invisible race

28 06 2007

The New York Times just broke this story which reports on a court case today which takes a huge leap backward in race struggles which have been slowly improving for the last century:

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected diversity plans in two major school districts that take race into account in assigning students but left the door open for using race in limited circumstances.

The decision in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle could imperil similar plans in hundreds of districts nationwide, and it further restricts how public school systems may attain racial diversity.

It was a split, 5-4, with Alito passing the fifth important vote (which his predecessor Sandra Day O’Connor, who I’m not all that keen on but regardless, would doubtlessly not have passed if precedence is any indicator) actually bringing the American education system back to the year 1954 in one fell swoop. Pretty soon they’re going to start bringing students on field trips to the Creation Museum after riveting lessons on the integral role of storks in the baby-making process.

I get that conservatives think we are actually moving forward on this whole “race” thing. They’re saying, “Come on, man! It’s not 1965 anymore! We haven’t hanged anybody in decades. Racism is a thing of the past — it is time to move on.”

They’re asking for “race-neutral” solutions to problems. What was that line that The New York Times said the Bush administration used? Oh that’s right: “Racial diversity is a noble goal but can be sought only through race-neutral means.”

That’s kind of like saying, “Lower carbon emission is a noble goal but can only be sought through a hydrogen vehicle that won’t be ready for who-knows-how-many years.” Wait. The Bush administration used that one already? Go figure.

Seriously, though. You can’t use “race-neutral means” to achieve something when race-neutrality doesn’t exist. Regardless of how easy it might be for the Bush administration to sweep under the rug (what with all the other earth-shattering mistakes they’ve been making to distract us from the race/ class issue), racism is still a very real and thriving institution in this country. Just because we don’t want it to exist doesn’t mean it doesn’t.

Through progressive educational movements in the last few decades, racial integration and educational equality for all people have come a long way. That has now been flushed down the toilet by (surprise surprise) five white, male Republican judges who have likely never set foot into an inner-city high school.

In Chicago, Illinois, is it an accident that the overwhelming majority of Blacks still live in the Southern part of the city? Which is (coincidentally?) also by far the poorest, most “dangerous,” and least federally cared-for part? Or what are we to think when we look at the racial make-ups of private, liberal arts colleges? Do those White kids just work so much harder and put so much more into their education that they, indeed, deserve to be there more? Or is it possible that class and race are still so often indistinguishable that minority students don’t have the money or the means to attend schools like that? Wake the fuck up, America, racism is still an issue, and it must aggressively be confronted.

That’s why racial integration in schools is such an important idea. If we want to obliterate this racist sensibility that we as a country continue to propagate, it is our responsibility to forcefully teach our children that judgment based on skin color is completely unacceptable. I want my children to feel sick if they are sitting in a classroom where only one race is represented.

Today, I saw that dream go right out the window. Thanks a lot, Mr. Alito.




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