UN Study of African Americans Finds Discrimination Prevalent, Including in Education

A preliminary report from the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on the state of African Americans says “racial discrimination continues to be systemic and rooted in an economic model that denies development to the poorest African American communities.” The working group examined several economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights and found many examples where education equity was absent and helped contribute to economic problems.

In particular, the experts noted:

  • The school to prison pipeline, where African American children are more likely to face harsh discipline than White children;
  • The under-funding and closure of schools that are particularly in poor neighborhoods with significant African American population;
  • The de facto segregation of schools; and 
  • Regarding school curricula, the historical facts concerning the period of colonization and enslavement are not sufficiently covered in all schools, contributing to the “structural invisibility of African Americans.”

Recommendations include prohibiting restraint and seclusion in schools and ensuring that school discipline policies are in accordance with international human rights standards, studying zero tolerance policies and their disproportionate impact on African American students, and ensuring that school curriculum in each state appropriately reflect the history of the slave trade. 

The final report will be issued to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2016.

Read “Statement to the media by the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, on the conclusion of its official visit to USA, 19-29 January 2016."


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