Civil Rights par Chrysoula MALISIANOU et Madjid BOURABAA, IV 2013
Diplômé en économie, en fiscalité et en gestion des risques (IAE, ENI, ENA), ancien auditeur de l’INHESJ et de l’IHEDN, président de l’association Convention laïque pour l’égalité depuis 1997. Actuellement consul-tant en gestion du risque notamment à travers le domaine de l’intelli-gence interculturelle. Le thème d’étude de mon séjour aux États-Unis s’inscrivait autour des politiques d’égalité des chances et de lutte contre les discriminations comme enjeux sociétaux fondamentaux.
Chrysoula Malisianou est juriste au sein du pôle « Emploi public » du Défenseur des droits, autorité constitution-nelle indépendante qui a succédé à la Haute Autorité de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour l'Egalité (la HALDE) en mai 2011. Dans ce cadre, elle est chargée du traitement des dossiers de discrimination (instruction des dossiers et proposition de solutions), dont s’estiment victimes, les fonctionnaires et agents publics non-titulaires, qu’il s’agisse de difficultés liées au recrutement, au déroulement de la carrière, ou à la cessation des fonctions. Auparavant, Chrysoula était enseignante en droit admi-nistratif (2ème année) au sein du Cours d’Assas (un établissement privé d’enseignement supérieur), ainsi qu’assistante de justice (auxiliaire de magistrat), en juridiction administrative (au tribunal administratif de Melun). Elle a également été juriste-stagiaire auprès du Conseil d’Etat et d’un cabinet d’Avocats de droit généraliste parisien.
Elle est titulaire d’un DEA en droit communautaire et droit européen (Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne) et d’un DESS en droits de l’homme et droit international humanitaire (Paris II-Panthéon Assas).
IVLP January 12 – February 2, 2013 : Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Protections in US Society
This program was a unique experience as far as the US culture is concerned, the professionals we ust with, and for all we’ve learned about the US model of protection of civil rights and against discrimination.
- A unique human experience:
First of all, we always had very warm welcomes in all cities we visited. People were so nice, generous, open, and willing to help us in anything we needed. Even in small cities such as Des Moines, we were touched by the kindness, the hospitality, and the generosity of the people.
The experience of the “home hospitalities” was also unique because it allowed us to come even closer to people and understand their way of living, their habits, and of course it gave us a better understanding of the US society. For example, we really appreciated spending time at the house of our hosts in Salt Lake City and in Des Moines.
It was also a unique human experience due to all the professionals we met with in a very small period of time. We met a lot of personalities that really marked us through the passion of their work and their significant actions. We also had some “life lessons” from some of them.
We can for instance recall, that in Chicago we had a very interesting appointment with Reverend Herbert Martin (from the Progressive Community Center, the People’s Church), who does a wonderful work to bring different communities closer together. It was also interesting to see how much you can do and change by acting locally before a global or a wider change occurs. We also participated with his team in the distribution of meals for the homeless and we also listened to gospel singing. It was unique!
We also remember the great meeting we had in Washington DC with one of the Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mr. Hilary Shelton, whose passion of his work and the willing for all people to have access to a full citizenship was very catching. For us, he was a single example of “quiet strength”.
We also attended a great meeting in Miami with two representatives of the Operation Pedro Pan Group (which helps children in need), Ms. Carmen Romanach and Ms. Carmen Valdivia, which themselves had suffered during their childhood after being separated from their parents and placed in US camps in order to get away from Castro’s regime in Cuba. By the strength of their work and their perseverance they have now brilliant careers and give a wonderful example to the children they help. Their work was really inspiring.
A great human experience also in Des Moines, with the meeting we had with two police officers that do a very important job on the field in order to avoid tensions between the different communities and bring them closer.
A wonderful human experience as well in Salt Lake City through our meeting with Ms. Carla Kelley the Director of the Human Rights Education Center of Utah who does an incredible work to fight against discrimination and harassment in schools. Great meeting also in Salt Lake with Dr. Harold Foster who taught as a lot about Native American’s history and their struggle for equality. His work to spread Native American history in schools was impressive.
Some of these personalities could be invited in France.
Moreover, this program was also a unique experience to us by our participation to a volunteer activity on Dr. Martin Luther King’s day on January 21st. We had a great time painting in a Middle school of Miami and getting to know other people through this action with City Year. That kind of initiative really allows people to come closer together and federates communities across an activity which is profitable to all.
Furthermore, we had a unique human experience in Chicago at the Northwestern University School of Law were we made a 40 minutes presentation of our work and the institutions we represent before students from all over the world. We had very interesting exchanges with them and a great emotion to see how interested they were by our work in France and the French Defender of Rights.
A unique cultural experience:
In a very short period of time we really learned a lot about the US culture. By visiting five cities such as Washington DC, Miami, Chicago, Des Moines and Salt Lake, we were able to appreciate the cultural diversity of the US.
For instance, I can recall in Washington DC all the Memorials and the museums we visited (American-Indian, Hishhorn, Newseum…). We also attended to the Friday prayer of Muslim employees at the Capitol in DC and that was as well a unique experience to see how a public institution deals with religious matters in the workplace.
As far as Miami is concerned, we can recall the great five hours tour of the different neighborhoods we had, which enabled us to see how diverse the population in Miami and Greater Miami is and how the various communities manage to live together in harmony thanks to the public policies. The architecture was also wonderful.
In Chicago we really appreciated the magnificent high towers. We loved visiting the Hancock Tower, the Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, the Chicago’s Millenium Park, and of course the fabulous Robbie House from Frank Lloyd Wright.
In Des Moines we saw the outstanding Capitol and we had a great tour and meeting there with Senator Daryl Beall.
Finally, in Salt Lake we went to the splendid temple of the Mormon’s and attended to an impressive choir. It was also very interesting to see how the Mormon community is integrated in that city and what its relation with other communities is.
A unique professional experience:
We really learned a lot about the US system of civil rights protection. We had a very wide overview of it. Thus, we learned a lot about the procedures in that field and the main topics related to civil rights and the fight against discrimination in the US, which helped us to have some new ideas.
As for the procedures, we had very interesting explanations on the functioning of all federal or state and independent agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Commission of Human Rights in Iowa, the United States Small Business Administration, the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and the civil rights centers in the US Departments (…). We also had very interesting elements from the system established by the civil society and organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Human Rights Campaign, The Operation Pedro Pan Group (…). The appointments with all those institutions enabled us to make comparisons with our work and to pick some ideas from their working methods. Indeed, some investigation methods to find discrimination in a case were very interesting (for example: the working methods of the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations or those of the Commission of Human Rights in Iowa that do a similar work to that of the Defender of Rights in France). Therefore, partnerships with those institutions could be very successful.
We thus had the opportunity to understand how important the fight against discrimination and the promotion of equality is in the US and to see how many institutions are settled to protect against discrimination at the federal and the local level, even in universities or neighborhoods.
As for the main topics related to the fight against discrimination and promotion of equality, we really appreciated hearing and learning about a different way to deal with all these matters. For example, the way data based on origin are used in the US or other criteria such as gender, age (…), which enable en easier access to jobs, to education or to other services, was very interesting. The way of dealing with religious issues mainly in the workplace by implementing reasonable accommodations enabling the respect of all the beliefs while assuring the neutrality of public services or governmental agencies was very instructive too. Furthermore, the way minority firms are helped to grow and settle by themselves afterwards was as well very interesting. We make here a reference to the very clear explanations we had from the United States Small Business Administration in DC.
Furthermore we can also recall the fact that in the federal and the local level, commissions exist to prevent tensions between communities by proposing remedies such as mediations or conciliations (for example: the Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice, or the Miami-Dade County Office of Community Advocacy, that we met). It was also very instructive to understand the policies that are settled in order to restore equality for minority students thanks to the work of offices in universities in charge of diversity and equity matters (for example: the Office for Equity and Diversity of the University of Utah that we met the representatives in Salt Lake City).
Some of these initiatives or tools to fight against discrimination and promote equality could be imported in France.
Many thanks again to all your great team and please receive our warmest gratitude for enabling us to live such a unique experience.
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