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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Historical Racism Part I

Centuries of racial oppression and strife unfortunately have not been eliminated within this 21st century. Persisting cultural racism exists in many of this country’s institutional and business practices including in high-end professional occupations. There is a close proximity in time to the institution of slavery to persons living today. There is an even closer temporal proximity to the the time of “Jim Crow” or government mandated apartheid. Unfortunately, deeply ingrained cultural racial ideology, has a persisting existence in present time despite the passage of Civil Rights Statutes.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution,  passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865,  abolished slavery in the United States and provided that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Government sanctioned institution of slavery is NOT ancient history.

To many baby-boomers, such as those born in 1950, the abolition of slavery was a mere 85 years prior to their birth, or one lifetime away.  It should be realized by all how close the temporal proximity is of the ratification of the 13th Amendment in time relative to present day generations. Just one life-time back in time. Not much. Unfortunately, it will likely take many more generations for cultural mass consciousness to evolve to reach a place where a cultural change has taken place where underlying basic racist values and beliefs, whether deliberate or unconscious, no longer exist.

Apartheid in the United States has an even closer temporal proximity; apartheid was not abolished until 1964. Apartheid is closer in time to present day living generations.

Apartheid is a government law, policy, or legal system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.

To a 50-year-old person born in 1970, apartheid in this country was only abolished by law a mere six years prior to his/her birth. I can remember being a young teenager with my family driving through the South and seeing for the first time,  “Whites only” signs on restaurants, restrooms and motel signs. It was numbing; I had been taught in my schools that segregation by race was illegal. It was numbing, deeply sad and shocking to learn that this was not true, that there were laws and statutes mandating segregation by race.

Apartheid in this country was not abolished by law until 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, racial segregation continued. Voter suppression persisted and in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed to halt efforts to prevent minorities from voting. This was followed by the  Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawing racial segregation in rentals and house sales. None of these completely eliminated cultural Jim Crow era practices. US Senator Cory Booker has often recounted how his own family in 1969, after the passage of the Fair Housing Act,  was nevertheless discriminated against by realtors who tried to prevent selling a house in a white neighborhood to his black parents by contriving an elaborate story that the house had already been sold. It was only after his parents' lawyer asked a white couple to offer to purchase the house, which the realtor told them was still for sale, that the discriminatory ruse unraveled.

What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who were subjected to racial harassment and retaliation in the workplace and/or were fired. If you have experienced racism at work, or if you reported it and no action was taken, if you are thinking of resigning, or think you will be fired, or have been fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in discrimination.

If you are being subjected to workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in southern, central, western and northern NJ to meet with clients.

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