World Bank, racism and US establishment

Yonas Biru Correspondent
Imagine the third largest employer in the nation’s capital characterising one of its African employees as an animal in an official report. His lawyer, Peter C. Hansen, demanded the “shameful” report that contained “the most galling . . . overtly racist . . . anti-African stereotypes” be removed from the record. The organisation not only rejected the request, but its Administrative Tribunal felt obliged to let the lawyer know that the “tone and confrontational nature” of his pleadings did not go unnoticed. The organisation terminated the African and made it clear that he could have avoided termination “if (he) had spent a little bit more time and energy listening to his manager and co-workers, and a little bit less energy preparing his case with his attorney.” This is not a tale of bygone years, but a case from November 2015.

Imagine further that the organization does not accept medical certificates as evidence for emotional pain from people of African origin, but accepts from people of other races. This issue has been the subject of an]http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/94745]an open letter to Pope Francis by Reverend Jesse Jackson and four articles by different civil rights advocates in 2015. Another African American civil rights leader, Dr E. Faye Williams wrote that the World Bank Tribunal “treats Sub-Saharan Africans as physiologically and psychologically different, if not inferior.”

The same organisation told another African of Ethiopian heritage that his 17-year official record was too good to be true for an African and needed to be degraded. This was done to disqualify him from becoming the global manager of a high-profile international program. The explanation was that the organisation “regrets” having given him “overinflated” performance evaluations over the course of his career and this “had the unintended consequence of feeding into his megalomaniacal” expectations to become the head of a global program that requires cooperation with Europe.

In 2014, the DC chapters of the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the National Action Network, and the National Congress for Black Women, among others, formed a coalition and submitted a four-point agenda to the president of the organisation. Top on the list was a request to address the Ethiopian’s case. Soon enough, some of the coalition members buckled under political pressure and dropped out. Some of them proved extortionist — more on this below.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) that had written to the Ethiopian that it was asking the Obama administration “to take action” and that his case “in particular was being addressed” caved under the weight of political pressure. Twenty-four of the 46-member CBC who had already signed a petition retracted their signatures in unison.

This is as much a narrative of endemic racism in one organisation as it is an expose of the Democratic Party, whose repulsion to, and tolerance for, racial injustice is guided by who the perpetrator is rather than by what is perpetrated.

The Perpetrator

The perpetrator in this case is Dr Jim Yong Kim, the current president of the World Bank and an elite member of the Democratic Party. In 2012, President Obama appointed Dr Kim to the helm of the World Bank on the recommendation of Secretary Clinton and the urging of President Clinton.

World Bank critics saw Dr Kim as a “Clintonian plant” to benefit the Clinton Foundation, whose primary mission is “to improve global health.” The concern was that the Harvard-trained physician will pivot the Bank’s focus toward health crisis management, away from its mandate on economics and finance. Three years into Dr Kim’s presidency, a retired World Bank senior official, Paul Cadario, wondered “Why does Dr Kim get to just focus on health, health, health?” Professor William Easterly of NYU stated: “(Kim) is really the first World Bank president who thinks of the Bank as being primarily about relief rather than development.”

Under Dr Kim the Bank’s operational priorities overlap to a far more significant degree with those of the Clinton Foundation than under previous World Bank presidents. The growing common space has accorded the Clinton Foundation leverage to create a multiplier effect in resources and outcomes. If this is the quid for the Clintons, the quo for Dr Kim is a membership card for the Mecca of the Democratic Party’s bastion of power.

What has provoked more widespread criticism against Dr Kim is that racial discrimination has gotten worse under him. He is the first World Bank president to be personally accused of racial discrimination, including by his personal assistant, the late Marline Alexis. According to an investigative article that appeared in the December 4, 2015 issue of The NY Black Star News, Dr. Kim pushed out Alexis, a Haitian, and gave her position to his former Caucasian assistant at Dartmouth College. — Pambazuka News.

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