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‘I get daily racist abuse for being a coloured taxi driver’
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By Gordon Deegan
Thursday January 05 2012A NIGERIAN taxi driver, who is a qualified accountant, has revealed how he receives daily racist abuse and is scared to work as a cabbie in Ireland after suffering two assaults by passengers.
Married father-of-four Bartholomew Omoifo (36) spoke out as a man was jailed for viciously attacking him in his car.
"For a coloured man, working as a taxi driver is very dangerous. I am afraid to go working because of previous experiences. One is very scared."
Azriel Higgins (26) was jailed for nine months at Ennis District Court yesterday for the assault on Mr Omoifo on June 5, 2010.
Mr Omoifo said that he had been the victim of a subsequent assault by another passenger just four months ago.
He admitted: “It is very tough as a black taxi driver. If I had a choice I wouldn't be working as a taxi driver but I have to support my home."
Mr Omoifo earlier told the court that Higgins, of Creggaun, Tobarteascain, Ennis, Co Clare, called him a "bastard nigger" before headbutting him in the mouth knocking out two front teeth.
Higgins -- who pleaded guilty to the assault and has 14 previous convictions -- attacked Mr Omoifo after refusing to pay a €15 fare.
Mr Omoifo required four stitches with dental work costing €2,400. Damage done to the taxi cost €761.
He described the assault as "very, very traumatic". He said: "I suffered needlessly. I have two false teeth now and I was out of work for three weeks."
On the daily racist abuse, Mr Omoifo said: "Passengers flag you down, open the door and when they see you are coloured, they say 'F*** off'. I get this every day."
He added: "I am relieved that I have been given the privilege in court to state what really happened. I have been given respect. At least it shows me that there is justice for us and gives me the assurance that the protection is there and we can get justice."
He has been living in Ireland for eight years but believes that some people are "venting their anger at the economy" on immigrants.
- Gordon Deegan
Racist abuse is driving me out of Ireland - doctor
By Niall O'Connor
Wednesday January 04 2012
A PAKISTANI doctor recruited by the HSE says he is considering leaving Ireland after suffering racist abuse in a nightclub.
Dr Syed Kamran Haider Bukhari has spoken out about his hurt and distress after being kicked and punched in a nightclub by a female reveller who later branded him a 'n*****'.
Dr Bukhari -- one of 100 doctors recruited to Ireland by the HSE -- told the Herald that the incident has caused him to reconsider whether he will remain in Ireland.
"I love this country. I work extremely hard and I have made so many friends and have had so many good experiences here.
"But this is not the first time I have been subject to racism. Somebody has to stand up and stay 'stop'," he said.
"I don't know if I want to remain here any longer.
"I was going to bring my two daughters and wife over from Pakistan but why would I want to have them living among racism?
"I don't want them subjected to the type of attitudes and attacks that I've suffered from," he added.
The 32-year-old junior doctor works in Drogheda for the Louth-Meath Mental Health Services.
He said that he was out socialising with friends on Monday night when he was assaulted by a young female.
"A young girl who was clearly drunk approached me on the dance floor before shouting nasty names at me. She punched and slapped me but she was taken away by her friends who apologised.
"But then she came back. She was shouting racial expressions at me before punching and kicking me. I couldn't defend myself, it's not in my nature to [retaliate].
"I just took the abuse but I couldn't believe the reaction of the nightclub."
Dr Bukhari told the Herald that when he approached the night club staff they "laughed at me and made fun of me because I'm a psychiatric worker".
He said he has spoken to local gardai and that he intends to make a formal complaint.
"I'm extremely upset to be honest. I've given every ounce of my energy to my job where I work with children and adolescents.
"The words used to describe me were nothing short of racism and I feel it is a really major problem in Ireland.
"But I am more upset at the response of the authorities and the night club itself. They are supposed to protect people.
"I don't want to make myself out as a victim but I do want to highlight that racism is at large here."
Attempts to contact the night club were unsuccessful this morning.
Dr Bukhari added that the incident has led him to question whether he will remain in Ireland after his contract with the HSE expires in 2013.
"I don't know if I will stay in Ireland after my contract expires," he said.
He added: "I certainly won't bring my family over now."
Mississauga couple lose bid to keep their kids in neighbourhood school
Published On Tue Jan 03 2012
A Mississauga couple who received death threats from staff inside their children’s school have lost their legal fight to have the kids returned to the neighbourhood school.
“I’m devastated,” Katarina Grewal said, shortly after the decision came down inside an Osgoode Hall courtroom Tuesday afternoon. “What mother wouldn’t be devastated to see your kids hurting every day? They’re now the victims.”
After Grewal and her husband, Ashoak, filed an application for an injunction against the Peel District School Board, a divisional court of the Ontario Superior Court ruled in favour of the board’s original decision to remove the children and transfer them to a different school.
Director of education Tony Pontes said the decision was taken for the children’s own safety.
“I’m not prepared to take that risk,” Pontes said after the ruling, of the possibility of allowing the children to return. “This has always been about the children’s safety, not the father.”
Ashoak Grewal has raised race-based complaints about the staff at the school in the past, and that’s the real reason the board wants the children out, argued his lawyer, Richard Parker.
After a racially charged altercation between Grewal and a teacher at Oscar Peterson, the board commissioned an independent third-party report in 2010. It revealed a history of race-based issues among the staff themselves, some of whom were described as being “resistant” to change as the ethnic demographics of the community have evolved.
“What better way to get rid of him than remove the children from the school?” Parker told the panel of three judges.
Parker described four death threats sent between late September and mid-October to Grewal, which Peel Region police quickly determined had come from a Peel District School Board computer within Oscar Peterson.
He argued that Grewal, not his children, was the target of the threats and also questioned how the children will be safer at another school, considering the perpetrator could easily locate them.
“There are cameras now installed at (Oscar Peterson) and everyone there knows about this,” Parker argued, suggesting the children would be safer there than at any other school. His motion to introduce a statement from a Peel police officer who, according to Parker, said it was safe for the children to return, was denied.
Board lawyer Roy Filion pointed out that the fourth and final email was a “sexual assault” threat against Grewal’s daughter and that since police have only narrowed their list of suspects to 16 staff at the school, there’s still a very real threat.
Parker also questioned why the board didn’t inform the Grewals that under board policy they had the right to appeal the decision to the trustees, the board’s elected officials. Ultimately, bureaucrats made the decision.
Justice David Aston explained that the panel’s role was simply to determined whether, under the requested judicial review, the Peel Board had a statutory right to keep the kids out of Oscar Peterson and whether that decision was reasonable. Other evidence and arguments could be dealt with in a different court, Aston said.
When Parker asked him what’s next for the children, Aston replied, “It leaves them in limbo for the moment, until there’s some negotiated agreement.”
Pontes said the children can go to any school in the board and their transportation will be covered. “Our only goal is we want the children back in school.”
Asked if the children would be allowed back to their school if the perpetrator is caught, Pontes said a decision would be made if that time comes.
He stressed there is no threat to any other students at Oscar Peterson. “The issue is between the perpetrator and the two children and their family.”
Grewal said the children will continue to be schooled at home, which the board has been paying for since late November. He added that he’s deeply troubled by Tuesday’s decision.
“With all the talk of dealing with bullying in this province, what this says is any student, any staff or parent or community member who wants to bully someone else can just send an anonymous death threat and the student will be removed from their school. That’s how they will victimize them.”
'Slavery By Another Name' explores 'shameful' U.S. history
January 4, 2012 | 6:23 pm
"Slavery By Another Name," a new PBS documentary, explores and upends what producers say is a widely accepted notion: that slavery in America came to a halt with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film shows that while chattel slavery ended in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pushed into forced labor that exposed them to brutality, abuse and death.
Or as narrator Laurence Fishburne says introducing the film, African Americans "were no longer slaves, but not yet free." Men were arrested, forced to work without pay, and were mistreated by cruel masters. The system of forced labor took place in the North and South, and lasted into the 20th century.
"It could have been different and should have been different," said Douglas A. Blackmon, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that inspired the film and gave it its title, during a session during the PBS portion of the first day of the Television Critics Assn. press tour. Blaming the government, Blackmon called the continuation of slavery "an astonishing failure of modern society."
He added, "It's a story of how America failed," showing how whites had lost faith that blacks could be fully integrated into the mainstream.
The 90-minute film, directed by Sam Pollard ("Eyes on The Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads") will premiere Feb. 13.
Descendants of slave owners and slaves participated in the film. Susan Tuggle Barone, who spoke during the session, told of learning how her great-grandfather John Williams killed 11 black laborers who were held illegally on his farm. It was a long-buried secret in her family.
"It was devastating for my family to find out about this," she said. "I'm glad my grandmother wasn't alive to find out about this. But it was important to learn the truth."
Sharon Malone, who is married to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, spoke of how her uncle was a victim of Alabama's forced labor system. She said her family spoke little about his time growing up in the South.
She said she has no anger or bitterness about that part of her past. "In fact, I'm more grateful to my parents than I otherwise would have been," she said. "They did not pass on that bitterness to their children. To us, they were unburdened by their past, and that gave us faith and hope. It's something that needs to be known."
Aborigines paid far less in public service
by: Miles Kemp From: The Advertiser January 04, 2012 12:00am 5 comments
ABORIGINAL workers in the SA public service are paid an average $10,000 less than non-Aboriginal colleagues.
This is despite a near 50-year ban on employment discrimination.
For the first time, public service departments have been asked to reveal in annual reports how much they pay Aboriginal workers compared with others, allowing The Advertiser to compare pay rates across the public service.
Non-Aboriginal workers were paid on average $59,200 and Aboriginal workers $49,600.
Law Society president Ralph Bonig said a lack of tertiary qualifications continued to mean fewer promotional opportunities for Aboriginal workers in the public service.
"A law degree is one qualification considered desirable for career advancement in the public service and that is one area in which we have very few students, and great efforts are being made by the profession to improve these numbers," he said.
Aboriginal people were first awarded equal pay for equal work in the 1960s and the current inequality is based on fewer promotional opportunities and a larger attrition rate.
A 10-year-old minimum target for the number of Aboriginal people employed in the pubic service, 2 per cent, has also lead to an influx of younger and lower-paid Aboriginal workers.
South Australia passed the Prohibition of Discrimination Act in 1966 and in 1984 created the Equal Opportunity Tribunal which prosecutes cases of racial discrimination.
Faith Thomas, 78, who became the first Aboriginal public servant in SA when she entered as a nurse in 1954, said she made good friends in the service but was not welcomed by management.
"I was considered an embarrassment being Aboriginal, even in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and I didn't get promoted in two years," she said.
"I still keep in touch with the people I worked with and we just had our 57th reunion.
"It doesn't surprise me that workers now are still earning less when I remember their attitudes at the time - it would take a long time to change that."