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Embracing  Diversity in Iowa--  ”understanding current diversity challenges & strengthening civil rights in Iowa" the views of an enforcement agency. Ralph Rosenberg- Iowa Civil Rights Commission ralph.rosenberg@iowa.gov 515 242 6537 .

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ralph rosenberg iowa civil rights commission ralph rosenberg@iowa gov 515 242 6537

Embracing  Diversity in Iowa--  ”understanding current diversity challenges & strengthening civil rights in Iowa" the views of an enforcement agency.

Ralph Rosenberg-

Iowa Civil Rights Commission ralph.rosenberg@iowa.gov

515 242 6537

slide2

Civil rights laws present a framework of legal protections of freedom and equality.

  • Our laws describe the manner in which all people should be valued and treated in our democratic society.
  • Our laws speak to the humanity in each individual and their right to be treated with respect and dignity.
understanding overcoming challenges need to ask answer where are we today

I.   What we do—who is helped or protected? II.   Why we do it—why still important?III.  How “is it going”? IV. Why not ‘ already solved’? V.  Close with: How can we leverage resources and use partnerships to strengthen civil rights?

Understanding & Overcoming Challenges- --need to ask & answer where are we today.

background icrc
Background—ICRC
  • The Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC or “the Commission”) is the state agency charged with investigating & enforcing civil rights laws. Its mission: to end discrimination.
  • Our authority is based on chapter 216 of the code and 161 of the administrative rules.
  • 45 years of working to enforce state civil rights laws
slide5
Enforce state discrimination laws.
  • Receive & resolve 2000 complaints.
  • Areas of enforcement: Employment; Housing; Public Accommodation; Credit; and Education.
  • Bases: Age; Race; National origin; Religion; Sex; Disability; Sexual orientation; Gender Identity; Retaliation; Color; Family/marital status.
  • Offer mediation for all complaints that are filed.
  • Provide education and training.
why we still have civil rights agencies why is civil rights still important in the 2010
Why we still have civil rights agencies. Why is civil rights still important in the 2010?
  • Why the necessity to “still” pay attention to civil rights?
  • Hasn’t discrimination been solved?
  • Why is ‘it’ still important; why not solved, ‘by now’?
  • Changing demographics
  • Pres. Obama
slide7

Why the continuing concern over diversity and civil rights ?The election of President Obama (including Iowa’s early endorsement)=Many Americans thinking that civil rights problems must be on the decline

why the concern continuing challenges in perception
Why the concern —continuing challenges in perception

Many Americans want to believe racial discrimination disappeared with the Jim Crow era of two drinking fountains.

why still important
Why still important
  • Challenge in being ‘satisfied’ with progress
  • Challenge in maintaining interest- given both progress on one hand-- and slow progress on the other hand.
  • Discrimination denies Iowans the chance of success that is central to American values of opportunity and prosperity.
everyone should get a shot at the american dream
Everyone should get a shot at the American dream--
  • We cannot afford not to.
  • Iowa cannot afford to lose the contributions from any member of society, including the benefits from a diverse Iowa
  • Where there are artificial barriers, we should work to remove them.
  • Economic reasons, growing national and global diversity reasons, moral reasons
reminders different realities and different frames of references
Reminders-different realities and different frames of references
  • Iowans should be treated with human dignity workplace, in school, in parks, at grocery stores,
  • Iowans should feel safe in the workplace, in school, in parks, at grocery stores, in city halls, when using public services, when buying private goods….
  • Discrimination denies hope
how is it going reality from a different set of lenses
How is it going? Reality from a different set of lenses.

During the 50-year celebrations of Brown v. Board of Education cases, Gallup and other organizations, released national opinion polls on discrimination.

Polls attempted to measure whether Americans believed the goal of eliminating discrimination had been attained, or whether significant progress had been made over the past 50 years.

Polls reflected some advancement --in terms of diversity in the workforce, the neighborhood, or one’s own family.

slide13

Median income of families with White heads of household in Iowa is twice that of families with African American heads of household;

  • Poverty rate of African Americans is more than three times that of Iowans generally; and
  • the incarceration rate of African Americans in Iowa is almost seven times higher than that of Whites
slide14

Disproportionate arrests and incarceration, or disproportionate drop out rates.

  • Housing constructed or designed that leaves out people with disabilities.
  • Hate crimes committed against racial, sexual, and cultural minorities.
  • Unemployment rates of people with disabilities several times that of the rest of the population.
slide16

Buildings are being designed and constructed in violation of the ADA.

  • Women are paid 75 cents on the dollar
  • Unemployment rate of persons with disabilities in Iowa is 15 times higher than that of persons without disabilities
  • Unemployment rate of African Americans in Iowa is still 4 times higher than that of Whites
diversity focus survey 2008 vernon research group of cedar rapids one measure of how we are doing
Diversity Focus survey 2008—Vernon Research Group of Cedar Rapids –one measure of how we are doing

Purpose

  • To understand how diversity is experienced in Linn and Johnson Counties
  • To measure differences between importance and satisfaction ratings for issues of diversity
  • To identify differences between perceived diversity by the overall community and reactions of specific diverse individuals
  • To determine factors that best predict the willingness to accept diverse populations
slide18

When asked, “What does diversity mean to you?”

• 73.5% said race or ethnicity

• Religion was second at 23%

• Disability was cited least, at 2%

And how is it going—at least in two counties.

slide19

14% of the respondents stated they were often

discriminated against and 47% said they were

sometimes discriminated against in at least one

specific situation of the 21 presented in the study

  • 41% of respondents under the age of 25 said

they experience discrimination at stores

  • 50% of all African-Americans surveyed said

they’d experienced discrimination involving law

enforcement (46% in Linn and 69% in Johnson)

importance vs performance
Importance vs. Performance

Non-Caucasians cited a large difference between the importance of certain attributes and the community’s performance on these attributes. Caucasians considered the gap to be much smaller.

  • Questions asked included:
  • Appropriate action is taken against those who don’t respect laws relating to diversity
  • Diverse populations are welcome and accepted
  • Employers advocate diversity in the workplace
  • Schools advocate diversity
selected recommendations and what can be done
Selected recommendations and‘what can be done’
  • Recommend that creating the next generation of leaders means including more people of diverse backgrounds as leaders in the mentoring, training, and development of leaders.
  • Applies to elected officials, business leaders, & volunteer leaders.
  • http://diversityfocus.wdfiles.com/local--files/diversityclimate/DIVBrochure.pdf
selections from recommendations
Selections from recommendations
  • Diversity is an organizing point to create a platform for a global economy. By educating people on global economic, technological and educational impacts of the corridor, we can stimulate additional global involvement in both the public and private sectors.
  • By celebrating the strengths of the (Cedar Rapids-Iowa City) corridor through the high rates of individuals both involved and willing to become involved in issues of diversity, we can celebrate together as well as independently.
why isn t it solved
Why isn’t ‘it’ solved --
  • 40 years of civil rights laws do not erase 300 years of history over night.
  • 150 years ago, blacks in the American South were slaves
  • 100 years ago, blacks were victims of lynchings.
    • 50 years ago blacks still effectively disenfranchised by Jim Crow.
    • Equal pay laws passed 30 years ago, but..
why isn t it solved challenges
Why isn’t it solved –challenges
  • ADA -- 50 years ago—nothing on disability;
    • 20 years ago-- ADA –
    • Need for 1/2009 amendments
    • Far from universal acceptance & ADA compliance, let alone universal design
  • NYT,talking about the Obama campaign—”welcome to the world of modern racism—where most of the open animus/hatred has been replaced by shadowy bias that is more difficult to measure, reveal, disclose.
slide25

Leveraging resources--Iowa partnerships and best practices Since the civil rights celebrations of 2004 and 2005, ICRC began the process of trying to bridge the silos by asserting the common humanity with all Iowans and acting on it. Iowa cannot afford to lose the contributions of any Iowans, morally, economically, socially, nor lose the dignity of any member of our community.

slide26

1. Partnerships with VISTA2. Partnerships with local commissions3. Partnerships with Legal Aid4. Partnerships with membership groups and the faith community 5. Partnerships with state and federal agencies 6. Partnerships with schools7. Stakeholder partnerships 8. State fair9. Volunteer attorneys

partnerships
Partnerships
  • Drake and U of I Law Schools—students doing academic internships; paid part-time work; federal work study; and volunteer programs
    • Testing
    • Research on cases
    • Preliminary screening
  • State Fair
    • Partner with state and local agencies
    • Partner with private sector
    • Partner with Society for Human Resource Management
partnering to achieve greater citizen participation convening community wide hearings
Partnering to achieve greater citizen participation Convening community-wide hearings
  • Local hearings in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, and more recently, Storm Lake, Perry, & Urbandale.
  • Listen to Iowans speak out about civil rights/diversity. We receive feedback on what society or government can and should do (or not do) to better address civil rights and diversity issues. 
  • Community Hearings solicit feedback and help identify areas of concern and provide an opportunity to receive suggestions on how Iowa can best reach its goal of being a welcoming state…of becoming a “One Iowa’.
using partnerships to help overcome challenges of misunderstanding fear and lack of knowledge
Using partnerships to help overcome challenges of misunderstanding, fear, and lack of knowledge
  • Award winning VISTA partnerships with local government, some state, nonprofit and faith communities
  • See following site for sample of VISTA projects across Iowa
  • http://www.leagueofiowahumanrights.com/vistaprojectdetails.htm
slide30

State-federal partnership–

our AmeriCorps VISTA program

  • National and local award winning programs
  • Serve as capacity builder to local human rights or civil rights organizations
  • Distribute best practices of ending discrimination & promoting diversity.
  • Translation of documents
  • Publish and distribute state and national trends and other research
changing demographics what can you do today
Changing demographics-what can you do today?
  • Diversity as an organizing point to create platform for a global economy. Vernon study
  • Start community conversations. Many of you have. Celebrate strengths of community
  • Increase number of cross cultural, cross generational events in your community. Vernon.
slide32

Take leadership roles in your community.

  • Include more people of diverse backgrounds as leaders in the mentoring, training, and development of leaders.
  • Educate on diversity, laws on diversity and impact of negligence or lack of appreciation for these laws.
  • Borrow from other Iowa communities on how they are developing more welcoming environments. Use non governmental entities. See our VISTA projects. http://www.adaiowa.webs.com/
  • http://www.leagueofiowahumanrights.com/americorpsvistaproject.htm
case examples

Case Examples

Housing-sex and family status

Housing-harassment

Employment - Sex and Retaliation

Employment - Physical and Mental Disability

Public Accommodation - Race

Employment - Sexual Orientation

Employment – Pregnancy

Employment – Religion

Education – Sex and Retaliation

Employment--Race