Obama just passed a resolution banning these racial terms from all federal laws

PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNED BILL H.R.4238 that takes these racially offensive words out of all federal laws: “negro,” “oriental,” “Indian,” “Eskimo,” among others. The bill was sponsored by Congresswoman Grace Meng who is Chinese-American and from Queens, New York. It was co-sponsored by all 51 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

In the last few years, the country’s taken down confederate flags, argued the naming of historic buildings after white supremacist leaders, and placed the first black woman on the $20 bill. This bill follows the hopeful pattern of the United States finally taking action toward making amends for its past.

Read the full article on the bill in The Root here.

Barack Obama on Affirmative Action

Keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day’s work

Apply affirmative action to poor white college applicants

A: The basic principle that should guide discussions not just on affirmative action but how we are admitting young people to college generally is, how do we make sure that we’re providing ladders of opportunity for people? Race is still a factor in our society. And I think that for universities to say, “we’re going to take into account the hardships that somebody has experienced because they’re black or Latino or women. ”

A: I think that’s something that they can take into account, but it can only be in the context of looking at the whole situation of the young person. So I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can’t be a quota system. Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

Legalized discrimination meant blacks could not amass wealth

Segregated schools were and are inferior schools. We still haven’t fixed them, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination-- where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions--meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth & income gap between blacks and whites, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.222-3 Mar 18, 2008

Fight job discrimination to give women equal footing at jobs

Remove discriminatory barriers to the right to vote

Benefited from affirmative action but overcame via merit

Still, he has clearly benefited from affirmative action. American universities impose this policy on black students with such totalitarian resolve that even blacks who don’t need the lowered standards come away stigmatized by them.

What began to separate Obama from this stigma was his editorship of the Harvard Law Review. Here was something that required genuine merit. Here was a position he had to gain through competition rather than through the suspension of competition. Obama’s fame began precisely with this achievement because it distinguished him from the general run of black students who carried the stigma of having been pulled forward by lowered standards. He was special because he was clearly more than an “affirmative action baby,” someone who could succeed without the ministrations of white guilt. Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 13-14 Dec 4, 2007

Include class-based affirmative action with race-based

But Obama is not race blind, and neither is his ideal of affirmative action, which would combine both race-based and class-based preferences. He said, “I don’t think those concepts are mutually exclusive. I think what one can say is that in our society race and class still intersect, and there are a lot of African American kids who are struggling, that even those who are in the middle class may be first generation as opposed to fifth or sixth generation college attendees, and that we all have an interest in bringing as many people together to help build this country.“ Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 65-66 Oct 30, 2007

Better enforce women’s pay equity via Equal Pay Act

Women are majority owners of more than 28% of US businesses, but head less than 4% of venture-capital-backed firms. Obama encourages investing in women-owned businesses, and reducing discrimination in lending. Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, “Resource Flyers” Aug 26, 2007

Blacks should infiltrate mainstream to affect change

“Any solution to our unemployment catastrophe must arise from us working creatively within a multicultural, interdependent economy,” Obama said. “Any African Americans who are only talking about racism as a barrier to our success are seriously misled if they don’t also come to grips with the larger economic forces that are creating economic insecurity for all workers.”

His steadfast beliefs made him less than a unifying force in Chicago’s black community. The idea of building bridges to people of all races was anathema to many old-school black leaders who still sounded a voice in Chicago’s African American community. Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.113 Aug 14, 2007

Commitment to diversity by CEOs is advisable

African-Americans vote Democratic because of issue stances

Supports affirmative action in colleges and government

    Indicate the principles you support concerning affirmative action. Should state government agencies take race and sex into account in the following sectors?
  • Q: College and university admissions? A: Yes
  • Q: Public employment A: Yes
  • Q: State contracting? A: Yes.
Source: 1998 IL State Legislative National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1998


Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP

Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP

In 1920, 14.7% of American farmers were Black. A century later, only 1.4% are — and they earn less money, receive less government support, and occupy smaller farms on average than do their white counterparts. Of the many ailments afflicting rural America in 2020, these racial disparities are some of the most enduring and under-discussed. Is that about to change?

Last month, Senator Cory Booker introduced legislation intended to support Black farmers and encourage more African Americans to enter agriculture. It envisions a new system of land grants, better oversight of government farm aid and remedies for decades of discriminatory policies. More ambitiously, it also attempts to reimagine the farm work of the future. “This can really help with farm innovation, the farming of tomorrow,” Booker told me in a phone call. “Whether it’s organic farmers, or new creative ways of growing food in this country.”

He’ll have his work cut out for him. The disparities in the U.S. agricultural economy were centuries in the making. After the Civil War, General William T. Sherman’s famous bequest, often remembered as “40 acres and a mule,” was quickly overturned by President Andrew Johnson. The Southern Homestead Act was passed in 1866 with the goal of passing land to freed slaves and others, but few of the region’s impoverished Blacks could take advantage of it.

Despite these obstacles, determined Black farmers had made considerable progress by the early 20th century. Between 1890 and 1910, the number of Black farm owners in the South nearly doubled, from 113,580 to 207,815. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the high water mark. From 1910 to 1997, Black Americans lost about 90% of their farmland. They weren’t alone, thanks to federal policies that boosted large farms (“get big or get out”), small-farm owners of all races lost land during this period. But Black farmers lost far more: Had they left agriculture at the same rate as whites, there would be at least a quarter-million more Black farmers around today.

Several factors account for the harsh toll. First, because only 23% of Black Americans have wills, their estates often become “heirs’ property,” meaning that fractional interests in their real-estate assets are passed down to multiple relatives. Over time, the ownership interests increase, and the estate becomes vulnerable to developers and speculators who can use legal loopholes to acquire it.

Another factor has been disparities in government assistance, dating back decades. In 1965, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on farm programs in which it noted, regarding the (now defunct) Farmers Home Administration: “Poor whites receive FHA assistance to acquire or expand their farms, to stock and equip them, to improve their housing or financial position. This is rarely ever the case for negroes.”

Such inequities were widespread. “Because of certain practices, like giving loans out when it was too late to get the kinds of resources you needed to harvest crops, they were ultimately cheated out of their land,” Booker said, referring to Black farmers. “It has hurt African Americans dramatically in this country.” As recently as 2019, the Government Accountability Office determined that “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” received “proportionately fewer loans and farm credit overall” than did those who were better off. It cited discrimination as one potential factor.

Booker’s Justice for Black Farmers Act offers a bold template for remediating such abuses. Among other steps, it establishes an independent Civil Rights Oversight Board at the Department of Agriculture and boosts funding for a program that assists in the resolution of property-succession issues. If enacted, both initiatives would make a real difference to Black farmers and their families.

But Booker doesn’t just want to remedy the past. He wants to ensure that African Americans play a role in farming’s future. Since 2014, locally and regionally produced food has been the fastest growing sector of U.S. agriculture. Some is organic, much is grown using sustainable methods, and almost all is marketed through channels such as farmers’ markets and community cooperatives. Thanks to the pandemic, and a growing interest in sustainable food generally, those locally focused producers are poised to make significant gains in the years ahead.

Booker’s bill could place Black farmers at the vanguard of this revolution. It authorizes the USDA to spend up to $8 billion a year acquiring land and granting it in 160-acre plots to Black farmers. (There is precedent: The 1862 Homestead Act gave away 270 million acres in 160-acre increments, mostly to white settlers.) In return, the grantees must undergo training focused on “regenerating the soil, ecosystem, and local community.” To help such small farms compete, the bill increases funding to existing programs that promote locally focused agriculture, such as farmers’ markets and the producers who supply them.

It’s an expansive vision, and one that won’t be easy to enact. Nonetheless, Booker has reasons to be optimistic. During the 2020 campaign, President-elect Joe Biden appealed directly to Black farmers, promising to address racial inequities in agriculture, and he’s likely to follow through at the USDA. Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee just elected its first-ever Black chairman, Representative David Scott, who has already expressed support for Booker’s idea.

Passing the bill would be a major victory for racial justice. It also just might herald big changes ahead for rural America. “I think there is a potential for a real food revolution to come about,” Booker told me, “and have farmers lead it.”

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

FACT SHEET: Obama Administration’s Record and the LGBT Community

“We are big and vast and diverse, a nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs, different experiences and stories, but bound by our shared ideal that no matter who you are or what you look like, how you started off, or how and who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny.” President Obama, June 26, 2015

Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have made historic strides to expand opportunities and advance equality and justice for all Americans, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Americans. From major legislative achievements to historic court victories to important policy changes, the President has fought to promote the equal rights of all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love. That commitment to leveling the playing field and ensuring equal protection under the law is the bedrock principle this nation was founded on and has guided the President’s actions in support of all Americans. And the progress the Administration has made mirrors the changing views of the American people, who recognize that fairness and justice demand equality for all, including LGBT Americans.

The Obama Administration’s record on social progress and equality includes:

Preventing Bullying and Hate Crimes against LGBT Americans

  • Overcoming years of partisan gridlock, the President worked with Congress to pass and sign into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law in October 2009, which extends the coverage of Federal hate crimes law to include attacks based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) collaborated with five other federal departments to establish a federal task force on bullying. One of the results was the creation of the website – >www.StopBullying.gov. The site includes resources and assistance for LGBT youth, including examples of community groups that offer support and options to seek counseling. As part of the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, the task force also funded a video called “It Gets Better” to address LGBT youth who have been bullied and are at risk of depression and suicide.
  • The U.S. Department of Education hosted five summits on strategies for protecting students, including LGBT students, from bullying and harassment. These events included an LGBT Youth Summit in 2011 and a meeting with transgender students in June 2015, with a sixth summit scheduled for August 2016.

Supporting LGBT Health

  • In June 2009, President Obama issued a directive on same-sex domestic partner benefits, opening the door for the State Department to extend the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service sent to serve abroad. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) also expanded federal benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees and allowed same-sex domestic partners to apply for long-term care insurance.
  • In March 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama and ensures that Americans have secure, stable, and affordable insurance. Insurance companies are no longer able to discriminate against anyone due to a pre-existing condition, and because of the law, insurers can no longer turn someone away just because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
  • The federal website, HealthCare.gov, designed to help all consumers find the health insurance best suited to their needs, makes it easy to locate health insurers that cover domestic partners.
  • The Affordable Care Act also makes it easier for people living with HIV and AIDS to obtain Medicaid and private health insurance and overcome barriers to care from qualified providers.
  • President Obama developed and released the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States in 2010, updated it through 2020, and is implementing it to address the disparities faced especially by gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities and transgender women of color.
  • The President has supported legislative efforts to ban the use of so-called “conversion therapy” against minors and released a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study condemning the practice. This report, which was developed in collaboration with the American Psychological Association and a panel of behavioral health experts, is the first federal in-depth review of conversion therapy. As SAMHSA reported, variations in sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are normal. Conversion therapy is not effective, reinforces harmful gender stereotypes, and is not an appropriate mental health treatment.
  • HHS funded the Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE) to establish the first national resource center for older LGBT individuals. This center supports communities across the country as they aim to serve the estimated 1.5 to 4 million LGBT individuals who are 60 and older. This center provides information, assistance and resources at the state and community levels.
  • HHS now requires all hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds – just about every hospital in America – to allow visitation rights for LGBT patients. The President also directed HHS to ensure that medical decision-making rights of LGBT patients are respected.

Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

  • The President signed bipartisan legislation to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on December 22, 2010, allowing gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans to serve openly in the Armed Forces without fear of being dismissed from service because of who they are and who they love, putting in motion the end of a discriminatory policy that ran counter to American values.

Ending the Legal Defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

  • In February 2011, the President and Attorney General announced that the Department of Justice would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act’s provision defining marriage as only between a man and woman, leading to the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions holding the Act unconstitutional.
  • After the United States v. Windsor decision, in which the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, the President instructed the Cabinet to review over 1,000 federal statutes and regulations to ensure the decision was implemented swiftly and smoothly by the federal government to recognize the rights of same-sex couples.
  • The Administration has long advocated for a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality for same-sex couples—a position the Supreme Court vindicated in its historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
  • In October 2015, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced proposed regulations implementing the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision for federal tax purposes to ensure all individuals would be treated equally under the law.
  • After the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergerfell v. Hodges, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began to recognize all valid same-sex marriages for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits or eligibility for Supplemental Security Income. SSA continues to work closely with the LGBT advocacy community to conduct outreach to ensure that same-sex couples are aware of how same-sex marriage affects benefits.

Protecting LGBT Americans against Discrimination

  • In July 2014, the President signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against any employee or applicant for employment “because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin,” continuing to set an example as a model employer that does right by its employees.
  • The Administration has taken unprecedented steps to protect and promote the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming Americans. These actions have included:
    • The release of joint guidance from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to provide educators with the information they requested to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination. Additionally, the Department of Education published Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices Guide for Supporting Transgender Students.
    • The issuance of guidance from the Department of Justice that concluded that the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses claims of discrimination on the basis of gender identity, including transgender status.
    • Agencies, including OPM, the State Department, SSA, and HHS, took various actions to ensure that transgender Americans were treated fairly and without discrimination in the workplace, in official documents, and in the health care system.

Taking Steps to Ensure LGBT Equality in Housing and Crime Prevention

  • In 2009, HUD commissioned the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the renting and sale of housing. The Department also launched a website to allow citizens to offer comments on housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Since then, HUD has continuously worked to address LGBT housing discrimination.
  • In January 2012 and in 2015, the President issued a final rule and subsequent guidance to ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s core housing programs and services are open to all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • HUD’s Equal Access Rule makes it clear that housing that is financed or insured by HUD must be made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. It also prohibits owners and operators of HUD-funded housing, or housing whose financing was insured by HUD, from inquiring about an applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity or denying housing on that basis. In addition, the guidance makes clear that sexual orientation and gender identity should not and cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting an FHA-insured mortgage.
  • In 2013, HUD teamed up with the True Colors Fund to give LGBT youth a safe space to be their true selves. Over the next two years, the initiative has developed and evaluated strategies to prevent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth from becoming homeless or intervene as early as possible once they do become homeless.
  • The Justice Department issued guidance stating that Federal prosecutors should enforce criminal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act in cases involving same-sex relationships.
  • In December 2015, the Department of Justice issued Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. The guidance serves two key purposes. First, it aims to examine how gender bias can undermine the response of law enforcement agencies to sexual assault and domestic violence. Second, it provides a set of basic principles that – if integrated into law enforcement agencies’ policies, trainings and practices – will help ensure that gender bias, either intentionally or unintentionally, does not undermine efforts to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.

Advancing and Protecting the Rights of LGBT Persons around the World

  • The Obama Administration continues to engage systematically with governments around the world to advance the rights of LGBT persons. The Administration’s leadership has included various public statements and resolutions at the UN.
  • President Obama has also issued a presidential memorandum that directs all Federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.
  • The Department of State continues to grow the Global Equality Fund, a multi-sector public-private partnership to advance the human rights of LGBT persons globally. Since the Fund was launched in December 2011, it has allocated over $30 million to civil society organizations in 80 countries worldwide.
  • USAID, the U.S. government agency primarily responsible for delivering international aid and assistance, launched the LGBTI Global Development Partnership and "Being LGBTI in Asia," and funded a range of LGBTI human rights programs. In 2014, USAID released its LGBT Vision for Action, a document that communicates USAID’s position on LGBTI issues to internal and external stakeholders.
  • In February 2014, USAID appointed a USAID Senior LGBT Coordinator to ensure that the promotion and protection of LGBTI rights is fully integrated into all aspects of USAID's vital work overseas.
  • In February 2015, the U.S. State Department appointed the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons to lead and coordinate U.S. diplomatic efforts to advance LGBTI rights around the globe.
  • The State Department revised its Foreign Affairs Manual to allow same-sex couples to obtain passports under the names recognized by their state through their marriages or civil unions.

Recognizing LGBT History and Contributions

  • On May 28, 2014, the Department of the Interior announced a new National Park Service theme study to identify places and events associated with the civil rights struggle of LGBT Americans and ensure that the agency is telling a complete story of America’s heritage and history. The results of the theme study are expected later this year.
  • On June 9, 2015, the Henry Gerber House in Chicago, IL was designated a National Historic Landmark. Once the residence of noted gay rights activist Henry Gerber, the home was where the nation's first chartered LGBT rights organization, the Society for Human Rights, was formed in 1924. The Henry Gerber House is one of nine LGBT sites that have been designated as a landmark or historic place during the Obama Administration.

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