Executive Summary

This is a shadow report filed to provide additional information and analysis to supplement the US Government's Initial Report of the United States of America to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Although it documents several areas of non-compliance and makes recommendations for improvement, it is not intended to be exhaustive.

Our focus is on the persistence of white privilege, a system that accrues to whites (or European Americans) greater wealth, resources, more access and higher quality access to justice, services, capital -- virtually every form of benefits to be reaped from US society -- than other racial groups. Conversely, white privilege has resulted in impoverishment and injustice for the vast majority of those belonging to racial minorities.

White privilege is more than a set of attitudes or individual opinions. It is an overarching, comprehensive framework of policies, practices, institutions and cultural norms that undergird every aspect of US society. Too often, discussion of racial discrimination focuses solely on the effects on those who are oppressed as if there are no oppressors or beneficiaries.

In this analysis, racial minorities are cast as "problems to be solved" instead of victims of an unjust system. Yet, as 19th century African American freedom fighter Frederick Douglass put it nearly a century ago, " There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution..." The US will come into compliance with CERD provisions -- and other human rights conventions -- only when it dismantles white privilege and makes the promise of "equality and justice for all" the letter and effect of the law.

Key Findings and Recommendations

� This report found gross inequities and discrimination along racial lines in every area of investigation. Contrary to Government claims, the US Constitution does not offer adequate or clear protection, assurances or remedies for victims. A complete review and revision of US law, at every level, is required to adequately address issues of discrimination.

� The US legal standard requiring that victims of discrimination prove "intent" to discriminate as a condition of remedy is a major barrier to addressing racial inequity in general and meeting CERD obligations in particular. The US must move to making discriminatory effect the standard and develop an appropriate legal and policy framework for actualizing such a standard at every level of government.

� There is currently no central office responsible for providing oversight, coordination, and management of the CERD reporting, evaluation and implementation process. The Government should fund this work adequately and identify such an agency (preferably an NGO with expertise and competency in this arena) to undertake these responsibilities.

� The failure to undertake any assessment at the state and local levels provides an incomplete and inaccurate picture of US CERD compliance. The Government should establish a process with clear timelines and milestones for engaging state and local government in a comprehensive reporting and evaluation process for CERD and other human rights convention to which the Government is a signer.

� The Government's efforts to address hate violence are inadequate. In the US and elsewhere, ethnic and racial minorities, migrants, refugees and displaced people are increasingly victims of violence and repression by the state as well as private, sometimes quasi-government groups (sometimes known in the US as militias). Operating from a political framework of white supremacy and racism, these state agencies and private organizations are contributing to the development of a global "hate" movement. Strong measures must be developed to deal with these issues including:


Standardized reporting and data collection should be established to better track and make public the prevalence and character of these crimes. This data collection and reporting should be adequately funded and undertaken by appropriate non governmental organizations in collaboration with affected communities.

Clear laws, with clear consequences when appropriate, must be established to create disincentives for committing these crimes. Policies and prohibitions must be established to prevent state violence and repression in particular including but not limited to training, remedial hiring and personnel practices, videotaping and other forms of monitoring, civilian review, and a ban on "raids" and similar militaristic tactics.

� We understand that there is a clear difference between free speech, which many nations value, and speech with the purpose of inciting violence against individuals or groups based on their race. Such "hate speech" should not receive any legal protection as it does in the United States. The right to live free of violence and intimidation should certainly outweigh any "right" to speech that threatens the safety of others and incites violence. As such, we urge the United States to remove its RUDs concerning Article 4 of CERD and implement CERD fully.

� The current system of white privilege has its roots in the US conquest and oppression of indigenous peoples and the US role in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The inequality and injustice originating from these historic phenomena were maintained and exacerbated by government policies like Jim Crow laws, forced relocation, protective covenants, etc. The US Government must recognize its culpability as related to these issues and immediately institute comprehensive remedies and reparations that address the deep and abiding racism, repression and discrimination that result from these acts and continue to fundamentally affect and shape present contemporary social problems.