Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Civil Liberties does not equal Civil Rights: Case in Point Here

image of U.S. Civil Rights buttons is from here
Repeatedly I encounter people who believe that strengthening "civil liberties" will inevitably lead to "civil rights". There are several reasons why this is not the case.

The sphere of concern for Civil Liberties attorneys and law is violations of individual liberties as defined by the U.S. government. Individual rights do not translate to class-based or group rights. Civil Rights were not originally part of, understood as necessary to, or protected by the U.S. Constitution. That's why they have had to be fought for by oppressed groups in the U.S.--demographic/political groups who are not white het men.

The U.S.'s Founding Fathers were WHM with property--some of their property was thought to be and according to White Man's Laws were in the form of land, some legally was "their" slaves and "their" wives. Needless to say, white women, women of color, and men of color didn't have "civil liberties" protections white WHM wrote those protections into the Constitution for themselves.

The Founding Fathers didn't quite imagine the time when Blacks would rise up against the institution of slavery, and later against Jim Crow laws and culture, towards being recognised as fully human, as just as human, as white men. Nor did they imagine women of all colors rising up to achieve rights of full personhood relative to men. Nor did they imagine the challenge to racist heteropatriarchy that would be brought by LGBT people.

In a Civil Liberties-based society, when women were property and privacy was a right (of husbands only), then preventing men from beating women and children at home was a Civil Liberties violation of the men, not a Civil or Human Rights violation of the children and women--or, even, a Civil Liberties violation of those children and women as those people historically didn't have the right to privacy from men.

Whites remain institutionally and politically empowered and protected in ways U.S. history with its actors and its laws, made sure would not be equally extended to non-whites; similarly men hold human rights that women do not possess.

Civil Liberties offers no mechanisms or means for LGBT people and women of color, white women, and men of color to achieve equality with WHM under the law. Only Civil Rights legislation is designed to and has endeavored to accomplish legal equality among people based on matters of race, gender, and sexuality, also on the basis of age, ability, and economic class.

What follows is from here at FindLaw:

My current location: Chicago, IL

"Civil Rights" vs. "Civil Liberties"

It is important to note the difference between "civil rights" and "civil liberties." The legal area known as "civil rights" has traditionally revolved around the basic right to be free from unequal treatment based on certain protected characteristics (race, gender, disability, etc.) in settings such as employment and housing. "Civil liberties" concern basic rights and freedoms that are guaranteed -- either explicitly identified in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, or interpreted through the years by courts and lawmakers. Civil liberties include:
  • Freedom of speech
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to be free from unreasonable searches of your home
  • The right to a fair court trial
  • The right to marry
  • The right to vote
One way to consider the difference between "civil rights" and "civil liberties" is to look at 1) what right is affected, and 2) whose right is affected. For example, as an employee, you do not have the legal right to a promotion, mainly because getting a promotion is not a guaranteed "civil liberty." But, as a female employee you do have the legal right to be free from discrimination in being considered for that promotion -- you cannot legally be denied the promotion based on your gender (or race, or disability, etc.). By choosing not to promote a female worker solely because of the employee's gender, the employer has committed a civil rights violation and has engaged in unlawful employment discrimination based on sex or gender.

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What follows is from at the Blog of Rights. Please click on the title to link back.

Court Ignores America's Grim History of Racial Discrimination

It would seem, at least according to a recent federal court decision, that referring to a black man as "boy" has no racial implications whatsoever, but is merely "conversational."

As Adam Liptak reported yesterday in the New York Times, a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled that John Hithon, a black employee at Tyson foods who claims he was discriminated against because of his race, could not rely on the judicial system for relief. The case began after Hithon was passed over for promotion when two jobs as shift supervisors opened up. This was after Hithon "spent 13 tough years working his way into the lower ranks of management at a Tyson Foods chicken plant in Gadsden, Ala." He sued Tyson for racial discrimination. As evidence, he cited his manager's tendency to refer to black employees as "boy." According to the Times, the court had trouble seeing the connection between that epithet and Hithon's allegation of racial discrimination:

"The usages were conversational," the majority explained . . . and "nonracial in context." Even if "somehow construed as racial," the unsigned 2-to-1 decision went on, "the comments were ambiguous stray remarks" that were not proof of employment discrimination.

This decision came after two mostly white Alabama juries — one in 2002 and the other in 2007 — ruled in Hithon's favor. But the appeals court apparently had very little confidence in those juries' ability to understand the language of racial discrimination — it ruled that "a reasonable jury could not have found" that a white supervisor addressing a black employee as "boy" constituted evidence of discrimination.

This misguided decision highlights the pitfalls of treating the law as if it exists in a historical or cultural vacuum. Liptak points out in an earlier iteration of this case, the same appellate court rested its analysis on a shaky distinction:

"The use of 'boy' when modified by a racial classification like 'black' or 'white' is evidence of discriminatory intent," the panel said. But "the use of 'boy' alone is not evidence of discrimination."

Racial lessons are clearly hard for America to learn. This case is haunted by the legacy of the Memphis Sanitation Strike (among many historical examples). When African-American sanitation workers went on strike and held up the now-iconic "I AM A MAN" signs, it was more than a general call for equal rights; it was a specific response to the legacy of racial discrimination in the workplace. It sought to change a world in which, as described by one of the sanitation workers, "white supervisors called grown men 'boy' and sent them home without pay for the slightest infraction." The battle for workplace equality was intimately tied to the battle against routine acts of disrespect.

And yet, here we are again. This recent decision flies in the face of the work of countless civil rights activists who aimed to dismantle both the infantilization and workplace discrimination suffered by black workers. It seems that even in the era of Obama, legal institutions sometimes reveal themselves as startling ignorant of — or indifferent to — the stark history and ongoing reality of racial discrimination.

Red Nation Film Festival Award Ceremony: November 8, 2010. CALL FOR ENTRIES. Deadline is October 7th

All that follows is cross posted from Censored News. Please click on the title to link back. Thank you Brenda Norrell.

RNFF Founder Joanelle Romero and Artist Phillip M. Haozous, at Opening
Night in Santa Fe NM for Red Nation Film Festival “On the Road” the
Unveiling of “Red Nation Film Award of Excellence”

Call for Entries: Red Nation Film Festival

Contact: Christine Padilla
Red Nation Media
Phone: 818. 854. 6078
Photo: Joanelle Romero with Phillip Haozous.
2010 September 13

The Authentic Voice of American Indian Indigenous Cinema

LOS ANGELES –– Red Nation Film Festival – The Prestigious American
Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles is currently seeking film and video
entries for the 7th Annual Red Nation Film Festival.

Red Nation Film Festival is the largest and most prestigious celebration
of the American Indian motion picture art form in Los Angeles in film,
arts, music, television, radio and entertainment, and is recognized
worldwide as the best venue for marketing American Indian & Indigenous
Independent Films & Documentaries, including Native Women in Film &
Television. Red Nation Film Festival is held and part of The American
Indian Heritage Month in the city of Los Angeles, the Entertainment
Capital of the World, the largest American Indian Urban population in the
country and the second largest city in the nation.

This year 2010 - Red Nation Film Festival tapped New Mexico sculptor
artist "Phillip M. Haozous," son of the late Apache sculptor artist Allan
Houser to create and design “The Red Nation Statuette – equivalent to the
Oscar. “The Red Nation Film Award of Excellence” Statuette, will soon
become the most recognized American Indian trophy in the world.

This prestigious Red Nation Film Award will be presented the evening of
November 8, held during Red Nation Film Festival Film Awards & Tribute
Ceremony Red is Green Carpet Gala on Closing Night.

And the WINNER is ….

Previously, Red Nation Film Award winners have been announced on the
internet at Red Nation Film Festival site. This year will be the first Red
Nation Film Awards Ceremony. This ground-breaking historic event is
eagerly anticipated and the suspense of who will receive the first
American Indian Red Nation Film Award of Excellence statuettes, which is
equivalent to the Oscar,
is exciting as it builds and leads up to the night of November 8, 2010.

Films to be entered for competition should be by or about American Indian
and/or Canada First Nations people and/or International Native Indigenous
peoples produced during year 2009-2010. Entry deadline extended October 7,

The major categories for competition are: (1) Documentary Feature, (2)
Documentary Short, (3) Feature Film, (4) Live Short Subject, (5) Music
Video, (6) Animated Short Subject, (7) Environmental Feature, (9)
Environmental Short.

All entries must be accompanied by DVD screener, promotional materials,
including production credits, publicity stills, as well as a film
synopsis, not
to exceed 250 words. Entrants are responsible for all shipping costs to and
from RNFF’s Los Angeles Media Office.

A Film Jury, designated by the Red Nation Film Advisory Board, will screen
entries and issue recommendations to the final program. Films chosen will
be announced at our Red Nation Press Conference held October 2010.
Entrants will be notified of their selection to the 2010 - 7th Annual Red
Nation Film Festival.

At our film festival 2009, RNFF secured an exclusive screening with Summit
Entertainment Pop-Culture feature The Twilight Saga “New Moon.” RNFF - Red
is Green Carpet Gala, a star-studded event the New Moon’s “Wolf Pack” who
joined the audience for our Red Nation FilmLab and Red is Green Carpet.

Each entry must include: Completed entry form; film synopsis; DVD (NTSC)
screener; Signed Regulations Agreement Form; Entry Fee $20.00 (U.S.
Entry fee payable: RED NATION CELEBRATION - 9420 Reseda Blvd, Northridge,
CA 91324

Please check the RNFF website – for entry
application and regulations form.

For more information about RNFF please contact Red Nation Media Office,
Christine Padilla at (818) 854.6078 or email

Red Nation Celebration including Red Nation Film Festival (RNFF) is a
non-profit Media Arts Corporation, founded in 1995. Red Nation
Celebration is dedicated to bringing Native American content and the arts
to the mainstream media and the world by developing partnerships with
leaders of the entertainment industry and Tribal Nations.

Red Nation Film Festival is dedicated to breaking the barrier of racism by
successfully replacing American Indian stereotype with recognition, new
vision, arts, culture and economic prosperity by placing American Indian
Filmmakers at the forefront of the entertainment industry and to introduce
American Indian Filmmakers to larger, global mainstream audiences.

The Struggle for Indigenous Independence from Colonisers is On the Island of Rapa Nui: AND MORE POWER TO THOSE FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM

I first viewed this video *here* at Inteligentaindigena Novajoservo: The International Indigenist Newswire of the Aboriginal News Group.

See also this from NPR:
September 9, 2010

Listen to the Story

All Things Considered
[6 min 9 sec]
Add to Playlist

Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images
Easter Island's ancient stone statues number nearly 1,000 and stand like sentries on the dramatic landscape. The descendants of the indigenous Rapanui people who made the carvings have a dispute with Chile over land and rights.

September 9, 2010

The monumental statues of Easter Island have made the isolated island, more than 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, an international tourist destination that carries the U.N. designation as a World Heritage Site.

But the modern-day descendants of the people who made those ancient statues, the indigenous Rapanui, have a conflict with the Chilean state.

When Chile took over in the late 19th century, the Rapanui were pushed off their lands. Several thousand Rapanui still live on Easter Island, but they say outsiders now control the island, including its lucrative tourism industry.

I'm going to occupy the land that rightfully belongs to me.
- Tihi Tuki, an indiginous Rapanui clan member

One family is taking a stand.

On a breathtaking rocky point that juts out into sapphire-blue water, the Hanga Roa Hotel is a luxury eco-resort and spa — at least, it was supposed to be until the Hito clan took it over.

On a recent day, dozens of men, women and children were camped out on the lobby's couches. They evicted hotel staff, and they cook traditional Rapanui food on outdoor fires.

Santi Hitorangi, a member of the Rapanui (pronounced rap-ah-NEW-ee), said he started this chain of events by planting a garden next to the hotel, which sits on land that used to belong to his clan.

Decades ago, the property was acquired by the government, and then traded between private owners. By law, only Rapanui can own land on Easter Island. But the law is not strictly enforced.

Hitorangi said the Rapanui want to recover ownership of the entire island. When charges were pressed against Hitorangi, he went to the U.S., where he is now based.

Photo: Annie Murphy for NPR
The massive and mysterious stone statues of Easter Island.

"First and foremost is the title to the land, because there you have the right to determine local politics, to represent the Rapanui people, the Rapanui interests, culture," he said by phone from his home in Goshen, N.Y. "Bear in mind that the presence of the colonial government of Chile in Rapanui has one main purpose — to assimilate us to them."

The Rapanui are the original inhabitants of this windswept piece of grass, rock and sand. Geographically, Easter Island is part of Polynesia. It is home to nearly 1,000 mysterious statues called moai, positioned across the island like sentries amid a dramatic setting of volcanic stone cliffs above the ocean.

When Chile laid claim to the island just over a century ago, it simply corralled the Rapanui into the island's one town, the village of Hanga Roa, and leased the rest to a sheep farm. It wasn't until the 1960s that the Rapanui became Chilean citizens.

Today, the village has a steady stream of tourists, which means it has electricity and water. Many Rapanui work in tourism and live in small cement or wood houses topped by metal roofs. Some still use horses to get around and do work.

We have good intentions to dialogue and resolve this problem peacefully.
- Interim Gov. Jorge Miranda

For a tourist, Easter Island can feel like paradise — beautiful scenery, warm climate and world-class archaeological sites.

The Rapanui are fine with tourists coming to their island. It is the unchecked flow of Chileans they are upset about.

Angela Tuki is part of the clan that has taken over the Hanga Roa Hotel.

"We're tired of explaining everything to the state. Everything they do here goes badly. Especially immigration — it's not immigration, it's an invasion," she said. "Since there's no border between the island and the mainland, the state doesn't listen to us as a distinct ethnic group."

The Hito clan has taken over the one hotel, but dozens of other properties in town are being occupied by other clans with ancestral claims.

Photo: Annie Murphy for NPR
Tihi Tuki, an indigenous Rapanui, tunes his guitar at his workshop. He makes a living from woodworking, music and odd jobs on Easter Island.

The island's governor resigned because of the situation. Interim Gov. Jorge Miranda — who is from mainland Chile — said the Rapanui can't just expect the current government to solve century-old problems.

"Unfortunately it's true that there were abuses and human rights violations. But it happened in another context, under another administration. We have good intentions to dialogue and resolve this problem peacefully," he said.

But many Rapanui have lost faith in the Chilean government and don't even identify themselves as Chilean.

Tihi Tuki, a member of the clan occupying the Hanga Roa Hotel, wears fatigues as if in combat and has a topknot of rust-colored hair.

Tuki spent years collecting garbage in town and said he quit because he felt like a servant to Chile. He tattooed the word "trash" on his right hand in Rapanui, so he wouldn't forget the experience. Now he plays music, does woodworking and finds odd jobs.

Tuki lives in a shelter made of salvaged metal near Anakena Beach, an isolated cove on the north end of the island. It is also a popular spot for tourists.

"I'm the heir to this place; this has nothing to do with the Chilean government. And I'm going to occupy the land that rightfully belongs to me," Tuki said.

But the Rapanui face big challenges and constant setbacks. Police recently evicted the Hito clan from the Hanga Roa Hotel.

And the clan went right back and reoccupied it.
Copyright 2010 National Public Radio.