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>Racism Still Seen in Restaurants


Julianne Hing

Racism’s Stinking Up New York City’s Restaurants [VIDEO]

Take a moment and think back to the last time you were at a sit-down restaurant. Who seated you? Who took your order, brought out your food? And who cleared the table and refilled your water? Do these roles tend to break down along certain race and gender lines in the restaurants you eat at?

Ever wonder why a lot of restaurant work positions are split along clearly racialized and gendered lines? Or have a hunch but no numbers to back up your suspicions? The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) released a study this week about race and gender discrimination in restaurant hiring practices.

Rinku blogged about the findings over at HuffPo:

Although there were some terrible stories of blatant racism and sexism (we’re only looking for Italian looking men today), the lead investigator Mark Bendick pointed out that most of the behavior was heavily coded and not obviously intentional. These days, people know that blatant discrimination is illegal and they take pains not to go there. But our unconscious biases persist and become deeply embedded in restaurant culture in the notion that diners want pretty servers, and pretty means white, or that diners find French accents more charming than Mexican ones.

As much as I can accept that restaurants want to control the image they’re selling with their food, decor and wait staff, I don’t buy that as an excuse to discriminate against people of color and women. AND I take particular issue with the idea that attractive equals white, and that back of the house workers are expected to be people of color. Is this really what consumers want?

Continue reading “Racism’s Stinking Up New York City’s Restaurants [VIDEO]”

Posted at 5:45 PM, Apr 02, 2009 in Permalink | Comment first

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Guest Columnist

Oakland’s Young People Respond [VIDEO]

by Nick James, Charles McDonald

This past November Oakland voters approved a measure that would increase funding to after school programs and services, overwhelmingly supporting youth of color. Unfortunately, after the election some members of the council passed a resolution to repeal the mandate of the electorate, claiming the tough economic times would be forcing the city to scale back and make sacrifices to much needed successful programming and services directed towards Oakland youth.

The interviews above were shot an Oakland City Council meeting on Measure OO. These are the stories of people living, working, and attending school in Oakland. Theses are their thoughts regarding recent tragedy that rocked a community, and their hopes and vision for the future. They are not naive to the deep rooted issues that Oaklander’s face everyday, but through their commitment to the principles of justice, equity, and democracy they learn how to heal, build, and sustain community for tomorrow’s leaders. They also demand our city officials have the will to go to any measures to ensure adequate economic investment in the development of Oakland families, children, and youth.

Nick James is Director of Special Projects for the East Bay nonprofit Youth Together. He was born, raised, and currently living in Oakland.

Charles McDonald is the Statewide Alliance Organizer for the Education and Racial Justice nonprofit, Californians for Justice. He lives in Oakland, California.

Posted at 10:58 AM, Apr 02, 2009 in Criminal Justice | education | Permalink | Comment first

>The United States of Mexico

>The United States of Mexico
By Don White
The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that could let in upwards of a hundred million illegal immigrants to become part of a guest worker/amnesty program over the next 20 years.

It’s the most unimaginative, irresponsible thing the Senate could do. The problem is that President Bush seems to support weak borders and loose immigration. Naturally, so does Florida Senator Mel Martinez, a Latino himself. A lot of Latinos voted for Bush, remember? And his brother, Jeb, is married to a beautiful Latino.

Don’t get me wrong. Latino’s have a great deal to offer America. By and large, they are an honest, hardworking, upstanding people, but we as Americans can’t afford the luxury of adding a hundred million bodies to our welfare roles.

This program will start even before we have secured our borders

Insiders estimate the number of Latin immigrants over the next 20 years to be between 60 and 90 million. These folks, all of them illegal today, will become part of the guest worker/amnesty program.

Here are the names of the Republican Senators who generally approve all “Shamnesty” bils offered: Bennett, Burr, Chambliss, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Domenici, Ensign, Graham, Gregg, Hagel, Hutchison, Isakson, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, Murkowski, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Voinovich, and Warner.

Surprisingly, none of these great orators, leaders, politicians, fast-talkers, and protectors of private enterprise and the American economy show any math competency.

For example, if any of them had an HP or even a simple calculator they could stand up and shout this bill down on simple math logic if nothing else.

Simple math proves we are in deep trouble with this bill:
We, plain and simple, can’t support all these new laborers? Get out your calculator. For example, we have more than 300 million people in America. The US Department of Labor – Bureau of labor statistics said there are about 147 million employed people in America, not including illegal immigrants. Those numbers are “hard and fast.” How are 147 million Americans going to support 90 million more workers?

And here’s another negative: These Latinos come to work for far lower wages than Americans—even teenagers—currently demand.

Still got your economic, left-side brain working? Simple economics says wages will be drastically reduced for the average American. That means fewer jobs for Americans. North Carolina used to be the world center of furniture creation. But that was before American companies discovered they could make furniture a whole lot cheaper in China and other Third World countries. Now China factories build more furniture than anywhere in the world while our factories set idle, rusting away, and the workers scramble to get something else like janitorial or lawn mowing jobs. The birth of NAFTA, you know, the free trade zone we have with Latin America, coincided with loss of thousands of average-paying jobs in America.

Big business countered, arguing what we lose will be made up. But not by those who lost the jobs—unless they retrain, which in many cases was impossible because they were good with lathes, drill presses, and fabrics, not with numbers, computer code, and economics required by Apple, Microsoft, and chip makers.

‘Outsourcing’ seems to be a hot topic today. Most Americans dislike the idea of being displaced from their job because someone in a foreign country is willing to work for far less money. The one silver lining in the debate is that it appeared that at least some jobs were safe. In other words, it is physically impossible to outsource some jobs because they must be performed in the United States. But with this new Guest Worker bill, even these jobs are not safe.

By creating a guest worker program on such a massive scale, our own government is importing the very cheap labor that has already moved millions of American jobs overseas.

Less-skilled laborers face an imminent decrease in wages (and job opportunities) that can be directly attributed to the Guest Worker program just implemented by Congress.

Even Republican business leaders now in Congress don’t realize this fact:
Wage equalization is the end extreme of complete integration of international trade. In other words, in a completely integrated world economy, the same type of job pays the exact same salary regardless of where it is performed. The net effect for Americans who lost their furniture industry jobs, for example, and had to take the lawn cutting and janitorial jobs is lower wages.

By contrast, foreign workers who took over the jobs of US workers have seen their pay increase. Given enough time, the downward pressure on US workers’ wages and the upward pressure on foreign workers’ wages will meet so that the job pays the same regardless of the country in which it is performed.

Obviously, this effect hurts millions of American workers, because of the tremendous downward pressure it puts on their wages. Unskilled labor has been forced to shoulder a disproportionate amount of wage deflation, as unskilled jobs have (so far) been easier to outsource. Up until Congress enacted the guest worker program, unskilled labor had only one protection standing in the way of a rapid decrease in wages: some jobs simply could not be outsourced because they could only be performed in the United States.

However, with the new Guest Worker program, this requirement is now gone. Poof. Ninety MILLION guest workers, the vast majority of whom are unskilled labor, will enter this country clamoring for higher paying jobs. Which jobs do you think will be their first target? You’ve got it – unskilled labor.

Who will pay for the vast educational, welfare, retirement, and medical benefits that these new workers will demand? Who will pay for the infrastructure improvements necessary to hold almost 100 million new workers in the next 20 years?

Immigrants are a vital part of our country and our history. We are all immigrants, or their sons and daughters. However, the immigration program passed by Congress is reckless and poorly thought out. It disregards the value of American life. I urge you to write your elected representatives and ask them to propose a better immigration bill—one that takes a world view.

For example, there are a lot of Finns, Danes, Swedes, Africans, Russians, English, and people from 200 other nations that would like to live in America. Why not do what Canada does? Take the cream of the crop. Write into the law preferences for people skilled in math, science, and other areas in which we are weak—those like the ones who came a hundred years ago and helped make America great. If not, if we keep up this nonsense, we’ll soon be known as the United States of Mexico.