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'Retail racism' on rise, leaders say

January 14, 2000
They may not evoke the feelings of "Let my people go" or "We shall overcome." But for Americans subjected to the embarrassment and fear of even relatively minor episodes of discrimination based on race - "driving while black" or "dining while black," to use the bitter slang for such events - the hurt is very real nevertheless.
      Around the country, several high-profile instances of what's being called retail racism have arisen in recent months. The use of racial profiling in stopping suspected criminals on highways has become a federal civil rights issue. And evidence that zero tolerance for disruptive behavior in schools may be discriminatory against black students is mounting as well.
      While civil rights advocates laud the recent exposure of discrimination and point to evidence that attitudes between races have improved, they say that for many nonwhite Americans such offenses are routine - even though it's been more than 35 years since passage of the federal Civil Rights Act.


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