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Race Relations Reporter:

The Race Relations Reporter is a weekly electronic bulletin of news, surveys, and a chronicle of race-related incidents of discrimination, hate crimes, and hate group activity from across the United States. This bulletin is sent to subscribers each week at their personal e-mail account address. Subscriptions are $24 for 52 weekly issues. See sample, below:

THE RACE RELATIONS REPORTER
Weekly Bulletin
August 20, 2003

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NEWS OF THE WEEK

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* THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN HIGHER EDUCATION: At the conclusion of her ruling in the University of Michigan School of Law affirmative action case decided this past June, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor expressed the belief that a quarter of a century from now there should be no need for affirmative action in admissions to higher education. A new poll conducted for the American Bar Association shows that Americans tend to agree with Justice O'Connor's opinion on the long-term future of race-sensitive admissions. Some 70 percent of all respondents to the survey agree that in 25 years there should be no need for affirmative action in admissions to higher education.

The poll also found that 88 percent of all Americans believe significant progress has been made in school desegregation since the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

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* IN SOUTH CAROLINA, BLACKS ARE THE ONES USUALLY CHARGED WITH LYNCHING: In 1951, after a black man accused of murdering a white taxi driver was pulled from a local jail and lynched by a white mob, the South Carolina State Legislature passed an antilynching statute. Lynching was defined as "any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person." The antilynching law is still in force in the state, one of only four in the nation. However, almost all states now have legislation providing for increased sentencing if it can be proved that the motivation for a violent crime was racial hatred.

A recent study by the Associated Press has found that the South Carolina antilynching legislation, originally designed to limit vigilante justice against African Americans, is now used by prosecutors mainly against black defendants. The study found that although blacks make up just 30 percent of the state's population, 63 percent of all defendants charged with lynching are black. Blacks charged with lynching outnumber whites charged with lynching in 44 of the state's 46 counties. Some 271 blacks have been charged with lynching in the city of Charleston over the past five years.

In 1994 Kevin Garnett, now an All-Star in the National Basketball Association, was charged with lynching while in high school in South Carolina for a fight involving five black youths and a white teenager who suffered a broken ankle. The charges were later dropped.

Of the more than 4,000 adults charged with lynching over the past five years, only 136 people have been convicted of the charge. In most cases plea bargaining reduces the charges to assault. But of the 136 lynching convictions in the state over the past five years, two thirds have been against black defendants.

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* IOWA OFFERS ASSISTANCE TO MINORITIES LOOKING TO BUY THEIR FIRST HOME: In 2002 only 4 percent of the people who borrowed money as part of the FirstHome program of the Iowa Finance Authority were members of minority groups. The program was designed to help low- to moderate-income families finance the purchase of a home. State officials believe that many black and other minority families do not apply for assistance because they believe they will be turned down.

Now the Finance Authority in conjunction with the state's Civil Rights Commission is offering a series of seminars to educate the public about the financial opportunities associated with the FirstHome program. Consumers will be educated about the home-buying process and information will be available about obtaining low-interest loans from the state. Some of the home-purchasing plans require no downpayment and in some cases closing costs are not assessed.

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* THE PRESIDENT'S PUSH FOR BLACK VOTES MAY BE PAYING OFF: In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush received only 9 percent of the black vote. This was one of the lowest percentages of the black vote received by any Republican presidential candidate. Since assuming office, President Bush and his political operatives have concentrated on increasing his share of the black vote in his 2004 reelection bid. These efforts have included appointments of blacks to high-level positions as secretary of state, secretary of education, national security adviser, head of the FCC, and deputy attorney general. In addition, the Bush administration has increased federal support of the nation's historically black colleges and universities, moved forward on the long delayed museum of African-American history in Washington, and proposed federal funding for black religious groups that operate after-school programs for African-American youth.

These efforts seem to be paying off. A new poll conducted by Black America's Political Action Committee has found that 33 percent of all African Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president. More than one fifth of blacks surveyed said that they would vote to reelect the president.

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* BLACKS IN NEW YORK CITY FAR MORE LIKELY THAN WHITES TO HAVE WEIGHT PROBLEMS: A survey conducted by New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that large numbers of the city's residents are overweight, few eat the right foods, and very few exercise. The survey found significant racial disparities in the figures on weight. Some 64 percent of African-American residents of the city are overweight. More than one quarter of blacks in the city are classified as obese. In contrast, 47 percent of white New Yorkers are classified as overweight and 14 percent are obese.

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* THE CAPITOL'S PORTRAIT GALLERY IS NEARLY LILY-WHITE: Senator Christopher J. Dodd Jr. of Connecticut is mounting an effort to increase the racial diversity of the subjects of artwork in the collection of the U.S. Capitol. There are approximately 800 works of art in the collection. Only 21 of these paintings or sculptures include depictions of African Americans and some of these show blacks as sharecroppers. There are only six portraits of black congressional representatives. Current rules of the House and Senate make it difficult to commission paintings of black members. For example, a painting of a senator may not hang in the Senate wing of the Capitol until the senator has been out of office for at least 21 years.

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RECENT RACIAL INCIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES

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* EAGLE, COLORADO: The National Alliance, a white supremacist organization headquartered in West Virginia, admitted that it was behind the distribution of 3,000 racist fliers in Eagle, Colorado. The town is the site where NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was recently charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old white woman in his hotel room. The fliers, calling for whites not to have sex with blacks, were placed on car windshields or left on front lawns in the community. (Associated Press, 8-13-03)

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* TECUMSEH, OKLAHOMA: A black man was arrested on attempted murder charges for shooting a white man in a grocery store parking lot in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. The white man and a friend reportedly had gotten into an argument with the black man and racial slurs were used. The black man then fired four shots at the white men. One of the white men was hit in the shoulder. (Daily Oklahoman, 8-12-03)

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* GOTHENBURG, NEBRASKA: A black man was attacked on Interstate 80 three miles east of the town of Gothenburg, Nebraska. The black man's car broke down on the highway in the early morning hours. Allegedly, three white men wearing cowboy boots stopped their pickup truck, got out, and repeatedly punched the black man. They then stole $60 from his wallet. Police believe that race may have been a factor in the assault. (Associated Press, 8-12-03)

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* HANCOCK COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI: A Republican candidate for supervisor in Hancock County, Mississippi, was targeted with racial graffiti spray-painted on a billboard near his home. The graffiti called the white candidate a "nigger lover." (Biloxi Sun Herald, 8-13-03)

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* DERBY, CONNECTICUT: A white man with an association with the Ku Klux Klan, reportedly offered an undercover federal agent money to burn down a house in his Derby, Connecticut, neighborhood in order to prevent a black family from renting the home. The undercover agent recorded on tape the white man saying that he "wished he could hang a nigger until he rots."

When police went to the white man's home to make an arrest for the arson plot, they found 23 guns and several crates of ammunition. The possession of guns and ammunition violated the white man's parole. (Connecticut Post, 8-13-03)

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* MELBOURNE, FLORIDA: Supercuts, a nationwide chain of hair cutting salons based in Minneapolis, settled a federal race discrimination lawsuit brought by a regional manager in Melbourne, Florida. The manager, who was in charge of 76 stores in Florida and other southeastern states, said that he complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when he was told by the company to "balance the platform" by trimming the number of black employees. Under the settlement, $3.2 million will be paid to black employees and job applicants in the region. (The Miami Herald, 8-14-03)

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* TRACKING HATE CRIMES: For week August 10-16, the term "hate crime" appeared in the nation's major newspapers and magazines 162 times. This was up significantly from the 107 mentions of the term in the prior week.

So far this year, the term hate crime appeared in print 7,036 times. This is lower than the 7,623 mentions of hate crime from January 1 to August 16, 2002.

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To contact The Race Relations Reporter, e-mail us at RRR@jbhe.com or call (212) 399-1084.

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