Monthly Archives: May 2012
By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill, PhD
Kwamé Turé (a.k.a. Stokely Carmichael) was born on June 29, 1941 in Trinidad. He moved to New York with his parents at a young age. We must always remember Brother Kwame’s contributions to the worldwide African Liberation Movement.
On the morning of November 15, 1998 it was learned that Kwamé Turé had made his transition into eternity in Conakry, Guinea.
To be black and Italian at the same time is a new reality the Italian society is still struggling to accept.
Adoption and increase in the number of mixed marriages between Italians and Africans are gradually leading to an increase in the number of Black Italian children, the so-called Afro-Italians.
But the Italian society seems unprepared and unwilling to cater for the social and educational needs of these children.
In a recent interview, Sabrina Jacobucci, aka Flora NW, President of the Association of Afro-Italian Children, reveals the reasons that led to the foundation of the Association, the problems African children face in the country, and suggests what should be done to make the education system more responsive to the needs of mixed heritage children.
A snippet from the interview
Afro-Italians is quite a new concept in Italy. How do people react to it?
I think the very concept is disturbing to some people. Even the word Afro-Italian. I remember when I started posting on a (all-white) parents’ forum using the word Afro-Italian as a nick name, a lot of people reacted badly to my comments judging the nickname “aggressive”.
I think people in Italy are afraid of someone defining him/herself Afro and Italian at the same time because in the collective consciousness you can be Italian only if you are white. This is demonstrated also by the treatment given to the famous black Italian footballer Mario Balotelli – what racist hooligans sing is that there is no such a thing as a black Italian. Celebrating our children’s dual identities, black and Italian at the same time, has a symbolic aspect which is disruptive to some people.
From your experience, in Italy, are mixed heritage children facing different problems from those of other children?
Mixed race children often face the same issues black mono-heritage children face. No matter their skin tone, they are seen as black and therefore it is healthier and more empowering for them to identify as such, without denying their dual heritage at the same time. A racist is not going to ask them whether they are mixed-race. And yes, black and mixed race children definitely face different problems from those of white children.
What are the main problems?
Problems such as name-calling: on the first day of primary school, one of our mixed-race girls went home to her mum and asked: What does “negra” mean? A child in class told me today “Don’t sit next to me, negra!”; refusal by classmates to hold the black child’s hand at playtime in nursery (an experience that another of our black girls, aged four or five, had). In both these episodes unfortunately what emerged was the lack of action by the teacher. Teachers all too often do not have any training in multicultural education, and therefore when faced with episodes of racism or pre-racism by children, they do not know how to react and tend to minimise, even telling the victim to look the other way, or calling the victims oversensitive if they report a racist incident and expect justice. This is very serious because with racism, any action is better than no action at all. The victim should be comforted and the perpetrator reprimanded, always.
WANTED BY DOC IN KING COUNTY—
What this "white" devil did to his toddler son is one of the most disturbing crimes we’ve ever seen.
Likud MK Miri Regev, who came under fire last week after calling African migrants “a cancer” in Israeli society, apologized for the first time for her comments on Sunday, opting, however, to leave the migrants out of her apology.
Regev’s controversial comments came during a violent rally staged by residents of Tel Aviv’s south – where many African migrants live – to protest rising crime rates in the area. In the rally, the Likud MK said “the Sudanese are a cancer in our body.”
She was later criticized for inflaming the protesters, with angry demonstrators later going on to attack African passers-by and journalists, breaking into and looting shops associated with the African migrant community and shattering car windshields.
At the time, Regev condemned “any violence from any side, but I understand the rage and hurt of the residents, of the families that live there. They tell us: ‘Help us. We are being humiliated, look how we live, we are afraid to leave the house.’”
However, speaking to Israeli media outlets over the weekend and on Sunday, Regev chose to apologize for calling the Sudanese a cancer, opting however, to direct her apology to Holocaust survivors and cancer patients.
“When I compared the migrant worker phenomenon to cancer I was referring to the way the phenomenon had spread, and not anything else. If anyone took it otherwise and was consequently offended, I apologize and I surely did not intend to hurt either Holocaust survivors or cancer patients,” she said.
Regev told Maariv that she was very “attuned to the issue of the Holocaust. The memory of the Holocaust is seared deeply into my heart back from my time in high school when I prepared a paper on the subject.”
“Up until a year ago I did not set foot in Germany, and made it a point not to purchase German-made products,” the Likud MK and former army spokesperson said, adding: “When I was with an IDF delegation in Auschwitz I didn’t stop crying, and so if someone attributed a wrong interpretation of my comments or was offended by them, I apologize.”
Regev added that “she didn’t talk about people as being cancer but of an infiltration phenomenon that was spreading.”
The Likud MK also added that she was sensitive to the feelings of cancer patients, adding that she was herself involved with the care given to a boy with cancer, telling the website of Israeli daily Maariv that she understands the emotions involved with ta mention of the disease.
“When [former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin] said the settlers were a cancer, no one made any fuss. When [Peace Now head] Yariv Oppenheimer speaks of the settlements as caner, everyone is silent. When I talk about the phenomenon, I get attacked just became I’m a leader from the right-wing,” Regev added.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that his government would address the issue of African migrants in Israel, one day after a protest against them by residents of south Tel Aviv turned violent.
“The infiltrator problem must be solved, and we will solve it,” Netanyahu said on Thursday afternoon, speaking at an event in Tel Aviv.
He also refered to the construction of a fence on the Egypt-Israel border, saying, “We will complete construction of the fence within two months, and soon we will begin sending infiltrators back to their countries of origin.”
The prime minister also condemned the actions of demonstrators and Knesset members on Wednesday, when demonstrators attacked African migrants in South Tel Aviv.
“I want to make it clear that there is no place for the statements and actions that we witnessed yesterday. I say these things to the public figures and to the residents of south Tel Aviv, whose pain I understand,” he said.
In Florida’s tough economy, worker discrimination complaints abound; #2 in EEOC complaints for 3rd year
Florida‘s landed at No. 2 in EEOC complaints for three years in a row
More Americans than ever filed job discrimination claims last year. But Florida workers outpaced most of the country, registering 8,088 private sector complaints of workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation and the like with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
That number made Florida No. 2 behind only Texas — and way ahead of larger California and New York — for the sheer number of EEOC complaints filed in 2011.
What made Florida such a workers’ hell for so many, just behind Texas? It’s no coincidence that both the Lone Star and Sunshine states boast minimal worker protection laws, with employers pretty much able to fire someone at will. California, almost twice the size of Florida in population, had fewer EEOC complaints because the state has extensive worker protection laws.
Some top Tampa Bay employment lawyers confirm the volume of worker complaints are up in the wake of a historic recession.
Wolfgang Florin, an attorney with Palm Harbor‘s Florin Roebig, a law firm very active in defending employees in workplace matters, says he is not surprised to see an uptick in the number of EEOC filings with the downturn in the economy.
“Our state has a large population of both older workers and minorities, both groups obviously protected by the civil rights laws,” he says. The good news, Florin suggests, is that the large number of EEOC filings should decrease this year as people return to the workforce. The bad news, Florin says, is “the same discriminatory animus” seen so often in layoffs, termination and downsizing scenarios will now be present — and much harder to identify — in the hiring decisions around our state.
“The difference from a legal perspective is that it is much easier for employers to hide or mask discrimination in the hiring process than it is in the termination process,” he says.
There’s the rub. It would be unfortunate to cheer any decline in the overall reduction in workplace claims as the Florida economy improves if it really means discrimination is simply better disguised.
St. Petersburg labor and employment attorney Phyllis Towzey says she has seen more people filing EEOC charges or contacting lawyers after they have been terminated or suffered cutbacks in their work hours.
But she has not seen an actual uptick in viable discrimination cases. When companies lay off workers, those targeted look for reasons why they were chosen, she says. Often they believe it may have been based on age, race, disability or other protected status.
“More often, it’s simply economics,” Towzey says.
And she offers another scenario. With higher unemployment, employers may be less tolerant of workers who don’t perform up to expectations. These days, it’s much easier to fill positions with qualified (and even overqualified) individuals.
That’s one reason so many workers are putting in the extra hours and even smiling at the boss more often these days.
By almost any measure, the Tampa Bay workplace is not lacking in acrimony. This past week’s tale of Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner’s admitting he sent dozens of pornographic emails to his human resources director, then fired her, is only the latest headline. In recent months, the area courts have been awash in worker lawsuits ranging from allegations of sexual harassment (most often women working in restaurants, it seems), employee loss of freedom of speech, racial, age and ethnic discrimination, and retaliation by management.
Workplace lawsuits often are settled out of court. Frequently, those settlements are confidential. When 15 older employees were laid off at Superior Uniform in Seminole, they sued the company in 2010 for age discrimination. The suit was settled confidentially.
Other cases grab national attention. Tampa’s OSI Restaurant Partners, parent of the Outback Steakhouse restaurant chain, was ordered in 2010 to pay $19 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the EEOC alleging that company systematically stymied women from advancing to lucrative management ranks.
Florida’s landed at No. 2 in EEOC complaints for three years in a row. Let some other state rise in the ranks in 2012.