The Common Good
March-April 1996

Resources for Study and Action

by Julienne Gage | March-April 1996

The Truth about Affirmative Action

THE TRUTH ABOUT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Some say affirmative action has done more harm than good, while others say that it hasn't gone far enough. Tim Wise, who has written extensively for the Blueprint for Social Justice, Z Magazine, Louisiana Weekly, and the New Orleans Tribune, addresses affirmative action in Little White Lies: The Truth About Affirmative Action and "Reverse Discrimination." He examines its ideology, its effects, and its effectiveness in advancing minorities and women socioeconomically.

This small study guide begins with the history and development of affirmative action. The bulk of the book is spent dispelling myths of affirmative action and trying to answer questions raised through honest analysis of common questions. Myths include: "affirmative action violates color-blind meritocracy," "whites are the victims of reverse discrimination," "affirmative action damages black self-esteem," "affirmative action causes increased racial tension," and "affirmative action helps and hurts the wrong people."

Little White Lies is available for $6 from the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice, Loyola University, Box 12, 6363 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118-6195.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS INTERNSHIPS

Washington, D.C., is a city of networks. It's not impossible to locate the right internships if you know where to look. A new book, The ACCESS Guide to International Affairs Internships offers a variety of internship possibilities with both governmental (including foreign embassies) and non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, Bread for the World, and the Institute for Policy Studies. Information on 178 offices in and around the capital is listed. Each listing mentions job responsibilities, education level requirement, compensation, application deadlines, and required application material.

The ACCESS Guide to International Affairs Internships, edited by Bruce Seymore II and Matthew Highman, is available in paperback for $19.95 from ACCESS, 1511 K St. NW, Suite 643, Washington, DC 20005.

TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE

As all these countries recover from the trauma and wounds of the past, they have had to devise mechanisms not only for handling past human rights violations, but also to ensure that the dignity of victims, survivors, and relatives is restored.

-Nelson Mandela

Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon With Former Regimes, a three-volume series put out by the U.S. Institute of Peace, is useful for those who wish to study current democratization processes in the world. The series explores democratic transitions through general considerations, country studies, and laws, rulings, and reports. Transitional Justice would be a helpful resource for college political science departments and academic libraries.

Volume I, General Considerations, considers reconciliations and peace processes through amnesties and pardons to human rights abusers during a conflict. It discusses the different tools for healing that a country may need depending on the conflict and its history.

For example, when considering that some 30,000 Rwandans could be brought to trial for their participation in genocidal killings, it would seem more appropriate to move forward toward reconciliation without individual confrontation for each one. El Salvador, on the other hand, felt that a truth commission naming those involved in the 12-year civil war would be the best way to examine history and rebuild society.

Volume II, Country Studies, gives accounts of how a number of countries in the last 50 years have attempted to reconcile their conflicts and create democracy.

Volume III, Laws, Rulings, and Reports, lists sample documents of various countries that have examined their individual conflicts and used some of the methods mentioned in the first two volumes to come to terms with their past, present, and future. Included in this list of documents are the 1993 South African constitution and papers from the El Salvador Truth Commission and Germany's Nuremburg trials.

To order the Transitional Justice series, contact the U.S. Institute of Peace Press at P.O. Box 605, Herndon, VA 22070; (800) 868-8064; fax (703) 689-0660.

FAIR TRADE FEDERATION

While few of us can boycott every exploitative product in our day-to-day lives or become subsistence farmers, we can observe more just economics. The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) links disadvantaged producers with markets in North America. FTF "encourages equitable, culturally sensitive, and environmentally sound community development through the promotion of fair trade practices."

Trade members include wholesalers, retailers, and producers directly working in fair trade. Allied members support fair trade through technical assistance and training, product development, and market information.

Members of FTF receive a one-year subscription to the quarterly newsletter, Networks, discounts on annual conference fees, yearly advertisements in Networks and FTF directories, and participation in economic justice. Dues are based on annual sales revenue with partial scholarships given on a need basis.

To find out more about membership in FTF, or to discover FTF member businesses in your area, contact the Fair Trade Federation, Box 126, Barre, MA 01005; (508) 355-0284; fax (508) 355-6542.

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