Friday, February 26, 2010

Friend or President

Obama’s concern over his remarks & speeches came true...

It was a debate of yesterday. It is still a debate of today and would remain so even for tomorrow. And most horrifyingly, racial profiling seems not to leave President Obama either. His recent comment on Prof. Herny Gates’ (no, he has no relations with Bill Gates!) – who incidentally is also a friend of the president- arrest had resurfaced the racial profiling issue and has brought enough criticism as he called the act by Sergeant James Crowley ‘stupid’. For the uninitiated, James Crowley, who is a police academy expert on racial profiling, went to Professor Henry Louis Gates’ home near Harvard University last week to investigate a report of burglary and demanded Gates show him identification. Police say Gates at first refused and accused the officer of racism. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct. The charge was later dropped and Gates has since demanded an apology from Crowley. On this, Obama literally went overboard and commented that, ‘…the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home…”. He further said that, “…there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.” It seems that most of the ‘Whites’ of the US took this comment personally, especially those who are close to media.

However, a deep analysis would clarify why Obama isn’t wrong. America has a long deep-rooted history of discrimination. It is a land where women witnessed discrimination and were not allowed to vote till 1920 (they were allowed only after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the constitution). Blacks’ struggle for their rights is no more a new and jaw-dropping story. Going by the data of the US Department of Justice, by the midyear of 2008, 4,777 black male inmates per 100,000 black males held in state and federal prisons and local jails, compared to 727 white male inmates.

Talking about health, blacks experience disproportionate burden of health diseases, injury and death. Researches show that in 2002, non-Hispanic blacks who died from HIV were approximately 11 times as many age-adjusted years of potential life lost before age 75 years per 100,000 population as non-Hispanic whites. National Urban League’s 2006 annual report revealed that out of 5,80,000 black who are serving sentence in prison, mere 40,000 males complete a bachelor’s degree. Nearly 70% blacks in prison never completed their schooling. Likewise in a 1994 Department of Justice survey of felony, it was found that blacks were more likely to receive prison sentences than whites. As per federal death penalty data released by the Department of Justice between 1995-2000, out of those 682 defendants (for death penalty), the defendants were black in 48% of the cases, Hispanic in 29% of the cases, and white in only 20% of the cases. Following the trend, a study by Wake County, North Carolina found that African Americans had bail set 18% higher than whites charged with similar crimes.

Even in terms of earnings, researches show that in 1964, African Americans’ income was 58% of white people’s income. In 1991, African Americans’ income was just 57% of Whites’ income. Moreover, there is sheer discrimination at the top level in the US army as well. As per the recent data, while 62.7% are Whites in the US army, blacks consist of around 20%. But in the commissioned officer level, merely 12.4% Blacks are holding positions while 73% are occupied by whites. More strikingly, racism was witnessed in America more clearly during the 2008 presidential election. Obama won the support of 95% black voters. When it came to white voters, 43% voted for him while 55% voted for McCain.
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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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