September 3, 2013
My wife and I went to see The Butler Saturday evening. There were important differences between the lives of the actual Butler, Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents, and Cecil Gaines, the butler in the film. But those differences actually got to larger truths it is worth thinking about.
In the film Cecil learns from the rape of his mother and the murder of his father what he has to do to survive in the white world. He creates a safe place for his family and is distraught when his son puts body and soul at risk in the Civil Rights Movement. That didn’t happen to Eugene Allen but it did happen to hordes of African-Americans in the South and many elsewhere. The demonstrators, trained to be peaceful and nonviolent, to take it without giving it back, were met with bombings, beatings, murders and jail. And their families were in anguish. Read the rest of this entry »
June 30, 2009
The Supreme Court has decided that New Haven could not throw out the firemen’s exam because no African-American and only two Hispanic-American test takers passed the test. According to the Court it wasn’t discriminatory because the test wasn’t intended to be discriminatory.
Unfortunately it is easy to whitewash real discrimination by saying “he didn’t mean it” – a formula we all learned as kids. Read the rest of this entry »
June 23, 2009
Judge Sotomayor’s resignation from a women’s club is the result of the typical conservative failure either to understand or support the fight against discrimination. Saying that women or blacks cannot get together to support each other because we have insisted that whites and men admit women and blacks is like saying that with the score 89-0 we’ll all play fair from now on. Read the rest of this entry »
May 5, 2009
For broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, May 5, 2009:
There are two cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that will probably change American civil rights law radically. Four members of the Court have never been friends of civil rights law and have just been waiting for a chance to kill it. A fifth professes concern but has rarely supported it. It’s hard to tell how much of a difference whatever the Court decides will make at this point. But it is not a group of people I trust for a realistic assessment of our anti-discrimination laws. Read the rest of this entry »