Sometimes I read a newspaper and wonder why certain stories appear on the front page and others are buried deep inside.

Friday’s Philadelphia Inquirer had a front page story about how the Supreme Court rejected President Donald Trump’s claims of immunity from local law enforcement and congressional investigators. I guess a lot of people find Trump’s legal issues important. Personally, I ignore most Trump news. 

On the 15th page of the same paper there’s a story about how the Philadelphia court system is mired in an internal “culture of nepotism, mistrust and racial tension.” Now that sounds like something I’d want to sink my teeth in…and did. 

They must be having some real bad race issues in the Philly court system for the court leadership to call in the Washington-based Center for Urban and Racial Equality (CURE) crew to conduct surveys and focus groups of some of the court’s 2,500 employees.

The fact that this study was being conducted is news worthy all by itself. Certainly the results of the study would be considered big news. Yet, the even bigger story is how CURE explicitly recommended last summer the report be shared with staff and the public while delivering it to the panel of judges that oversees court management. But, they voted not to release the document, according to the Inquirer. 

…its findings were not released until a year after the study

One could only assume the only reason you keep this study under wraps for a year is because you don’t won’t folks to read how bad things are in the Philly courts. In this time of racial animus, the last thing anyone needs is for the courts to be proven to be racially biased as well. A couple quotes in the article to that effect went like this…

  • …those internal tensions take on greater importance when they happen in a system that is also struggling to confront systemic bias in the justice it metes out in thousands of civil and criminal cases each year.
  • “If we don’t have a level of empathy and compassion around issues of race and equality inside the institution, then surely that trickles to the outside.”

Here’s some of the survey findings (that they didn’t think deserved to be seen on the front page)…

  • women of color, including judges, were experiencing bias and exclusion 
  • several white judges and staff (stated) that institutional and structural racism were not significant factors in modern society
  • “reverse racism” was as important as discrimination against people of color.
  • “Black coalitions seem to now rule,” one white judge quoted
  • white employee responded: “In my life experience, he who cries ‘racism’ is usually steeped in racism.”

The most amazing and mind boggling finding from the study invovles the stark difference in perceptions between black men and women judges…

Female judges of color rated court leadership’s commitment to equity lower than any other racial or gender cohort.

Male judges of color rated that commitment higher than their male and female white counterparts.

How can black men and black women in the same workplace experience such stark contrasts on perceptions of equity? The Philly courts must be an interesting place to work.


You can read the article and see the entire CURE report here…

https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia-courts-racism-discrimination-first-judicial-district-workplace-karen-simmons-20200709.html