbia Pictures 1988)

[2]        Gabrielle Douglas Responds to Her Hair Critics, Oprah.com (Aug. 12, 2012) http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Olympian-Gabrielle-Douglas-Responds-to-Her-Hair-Critics-Video_2.

[3]        Trina Jones, Intra-Group Preferencing: Proving Skin Color and Identity Performance Discrimination, 34 N.Y.U. REV. L. & SOC. CHANGE 657 (2010).

[4]        Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights; Devon W. Carbado & Mitu Gulati, Working Identity, 85 CORNELL L. REV. 1259 (2000);

[5]        Kenji Yoshino, Assimilationist Bias in Equal Protection: The Visibility Presumption and the Case of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” 108 YALE L.J. 485, 500 (1998).

[6]        See Hansborough v. City of Elkhart Parks and Recreation Dept., 802 F.Supp. 199 (1992); Walker v. Secretary of Treasury I.R.S, 713 F.Supp. 403 ( 1989); Burch v. WDAS AM/FM, No. CIV.A. 00-4852, 2002 WL 1371703 (E.D. Pa. MAR. 12, 2003); Brack v. Shoney’s, Inc., 249 F. Supp. 2d 938 (W.D. Tenn. 2003).