Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

Washington wants to bury Native American school mascots

by Matt Rosenberg October 12th, 2012

Washington State’s non-profit public affairs TV channel TVW this week aired a segment on the continuing push by the state board of education against Native American school mascots. The board at its September 25th meeting in Walla Walla passed a resolution urging public school districts in the state who have Native American mascots and logos to reconsider their use and retire them. The resolution states that such mascots and logos can cause psychological harm to Native American students and may prevent efforts to close the academic achievement gap. Oregon passed a law last year banning Native American mascots in public schools. But part of the story in Washington is the push back. More from TVW’s “The Impact,” and host Anita Kissee.

Washington passed a similar resolution in 1993 but dozens of districts still have Native American mascots. One is Port Townsend, where the school board has appointed a special committee to investigate the appropriateness of the high school’s “Redskins” mascot, with the board to decide later this school year on whether or not to keep it. The special committee is to be named at the board’s Monday October 15 board meeting. Meeting materials will be available here.

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Seattle bill would restrict employer use of criminal histories

by Matt Rosenberg September 19th, 2012

A proposed City of Seattle bill being championed by Councilmember Bruce Harrell would restrict the right of Seattle employers to factor in to their hiring decisions a job applicant’s past arrests, convictions or pending criminal criminal charges. Under Council Bill 117583, which is scheduled for discussion today in the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee meeting chaired by Harrell, employers would be required to:


  • wait until after extending a job offer to check an applicant’s criminal history;
  • avoid refusing to hire, or avoid firing an employee because of a past criminal conviction or pending criminal charge – unless there’s a “direct relationship” between the crime and the job’s duties;
  • and assess “direct relationship” on factors including reasonable foreseeability of harm or misconduct, seriousness of past crime(s), length of time elapsed since the crime(s), and the applicant’s conduct and rehabilitation since then.

  • According to a city staff fiscal note which summarizes the bill and answers several questions about its implications, Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights would implement the legislation. This would include public education directed to employers and job applicants, and could also involve investigating and trying to settle complaints brought by job applicants against Seattle employers. The fiscal note says it’s not clear whether the bill would require additional hiring at OCR; that the agency “will need to assess their ability to continue to absorb this body of work with existing staff and resources.”

    Perp’s appeal fails, in Capitol Hill hate crime at LGBT club

    by Matt Rosenberg July 24th, 2012

    A ruling from a Washington State appeals court Monday upheld the conviction of a Seattle man for other charges related to an anti-gay hate crime for which he was also convicted, near a Capitol Hill LGBT nightclub. Muhamet M. Sumaj was convicted in 2011 of felony and malicious harassment of a female-to-male transsexual named A.M. and felony harassment of a security guard named Donald Tidd after Sumaj conveyed racially and sexually-tinged verbal abuse and death threats outside Neighbours, a club popular with LGBT patrons. King County prosecutors noted at the time that malicious harassment is the legal term used in the state’s “hate crime” law. Sumaj was sentenced by King County Judge Steven C. Gonzales in February 2011 to six months of Work Education Release, on a King County work crew. Sumaj’s attorney in early October 2011 filed an appeal with the state seeking to overturn the felony harassment convictions, arguing prosecutors failed to properly spell out in their case that he had made a “true threat,” and also asserting there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Sumaj on the second one, involving Tidd. King County filed a response and after deliberation Sumaj’s appeal was rejected July 23 by the Washington State Court of Appeals Division One.

    Washington ranks high in mixed-race households

    by Matt Rosenberg May 6th, 2012

    A newly-released focus report on U.S. households by the Census Bureau reveals Washington State is in the top fifth nationally in mixed-race households. Which ever way you slice it. Of Washington husband-wife households counted in the 2010 Census, 10.9 percent were mixed race – versus 6.9 percent nationally. That ranks eighth out of the 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The trend carried across other types of couplings in Washington households. Of unmarried, opposite-sex partner households in Washington, 19.6 percent were mixed race versus 14.2 percent nationally; the state ranked eighth of 52. For same-sex households in Washington, 18.5 percent included partners of different races, versus 14.5 percent nationally; and the state ranked 10th of 52. The report was full of other notable findings nationally, and for Washington and Seattle – regarding solo households, households with children, households headed by single women and single moms, and same-sex households.

    City will remove race-based graffiti at Seattle Parks boating facility

    by Matt Rosenberg September 29th, 2011

    Only last month, after 12 years and a $3 million public-private fundraising effort, the George Corkery Family Boating Center re-opened at the City of Seattle’s Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center at Stan Sayres Memorial Park along Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood. Our fellow Seattle Times news partner The Rainier Valley Post reported on the milestone. It’s a great, community-driven improvement to a government-owned site that’s a hub for aquatic recreation in boating-mad Seattle and a focal point every summer for the iconic hydro races of SeaFair.

    It’s now unfortunately also the site of some ugly graffiti which blames “white people” for a U.S. “terror-hate” campaign in Iraq.

    In a reference to the U.S.-led war in Iraq which began in 2003, graffiti over the men’s room urinals adjacent to the just-upgraded facility proclaims in blue magic marker, “terror-hate by White People in Iraq.”

    Told of the graffiti, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Dewey Potter said it would be removed. She stated, “hate crimes come first. We’ll take care of this as soon as possible.”

    UPDATE, 9:41 a.m.: Potter emailed to say that a work order has been sent and the department will get the graffiti “removed immediately.”

    Race-based graffiti in men's room of Seattle parks department boating facility in Mount Baker neighborhood/Matt Rosenberg