The Folly of Desegregation
By Private Submission | Tue, 05 Jul 2016 08:00:00 EST
In the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, the US Supreme Court declared that the laws of 17 States requiring racial segregation in schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution.
As a result, public schools across the US were required to integrate and accept black as well as white students. Although the decision required that schools become integrated "with all deliberate speed", this lack of a clear timeframe, combined with a lack of details on how to actually implement desegregation allowed States to effectively ignore the ruling in various ways.
Unsurprisingly, much of the resistance to implementing Brown occurred in the [deep] South, with Alabama Governor George Wallace (a Democrat) attempting to physically block two black students from registering at the University of Alabama, being a prime example.
While Wallace's stand is only one of a number of examples showing that those in the South were opposed to desegregation, the prominence of these examples encourages us to ignore the fact that in a sense, segregation also occurred in the North. Because higher quality schools were found in wealthier areas
and because white families tended to be wealthier than black families, for instance, many black students continued to be segregated-not because of the racist ideology of the past, but because of the economic reality.
And while steps were taken to overcome some of these economic barriers (such as bussing students from poor areas to schools in wealthy areas) and school desegregation peaked in 1998, schools have become increasingly resegregated over time. Although actual racism may be responsible for some of this trend, much of it is likely due to poverty masquerading as racism-parents in wealthy neighbourhoods don't want their children going to school with "those [poor] students [who happen to be black]" because poverty is associated with increased drug use and crime.
Although some are alarmed with the resurgence of segregation (and we should certainly be concerned if segregation occurs due to overt racism), some segregation is actually good for us. While everyone being equal and mixing with each other is good in theory, in reality, such homogenization can be stifling and eliminate much of the diversity that we [claim to] crave. And that diversity gives us a freedom (we don't have to be the same and are allowed to be different) and makes us more resilient.
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