WBEZ | discrimination http://www.wbez.org/tags/discrimination Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Black Youth Project 100 Calls for Reparations, Releases Policy Agenda http://www.wbez.org/news/black-youth-project-100-calls-reparations-releases-policy-agenda-114668 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/14736238518_ea1654827d_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">Two groups have called recently for reparations in response to discrimination against black Americans.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;">In its <a href="http://agendatobuildblackfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/BYP_AgendaBlackFutures_booklet_web.pdf">policy agenda</a> released Monday, the Chicago-based advocacy group Black Youth Project 100 said dismantling the lingering impacts of white supremacy &ldquo;will require creative solutions that are a mix of financial settlements, implementing policies that eliminate obstacles to wealth for Black people and transforming the popular historical narrative about Black people in America.&rdquo;</div></div></div></div><p>The model is a landmark <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/06/462114331/victims-of-chicago-police-torture-paid-reparations-decades-later">Chicago reparations package</a> for police torture survivors.</p><p>&ldquo;Closing the gender and race gap, protection for queer and trans folks, workers&rsquo; bill of rights, investing in our communities -- all of these things can be put into a reparations framework because we have to look at the root cause of all of these issues and they&rsquo;re all a product of harm that&rsquo;s been done through government and corporations that profited off of black bodies and labor,&rdquo; said Janae Bonsu, national public policy chair for BYP100.</p><p>Last week a United Nations working group on racism against blacks concluded its U.S. visit and offered <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/un-experts-address-black-racial-discrimination-us-114650">preliminary recommendation</a>s, which include urging Congress to study reparations as a way to confront a racist past and policies that still hurt black people.</p><p>BYP100 wants its agenda to be a national &ldquo;lobbying tool or a guideline to empower young black activists and organizers to create actual legislative policy or to campaign to lobby officials,&rdquo; Bonsu said.</p><p>An extension of work around the Black Lives Matter movement, the report offers several recommendations, from raising the minimum wage to addressing predatory lending.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a big misconception about this entire movement -- that we&rsquo;re just young black people who are angry and we&rsquo;re just bodies at a rally protesting with signs and we have no real concrete vision of what we want,&rdquo; Bonsu said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s just simply not true. This [report] is a testament to what we want.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. You can follow her on <a href="http://ttps://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 17:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/black-youth-project-100-calls-reparations-releases-policy-agenda-114668 Maker of Lemonheads and Red Hots settles race-discrimination lawsuit http://www.wbez.org/news/maker-lemonheads-and-red-hots-settles-race-discrimination-lawsuit-114248 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/JobsApartheid.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago-area company that makes Lemonheads, Red Hots and Jaw Busters is settling a class-action lawsuit that alleges racial discrimination.</p><p dir="ltr">Ferrara Candy Company and two temporary-staffing firms that supplied labor for its factory in Forest Park, a western suburb, have agreed to pay $1.5 million to African American workers who claim they were illegally denied the opportunity to work, federal court records show.</p><p dir="ltr">The suit, brought in 2013, accuses Forest Park-based Remedial Environmental Manpower, known as REM, and a disbanded Illinois company called Labor Power of &ldquo;complying with a discriminatory request from Ferrara to steer African American laborers away from Ferrara in favor of Latino laborers.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Under settlement terms presented to U.S. Judge John Z. Lee on December 4, Ferrara will pay $1 million, Labor Power will pay $450,000 and REM will pay $50,000. The companies, according to the deal, are not admitting wrongdoing or liability.</p><p dir="ltr">At a Tuesday hearing, Lee is scheduled to consider allowing individual workers to receive up to $7,500.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We estimate about 1,100 workers are eligible,&rdquo; plaintiffs attorney Christopher Williams said.</p><p dir="ltr">A statement from Ferrara, headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, denies all wrongdoing. &ldquo;Ferrara treats its employees and prospective employees with fairness, equality and respect,&rdquo; the statement says. &ldquo;We look forward to putting this matter behind us.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Attorneys for the staffing firms did not respond to WBEZ requests for comment.</p><p dir="ltr">Marc Bendick, a Virginia-based economist who worked for the plaintiffs, says racial discrimination in temporary staffing is widespread but hard to prove. &ldquo;These settlements tend to be fairly rare &mdash; only a couple large ones every year around the country,&rdquo; Bendick said.</p><p dir="ltr">Ferrara formed in 2012 through a merger of Minnesota-based Farley&rsquo;s and Sathers and Ferrara Pan Candy Company. Its brands include Atomic Fireballs, Black Forest, Bob&rsquo;s, Boston Baked Beans, Brach&rsquo;s, Chuckles, Jujyfruits, Now and Later, and Trolli. Ferrara is majority-owned by Catterton Partners, a private-equity firm.</p><p dir="ltr">Ferrara&rsquo;s net sales for the year ending September 30 totaled approximately $873 million, according to Moody&rsquo;s Investors Service.</p><p>Community groups decried the alleged discrimination during protests last year at both the Forest Park factory and Oakbrook Terrace headquarters.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 21 Dec 2015 18:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/maker-lemonheads-and-red-hots-settles-race-discrimination-lawsuit-114248 Some Muslim Women are Taking Self-Defense into Their Own Hands http://www.wbez.org/news/some-muslim-women-are-taking-self-defense-their-own-hands-114231 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mw14-8f0266a78194ce1c2965f59150ec37e576885748-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res460324354" previewtitle="About two-dozen Muslim women attended a recent self-defense class in New York City."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="About two-dozen Muslim women attended a recent self-defense class in New York City." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/mw14-8f0266a78194ce1c2965f59150ec37e576885748-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="About two-dozen Muslim women attended a recent self-defense class in New York City. (Courtesy of Mariana Aguilera)" /></div><div><div><p>It&#39;s not an easy time to be Muslim in the U.S. Attacks on mosques are at a record high,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/13313-mosques-targeted.html">according to the country&#39;s largest Muslim advocacy group</a>. Women wearing hijabs, or headscarves, are often singled out for harassment.</p></div></div></div><p>That has galvanized some to take their protection into their own hands.</p><p>On a recent day, some two-dozen Muslim women &mdash; nearly all of them wearing hijabs &mdash; have crowded into a studio in Midtown Manhattan. They are sparring with instructor Nicole Daniels.</p><p>One of the women smacking Daniels&#39; glove is Amirah Aulaqi. She and friend Mariana Aguilera, who is also Muslim, decided to create the class after the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif. They&#39;re concerned by the antagonism they see directed against Muslims.</p><p>&quot;We want you guys to leave this class and not feel like victims, because you&#39;re not victims,&quot; Aulaqi tells the class.</p><p>There were no men allowed in the class &mdash; and only Aguilera, one of the organizers, had a camera.</p><p>Aulaqi and Aguilera created the class for observant Muslim women. That population is particularly at risk, because their hijabs can make them stand out. There have been incidents of verbal abuse &mdash; in some cases, people have yanked at women&#39;s headscarves.</p><p>&quot;We want you to go out and say, &#39;I&#39;m a Muslim woman and nobody has the right to take my dignity or freedom within this country,&#39; &quot; Aulaqi says.</p><p>The class sold out in an hour. It drew women not just from New York City, but New Jersey and Connecticut as well.</p><p>The only students who were willing to be interviewed are longtime New Yorkers with careers.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;d never thought I&#39;d actually see myself in a self-defense course,&quot; says Fatiha Ahmed, who was born in Queens, N.Y., to Bangladeshi parents. She is a teacher and attended the class with her three sisters and two sisters-in-law.</p><p>She signed up because she has been feeling uncomfortable wearing the hijab on the subway. People looked at her before, but she says it feels different now.</p><p>&quot;Usually it&#39;s curiosity. But now it&#39;s a more hateful stare. And it&#39;s not a good feeling,&quot; Ahmed says.</p><p>She is particularly concerned about her sisters-in-law, who came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in the past few years.</p><p>&quot;They are very timid,&quot; she says. &quot;They&#39;ve had experiences where people have said hateful things toward them. They ran away, they ran home, they didn&#39;t want to go to work for a few days.&quot;</p><p><strong>RELATED:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/being-muslim-america-today-114168" target="_blank">Being Muslim in America Today</a></strong></p><p>Both of Ahmed&#39;s sisters-in-law declined to speak with NPR.</p><p>Her older sister, Sabji Ahmed, is a nurse and a classic New Yorker.</p><p>&quot;When I walk around, I don&#39;t put my head down to be the victim,&quot; she says. &quot;And if I see a couple of guys, I make sure I give them the look and say, &#39;Yes, I know you&#39;re standing there.&#39; &quot;</p><p>Sabji Ahmed says she attended the class to see if there were self-defense techniques, and not just attitude, that she could teach her three teenage daughters.</p><p>&quot;It was more for them. They couldn&#39;t make it today for other reasons,&quot; she says.</p><p>Nadia Alemare was born and raised in New York and is a single mom to an 11-year-old boy. She says she hasn&#39;t encountered much harassment, but her son has, coming home from school.</p><p>&quot;He was like, &#39;Mom, I had these kids chase me down and they kept saying I&#39;m a terrorist, go back to your country.&#39; And I was very scared for him,&quot; she says.</p><p>What concerns Alemare most is how the incident crystallized for her son that people can identify his ethnicity and that it makes him vulnerable.</p><p>&quot;He was like, &#39;Mom, do I look Arab?&#39; For him to even feel inferior just because of the way he looks, that in itself kind of bothered me,&quot; she says.</p><p>Alemare says she is going to tell her son what she learned in this all-female class. The organizers are planning to make it a regular event. It&#39;s not just about preparing the students to deal with physical attacks. It&#39;s also a way to make them feel supported at a time when it can be challenging to be an observant Muslim.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/18/460307169/some-muslim-women-are-taking-self-defense-into-their-own-hands?ft=nprml&amp;f=460307169" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 21:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-muslim-women-are-taking-self-defense-their-own-hands-114231 New protections for transgender patients are coming http://www.wbez.org/news/new-protections-transgender-patients-are-coming-113584 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/A poster from a 2013 rally in Washington, D.C. supporting equal health and livelihood of trans people..jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" id="1" src="http://www.marketplace.org/sites/default/files/styles/primary-image-766x447/public/8604815836_71ec0d624a_z.jpg?itok=afd2pRX-" style="height: 362px; width: 620px;" title="A poster from a 2013 rally in Washington, D.C. supporting equal health and livelihood of trans people. Friday marks the deadline for the Obama administration to finalize rules that will include protections for transgender patients. (flickr/Ted Eytan)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><div><div>For years, transgender adults have faced discrimination in healthcare so hostile it&rsquo;s almost laughable. Almost.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>&ldquo;A trans-woman broke her arm playing softball,&rdquo; said Mara Keisling, executive director the National Center for Transgender Equality. &ldquo;The insurance company refused to pay for it because if she hadn&rsquo;t been transgender she wouldn&rsquo;t have been playing softball. There&rsquo;s just a million stories like that.&rdquo;</p><p>The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing specific provisions of a rule under the Affordable Care Act that broadens civil rights protection.</p><p>This is the first federal law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in healthcare, which means hospitals, nursing homes, health insurers and doctors are barred from discriminating against transgender Americans&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;as well as others based on sex.</p><p>This new rule puts the entire industry on notice. It&rsquo;s now illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, just like it&rsquo;s been illegal to deny care to people based on age, religion or race.&nbsp;Friday is the deadline for the Obama Administration to finalize new rules.</p><p>HHS&rsquo;s Jocelyn Samuels said that means insurers can no longer categorically deny services. For example, take gender transition care.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If an insurer said, &#39;we will not cover any services related to gender transition, we will treat that as a denial of access to coverage&#39;&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;that is prohibited by the ACA,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Once the final rule is in place, University of Michigan Law Professor Sam Bagenstos, a former assistant attorney general for civil rights under the Obama Administration, said he can imagine scenarios where an insurer covers some services, but gender transition remains expensive.</p><p>&ldquo;It gets gray pretty quickly,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think the real question is how much is HHS going to feel willing to say in the abstract about these questions.&rdquo;</p><p>While this likely opens the doors to more lawsuits, Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality noted this gives people legal standing for the first time.</p><p>&ldquo;When they go to the doctor and the doctor says, &#39;I don&rsquo;t feel comfortable,&#39; they know they have the ability to say, &#39;I am a human being and you have to treat me. I have a legal right to get medical care,&#39;&rdquo; Keisling said.</p><p>Keisling estimates there are some 1 million transgender Americans, some of whom have stopped seeking medical care due to bad experiences in the past.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/health-care/new-protections-transgender-patients-are-coming" target="_blank"><em>via Marketplace</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 09:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-protections-transgender-patients-are-coming-113584 As temp work grows, African Americans push for their fair share http://www.wbez.org/news/temp-work-grows-african-americans-push-their-fair-share-110945 <p><p>Between his wife, children and grandchildren, there are a lot of mouths to feed in Kenny Flowers&rsquo; home. But he says it has been a decade since his last full-time job. And he lost one of his two part-time jobs a few months ago.<br /><br />&ldquo;So I&rsquo;ve been coming to MVP to pick up [work] and just get some honest money,&rdquo; says Flowers, 38, referring to Most Valuable Personnel, part of Personnel Staffing Group, a chain based in the Chicago area with operations in eight states.<br /><br />Flowers, a lifelong resident of the city&rsquo;s West Side, says he has gone at least four times this year to MVP&rsquo;s office in the Town of Cicero, a suburb bordering the city. He says he has spent hours and hours in the waiting room.<br /><br />But MVP has yet to give Flowers any work. Asked why, a company spokesman responds that Flowers &ldquo;calls the office frequently and is advised to come in the following day to be assigned out for work&rdquo; but &ldquo;does not arrive to be sent out.&rdquo;</p><p>Flowers calls that baloney and wonders whether MVP is trying to hide something he has noticed in the waiting room. &ldquo;I see more Latinos going out than I do African Americans,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />Flowers suspects that many of those Latinos are in the country illegally. He says MVP assigns them work on the belief that unauthorized immigrants are less likely to raise a stink when employers short them out of pay or put them in dangerous conditions. The staffing firm denies that allegation.<br /><br />MVP&rsquo;s Cicero location is among 933 offices of temp agencies registered to operate in Illinois. Nationwide, more than 2.9 million people were employed as temps in September, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Temp jobs, once mostly clerical, are now mainly blue-collar and constitute about 2 percent of the nation&rsquo;s employment.</p><p>Those are all record numbers, but African Americans say they are not getting a fair shot at the work. They are accusing the staffing companies of discrimination. And their claims are getting attention from temp-worker advocates, federal regulators and some Illinois lawmakers.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Few African Americans sent to bakery</span></p><p>Flowers takes me to that MVP office, part of a strip mall along the border between Cicero and Chicago. In the waiting room I see more than four dozen blue-collar workers hoping for an assignment. Some say they have been there for hours. While they wait, they are not getting paid. Nearly all are black.<br /><br />I pull out my audio-recording gear and take a few photos of Flowers on the sidewalk, where workers have spilled out from the waiting room. Within minutes a woman who helps run this MVP office comes out and commands everyone to go back inside. Everyone, that is, but Flowers and me. She tells us to leave, and we do.<br /><br />But we do not get far. As I interview Flowers on a residential sidewalk around the corner, a Cicero police car pulls up, then another. &ldquo;We have the subjects,&rdquo; one of officers tells his radio dispatcher.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/waiting%20room.jpg" style="height: 426px; width: 620px;" title="At the Cicero office of Most Valuable Personnel, dozens of black workers fill the waiting room. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to need to see IDs from both you gentlemen,&rdquo; the officer tells Flowers and me. The cop says it was MVP that called the police on us.<br /><br />After they run our driver&rsquo;s licenses for warrants, the officers leave us alone. But the whole experience signals that discrimination allegations in the staffing industry have touched a nerve.</p><p>MVP is a defendant in two class-action lawsuits in federal court. Both claim employment discrimination against African Americans. Temp-worker advocates, meanwhile, have come to the company&rsquo;s Cicero office to hand out flyers about wage theft. MVP claims the leafleting is an effort to &ldquo;coerce&rdquo; the company to settle the litigation.</p><p>But Christopher Williams, the attorney who filed the suits, says MVP has only itself to blame. &ldquo;Where there&rsquo;s a staffing agency within two miles of zip codes that have a population that&rsquo;s 97-98 percent African American, why were no African Americans &mdash; almost none &mdash; sent to work jobs at Gold Standard Baking?&rdquo;<br /><br />Gold Standard, an industrial bakery on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side, relies on MVP for labor. The two companies are co-defendants in one of the suits. The claim is that the bakery asked for immigrant temps instead of African American temps and that the staffing agency fulfilled that request.<br /><br />&ldquo;Over a four-year period, when approximately 5,000 workers were sent to Gold Standard Baking, only 85 of those were African American,&rdquo; Williams says. &ldquo;These are low-skilled jobs that people on the West Side of Chicago need to have access to.&rdquo;<br /><br />At the same time, Williams says, MVP focused its recruiting on Spanish-speaking workers, and the company sent out vans to pick them up in heavily immigrant neighborhoods such as Little Village.<br /><br />In court, MVP has countered that the reason its workforce is mostly Latino is because of the office&rsquo;s location. Nearby Chicago neighborhoods may be black, but Cicero is mostly Latino.<br /><br />&ldquo;MVP does not discriminate against African Americans,&rdquo; Elliot Richardson, an attorney for the company, tells me. &ldquo;MVP sends out the very best employees for the positions that fit what those employees can do. There are plenty of job offerings at MVP right now. They are looking for workers. Regardless of their race, we welcome people to come in and to apply.&rdquo;</p><p>Gold Standard officials, for their part, referred WBEZ questions about the suit to a lawyer. He sent a statement that denies the allegations and calls the company &ldquo;an equal opportunity employer&rdquo; that is &ldquo;proud of its diverse workforce.&rdquo;</p><p>Last week MVP brought a suit of its own. The claim, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, accuses the temp-worker advocates and their group, the nonprofit Chicago Workers&rsquo; Collaborative, of defamation.<br /><br />&ldquo;Their goal is to destroy the temporary employment agencies in the city,&rdquo; Richardson says. &ldquo;MVP does not steal its employees&rsquo; wages.&rdquo;<br /><br />The temp-worker advocates respond that they are not trying to destroy the agencies, just some of their practices, such as the alleged race-based hiring.<br /><br />Leone José Bicchieri, the collaborative&rsquo;s executive director, calls it &ldquo;sad that one of the major staffing agencies in the state of Illinois has decided to use so much time, energy, resources and money on lawyers&rdquo; instead of addressing worker grievances. Bicchieri says the defamation suit is an effort to silence workers.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Allegations hard to prove</span></p><p>If some temp agencies are discriminating, it is difficult to find out how many. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not tally complaints against staffing firms.</p><p>But a few of those EEOC complaints in recent years have led to six-figure settlements from those companies. &ldquo;There have always been staffing agencies willing to steer employees based on race and other illegal factors, and that&rsquo;s certainly ongoing,&rdquo; said Jean Kamp, a top attorney of the EEOC&rsquo;s Chicago office. &ldquo;As more people are working through staffing agencies, it&rsquo;s more of a problem.&rdquo;<br /><br />Besides filing EEOC complaints, temp workers alleging race-based hiring discrimination&nbsp;are also dragging staffing firms into federal court. In the Chicago area, Williams is representing plaintiffs in three class-action suits. The defendants include MVP, four other temp agencies and three companies that contracted with the agencies for labor.<br /><br />But alleging discrimination is easier than proving it. In court, MVP has claimed that it does not keep records on people who arrive in search of a job. That claim, contradicted by a company vice president at a July forum recorded by WBEZ, has made it difficult for the plaintiffs to gather information about the job seekers&rsquo; race.<br /><br />&ldquo;This issue is about to be resolved,&rdquo; state Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) said last week as he came out with draft legislation that would tighten up record-keeping requirements. His proposal would require staffing firms to keep a contact form on each job seeker and enable those workers to indicate their race and gender on that form. The idea is to make hiring discrimination easier to find.<br /><br />&ldquo;Hopefully we&rsquo;ll get to the bottom line in resolving this open and blatant discrimination against African Americans, [whose] unemployment rate is just as high as our Latino brothers and sisters,&rdquo; Dunkin said.</p><p>The two main trade groups representing temp firms in the state &mdash; the Staffing Services Association of Illinois and the Illinois Search and Staffing Association &mdash; both declined to comment about the discrimination allegations and Dunkin&rsquo;s proposal.<br /><br />Dunkin says he will introduce that bill this fall or winter after gathering co-sponsors.</p><p>In the meantime, Flowers is still hoping to find more income. &ldquo;Holidays are coming up and it&rsquo;s real rough on me,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be winter and the heat and gas bills are going to go up even more. I would like my kids to have a nice Christmas like everybody else.&rdquo;<br /><br />He might be eligible to file a claim under one of the class-action suits against MVP, but the company is not showing much interest in settling.<br /><br />So, Flowers says, he will keep showing up at the temp agency. Some day, he says, it might send him out to work.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/temp-work-grows-african-americans-push-their-fair-share-110945 Gay journalist battles Boy Scouts in court for 18 years http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/gay-journalist-battles-boy-scouts-court-18-years-110793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 140905 Noel Tim bh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Growing up in Berkeley, California in the 1970s, Tim Curran loved camping. When his best friend joined the Boy Scouts, Curran signed up too. He rose up through the ranks, achieving scouting&rsquo;s highest honor, Eagle Scout, during high school.</p><p>Curran, who is gay, came out when he was a teenager. His troop was supportive of him. But after his senior year, he was featured in a newspaper story with his prom date, who was also male. And the newspaper found its way into the hands of some higher-ups within the Boy Scouts, who decided to take action against Curran.</p><p>These days Curran works as a journalist with CNN, but three decades ago, he found himself in a very different position, as the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. Curran was in Chicago recently for a convention of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association, when he stopped by the StoryCorps booth with his partner, Noel Parks.</p><p>Curran was a freshman at UCLA, when he got a letter at his dorm. &ldquo;I opened it up and it was from the council executive, the head guy of the local scout council, the Mt. Diablo Council. And it said, &lsquo;Your application to attend the national jamboree is rejected. And we need to have a conversation about your future participation with scouting.&rsquo;</p><p>So I called the council executive from my dorm room and I said does this have something to do with the article in the [Oakland] Tribune? Does this have something to do with the fact that I&rsquo;m gay?&rdquo;</p><p>And he sort of hemmed and hawed and said &ldquo;Well, yes, and we can talk about it at Thanksgiving.&rdquo;</p><p>So that&rsquo;s what happened. My mother and my stepfather [and my troop leader] and I met with this council executive guy over Thanksgiving vacation and we had this lengthy conversation the gist of which was, &ldquo;Do you still espouse homosexuality?&rdquo; And I said: &ldquo;If by that are you asking whether I&rsquo;m still gay, the answer is yes.&rdquo;</p><p>And he said, &ldquo;Scouting does not believe that you have the moral qualifications to be a leader. And so we are revoking your registration in scouting, we&rsquo;re revoking your registration in your troop.&rdquo; And he said knowing that my troop knew that I was gay and was perfectly happy to have me. So that was the end of that.</p><p>I just remember shaking with anger at the injustice of it, but also sort of impotent to do anything about it. But also knowing that you&rsquo;re talking with this guy, it&rsquo;s a civilized conversation and you just have to keep cool and act like a scout would act.</p><p>And so in April of 1981, we filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America. We meaning myself and the ACLU of Southern California.<br />It was a trial with testimony, and both sides, my friends in scouting getting on the stand and me getting on the stand, and the council executive, all testifying.</p><p>And the judge at the trial ruled against us, so we appealed. And 18 years almost to the day after we filed that suit, I lost.</p><p>But I have to say that I think it&rsquo;s very much made me a better journalist.</p><p>Because unlike nearly all of the people I&rsquo;ve ever worked with in journalism, I know what it&rsquo;s like to be on the other side of the mic.<br />I volunteered for that. But it has very much informed the way that I treat others and the way that I concern myself with accuracy. Because I heard my story misreported a million times, and knew how the little details could be gotten wrong. And so I really struggled &ndash; much to the annoyance of my editors - to get those details, the nuances right, even though sometimes it takes more time to tell a story that way.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/gay-journalist-battles-boy-scouts-court-18-years-110793 Tackling the stigma of bisexuality http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/tackling-stigma-bisexuality-108978 <p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bisexual%20pride%20flag.jpg" title="(WIkipedia/Commons)" /></p><div><p dir="ltr">October is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/01/october-1-lgbt-history-month_n_4013850.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices">LGBTQ History Month</a> &ndash; a time to honor gay rights pioneers of the past and celebrate the monumental progress that has been made. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But prejudice against the &quot;B&quot; in LGBTQ, bisexuality, still holds a tremendous amount of power, as its legitimacy continues to be called into question in straight and queer communities alike.</p><p dir="ltr">People who identify as bisexual &ndash; that is, having an attraction to both genders, although not always simultaneously or equally &ndash; are often called liars, branded as promiscuous, or shamed into invisibility by those who don&#39;t understand how bisexuality could be anything more than a &quot;phase&quot; or a &quot;coverup.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://chicago.gopride.com/news/article.cfm/articleid/47341876">groundbreaking report</a> from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission has defined the bisexual &ldquo;erasure&rdquo; problem this way:</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;Bisexuals experience high rates of being ignored, discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities. Often, the entire sexual orientation is branded as invalid, immoral, or irrelevant. Despite years of activism, the needs of bisexuals still go unaddressed and their very existence is still called into question. This erasure has serious consequences on bisexuals&#39; health, economic well-being, and funding for bi organizations and programs.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Ultimately, bisexuality myths only serve to amplify stereotypes about people who don&#39;t settle at one end of the homo/hetero binary, while also perpetuating stigmas that keep &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphobia">biphobia</a>&quot; alive and well.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Myth 1: You&#39;re either gay, straight, or lying. </strong><strong>Bisexuality does not exist. </strong></p><p dir="ltr">In addition to being rude and presumptuous, this oft-used maxim is just flat out <a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/21/1134808/-I-m-not-Gay-Straight-OR-Lying">wrong</a> in dismissing all bisexual people as wolves in sheep&#39;s clothing.</p><p dir="ltr">Granted, many bisexual individuals hold a preference. For example, I identify as bisexual, and while I hold a sexual attraction to both genders, I tend to be more romantically attracted to men. This is why I choose the term &ldquo;heteroromantic bisexual.&quot; Others may prefer another descriptor under the <a href="http://bidyke.tumblr.com/post/36276376222/new-bisexual-umbrella-d-i-needed-to-make-this">bisexual umbrella</a>, or choose not to label themselves at all.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Myth 2: Bisexuality is just one stage in the coming out process for gays and lesbians.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Of course, some people do come out as bisexual before eventually coming out as gay or lesbian to their friends and family. But to stereotype all bisexuals as being in some phase of transition, or just &ldquo;experimenting&rdquo; before finally accepting themselves as exclusively gay or straight, is not only an unfair and prejudicial assumption, but a scientifically inaccurate one as well.</p><p dir="ltr">A number of studies, including those conducted by renowned sexologist Alfred Kinsey, have shown that sexuality is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation">fluid</a> and exists on a spectrum. In 1948, Kinsey&#39;s work &quot;Sexual Behavior in the Human Male&quot; found that &quot;46 percent of the male population had engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual activities, or &#39;reacted to&#39; persons of both sexes, in the course of their adult lives,&quot; which is just one example to make up the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_scale">vast middle</a> that many of us occupy, but often feel too afraid to admit even to ourselves.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Myth 3: Bisexuality is okay for women, but not for men.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This bias is deeply rooted in patriarchy, and the corresponding myth that women only pretend to be bisexual to attract men. The idea that bisexuality is more acceptable in women may also stem from the overwhelming visibility of woman-on-woman sexuality in comparison to men, especially in pornographic films, mainstream movies, and onstage at MTV award shows.</p><p dir="ltr">For example, Katy Perry&#39;s hit song &quot;I Kissed A Girl (And I Liked It)&quot; is a little racy, but hardly shocking enough to turn off a mainstream audience. However, would a man singing &ldquo;I Kissed A Boy (And I Liked It)&rdquo; in a similarly bisexual context be greeted with the same enthusiasm? &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Countless men both in and out of the public eye have proudly affirmed their bisexuality (and &quot;<a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2013/10/morrissey-im-not-gay-i-am-humansexual.html">humansexuality</a>,&quot; in Morrissey&#39;s case) over the years. Here are just a few:&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.bowiegoldenyears.com/articles/7609-playboy.html">David Bowie</a>, in a 1976 interview with Playboy:</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;It&#39;s true &ndash; I am a bisexual. But I can&#39;t deny that I&#39;ve used that fact very well. It&#39;s the best thing that ever happened to me.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/1f52wp/til_billy_joe_armstrong_came_out_as_bisexual_in/">Billie Joe Armstrong</a>, in a 1995 interview with The Advocate:</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I think I&#39;ve always been bisexual. I mean, it&#39;s something that I&#39;ve always been interested in. I think everybody kind of fantasizes about the same sex. I think people are born bisexual, and it&#39;s just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of &#39;Oh, I can&#39;t.&#39; They say it&#39;s taboo. It&#39;s ingrained in our heads that it&#39;s bad, when it&#39;s not bad at all. It&#39;s a very beautiful thing.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/clive-davis-comes-out-in-new-memoir-20130219">Clive Davis</a>, in his 2013 memoir &quot;The Soundtrack of My Life&quot;:</p><p>&quot;After my second marriage failed, I met a man who was also grounded in music. Having only had loving relationships and sexual intimacy with women, I opened myself up to the possibility that I could have that with a male, and found that I could ...You don&#39;t only have to be one thing or the other. For me, it&#39;s the person.&quot;</p><p>Finally, to all who have been ostracized, invalidated, or shamed into silence because of your sexual orientation, especially those who have been told to &quot;pick a side&quot; or &quot;you can&#39;t have it both ways,&quot; know this: you&#39;re okay just the way you are. I promise.</p></div><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/tackling-stigma-bisexuality-108978 Local Indian Catholics allege discrimination within their own church http://www.wbez.org/local-indian-catholics-allege-discrimination-within-their-own-church-108652 <p><p>A small group of Indian Catholics is petitioning the Vatican to stop what they claim are discriminatory practices in their U.S. churches. The Knanaya, a small sect estimated at 400,000 worldwide, have concentrated in the Chicago area over the last five decades. Now a rift over whether they should continue their ancient observance of endogamy, where members only marry within their ethnic group, has spilled into public view.</p><p>&ldquo;The Knanaya are essentially a 1700-year old Christian caste,&rdquo; explained Ligy Pullappally, an attorney and Knanite who lives in suburban Chicago. &ldquo;You cannot marry into a Knanaya community and become a Knanaya, you cannot convert to it, because it is a biological-based tradition.&rdquo;</p><p>Pullappally is one of a small, but growing, group of American Knanites who have filed a canonical lawsuit within the Catholic Church&rsquo;s legal system. She and the others have married outside the Knanaya church, an act that they claim has led to discriminatory treatment. In Pullappally&rsquo;s case, her husband is Protestant, and so she says her family is being denied certain rights.</p><p>&ldquo;[T]he right to conduct your wedding at that church, the right to baptize your child at that church,&rdquo; said Pullappally.</p><p>A fellow complainant, Lukose Paret, produced several letters he attempted to send to a priest at one of the two Chicago-area churches, along with receipts showing they were declined and sent back unopened. He and others say they are barred from joining church committees, their homes are shunned during Christmas caroling events, and their children are not welcome to participate in youth activities.</p><p>&ldquo;Basically the Knanaya church is walking a tightrope between maintenance of these age-old endogamous traditions, and knowledge that America is a new land where inclusivity is the rule,&rdquo; said Pullappally.</p><p>The disagreement within the church spilled onto the streets in March, however, when several hundred Knanaya rallied outside their bishop&rsquo;s house in Elmhurst. The protest was in response to a letter issued by Bishop Jacob Angadiath, who oversees the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago. Angadiath had ordered churches in the diocese to be more inclusive of mixed-Knanaya families, or families where only one spouse is a full-blooded Knanaya. Angadiath did not respond to multiple requests for interview.</p><p>&ldquo;It is totally against our principle,&rdquo; said Tomy Myalkarapuram, president of the Knanaya Catholic Congress of North America, a laypeople organization that claims 20,000 members. &ldquo;We have every right to remain as (an) ethnic group and as (an) endogamous group,&rdquo; he added.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%209.26.42%20AM.png" style="height: 224px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Parish in Maywood, IL, is one of two Knanaya churches in the greater Chicago area. The Knanaya Catholic church in the U.S. has recently reached new levels of conflict over whether to preserve their ancient tradition of endogamy." /></div><p>Myalkarapuram said endogamy is the essence of the Knanaya community, and that the larger Catholic Church should not ask the Knanaya to sacrifice a defining characteristic of their identity. In fact, since the Knanaya church was folded into the Catholic Church several centuries ago, the concept of endogamy has never sat well with Rome.</p><p>&ldquo;It sounds as if you are excluding people from the church if you have your own separate endogamous church,&rdquo; said Richard Swiderski, an anthropologist who studied Knanaya endogamy in India.</p><p>Swiderski said the Catholic Church held its nose and allowed the Knanaya in India to continue the practice, but that it did not intend for the tradition to be carried over to other countries. However, he noted that any forced change would run afoul of long-held beliefs.</p><p>&ldquo;The practice of endogamy is this very idea that (the Knanaya) represent the pure doctrine, (that) they are hereditary representatives of the pure doctrine,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The only way they could maintain that was to continue marrying only among themselves.&rdquo;</p><p>Swiderski said the Knanaya believe they descended from Middle Easterners who settled in southern India in 345 AD., making them racially distinct from other Indians. He said ever since then, they have tried to preserve their spiritual distinction, a belief that they represent a version of Christianity untainted by outside cultures, through endogamy.</p><p>The controversy may ultimately be resolved by people within the community: a younger generation of Knanites who debate whether endogamy makes sense in an American context.</p><p>In the meantime, Pullappally says the church has already lost one of its youngest members -- her son. Days before he was baptized, she explained her decision not to have it done in a Knanaya church.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s going to be baptized in a Roman Catholic Church, but not the Knanaya church,&rdquo; said Pullappally.&nbsp; &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want the occasion of something joyful, like a baptism, to be marred by hostility.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 09:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/local-indian-catholics-allege-discrimination-within-their-own-church-108652 Hospital responds to immigrant transplant protest http://www.wbez.org/news/hospital-responds-immigrant-transplant-protest-108300 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP071116021222.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago hospital says its organ transplant decisions aren&#39;t based on whether a patient is a U.S. citizen or in this country illegally.</p><p>Northwestern Memorial Hospital issued a response to protesters and hunger strikers who say local hospitals are discriminating against immigrants in this country illegally.</p><p>The hospital says all transplant decisions are based on several factors including the patient&#39;s home life, social environment and ability to pay for costly treatment.</p><p>The protesters met Monday with a Northwestern representative and say the hospital has agreed to participate in an ongoing dialogue about the issue.</p><p>They are now focusing their protest on another area hospital, Christ Advocate in Oak Lawn.</p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hospital-responds-immigrant-transplant-protest-108300 Supreme Court blocks sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-blocks-sex-discrimination-suit-against-wal-mart-88067 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-20/walmart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON -- A Supreme Court decision blocking a massive sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart may have a far-reaching effect.</p><p>It's expected to make it harder to mount large-scale bias claims against the nation's biggest companies.</p><p>The justices all agreed that the lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores on behalf of female employees cannot proceed as a class action in its current form. But the high court split 5-4 over whether the plaintiffs should get another chance to make their case.</p><p>Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court's conservative majority, said there were no common elements tying the women's complaints together.</p><p>But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court's four liberal justices, said there was more than enough uniting the claims.</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-blocks-sex-discrimination-suit-against-wal-mart-88067