Friday, October 16, 2009

Fair treatment under the law

NPR recently aired a story on Hispanic farmers' fight against the USDA, and it really made an impact on me. I was shocked and dismayed to hear that they are being denied the same treatment that African American farmers received:

Soon after President Reagan took office in the early 1980s, the USDA's civil rights division was quietly dismantled. Nevertheless, the agency continued to
tell farmers that if they felt they weren't getting loans because of their color
or gender, they should file a complaint.

But for the next 14 years, those complaints were put into an empty government office and never investigated. By the 1990s, black farmers filed a lawsuit — Pigford v. Glickman. Because the USDA failed to investigate years of discrimination complaints, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman certified the black farmers' case as a class action. And with that ruling, rather than risk a trial, the federal government Settled with 15,000 black farmers for $1 billion.

It looks to me as if Hispanics are still being treated as second-class citizens, despite this being 2009 and the civil rights movement having triumphed to a large extent in the area of discrimiation against non-whites in the USA.

You can read more and listen to the story here.

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