The Great Race: Minority Advancement in the Corporate World

By: *Chantal Jones

Blog Topic: Minorities in the Corporate World

The Great Race: Minority Advancement in the Corporate World

There is much to say about the strides that minorities have been making in the corporate world. Minorities have made their footprints in executive positions in some of the highest revenue generating corporations. For example, Rodney Adkins is an African American who is the Senior Vice President of IBM Systems and Technology Group; Pamela Culpepper, who is Hispanic, is the Senior Vice President of PepsiCo; Carolynn Brooks, an African American woman, is the Vice President of OfficeMax, Inc.; and lastly, Cindy Brinkley, a Caucasian woman, is the Vice President of talent development at AT&T.[1]

Largely as a consequence of affirmative action programs, established during the Civil Rights movement, minorities recently begun to participate in certain areas of society in ways previously restricted to privileged members of the majority group.[2]   These affirmative action programs had their most direct and immediate effect on minorities that were well-prepared and poised to take advantage of any opportunity that arose in the occupational system.[3]

However, these programs were seen as a gift and a curse because while they have been successful in giving minorities great opportunities to advance in the workforce, minorities’ intellect and credentials have been called into question, which created yet another obstacle to overcome. Affirmative action programs are starting to become obsolete; however, they have been replaced by Diversity programs that were created to increase diversity amongst corporations.

As a minority with aspirations of being successful in the corporate world, I recognize the challenges that we face. I am appreciative of diversity programs, but I think that it is unfortunate that these programs have to be created at all just to ensure equality in “the land of the free.” I do believe that minorities have come a long way by establishing themselves in executive positions in the corporate world, but I think there is much more work to be done. I am very optimistic that minorities will increasingly climb the ranks of the corporate world as long as they remain prepared and ready, when opportunity knocks.

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.

________________________________________

*Chantal Jones is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Chantal  click here to visit her page.
[1]Black Enterprise, Top Executives in Diversity: Our editors identify the leaders of corporate inclusion, Black Enterprise (June 1, 2011), http://www.blackenterprise.com/mag/top-executives-in-diversity.
[2] Elijah Anderson, The Social Situation of the Black Executive, in 2001 Race Odyssey: African Americans and Sociology, 316, 317 (Bruce R. Hare ed., 2002).
[3] Elijah Anderson, The Social Situation of the Black Executive, in 2001 Race Odyssey: African Americans and Sociology, 316, 320 (Bruce R. Hare ed., 2002).

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.

________________________________________________________

*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).

Affirmative Action Programs in Colleges and Universities

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

Written by: *Staci Pesin

As Law Students, we have all taken Constitutional law in law school, and if not you will shortly.  For those of you who have taken Constitutional law, we should all be familiar with these most recognized cases: Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, and Marbury v. Madison. However, there is a case that you might not be familiar with, the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which was an affirmative action case.  In 2003, the Supreme Court held in Grutter v. Bollinger  that the University of Michigan was allowed to use an affirmative action based admission policy in the interest of promoting diversity at their school.

Nine years later, the Supreme Court has decided to hear another affirmative action case.  This case took place in Texas. A Caucasian student alleged that the University of Texas denied her admission because of her race and that the school gives preferential treatment to African American and Latino applicants.  The University of Texas has a race-based admission plan where it admits the top ten percent of high school students. With many high schools in Texas heavily made up of minority students, racial diversity has increased at the university.  In addition, The University of Texas also has a class-based program for economically disadvantaged students, which has also increased racial diversity at the university.

Carolyn Warner, a student writer for The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, suggests that it is time to end race-based affirmative action but notes that racial diversity in schools is a compelling government goal.  She suggests we focus on fixing the class gap which would help bridge the racial gap.  Studies have shown that affirmative action programs based on race help the economically advantaged and the author suggests that with class-based affirmative action we will be helping the economically disadvantaged as well as minorities.  Her ultimate goal is certainly noble, however fixing the class gap is not going to happen overnight.

 

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.

______________________________

*Staci Pesin is currently the Senior Managing Editor on the Delaware Campus. To learn more about Staci Pesin, click here to view her personal page: Staci Pesin
Article written by Carolyn Warner, Student Writer for The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice See:  http://blogs.law.uiowa.edu/jgrj/?p=797  to read the full article.

Colorblind Or Simply Blind?

Blog Category: The Economics of Discrimination

Written by: *Peter A. Galick

Racism and racial inequality have purveyed nearly every facet of American society since before its inception.  On the other hand, some have asserted that we now live in a post-racial society, that is, a society that has transcended racial barriers and has entered an age of equality.  These bold assertions came into the popular limelight upon the election of Barak Obama as the 44th President of the United States.[1]   For a short time, it appeared that we, as a society, had in fact become colorblind, making Reverend Martin Luther King’s dream a reality.[2]   Then, just as publicly as America had “transcended” racial barriers, the widely-publicized case involving the shooting of Trayvon Martin made it perfectly clear that American society is still battling the demons of our shameful history.[3]   This drastic shift in attitudes has not only exposed a major issue affecting the daily lives of all Americans, but it has also lead to an extremely difficult question: is colorblindness a worthy goal in today’s society, or do attempts to discount race intentionally ignore practical realities?

Scholars have debated whether we do exist in a post-racial society, and whether a post-racial society can exist at all.[4]   I truly believe a post-racial society can exist.  While it can be said that the very notion is an impossible ideal, I believe otherwise.  What I do not believe, is that a colorblind society could exist today.  Nor do I believe that colorblindness is even a good thing were it possible in today’s society.  A conscious and informed discussion on race and racial inequality must take place if America is to ever truly transcend racial barriers. Perhaps one day, the “impossible” ideal will be met, but until that day, a colorblind society is a blind society.

 

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.

____________________________

*Peter A. Galick is the Editor-in-Chief of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Peter A. Galick, click here to visit his page: Peter A. Galick
[1] See, e.g., Adam Nagourney, Obama Elected President as Racial Barrier Falls, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 5, 2008, at A1, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/us/politics/05elect.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[2] I Have a Dream Speech (January 9, 2012, 1:41 PM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/16/i-have-a-dream-speech-text-martin-luther-king-jr_n_1207734.html
[3] Bianca Prieto, Trayvon Martin: ‘We are Gathered Here Today to Demand Justice’ In Teen’s Fatal Shooting, ORLANDO SENTINEL, Mar. 14, 2012, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-14/news/os-trayvon-martin-shooting-death-rally-20120314_1_shooting-death-bryant-chief-bill-lee
[4]E.g., EDUARDO BONILLA-SILVA, RACISM WITHOUT RACISTS: COLOR-BLIND RACISM AND THE PERSISTENCE OF RACIAL INEQUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES (2d ed. 2006); DERRICK A. BELL, FACES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL: THE PERMANENCE OF RACISM (1992); Neil Gotanda, A Critique of “Our Constitution is Color-Blind,” 44 STAN. L. REV. 1, 68 (1991); Reva B. Siegel, Discrimination in the Eyes of the Law: How “Color Blindness” Discourse Disrupts and Rationalizes Social Stratification, 88 CAL. L. REV. 77, 78, 84-107 (2000).

Fisher v. University of Texas: An Objective Analysis

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

Written by: *Jay S. Patel

The use of race in admissions has been hotly debated; proponents extolling its use to create diverse student bodies, critics denouncing it as a form of “reverse discrimination”. Recognizing these competing objectives, the Supreme Court has continually balanced the appropriateness of affirmative action policies against the weighty interests of equal protection.

Equal Protection and Affirmative Action
Equal protection generally forbids the government from treating citizens in an unequal manner. [1]  If a state or the federal government attempts to treat citizens in an unequal manner, their conduct will be reviewed under three different governing standards. Because affirmative action necessarily involves race, any policy purporting to use race is reviewed under the most rigorous standard: strict scrutiny. [2]  Strict scrutiny analysis bars the use of race unless its inclusion furthers a legitimate and compelling governmental interest and the use of race in the policy is narrowly tailored to that end. [3]  Supreme Court jurisprudence has also added two limitations in affirmative action cases. University officials can only use race as a plus factor, that is, they can view an applicant’s race in light of their entire application. [4]  Additionally, officials cannot assign specific “points” for an applicant’s race, or set aside a fixed number of seats for minority applicants. [5]

University of Texas Plan: Proper or Improper?
The University of Texas plan is proper under Grutter. Provided the Supreme Court does not overrule Bakke and its progeny, the University of Texas plan passes constitutional muster. The University of Texas demonstrated that after the passage of the “Top Ten” law, minority enrollment dropped to levels not seen since the mid 1990’s.[6]  Given the increases in the minority population in Texas in the interim, the state demonstrated a compelling interest in creating a diverse class that provided benefits for all matriculants.[7]  Their interest was legitimate by Grutter’s prescription.  Grutter asked whether a contested program was narrowly tailored to achieve an overall goal: a rich, vibrant and diverse class of matriculants.[8]  On this, it was successful. The program did not set aside seats for minority students, nor did it award special “points” to minority applicants.[9]  Its use of race was nominal and only one of many factors which was considered in a methodical and precise formula designed to admit the top students.[10]

Conclusion
Under the rigorous standard set forth by the Supreme Court in equal protection cases, and the special factors prescribed to govern affirmative action policies, the University of Texas policy should be upheld as proper under Grutter.

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.

________________________________

*Jay S. Patel is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Jay S. Patel click the link to visit his personal page: Jay S. Patel
[1] See Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 326 (2003); U.S. Const. amend XIV, § 1.
[2] Grutter, 539 U.S. at 326.
[3] Id. (emphasis supplied).
[4] Id. at 334 (quoting Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 315 (1978) (opinion of Powell, J.)
[5] See Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 270 (2003).
[6] Brief of Respondent at 10, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, No. 11-345 (2012).
[7] Id.
[8] Grutter, 539 U.S. at 328.
[9] Brief of Petitioner, supra note 6, at 11.
[10] Id. at 11-14 (relaying in significant depth the methods employed to judge applicants and noting the minimal use and impact of race in admissions).

ACLU vs. Morgan Stanley

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

Written by: *Megan A. Hunsicker

On October 15, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) filed a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley for violating the Fair Housing Act, particularly for discriminating on the basis of race in the secondary mortgage market, which is where high-risk loans are bundled and marketed to investors.

Specifically, the ACLU alleged Morgan Stanley sought high-risk loans disproportionally concentrated in non-white neighborhoods—“Subprime loans were five times more likely to be found in African American neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods”—with the expectation that those loans would default.

That practice directly conflicts with the provisions in the Amendments to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, which state that, “‘pooling or packaging loans’ on the basis of race is a violation of Title VIII.”  While the government has attempted to litigate the harms of the subprime crisis under fraud principles, this lawsuit is the first major lawsuit to advance claims under the Civil Rights Act.

If the lawsuit is successful, the implications will be profound and staggering, considering the damages suffered from predatory lending practices, which triggered the foreclosure crisis, and the importance of framing the issue and damages as a civil rights violations.

_______________________________

*Meghan A. Hunsicker is the Internal Managing Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Meghan A. Hunsicker, click here to view her page: Meghan A. Hunsicker
Sources:
John A. Powell, Civil Rights Today: The Landmark Case of Adkins et. al. v. Morgan Stanley, EQUAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (October 17, 2012), http://www.equaljusticesociety.org/2012/10/17/civil-rights-today-the-landmark-case-of-adkins-et-al-v-morgan-stanley/

The Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race 2012 Fall Semester Blogs

The Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race would like to announce its 2012 Fall semester blogs.

This semester, the blogs will focus on four central topics:

1) Immigration, 2) Affirmative Action, 3) Race and Economics in the Media and 4) The Economics of Discrimination.

New blog entries will be added every week, up until finals so that we can keep the Widener Community informed about these important topics. The blogs can be accessed by clicking the blogs & posts link.

Thank you once again for all of your support.

 

Sara Horatius, Web & Technology Editor

Who holds the discretion when determining whether someone has a justifiable legal defense? Police Officers or Prosecutors? Instead they focus on race relations.

Written by: Jade Morrison

If Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by another black teenager, President Obama wouldn’t have weighed in, Al Sharpton wouldn’t be holding rallies, and the media would not be running this on television for hours. Liberals in the media like to show their good racial manners, they don’t shine a spotlight on dysfunctional behavior in some black neighborhoods, and that’s also how the civil rights establishment wants it because they don’t want to air dirty laundry in front of the whole nation.

– Berine Goldberg

Historically, a large percentage of African Americans protest revolves around racial motivated crimes. More specifically, we have seen the Black Community come together to fight against police brutality. This was most recently seen in the Sean Bell case in 2006 and Amadou Diallo in 1999. Today, once again, the Black Community had joined forces to fight against a potential racial crime committed by George Zimmerman against Trayvon Martin. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our community coming together to fight racial inequality, but it becomes an issue when we turn a blind eye to intra-racial crimes. Not once in the few last years has there been a protest against gang violence within the Black Community. Neither have there been reports of the Black Community taking a stance against the effects of drugs in our inner city schools. Many political leaders today remind us, that race related issues are not the only topics African American’s should take a stance against. We need to first help stop crimes in our own neighborhood and need to take a pledge to uplift the Black Community as a whole. At a press conference Jesse Jackson stated, “[I] would like to see the Black population turn its anger over the death of Trayvon Martin into an energy directed at voter registration, economic inequity and other issues of discrimination and racial injustice. I would hope that the movement would turn into Trayvon Martin voter-registration rallies.”

Those protesting for the arrest of George Zimmerman should be focused on the Stand Your Ground laws and how it impacts society as a whole. More specifically, whether there had been an increase in crimes rates due to these laws? Or whether Stand Your Ground laws give an excessive amount of discretion to police officers? And lastly, whether theses laws give police officers total power to determine ones innocence or guilt before making an arrest? Some argue that the Black Community predominantly protest race related crimes because the purpose of Civil Rights leaders is to protect the Black Community from the “White” majority. But whose responsibility is it to protect African American from their “own people?”

Are we as a society now promoting self help? The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) has found Zimmerman guilty based one “street law” and will award $100,000 for his “capture.” I ask, why are law student’s not analyzing whether this speech is protected by the First Amendment? And whether it should have First Amendment protection at all? This is not what the discourse is about today. We see media stations continuously interviewing the NBPP and spreading the word of their bounty. Many law students are feeding into the ideals of the general population and wearing black hoods as a symbol of Trayvon Martin. Law students should be applying the concepts they have learned in criminal law, criminal procedure and constitutional law to educate our society on the workings of our legal system.

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.

Sources:

1)         Main articlehttp://www.infowars.com/trayvon-shooting-being-sold-as-white-on-black-crime-by-media-and-bought-by-the-masses/

2)         Bernie Goldberghttp://video.foxnews.com/v/1531279830001/

3)         Jesse Jackson:  http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-25/news/os-trayvon-martin-jesse-jackson-20120325_1_hoodie-civil-rights-voter-registration

4)         Mayor Nutter’s Speak Out:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuE9E8WrEI4

5)         Black Panther party http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2012/mar/30/doj-new-black-panther-party-zimmerman-bounty-no-co/

6)         Bernie Goldberghttp://video.foxnews.com/v/1531279830001/

Ready, Aim, Fire?

Written by: Amy C. Hummler

The Ready, Aim, Fire? District of Columbia v. Heller and Communities of Color article presumes that the Supreme Court’s failure to articulate a standard of review or what constitutes a reasonable regulation of firearms will likely increase litigation on a municipality’s ability for regulating the possession and use of firearms within their own city limits. I found this article interesting as it describes that this is not just an issue about public, health, and safety but also a civil rights issue because African Americans are statistically more victimized by gun related violence than other races. There are several municipalities who have similar regulations to D.C. that prohibit firearms, and the Court’s invalidation of this ordinance will require widespread restrictions to become lenient in areas where violence is rampant. The article notes that handguns in urban areas pose distinctive dangers and African Americans usually bear the largest burden from these dangers. I agree with the authors’ main assertion that municipalities should have  broad power to enact laws regulating firearms based upon their own circumstances. These laws should be determined by local citizens, and especially by African American communities, who are affected by handgun related violence.

Link to “Ready, Aim, Fire? District of Columbia v. Heller and Communities of Color” by Michael B. de Leeuw, Dale E. Ho, Jennifer K. Kim, and Daniel S. Kotler.

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.

The Disparate Impact of the One Strike Eviction Policy

Written by:  Shloka Joshi

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou

Authors Wendy Kaplan and David Rossman, professors at Boston University’s Law School, recently examined the issue of juvenile delinquency and its effects on a family’s ability to obtain and maintain public housing in the United States.

In their article, published in the Duke Forum of Law and Social Change, they go into great detail about how the federal government’s One Strike Policy allows public housing authorities to evict families from their housing programs if their children commit any type of criminal act, regardless of its severity and without consideration of the child’s level of participation in that act. The authors argue that policies such as these create and foster many more problems than they seek to solve: Here, the government is hoping that such policies reduce and deter criminal activity among those utilizing public housing. In practice, the policy is allowing public housing authorities to displace families that first, should not be displaced, and second, are relying on this housing.

The proposed solutions to the problems raised by this type of policy are not only constructive, but also appear to be easily applied to impact change. They include changes at the political level, within the administrative agencies and housing authorities, as well as changes in the juvenile justice system to address the systemic problems created by this policy.

Link to the Article:  CALLED “OUT” AT HOME: THE ONE STRIKE EVICTION POLICY AND JUVENILE COURT

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.