October 26
08:30 2017

Groups press U.S. on racial equality before
U.N. report due

To the Editor:

On this day [Oct. 23] ,70 years ago, the NAACP submitted a petition, “An Appeal to the World” edited  by W.E.B. Du Bois to the United Nations to address the denial of human rights to African-Americans in the United States.
Today, four civil and human rights organizations commemorate the 70th anniversary of this historic document and affirm their commitment to the goals of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the significance of the upcoming U.N. review of U.S. record on ending racism and racial discrimination in the United States.

The ICERD is the principal human rights treaty designed to protect individuals and groups from discrimination based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin, whether the discrimination is intentional or the result of seemingly neutral policies. After the last U.N. review in 2014, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — which monitors compliance with the treaty — issued Concluding Observations expressing concerns over prevalent racial discrimination in the United States that Du Bois first voiced in 1947.
Among other observations, the committee expressed concern over, but not limited to:
*The practice of racial profiling of and police violence against racial and ethnic minorities.
*Lack of equal access to quality education and the ongoing segregation in schools.
*The unfair and disproportionate use of discipline in schools based on race, including more frequent referral of racial and ethnic minorities to the criminal justice system.
*The ongoing weakening of the Voting Rights Act and the obstacles to the vote such as restrictive voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and felony disfranchisement laws.

The U.S. ratified the ICERD in 1994 and is obligated to uphold and promote the human rights protections detailed in the treaty, including in the areas of education, housing, criminal justice, health, voting, labor, access to justice, and more. The deadline for the Trump administration to submit its report to the U.N. CERD committee is Nov. 17.

The four groups – Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP,  American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program and U.S. Human Rights Network – urged the Trump administration to submit a comprehensive report, which thoroughly reviews both U.S. progress and setbacks in implementing the ICERD and 2014 Concluding Observations on the federal, state, and local levels.

The CERD periodic review process is the world’s answer to W.E.B. DuBois’ Appeal and the U.S. still has a long way to go to address structural discrimination and the inequities DuBois detailed in his historic appeal.

American Civil Liberties Union
New York

SeaWorld should do
better by the animals

To the Editor:

Reports that SeaWorld is cutting 350 jobs – on top of 320 last year and 311 in 2014 – shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is perplexing, though, that its executives apparently aren’t familiar with the principle of cause and effect.

If they were, they’d understand why pink slips are a foundation of the park’s broken business model: Profits are plunging because people who care about orcas, dolphins, and other animals want no part of SeaWorld. They’re staying away because SeaWorld won’t stop exploiting them.

Amy Elizabeth
PETA Foundation
Norfolk, Virginia

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