E Pluribus...de facto segregation
Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez
Some of us were alive when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. the Board of education. Few of us who were around in 1959 can forget photos documenting the reactions like this one depicting a rally at state capitol of Little Rock in Arkansas, protesting the integration of Central High School. The protesters were carrying U.S. flags and signs that read "Race Mixing is Communism" and "Stop the Race Mixing March of the Anti-Christ".
They would fit right in with the ideology of modern day Teapublicans. Lest we forget that this phenomena of segregation was not simply a matter of the south, demonstrations and protests around schools and segregation took place in the north as well, like this photo of a 60's protest in St. Louis.
Whether it was Cleveland or California, or busing in Boston, this country attempted to push forward on desegregation, and also put in place corrective measures of affirmative action.
The focus quickly shifted to de facto segregation of schools in major urban areas, like Chicago, where in 1963, two hundred twenty five thousand students boycotted Chicago, schools to protest de facto segregation on October 22nd. It was called "Freedom Day." Kossak BobboSphere wrote an important piece on that protest against educational apartheid, and continues to follow closely community dissatisfaction with education policy and school closingsin communities of color.
A documentary record of Chicago's Freedom Day, is a project put together on the protests.
63 Boycott chronicles the Chicago Public School Boycott of 1963 when more than 200,000 Chicagoans, mostly students, marched to protest the segregationist policies of CPS Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed mobile school units on playgrounds and parking lots as a “permanent solution” to overcrowding in black schools. The project will offer a modern perspective on the impact and legacy of this forgotten history 50 years later as it reconnects the participants to each other and the event itself.
Educators, parents, students and community groups across the U.S. don't see any of this as ancient history, because no matter the advances, it becomes more and more clear each day that we still have racial/ethnic segregation in many of our public schools across the U.S. though now it is de facto rather than de jure.
I've borrowed my title from the report issued last year, by the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CDP) "E Pluribus...Separation: Deepening Double Segregation for More Students".
It opens with this overview:
This report shows that segregation has increased seriously across the country for Latino students, who are attending more intensely segregated and impoverished schools than they have for generations. The segregation increases have been the most dramatic in the West. The typical Latino student in the region attends a school where less than a quarter of their classmates are white; nearly two-thirds are other Latinos; and two-thirds are poor. California, New York and Texas, all states that have been profoundly altered by immigration trends over the last half-century, are among the most segregated states for Latino students along multiple dimensions.
In spite of declining residential segregation for black families and large-scale movement to the suburbs in most parts of the country, school segregation remains very high for black students. It is also double segregation by both race and poverty. Nationwide, the typical black student is now in a school where almost two out of every three classmates (64%) are low-income, nearly double the level in schools of the typical white or Asian student (37% and 39%, respectively). New York, Illinois, and Michigan consistently top the list of the most segregated states for black students. Among the states with significant black enrollments, blacks are least likely to attend intensely segregated schools in Washington, Nebraska, and Kansas.
School resegregation for black students is increasing most dramatically in the South, where, after a period of intense resistance, strong action was taken to integrate black and white students. Black students across the country experienced gains in school desegregation from the l960s to the late l980s, a time in which racial achievement gaps also narrowed sharply. These trends began to reverse after a 1991 Supreme Court decision made it easier for school districts and courts to dismantle desegregation plans. Most major plans have been eliminated for years now, despite increasingly powerful evidence on the importance of desegregated schools.
The report does not spare the current administration and critiques wrong-headed policy.
The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration, has taken no significant action to increase school integration or to help stabilize diverse schools as racial change occurs in urban and suburban housing markets and schools. Small positive steps in civil rights enforcement have been undermined by the Obama Administration’s strong pressure on states to expand charter schools - the most segregated sector of schools for black students. Though segregation is powerfully related to many dimensions of unequal education, neither candidate has discussed it in the current presidential race.
The consensus of nearly sixty years of social science research on the harms of school segregation is clear: separate remains extremely unequal. Schools of concentrated poverty and segregated minority schools are strongly related to an array of factors that limit educational opportunities and outcomes. These include less experienced and less qualified teachers, high levels of teacher turnover, less successful peer groups and inadequate facilities and learning materials. There is also a mounting body of evidence indicating that desegregated schools are linked to important benefits for all children, including prejudice reduction, heightened civic engagement, more complex thinking and better learning outcomes in general.
They did however point towards solutions, and make policy recommendations, on Creating Awareness
, Legal Enforcement
, ending the list with Government Policies
• The program of voluntary assistance for integration should be reenacted, building on the Obama Administration's small and temporary Technical Assistance for Student Assignment Plans (TASAP) grant. The renewed program should add a special focus on diverse suburbs and gentrifying urban neighborhoods (which now normally fail to produce diverse schools).
• At the state level, recent developments in Ohio offer important lessons in how to create and sustain policy around the issues of reducing racial isolation and promoting diverse schools, such as how to create district student assignment policies that foster diverse schools, and inter-district programs like city-suburban transfers and regional magnet schools.
• At the regional level, the creation of regional magnets and regional pro-integration transfer programs, as is the case in Connecticut, could provide unique educational opportunities that would support voluntary integration. Providing funds for existing regional transfer programs such as METCO in the Boston area would be a positive step in the same direction.
This situation does get media coverage, with headlines popping up around the nation:
(Maryland) De facto segregation threatens Montgomery public schools
(Texas) Breaking News: School Segregation Study Strikes A Nerve
(New York) A Portrait of Segregation in New York City’s Schools
alJazeera America recently did a comprehensive feature piece "Six decades after Brown ruling, US schools still segregated"
There are books, studies, and conferences, combined with community activism. Yet it has not caught the public imagination as a goal for all Americans.
I appreciated this thoughtful commentary by Rhena Catherine Jasey, Still Separate and Unequal:
It is disappointing and surprising that so many people seem blind to the current state of affairs in public education. Many deny that the inequalities that exist between the children of middle and upper-middle class parents and their poorer counterparts is an issue of justice. Some claim that the issue is “cultural”, a capacious word used in this case to mean “futile.” Whatever the silent assumptions lurking in the background, the fact is that few not already engaged in addressing the problem feel much motivation to do anything about it. There is certainly no sense of urgency among the general public, or in our political class as a whole, about addressing the current state of public education in our cities.
It is instructive to compare this widespread apathy with the dramatic activism that in past decades overcame other societal injustices. We have seen, for example, remarkable shifts in public opinion, and in the application of our concepts of justice and equity, with respect to the handicapped. Our society and government have also reacted vigorously to the perils of second-hand smoke. We have come a long way in a short time, and spent billions and passed many laws, when it came to creating and enforcing new behavioral norms to protect the environment. The sense of the public welfare has been so strong in these areas that the public will has developed to pursue initiatives that benefit society notwithstanding the fact that the benefits may not correlate with the population making the bulk of the sacrifice. What has applied in those cases applies as much as, if not more, to the task of providing a more equitable educational experience for poor urban and rural children: Everyone would gain. This is not charity but self-interested social investment. How do we explain the lack of public ardor for fixing our educational inequalities?
Consider the following thought experiment. Imagine a society in which every child has exactly the same chance of being placed in any of our public schools, regardless of income level or zip code. Children would no longer simply be sent to their local school; instead, all children’s names in a particular geographical area would be collected in a hat and picked at random for assignment to a given school. In this imaginary world, a child born into a family living in a middle or upper-middle class area could be sent to a school in a poor urban or rural environment. Similarly, a child born into a family living in poverty could be bound for one of the best schools in the nation. Everyone’s odds would be equal
I have no children. But I benefited from a high quality public education, and would like to see that privilege extended to young people across the U.S. who will inherit the world so many of us fought so hard to change in the 60's and 70's.
The struggle continues.
News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
Racial bias could keep passersby from helping a disabled black teen -- and the media from reporting on his case. Salon: Searching for Avonte Oquendo: How racial suspicion hurts missing black kids.
In the last 12 days, how many times have you asked yourself and others the following question: where is Avonte Oquendo? If you’re a New Yorker, you’ve likely wondered more than once, as posters seeking help in locating the 14-year-old autistic boy — missing since October 4 — have been placed throughout the city. If you’re a black New Yorker, you’ve probably inquired — far more than once — not only about Oquendo’s whereabouts but why more of the national public isn’t aware of who he is. But here’s a query we may all be overlooking: if you saw a black teen boy wandering a city, how closely would you pay attention to him? And if you truly noticed him at all, would it only be because he raised your suspicion?
Wandering is a common, high-risk occurrence for children with autism. According to Autism Speaks, which is currently offering a $70,000 reward for Avonte’s safe return, nearly half of diagnosed children over age 4 are prone to breaking away from family, school, or friends and disappearing. Fifty three percent of these wandering children were missing long enough to cause their loved ones to worry. What happens after that is often left up to the perceptions of passersby and announcements like the ones the NYPD and others have posted around the city to find Avonte Oquendo. If a commuter were to encounter a wandering adolescent, would she pay enough attention to connect him to the face plastered on lampposts and subway platforms? Would she notice that the boy is disabled, worried or lost? It’s difficult to know in any case, but when the wandering teen is black, racial bias makes these questions doubly fraught.
We can’t ignore the ways in which racial suspicion colors our assessment of people and their circumstances. On the heels of the Jonathan Ferrell case, where negative perception of an injured, disoriented, unarmed black male doomed him to death, we are reminded that first impressions are life and death matters when black young men are involved. Whereas Ferrell was never given the opportunity to identify himself and explain his needs, Oquendo would not be able to. His autism renders him unable to verbally communicate.
Not only are black disabled missing children at the mercy of placards and passersby, but their cases are often underreported in mainstream media. Racial disparity in missing persons news reporting is no secret. A 2010 study indicates that, though missing black children account for 33 percent of all cases, only 19.5 percent of missing-child reports on the news involve black children. These omissions have prompted the creation of organizations like Black & Missing Foundation and the TV One cable series, Find Our Missing.
A poster for Avonte Oquendo is seen in downtown New York October 15, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)
Phillip Goff, a social psychology professor at UCLA says his database isn't about proving racism; it's about public safety. So law enforcement is into it. The Root: Why Police Want to Share Profiling Data.
"Six or seven years ago, I was sitting around writing a piece for public consumption. I thought, 'What I could use here are some stats on racial profiling and police brutality.' There were none -- there are none. We just don't have the numbers, and that's because there's no mandatory reporting."
That's when Phillip Goff, a social psychology professor at UCLA and director of theCenter for Policing Equity, says he recognized a need for the nation's first national police-profiling database.
He's just received a grant from the National Science Foundation to make it happen.
In the 30 cities that have already signed up and the as many as 70 that Goff hopes will work with him on his newly funded initiative, law-enforcement agencies will turn over data collected about pedestrian stops, vehicle stops and use of force. It will be identical information for every law-enforcement interaction from all of these places around the country.
It's hard to believe that this database doesn't already exist somewhere. Racial-profiling allegations are constantly in the news, in the ever-growing list of unarmed black men killed by police and in a recent string of disturbing stories in which victims were shot while seeking help from law enforcement. Where numbers actually are kept, as with New York's highly criticized stop-and-frisk program, they show a disproportionate number of African-American and Latino men unfairly targeted. But there is currently no national or local mandate for any tracking to occur.
Phillip Goff, director of the Center for Policing Equity (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
Erratic weather and a locust plague take a severe toll on rice and maize harvests, leaving up to 4 million people short of food. The Guardian: Madagascar: floods and locust swarms threaten to leave residents hungry.
Faravavy, 32, lives in the middle of an arid plain 93 miles south of Betioke in southern Madagascar. She tries to support herself and her three children by cultivating maize, red beans and manioc, but is unable to grow enough to generate an income or even feed her family all year round. "We never have any crops to sell," Faravavy says. "We eat everything we produce."
During the lean season, which runs from October to March, when new crops are planted but not yet harvested, Faravavy and her youngest children go out to the forest to dig up roots. "It's hard. You have to dig deep to get them out, and they taste very bad if the rains haven't come yet. I leave at seven in the morning and come back in the afternoon, and we just have enough to eat in the evening. Then the next day, we go again."
Faravavy's village, Ankazomanga, used to be close to the forest, but as more trees have been cut down, villagers have had to walk further and further to find food. "When I was small, we lived better than my kids do now," she says. "There was rain, and always enough to eat."
Erratic weather and a locust plague have taken a toll on Madagascar's rice and maize harvests this year, leaving up to 4 million people – 28% of households – in rural areas short of food, according to a report produced by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). A further 9.6 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity.
Fed up with the attacks by homegrown Islamist extremists, young informer-vigilantes have driven the group from Maiduguri, the city from where the group sprung. New York Times: Vigilantes Defeat Boko Haram in Its Nigerian Base.
The men from Boko Haram came tearing through this rural town, setting fire to houses, looting, shooting and yelling, “God is great!” residents and officials said. The gunmen shot motorists point-blank on the road, dragged young men out of homes for execution and ordered citizens to lie down for a fatal bullet.
When it was all over 12 hours later, they said, about 150 people were dead, and even one month later, this once-thriving town of 35,000 is a burned out, empty shell of blackened houses and charred vehicles.
Boko Haram, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamist insurgent movement, remains a deadly threat in the countryside, a militant group eager to prove its jihadi bona fides and increasingly populated by fighters from Mali, Mauritania and Algeria, said the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima.
But about 40 miles away in Maiduguri, the sprawling state capital from where the militant group emerged, Boko Haram has been largely defeated for now, according to officials, activists and residents — a remarkable turnaround that has brought thousands of people back to the streets. The city of two million, until recently emptied of thousands of terrified inhabitants, is bustling again after four years of fear.
For several months, there have been no shootings or bombings in Maiduguri, and the sense of relief — with women lingering at market stalls on the sandy streets and men chatting under the shade of feathery green neem trees in the 95-degree heat — is palpable.
Boko Haram has been pushed out of Maiduguri largely because of the efforts of a network of youthful informer-vigilantes fed up with the routine violence and ideology of the insurgents they grew up with.
Sunday Alamba/Associated Press
Vigilantes set up a checkpoint in Maiduguri, Nigeria, against the Boko Haram militant group.
When all else fails it really is all about race... The Grio: NYC mayoral race now has its ‘Willie Horton ad’.
Lhota may be correct that “Republican” means something different in New York City than in Washington. But in light of his words and actions since that Tuesday debate, the word “unbecoming” must mean something entirely different to him.
Politicker reports a Lhota quote much harsher than anything the candidate was willing to say to de Blasio’s face, calling the Democrat “your typical, classic political hack, who doesn’t know what to do when he’s in a debate and talking about issues.” The Bronx-born Lhota also tried to paint de Blasio as insulated in the liberal Brooklyn enclave of Park Slope.
An interesting criticism only with respect to its hypocrisy, given that the very next morning, Lhota released a new ad that showed us all just how desperate – and how Republican – he really is.
The 30-second message, entitled “Can’t Go Back,” points to then-councilman de Blasio voting to “take 5,000 cops off our streets,” a contention that conveniently omits the fact that that vote was for a Mayor Bloomberg budget that led to that reduction. Lhota then tries to make de Blasio look soft for suggesting police “talk to bikers” to help prevent future incidents like the recent attack on a family whose SUV had just paralyzed another biker.
The ad then warns that de Blasio’s “recklessly dangerous agenda on crime” will essentially return voters to the crime-ridden New York City of recent decades past, complete with a scary montage of murder on the streets, riots, shootings in stairwells, and other assorted urban nightmares straight out of Taxi Driver, New Jack City, or the Bloomberg administration. (Some of the images, it seems, were used without permission.)
The kicker, though, is the image of what appears to be an elderly white woman of means, her face divided by the pole she’s clutching on a graffiti-covered subway car as she is eyeballed by the black man sitting behind her. Beware, moneyed Manhattanites and Brooklyners: this could happen to you! (Those of you in poor neighborhoods that still look like they did back then, never mind, I guess.)
Voices and Soul
by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor
From a coldwater den and onto the concrete embankment, along a dirt farm road and the paved back highway; up the cracked hillside steps and onto the ruined viewing platform; we look west across a white thorned wind buffed sea.
The sun has just set and the gray light darkens.
But that dashing, dauntless, delphic, diehard, diabolic cracker likes his fiction turned with a certain elegance and wit; and that anti-anti-anti-slum-congestion clublady prefers romance;
Search through the mothballs, comb the lavender and lace;
Were her desires and struggles futile or did an innate fineness bring him at last to a prouder, richer peace in a world gone somehow mad?
We want one more compelling novel, Mr. Filbert Sopkins Jones,
All about it, all about it,
With signed testimonials to its stark, human while-u-wait, iced-or-heated, taste-that-sunshine tenderness and truth;
One more comedy of manners, Sir Warwick Aldous Wells, involving three blond souls; tried in the crucible of war, Countess Olga out-of-limbo by Hearst through the steerage peerage,
Glamorous, gripping, moving, try it, send for a 5 cent, 10 cent sample, restores faith in the flophouse, workhouse, warehouse, whorehouse, bughouse life of man,
Just one more long poem that sings a more heroic age, baby Edwin, 58,
But the faith is all gone,
And all the courage is gone, used up, devoured on the first morning of a home relief menu,
You'll have to borrow it from the picket killed last Tuesday on the fancy knitgoods line;
And the glamor, the ice for the cocktails, the shy appeal, the favors for the subdeb ball? O.K.,
But they smell of exports to the cannibals,
Reek of something blown away from the muzzle of a twenty-inch gun;
Lady, the demand is for a dream that lives and grows and does not fade when the midnight theater special pulls out on track 15;
Cracker, the demand is for a dream that stands and quickens and does not crumble when a General Motors dividend is passed;
Lady, the demand is for a dream that lives and grows and does not die when the national guardsmen fix those cold, bright bayonets;
Cracker, the demand is for a dream that stays, grows real, withstands the benign, afternoon vision of the clublady, survives the cracker's evening fantasy of honor, and profit, and grace.
-- Kenneth Fearing
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