African-Americans, Healthcare, poverty, Race, Stratification, Wisconsin

Opinion: Social Distancing Is a Privilege. The idea that this virus is an equal-opportunity killer must itself be killed.

By Charles M. Blow Opinion Columnist April 5, 2020

People like to say that the coronavirus is no respecter of race, class or country, that the disease Covid-19 is mindless and will infect anybody it can. In theory, that is true. But, in practice, in the real world, this virus behaves like others, screeching like a heat-seeking missile toward the most vulnerable in society. And this happens not because it prefers them, but because they are more exposed, more fragile and more ill. What the vulnerable portion of society looks like varies from country to country, but in America, that vulnerability is highly intersected with race and poverty.

Early evidence from cities and states already shows that black people are disproportionately affected by the virus in devastating ways. As ProPublica reported, in Milwaukee County, Wis., as of Friday morning, 81 percent of the deaths were black people. Black people make up only 26 percent of that county.

Economy, Gender, Social Problems, Stratification

Women’s Gains in the Work Force Conceal a Problem Jobs traditionally viewed as female still don’t pay well, and still don’t appeal to men. Fixing one of these things would fix the other. By Claire Cain Miller Jan. 21, 2020 American women have just achieved a significant milestone: They hold more payroll jobs than men. But this isn’t entirely good news for workers, whether they’re men or women.

African-Americans, Race, Social Problems, Stratification

Opinion: Black People’s Land Was Stolen

Any discussion of reparations must include how this happened, who did it, and the laws, policies and practices that allowed it.

By Andrew W. Kahrl

Dr. Kahrl is an associate professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia.

June 20, 2019

A House Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday held the first hearing in over a decade on the issue of reparations for black Americans. The hearing took place, fittingly, on the Juneteenth holiday, commemorating the announcement of the end of slavery in the United States, and five years after the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who testified, reignited the debate with his 2014 essay “The Case for Reparations.” Once a fringe topic, reparations has emerged as an issue in the 2020 presidential campaign, with several leading candidates for the Democratic nomination expressing support for various measures to atone for America’s racist past.

Thanks to Mr. Coates and others, today’s movement for reparations places as much emphasis on the racist public policies of the 20th century, which denied black Americans opportunities to build wealth and left them vulnerable to all manner of economic exploitation, as it does on the crimes of slavery.

Gender, Stratification, Technology

Exposing the Bias Embedded in Tech

Peggy Johnson of Microsoft said biases needed to be exposed to be addressed. “The way to turn anything around is to shine a light on it.”

By Alina Tugend

June 17, 2019

In 2010, Kinect for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system, in which users played with gestures and spoken commands rather than a controller, was ready to go to market.

But just before it did, a woman who worked for the company took the game home to play with her family, and a funny thing happened. The motion-sensing devices worked just fine for her husband, but not so much for her or her children.

That’s because the system had been tested on men ages 18 to 35 and didn’t recognize as well the body motions of women and children, said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft.

Social Problems, Stratification

Opinion: Google Should Google the Definition of ‘Employee’

Tech companies are goosing profits by relying on contract labor, taking advantage of lax labor laws.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

May 29, 2019

For many companies, hiring full-time employees has become a last resort, reserved for tasks that cannot be automated or outsourced or handed to an independent contractor. The goal is to keep the number of full-time employees as small as possible — and a key reason is that the government requires companies to take care of employees. Companies, in other words, are seeking to minimize the number of workers who must be treated fairly.