Category Archives: Inequality

Book of the month: All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?

This month’s pick, All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America is a recommendation from shani-o who writes: “In the book, Berg touches on the role racism has played in starvation of both whites and blacks in the 60s, notes the varying policies presidential administrations have enacted to fight hunger, and gives an excellent primer on food stamps and welfare reform.

He goes on to challenge the notion that individuals and organized charities are the viable solutions, and insists that government programs are the only way to give poor people the stability they need to focus on education and work, so they can eventually enter the middle class. Berg also discussed the term  ‘food insecurity’ (also known as ‘hunger’) in the U.S.”

An article on Berg in the Philadelphia Inquirer described ‘food insecurity’ as “the lack of access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life.”

Berg is the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and previously worked for the Clinton Administration where he was the Community Coordinator of Community Food Security for the USDA.

We will be discussing the book on September 15. Check out Berg’s website and read an excerpt of the book.

Happy Reading.

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: The joke’s on who?

So where do we go from here? President Obama has been portrayed as a monkey, witch doctor, various types of pimps and now The Joker. Certainly, there’s more variations on this general theme.

But I really want to know, what’s the endgame? Is this supposed to advance some principled political opposition? Or merely “to get their country back”?:

As always (and a little earlier than usual), here’s your PostBourgie-approved weekend reading material:

To separate fact from fiction in the health care debate, let Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact help you wade through the misinformation. (Blackink)

Also, you think you have health insurance? You got another thing coming, homie. (G.D.)

Nate Silver crunched some numbers to see if the Hispanicness of a state made its Republican senator more or less likely to vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The results were inconclusive. But he did find a correlation between their votes and the way they were rated by the NRA. (G.D.)

Former Bush Administration official – and super hawk – John Bolton in a nutshell: “You know, you mentioned somebody who heavens, if President Obama walked on water, he would say he couldn’t swim.” Spot on, Hillary Clinton. (Blackink)

Well gosh. This piece on RaceWire on crowding in California prisons seems almost prescient, in light of the rioting that took place over the weekend in Chino. (Shani-o)

Let’s hope this piece on the spike in heroin arrests is a fake trend story. (quadmoniker)

Black-on-black violence: Someone named Dr. James Manning for Louisiana repeatedly refers to President Obama as “Mack Daddy,” claims that he’s “destroying the fabric of the nation” and predicts that there will be bloody riots in the streets. By comparison, Manning almost makes Glenn Beck seem reasonable. (Blackink)

Twitter had a rough week. Mashable recaps. (Shani-o)

On Broadsheet, a great article about the myth of girls not liking nice guys. (Belleisa)

Houston has nearly 2 million outstanding criminal warrants (worth $340 million), although most are for minor traffic infractions. Still, it’s overwhelming the courts and law enforcement agencies. (G.D.)

A gaggle of statistics to assuage parents’ fears that the world is too dangerous a place for their children. (Blackink)

Jezebel’s Megan posts a photo essay about Congolese women and girls who have survived rape (including brutal gang rapes that leave many dead) and the efforts made to help them; there’s a photo of a psychologist at a clinic that treats 300 rape victims every month. (Shani-o)

Once again, teenage girls and young women are vanishing from the dangerous streets of Ciudad Juarez. Authorities count at least two dozen in the last year and a half. The disappearances recall the killings of hundreds of women that made this industrial Mexican border town of 1.5 million infamous a decade ago. (Blackink)

In a fascinating guest post at Feministe, Plain(s)Feminist writes about “Feminist Mothering,” a broader take on the ‘othermothering’ that goes on in black communities. (Shani-o)

With the NFL season set to kickoff again, Jay Adler gives us another reason to root against the Redskins. And I’m not talking about Daniel Snyder. Adler: “Team names, statistical records, stadium rituals are all part of the mythic regalia of an athletic Valhalla. You want to disrupt all that for – the Indians?” (Blackink)

A 13-year-old girl arrested for shoplifting in Dallas spent two weeks in an adult jail before anyone noticed. (G.D.)

Slate offers a rather puzzling essay about the rise of “no homo” and “the changing face of hip-hop homophobia.” Can’t it just be that “no homo” is hip hop’s version of “not that there’s anything wrong with that”? Apparently not. Also, Jonah Weiner briefly touches on that old boogeyman (no homo), the down-low brother. Weiner: “Saying ‘no homo’ might have started as a way for rappers to acknowledge and distance themselves from the down-low phenomenon.” Sigh. (Blackink)

Florida led the nation in attacks on the homeless for the fourth-straight year. (G.D.)

A cautionary tale about unregulated growth: Florida’s Lehigh Acres. “When the real estate bubble burst nationwide, Lehigh was decimated. Property values dropped nearly 50 percent this year, on top of a 25 percent decline a year ago. About one in three homes are in some stage of foreclosure. Town boosters put the population at 70,000 permanent residents, but a recent University of Florida study estimated 55,000. That’s less than 1 person per acre, in a space the size of Orlando.” (Blackink)

The extremely awesome Muslimah Media Watch posts a piece on Princess Moroccan Barbie, and various independent spin-offs, and whether the Muslim dolls are sign of rejecting Western norms or embracing them. (The author also hints at the fact that while these Muslim dolls come in slightly different “colors,” they all have similar features, and presumably, don’t represent Muslim women of African descent). (Shani-o)

Doubling down on its previous criticism of so-called reparative therapy, the American Psychological Association announced last week that therapists should refrain from telling gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments. (Blackink)

Given his platform and willingness to tackle substantive issues, Bob Herbert of the New York Times should probably wield more influence. Why do so many people ignore him? T.A. Frank offers this suggestion: “Poor people plus statistics equals boring—we’ve got the science to prove it.” But is he really boring? (Blackink)

Speaking of Herbert, his latest column claiming that our society is saturated with misogyny was discussed with a pro slant on Jezebel and definitive con on DoubleX (reasoning I think is shallow and poorly done). (Belleisa)

In case you hadn’t noticed, Forbes really likes lists. This one is about the best colleges in the U.S., and places West Point in the top spot. Rounding out the top five are Princeton, Cal Tech, Williams College and Harvard. (Blackink)

Fans of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger have been leaving threatening phone calls to the woman who accused him of rape. (G.D.)

More on Roethlisberger: His accuser allegedly bragged about having sex with him and also claimed that she hoped to have a “little Roethlisberger.” (Blackink)

This was sad but sorta predictable: Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton, who almost miraculously overcame a drug and alcohol addiction to reclaim his career, suffered a relapse several months ago. Hopefully, Hamilton can overcome what he says was a brief setback. (Blackink)

And finally, the most reviled of all NFL quarterbacks: Michael Vick. There’s apparently some building faux outrage about him hanging out with Young Jeezy and using the word “nigger.” I fail to see the problem, other than him possibly deepening the concerns some might have about his judgment. But those some are the sort whom would not be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt anyway. (Blackink)

Until the next time, rock on.

Taking Another Crack at Equal Pay.

Fair PayLilly Ledbetter with Barack Obama last year.

Lilly Ledbetter worked in a Goodyear plant in Alabama for nearly two decades. It wasn’t until she was near retiring that she found out that her male co-workers in the same position made more than she did — a lot more. (She earned $3,727.  Men in her position on the low end earned $4,286; on the high end, they made $5,236.) And so she sued Goodyear for discrimination.

Then things got tricky. Title VII, the federal civil rights law that forbids employment discrimination, requires that employees file charges “within one hundred and eighty days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.” In court, Goodyear essentially argued that the act of discrimination — passing Ledbetter over for a raise or promotion — happened decades ago, and so the time for her to make a stink about it had passed. The case made it to the Supreme Court, which sided with Goodyear.

It was a head-scratching decision by the Court.* While the time constraints in Title VII makes sense if the discrimination (or retaliation) is overt, what if you don’t know you’re being discriminated against until much later? (Ledbetter, for example, didn’t know she was being shorted until she received an anonymous letter telling her how much the dudes with her title were actually pulling in.)

Now it looks like Obama and the incoming Democratic Congress will introduce legislation that would relax the timeframe in discrimination suits,** as the Supreme Court decision has had far-reaching ramifications.

In the last 19 months, federal judges have cited the Ledbetter decision in more than 300 cases involving not only Title VII, but also the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Fair Housing Act; a law known as Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in schools and colleges; and even the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects prisoners’ rights.

Lower-court judges have been influenced by two particular aspects of the Ledbetter decision. The Supreme Court drew a sharp distinction between “discrete acts” of discrimination and the continuing effects of past violations. Employers, it said, do not necessarily violate the law when their recent actions have no discriminatory purpose, but perpetuate the adverse effects of pay decisions made in the past.

The Ledbetter precedent has stymied a wide range of civil rights plaintiffs.

In March 2007, Judge Paul L. Friedman of the Federal District Court here allowed employees at the Federal Aviation Administration to challenge the agency’s pay scales as biased against older workers.

A year later he reversed himself and ruled for the government, saying, “The import of Ledbetter for this case is clear.”

There’s a lot of crap from the past eight years to undo. Fixing the fallout from Ledbetter is a welcome start.

*…and another sterling example of the Bush administration’s shitty civil rights record. The EEOC actively supported Ledbetter’s case by  arguing that “each paycheck that reflects the initial discrimination is itself a discriminatory act that resets the clock on the 180-day period.” But when the Court agreed to hear the case, the Bush administration filed a brief siding with Goodyear. During the Bush administration, the Civil Rights division at Justice, long the province of career civil servants, was essentially gutted, leaving those positions to be filled with political appointees with little to no civil rights litigation experience. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the division ended up pushing “reverse racism” cases.

**An earlier version of this legislation, co-sponsored by Obama, was killed by Senate Republicans.