Full Text of Human Rights Record of United States in 2007

Updated: 2008-03-13 13:56

V. On Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination is a deep-rooted social illness in the United States.

Black people and other minor ethnic groups live in the bottom of the American society. According to statistics released by the US Census Bureau in August 2007, median income of black households was 31,969 US dollars in 2006, or 61 percent of that for non-Hispanic white households. Median income for Hispanic households stood at 37,781 US dollars, 72 percent of that for non-Hispanic white households. The rates of blacks and Hispanics living in poverty and without health insurance are much higher than non-Hispanic whites. Poverty rate for blacks was 24.3 percent in 2006, while that for non-Hispanic Whites was 8.2 percent. The rate for Hispanics was 20.6 percent. In 2006, the percentage of blacks without health insurance rose to 20.5 percent, from 19 percent in 2005. The number and rate of uninsured Hispanics increased to 15.3 million and 34.1 percent, respectively. The rate was 10.8 percent for whites (Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, see Census Bureau website: www.census.gov). The prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS and other diseases are higher among blacks and Hispanics than among non-Hispanic whites. According to a Washington Post report, 80.7 percent of the 3,269 HIV/AIDS cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among Blacks (Study Calls HIV in DC. A "Modern Epidemic", The Washington Post, November 26, 2007). The possibility for blacks to be infected of HIV/AIDS was seven times higher than that of whites (National Urban League: The State of Black America 2007,www.nul.org). A report issued by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank on minorities studies, indicated that white households that have reported higher social and economic status were twice that of black households, while black households that have reported lower income were twice that of white households (Washington Observer Weekly, November 30, 2006).

Ethnic minorities have been subject to racial discrimination in employment and workplace. According to the US Department of Labor, in November 2007, the unemployment rate for Black Americans was 8.4 percent, twice that of non-Hispanic whites (4.2 percent). The unemployment rate for Hispanics was 5.7 percent. The jobless rates among blacks and Hispanics were much higher than that for non-Hispanic whites (The Employment Situation: November 2007, issued by the US Department of Labor on December 7, 2007, see www.bls.gov). A poll conducted in 2007 by the Pew Research Center shows that 67 percent of black respondents believe that blacks still face discrimination when applying for a job (As Black Middle Class Rises, Underclass Falls Still Further, The Baltimore Sun, December 3, 2007). According to statistics issued by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, among the 75,768 charges it received in 2006, 27,328, or 35.9 percent of the total, were related to racial discrimination (Charges Statistics FY 1997 Through FY 2006, www.eeoc.gov/stats/charges.html). In 2007, US sports wear company Nike reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit, in which four former black employees of Nike's Chicago Niketown store filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company, on behalf of the 400 current black employees, accusing a Niketown manager of using racial slurs to refer to black workers and customers, segregating them into low-pay jobs, making unfounded accusations of theft against black workers and directing store security to watch black employees and customers (ABC News, July 31, 2007). In March 2007, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Walgreen, the largest drugstore chain in the United States, alleging widespread racial bias against thousands of black employees. The company was accused of making decisions about employee assignment and promotion based on race (CBS, http://cbs2chicago.com).

There is serious racial discrimination in the education sector of the United States. According to a media report, public schools tend to take tougher discipline sanctions on black students, and the rate of black students disciplined is much higher than that of white students. In New Jersey, African-American students are almost 60 times as likely as white students to be expelled for serious disciplinary infractions. In Minnesota, black students are suspended six times as often as whites. In Iowa, blacks make up just five percent of the total students in public schools, but account for 22 percent of those who get suspended (Chicago Tribune, September 25, 2007). On August 2, 2006, a black student at the Jena High School in Louisiana asked a school administrator if Blacks could sit under a tree that was traditionally reserved for the whites. He received a positive reply. But three white students hung nooses -- the notorious symbol of lynching in the racist south -- from the tree's branches the following day (The Associated Press, Jena, Louisiana State, September 20, 2007). According to a New York Times report on October 23, 2007, the black principal of a Brooklyn high school received a noose along with a letter containing racist words like "white power forever". A noose was also hung on the office door of a black professor in Columbia University. Macalester College, Trinity College and Whitman College all reported incidents in which students showed up at parties in racially offensive costumes. At one party in Macalester College, a student wore a blackface with a noose around his neck (The Associated Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota, February 11,2007). Nazi symbol swastika was also found on the campus of the Columbia University in 2007, apparently targeting American Jews, according to a report by the World Daily.

Racial discrimination in the US judicial system is shocking. According to the 2007 annual report on the state of black America issued by the National Urban League (NUL), African Americans (especially males) are more likely than whites to be convicted and sentenced to longer terms. Blacks are seven times more likely than whites to be incarcerated (National Urban League: The State of Black America 2007, www.nul.org). Blacks are 10 times as likely to be imprisoned for drug offences as whites, even though both groups use and sell drugs at the same rate (Study Finds Racial Divide Across US in Drug Arrests, The Washington Post, December 5, 2007). Statistics from the US Census Bureau shows that as at yearend 2006, 815 of every 100,000 blacks were behind the bars. The rate was 283 per 100,000 for Hispanics and 170 for whites. Figures released by the US Department of Justice in December 2007 shows that as at yearend 2006, there were 560,000 blacks in state and federal prisons, accounting for 37.5 percent of the total. Hispanics and Latinos totaled 308,000, accounting for 20.5 percent. Black men had an incarceration rate of 3,042 per 100,000, six times over that for the entire US population (501 per 100,000). The incarceration rate for Hispanics was 1,261 per 100,000. Nearly eight percent of black men aged 30 to 34 were incarcerated as sentenced prisoners, compared with only 1.2 percent for white men of the same age group (Prisoners in 2006, issued by the US Department of Justice on December 5, 2007, see www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). In the United States, the percentage for young people serving life sentence is quite different for groups of different colors. The rate for young blacks sentenced to life imprisonment without parole was 10 times as young whites. It was 20 times in California (Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2007).

American justice system practices double standards on blacks and whites. The Associated Press reported that in the "Jena Six" case, six black youths were arrested for beating a white classmate and five of them were indicted on charges of attempted murder, which aroused a 2,000-student protest in the town which has merely 3,000 residents (The Associated Press, Jena, Louisiana on September 20, 2007). Meanwhile, the two women teachers accused of having sex with six black male students were released on bail (The Associated Press, March 28, 2007).

In the United States, minorities are the main victims of hate and violent crimes and murders. According to a FBI report published in November 2007, there were 7,722 hate crimes in the country in 2006, up eight percent. Among them, 51.8 percent were motivated by racial bias. Hate crimes against Muslims increased 22 percent. Hate crimes against Hispanics went up 10 percent (FBI: Hate Crimes Escalate 8% in 2006, USA Today, November 20, 2007). In New York City, hate crimes increased by 20.9 percent year-on-year in 2007. Of the 512 hate crimes that occurred in Los Angeles County in 2006, 68 percent were caused by racial problems (The China Press, June 8, 2007). According to a report issued by the US Department of Justice in August 2007, Blacks account for 13 percent of the US population, but were victims in 15 percent of all nonfatal violent crimes and 49 percent of all homicides in 2005 (Black Victims of Violent Crime, http://www.ojb.usdoj.gov/bjs).

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