Dignity and Justice for People of Color

Racial justice is required under the law, but it is not our nation’s reality. Racism is a real and pernicious threat to our democracy, and people of color have been denied justice for too long. From 2010 to 2014, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice obtained more than $1.4 billion in payments from banks under fair housing laws1. $563 million of that came from the three largest banks in the US who agreed to settle allegations for charging African American and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and fees2. While this is just one example of discriminatory practices people of color continue to deal with on a daily basis in this country, it is an important reminder that legislation like the Fair Housing and Voting Rights Acts are just as important today as they were when they were passed almost 50 years ago. The Trump administration’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General is sending the nation back to the era before civil rights legislation. Sessions has shifted the focus of the Department of Justice away from key civil rights issues such as voting rights, mass incarceration, and police misconduct. We need to move towards fair housing, lending, and voting practices for people of color, and we must pursue criminal justice and prison reform.

1 Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Public Affairs, Press Release No. 16-761, June 29, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-and-consumer-financial-protection-bureau-reach-settlement-bancorpsouth
2 Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Public Affairs, Press Release No. 11-1694, December 21, 2011, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-335-million-settlement-resolve-allegations-lending-discrimination; Press Release No. 12-869, July 12, 2012, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-settlement-wells-fargo-resulting-more-175-million-relief; Press Release No. 17-019, January 20, 2017, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/manhattan-us-attorney-settles-lending-discrimination-suit-against-jpmorgan-chase-53
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