Spokane Racism

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Zero Diversity in Spokane’s Major Law Firms

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The Washington State Bar Association publication Law and Politics (June/July 2003) ran an article entitled “Gaining and Retaining Diversity: How well do law firms keep their promise of a diverse environment?” by Paul Freeman.

The article and graphic were based on a survey of Washington State law firms conducted by the Washington State Latina/o Bar Association, the Loren Miller Bar Association, and the Asian Bar Association of Washington.

Several law firms did not respond, among them Spokane based firms Lukins & Annis, P.S. (35 attorneys); Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport, and Toole, P.S (50 attorneys); and Paine, Hamblen, Coffin, Brooke & Miller, LLC (55 attorneys).

It is not difficult to see why these firms would not have responded to the survey.

A look 5 years later at the websites for these large Spokane-based law firms shows that they have no attorneys of non-European ethnicity whatsoever. (On the WKDT and PHCBM websites you will have to click on the names of the individual attorneys.)

And this despite the presence of a well-known Jesuit law school — Gonzaga — in Spokane.

This non-diverse reality is reflected throughout the Spokane professional, political, educational, and arts communities. While more than one in ten residents of Spokane is of a diverse ethnic background, that reality is not seen in the offices of government, medicine, law, business, education, social work, religion, or virtually anything else in this community.

The consequences in the application of justice are seen in on the streets and in the court room as recently seen in a well-publicized Spokane court case revealing blatantly racist statements by Spokane jurors regarding an attorney of Asian heritage.

The consequences in the emergency room and in doctors’ offices are experienced on a daily basis by patients who do not receive language appropriate services required under the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and other provisions of law. In Spokane these failures to comply with the law happen on a daily and flagrant basis. As a result, adverse outcomes and deaths have occurred), conditions have been misdiagnosed, and much humiliation and abuse has been suffered (as in the death of 9-year-old Rocio Rodriguez, for example.)

The consequences in the class room are that non-English speaking students do not receive notice of extracurricular and enrichment activities and access to musical instruments in their parents’ languages and thus talented and worthy children are excluded from participation. Beyond that, the larger community and society is denied the fruits of their talents and abilities.

Given that most, if not all, of these matters of access, equity, and justice must be adjudicated in the final instance through the legal system, the lack of diversity in the Spokane legal profession, from law school, to law practice, to public service law agencies, to court room has long-lasting repercussions on the lives of people in Spokane and raises fundamental questions of access to justice which should be matters of major concern for everyone involved in civil rights in Spokane and the betterment of our minority communities.

The time for change in Spokane is long since past. Why has change not come?

Could the answer be “entrenched racism”?


Spokane County Bar Association diversity page


Written by Arroyoribera

February 10, 2008 at 11:21 am

Through Spokane’s Eyes: Moments in Black History — S-R interviews in WSU collection

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[The following information comes from the website of the Washington State University Library’s Civil Rights Oral History Collection. The website contains links to two hours worth of audio-taped interviews on the racism and race relations in Spokane, Washington.]

The Collection:

In February of 2001, the Spokesman-Review produced a month long series of articles on black history titled “Through Spokane’s Eyes Moments in Black History,” focusing in particular on the civil rights movement of the 1960s. As part of that series, Rebecca Nappi conducted a series of interviews with individuals with ties to both the civil rights movement and to Spokane. The guide to this collection may now be found in the Manuscripts section of MASC under the number Cage 683.

The Oral Histories:

Jerrelene Williamson relates her sense of the civil rights movement in Spokane to events in Alabama. Emelda and Manuel Brown talk about their experiences with racial prejudice while raising a family in Spokane, Washington in the 1960s. Clarence Freeman discusses his reaction to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the reaction of the community of Spokane. He also talks briefly about a childhood experience with prejudice in Spokane. Sam Minnix describes the scene during a civil rights demonstration at the Spokane County Courthouse on Friday March 26, 1965. Verda Lofton relates her impression of the same March 26, 1965 Spokane protest. Flip Schulke describes about his experiences photographing race related stories in the south. He mentions photographing the admission of the first black student, James Meredith, into the University of Mississippi. The influence the assassination on Martin Luther King had on the protests and marches is also described. He finishes by discussing the differences between the youth of the 60s and the youth of today, and the legacy of the protest movements. Alvin Pitmon talks about his experiences with prejudice in Arkansas during the forced integration of schools in the 1960s. He discusses his feelings towards Dr. Martin Luther King and the influence Dr. King had on him. Nancy Nelson sings two civil rights spirituals: My Lord, What a Morning and Let Us Break Bread Together.

Written by Arroyoribera

February 5, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Posted in History, Racism, Resources

Jane Elliott, renowned educator, to speak in Spokane on Feb. 14 – 15, 2008

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[Note: Several years ago, while working as a diversity recruiter for the state of Washington, I had the opportunity to hear Jane Elliott speak in Seattle. Her “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise was stunning when she did it nearly 40 years ago. Her reflections on race — including her view that white women have ridden their “minority” status to greater stature in U.S. society without looking back to offer a hand up to their minority brothers and sisters — are powerful, compelling, and important. — Blog author]

Jane Elliott Developed Famous Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise

Jane Elliott, internationally renowned teacher, diversity trainer and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, will speak in Spokane three times in Spokane on February 14 and February 15, 2008.

* Thursday, Feb. 14, 8:30 -11:30 a.m., at Spokane Community Colleges Lair Auditorium

* Friday, Feb. 15, 9 a.m.- noon, at Gonzaga University’s Cataldo Hall, Globe Room

* Friday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m., in the Lair Auditorium of Spokane Community College

Elliott will expose prejudice and bigotry as representative of an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors. Those who think this does not apply to them may be in for a rude awakening.

In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. nearly 40 years ago, Elliott devised the controversial and startling, Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes exercise. This powerful exercise, which is now famous, labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority.

For more information contact Ann Price via e-mail or at (509) 323-3667.

Written by Arroyoribera

February 5, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Emergence-SEE! by Daniel Beaty SFCC, Feb. 27, 2008 @ 7 PM Music Auditorium

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Daniel Beaty, Emergence-SEE!

Emergence-See! by Daniel Beaty  SFCC, Feb. 27, 2008 @ 7 PM Music Auditorium

This highly-acclaimed off Broadway production comes to Spokane for one performance only!

What do centuries of slavery do to the human psyche? And how free are we really at the dawn of the 21st century? Beaty’s provocative play explores these questions as he portrays a cast of 40 characters including a homeless man, a scientist, a Republican business executive, an 11-year-old boy from the projects, and a slam poet named Rodney, who all weave a stirring commentary on modern black life.

February 27, 2008 7pm Spokane Falls Community College Music Auditorium

(Tickets $15 at TicketsWest, 200 free student tickets will be available in the SUB).

New York Times Theater Review A Ghost Slave Ship Arrives, So Skip the Poetry Slam?

Emergence — SEE — Daniel Beaty at the Apollo Theater (YouTube)

On Point! — Daniel Beaty interviewed by Tom Ashbrook about Emergence — SEE!

Variety Review

Written by Arroyoribera

February 1, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Events, Resources

Spokane Diversity Action Resource Packet 2003

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We, who are clay blended by
the Master Potter, come from
the kiln of Creation in many hues.
How can people say one skin
is colored, when each has
its own coloration?
What should it matter that one
bowl is dark and the other pale,
if each is of good design
and serves its purpose well?

–Polingaysi Qoyawayma, Hopi Elder


Spokane Task Force on Race Relations Diversity Action Resource Packet 2003


Spokane’s Commitment for Racial Equity

The Board of The Spokane Task Force on Race Relations

To Know

Definition of Racism

How do you define DIVERSITY anyway?

Spokane Area Demographics

Article: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

Article: “Honky Wanna Cracker?”

A Global Quest for Tolerance

Una Busqueda Universal de Tolerencia

Unaware Racism: How it Manifests Itself

Distancing Behaviors Often Used in Racism

Article: “For Alex, Racism Just Doesn’t Add Up”

Article: “The Ethics and Impact of Racial Profiling”

The Racial Harassment Continuum

To Care

Personal Awareness Surveys

The Managing Diversity Survival Guide

Are You a Diversity Change Agent?

Awareness Spectrum

Assessing Your Own Cultural Heritage

Article: “The Mousetrap”

To Act

Typical Work Place Action Plan

Study Circles

Ideas For Taking Action

Ten Ways to Fight Hate

Making Diversity Training Work

To Learn More

Inland Northwest Community Organizations

Community Publications

Diversity Trainers

Intercultural Colleagues Group

TFRR Selected Bibliography

· Organizational Diversity

· White Awareness

· Fiction

· Videos

Annotated Bibliography on Racism & Race Relations in America

Annotated Bibliography for Faith Communities

Written by Arroyoribera

January 30, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Diversity, Resources