Affirmative Action Foes
The folks that brought California the anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 in 1996 are back again. This time, Ward Connerly and the American Civil Rights Coalition are introducing the “Racial Privacy Initiative.” The premise is that race is a private matter and therefore the government should not be allowed to collect data on it.
The initiative prohibits the state from collecting any data aggregated by race, so there would be no way to monitor how various policies impact different communities and no ability to target resources to where they are most needed. The exception to the rule however, is that “nothing in this [initiative] shall prevent law enforcement officers, while carrying out their law enforcement duties, from describing particular persons in otherwise lawful ways.” In other words, racial profiling can continue, and there won’t be any way to stop it.
As evidence of the public disdain for racial data collection, Connerly cites the “protracted outcry over the census’ focus on race.” According to Liz Guillen, legislative council for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), no such outcry exists. “The fact that so many people checked the mixed race box signifies a cry for the census to capture who I really am, not to ignore race completely,” she says.
Blacks Highest Victims of HIV and AIDS
The African American community is being devastated by HIV and AIDS, according to studies from the Center for Disease Control. In 1999, African Americans made up 37 percent of all AIDS cases in the U.S., though they were only 12 percent of the population at the time.
One in 50 African American men, and one in 160 African American women are infected with HIV. In 1999, nearly two-thirds of all women reported with AIDS were African American. African American children are 65 percent of all pediatric AIDS cases reported.
African Americans are twice as likely as Latinos, and eight times more likely than whites, to be infected with AIDS.
Australia’s Anti-Immigrant Party Gains Force
Australia’s conservative One Nation Party, known for it’s conservative ideas and anti-immigrant sentiments, won its most substantial victory in recent elections. One Nation captured 9.6 percent of the overall vote, and up to 25 percent in some areas. Most of their support came from rural areas of the country. The Party wants to abolish policies that benefit Aboriginal and multicultural affairs, and to repeal the native title legislation and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, a national policymaking and service delivery agency for indigenous people. The Party asserts that ‘the cultural, ethnic, and racial makeup of Australia must not be radically altered through immigration without the express consent of the Australian people through referenda.”
Pauline Hanson, head of One Nation, credits her party’s recent victories to their stance against “boat people,” saying, “We don’t know if they’ve got any criminal background. We don’t know exactly where they’re from, and another thing—there’s diseases that they’re bringing into Australia.”
Hate Crimes on the Rise
According to an FBI report, there were a total of 7,876 bias-related crimes in 1999. Of those, 4,295 are attributed to race bias (about 55 percent), 1,411 for religious bias, 1,317 because of sexual orientation, 829 because of ethnicity or national origin, and 19 connected to disability bias.
Of the 7,876 crimes reported, 17 were murders. Nine murders were motivated by race, three by sexual orientation, three by ethnicity or national origin, and two by religious bias. In 1998 the total number of hate crimes reported was 7,755, of which 4,321 were racially motivated crimes, eight of them murders.
The range of crimes reported includes murder, assault, intimidation, sexual assault, and arson. The crimes reported include those against an individual (83 percent in 1999), a group, a religious organization, a business or, “society.”
Charged with Welfare Fraud
More than 10,000 people have been prosecuted for welfare fraud over the past five years in California’s Alameda County—the highest numbers in the state, according to grassroots activists fighting for welfare rights in the area. At any given time, about 800 people are being unfairly charged with welfare fraud in this Bay Area county that includes the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, said activists with People United for a Better Oakland (PUEBLO). Welfare fraud cases make up 23 percent of the county’s felonies.
Confusing regulations for reporting income, lack of translation services, lost paperwork, and other bureaucratic tangles are among the system’s pitfalls that have landed many recipients, most of them women of color and mothers, in jail.
Alameda County’s Social Services Agency has so far refused to meet with PUEBLO to discuss these problems.