U.N.: U.S. Racial Discrimination Must Be Remedied

 The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, and just issued some of its Concluding Observations.   Not long ago, I wrote about Canada skipping the UN conference on racism due to antisemitism.

Yet, despite this  criticism the UN Committee is issuing some charges that should be addressed.   In one of their more scathing conclusions, they charge the U.S. to do more to remedy the effects of racial discrimination in housing, particularly following Hurricane Katrina.  The Committee criticized the discriminatory violations of housing rights of African Americans following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The UN report comes on the heels of a call from two UN experts on housing and minority rights two weeks ago for an immediate halt to the demolitions of public housing in New Orleans.  Many community members argue that these demolitions, along with other reconstruction policies, are preventing African Americans from returning to the city. The UN Committee calls for adequate, affordable housing in Katrina-affected areas, and also for the remedying of housing conditions in racially segregated areas across the country.

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), which coordinated a report signed by more than 60 organizations to the Committee detailing the systemic discrimination against racial minorities in equal access to adequate housing, welcomed the Observations:

“Racial discrimination, both overt and subtle, is alive and well in America today. Viewed against international standards — which consider impact, not just intent — the extent of continuing racial discrimination is staggering. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, which also disproportionately impacts minority families, is exacerbating the problem.”

You can download the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations here.

SPLC.org Report: Hate Groups Up

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released their annual report, The Year in Hate. According to the report, the number of hate groups operating in America has increased by 48 percent since 2000, an increase SPLC calls “staggering” and attributes mainly to the “anti-immigrant fervor sweeping the country.”  The number of hate groups is 888 last year, up 5 percent from the 844 groups in 2006 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000.  The states with the largest greatest growth in hate groups were California, Arizona and Texas, which had jumps of 27 percent, 70 percent, and 22 percent, respectively.  The report features a U.S. map showing the locations of the groups.   In keeping with previous reports, the SPLC has a rather expansive definition of a “hate group” so the  map includes neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen, black separatists, groups that target gays or immigrants, and some tha tspecialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust.    SPLC President Richard Cohen and Editor of SPLC’s Intelligence Report Mark Potok will host a live webcast about the report on March 26, 2pm, EST.   You can register to listen to the webcast here.