FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Apartheid Avenue Two Block From White House

Diplomats who abuse their immunity from prosecution to keep their “imported” domestic workers as virtual slaves are a repeated scandal. What has not gained as much media coverage and public exposure is the flagrant abuse of sovereign immunity by international organizations.

For decades, the World Bank, the third-largest employer in our nation’s capital, has sustained racially discriminatory practices. And within the last few months, an appeal to address the issue has seen inaction by the newest president of the World Bank, appointed in 2010 by President Obama.

In 2009, the Government Accountability Project identified only four black Americans out of more than 1000 American professionals working at the bank, not counting several thousand foreign nationals. The bank’s reply essentially was that there are not sufficient qualified black Americans.

In fact, as the bank’s own internal reports have documented, discrimination is the root of the problem. In 1998, the Team for Racial Equality, consisting of senior officials including the bank’s current chief counsel, reported that “The findings of three earlier World Bank studies send a clear message: race-based discrimination is present in our institution.” One of the serious issues that the 1998 report and several subsequent ones identified is the “ghettoization” (segregation) of blacks in the Africa regional vice presidential unit, housed in a separate building from the World Bank’s main office.

In 2009, a former senior vice president explained that blacks were placed in the Africa regional section to give them opportunity to prove their competence and win the confidence of management before they were considered for assignments in other areas. This made it difficult for black professionals to gain higher positions — and difficult for the bank to retain skilled black professionals who could find greater opportunities elsewhere.

The situation was so insulting that a segment of 18th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and G Street has been unofficially christened “Apartheid Avenue.” To the left of the Street stands the Bank’s “J” building where blacks are largely segregated. To its right sits the bank’s flagship building where black professionals face glass doors.

Because of the bank’s immunity from U.S. courts, victims of racial discrimination are confined to an internal tribunal. Since its establishment in 1980, the tribunal has dismissed all racial discrimination claims filed by blacks. In contrast, according to GAP’s 2009 report, “Complainants of other races who allege racial discrimination or applicants claiming reverse discrimination have better prospects for compensation awards.”

The expectation of change was high when President Jim Yong Kim was nominated by President Obama and confirmed as the first minority president of the World Bank in 2012, and opened his first annual meeting by saying that his life was “fueled by” Dr. Martin Luther King’s optimism about the human condition.

To his credit, President Kim assumed personal leadership in advancing the bank’s agenda for equality for women and the LGBT community. In the last six months he published two op-ed articles on women and LGBT issues, met with external advocacy groups, and made presentations and chaired sessions at related forums. In contrast, he has not met with leaders of the DC Civil Rights Coalition, delegating this to his chief of staff.

The coalition submitted a petition calling on the president to:

(i) resolve outstanding cases of racial discrimination; (

ii) establish an external commission; and

(iii) introduce external arbitration as an alternative adjudicative outlet.

To date, President Kim has not answered the coalition’s call.

The bank’s formal posture remains that the bank “has zero tolerance for discrimination” and that staffers with grievances have access to a “reputable, independent, and impartial tribunal.” What is clear, however, is that the reality still does not match the rhetoric. It is time for President Kim to take aggressive action to shut down Apartheid Avenue.

Jesse Jackson founded Rainbow/PUSH.

 

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 26, 2020
Matthew Hoh
Heaven Protect Us From Men Who Live the Illusion of Danger: Pete Buttigieg and the US Military
Jefferson Morley
How the US Intelligence Community is Interfering in the 2020 Elections
Patrick Cockburn
With Wikileaks, Julian Assange Did What All Journalists Should Do
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change and Voting 2020
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Russiagate: The Toxic Gift That Keeps on Giving
Andrew Bacevich
Going Off-Script in the Age of Trump
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Anti-Russian Xenophobia Reaches Ridiculous Levels
Ted Rall
Don’t Worry, Centrists. Bernie Isn’t Radical.
George Wuerthner
Whatever Happened to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition?
Scott Tucker
Democratic Socialism in the Twenty-First Century
Jonah Raskin
The Call of the Wild (2020): A Cinematic Fairy Tale for the Age of Environmental Disaster
George Ochenski
Why We Shouldn’t Run Government Like a Business
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Imperium’s Face: Day One of the Extradition Hearings
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s Extradition Hearing Reveals Trump’s War on Free Press Is Targeting WikiLeaks Publisher
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon? (Part Two)
Max Moran
Meet Brad Karp, the Top Lawyer Bankrolling the Democrats
David Swanson
Nonviolent Action for Peace
Ed Sanders
The Ex-Terr GooGoo Eyes “The Russkies Did it!” Plot
February 25, 2020
Michael Hudson
The Democrats’ Quandary: In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give
Paul Street
The “Liberal” Media’s Propaganda War on Bernie Sanders
Sheldon Richman
The Non-Intervention Principle
Nicholas Levis
The Real Meaning of Red Scare 3.0
John Feffer
Cleaning Up Trump’s Global Mess
David Swanson
How Are We Going to Pay for Saving Trillions of Dollars?
Ralph Nader
Three Major News Stories That Need To Be Exposed
John Eskow
What Will You Do If the Democrats Steal It from Sanders?
Dean Baker
What If Buttigieg Said That He Doesn’t Accept the “Fashionable” View That Climate Change is a Problem?
Jack Rasmus
The Nevada Caucus and the Desperation of Democrat Elites
Howard Lisnoff
The Powerful Are Going After Jane Fonda Again
Binoy Kampmark
Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed
John W. Whitehead
Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn Schools into Prisons
Marshall Sahlins
David Brooks, Public Intellectual
February 24, 2020
Stephen Corry
New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind
M. K. Bhadrakumar
How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage
Jennifer Matsui
Tycoon Battle-Bots Battle Bernie
Robert Fisk
There’s Little Chance for Change in Lebanon, Except for More Suffering
Rob Wallace
Connecting the Coronavirus to Agriculture
Bill Spence
Burning the Future: the Growing Anger of Young Australians
Eleanor Eagan
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
Binoy Kampmark
The Priorities of General Motors: Ditching Holden
George Wuerthner
Trojan Horse Timber Sales on the Bitterroot
Rick Meis
Public Lands “Collaboration” is Lousy Management
David Swanson
Bloomberg Has Spent Enough to Give a Nickel to Every Person Whose Life He’s Ever Damaged
Peter Cohen
What Tomorrow May Bring: Politics of the People
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail