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Civil Rights Groups: Racism Needs to be Part of the Debate

September 15, 2009

WASHINGTON - Civil rights groups are pointing to what they see as a disturbing pattern in political attacks coming from the extreme right. Malkia Cyril, the founder and executive executive director the Center for Media Justice, says more and more of the targets of these attacks seem to be people of color.

"Using race-baiting and racism as a way to weaken public conversation on critical issues is in fact a cowardly act."

Cyril says the extreme right uses racism to undermine real debate on such crucial issues as health care and climate change, and that civil rights groups are organizing a campaign to fight against commentary they see as problematic.

"We want to tell the truth and to tell it in such a way that inspires people, and reminds them that this country has the potential to be something great and beautiful."

Cyril adds that civil rights groups will refocus the nation away from name-calling and anger, and toward discussing the crucial issues before the American people.

"And we plan on doing that by doing every thing we can to pivot away from this poison public debate and onto the critical justice issues that are at hand."

The President's African-American adviser on green jobs stepped down recently, citing what he called a smear campaign against him. Cyril says their next target is an African-American who is an associate general counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, Mark Lloyd, in charge of diversity programs at the FCC. Civil rights groups are particularly concerned about the attacks on Lloyd, because they view diversity in media ownership as an important component in the effort to battle institutional racism.

For more information, see: colorofchange.org

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO