Racism Rampant, Group Says


A coalition of civil rights groups is urging President Clinton to host a White House summit on race to address racism and discrimination in the federal government.

Leaders of groups representing black employees in the federal government joined Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., at the Brookings Institution earlier this month to protest discriminatory hiring and employment practices that the groups say are rampant in federal agencies.

"The government has declared itself a leader in the area of equal opportunity, but African American employees are concentrated in lower levels of government employ," said Oscar Eason, Jr., president of Blacks in Government, which represents African American employees in federal, state and local governments. Eason said Blacks in Government will work with Congress and the administration to "overhaul employment and hiring practices that systematically discriminate against African Americans and other minorities."

Wynn called for "massive congressional hearings" to scrutinize agencies' relationships with their black employees.

The Congressional Black Caucus met with Clinton Wednesday to discuss solutions to racial inequities in America. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Clinton suggested that "we may elevate this to a White House conference," CongressDaily reported.

President Clinton will issue a statement on race issues in the federal government on June 14, a source said. Blacks in Government and other civil rights groups are asking the White House to convene a conference to in part look at ways to improve the work environment for African American federal employees.

African Americans are better represented in the federal workforce than any other minority group, according to Office of Personnel Management statistics. In the private sector blacks comprise 10.7 percent of the workforce. In the federal government, blacks make up about 17 percent.

However, according to a Blacks in Government fact sheet, African Americans are terminated at three times the rate of whites in the federal government. While African Americans were 16.9 percent of the federal workforce in 1996, they accounted for 25 percent of layoffs. The average civil service rank for whites is 9.8; the average for blacks is 7.8.

Eason said equal employment opportunity offices in agencies do not protect individuals who file complaints.

"The EEO office is a pawn of management," Eason said, arguing such offices are more concerned with defending agencies against discrimination claims than helping workers who have been discriminated against.

Eason also criticized the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying it is "no longer a positive factor" in improving opportunities for blacks in the civil service. Blacks in Government will recommend that an independent body deal with federal discrimination cases.

Rick Blake, a spokesman for Blacks In Government, said the recent Library of Congress settlement of $8.5 million with African American employees should be a warning signal for agencies.

"This is the first in a long series of possible judgments against federal agencies," Blake said.

Changing behaviors is more important than changing attitudes, Eason said. Managers must learn how to treat employees, regardless of the managers' prejudices.

"If a person is resolved in their opinion, all the training in the world is not going to move them," he said. "Training does less to change minds than it teaches people how to conduct themselves when they're in a diverse group."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.