Magazine article Black Enterprise

Bush: Civil Rights and Wrongs

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Bush: Civil Rights and Wrongs

Article excerpt

Time for a pop quiz. Who recently said: "This administration is committed to action that is truly affirmative, positive action in every sense, to strike down all barriers to advancement of every kind of people"?

David Duke? George Bush? Jesse Jackson? If you selected the Connecticut Texan occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., congratulations--you've won a trip to Maine.

Last November, the president made those remarks as part of an attempt to silence critics who said that his White House staff had tried to strip and gut the 1991 Civil Rights Act he had just signed.

The act raises conservative Republican hackles. The reason: It reverses five 1980s Supreme Court rulings and allows access to jury trials and punitive damages for people discriminated against because of their sex, religion or disability (see box). The maximum compensatory and punitive damages awarded are $300,000. However, awards are determined by the number of employees and are granted only in cases of intentional discrimination. The law also extends protection to Americans at U.S. companies abroad and prohibits employers from test-norming, the altering of employment-related test scores.

"But passing laws is only 20% of the battle," says Parren J. Mitchell, chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund. "Enforcing laws is the other 80%. We would be incredibly naive, considering this administration and the climate in America, if we believe there will be wholesale compliance."

Where Does The President Really Stand?

Will George Herbert Walker Bush's true colors regarding civil rights issues be revealed in 1992 (see cover story, this issue)? After all, he is a long-time supporter of the United Negro College Fund and says publicly he supports nondiscriminatory "affirmative action. …

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