Resegregation Nation: Next up, the Supreme Court Rules That Integrated Water Fountains Violate the Constitution
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

All you closet Klansmen out there, you would-be Bull O’Connors and George Wallaces, listen up: it is officially time to party! Get out your balloons and confetti, and iron your best white robes, because the Bush Supreme Court has officially declared that racial integration and diversity DON’T MATTER AT ALL. The Bush court says that not only is segregation totally cool (as long as it’s the “natural” result of segregated housing areas), it’s actively RACIST to oppose segregation. Why? Because racial diversity is AGAINST the spirit of Brown vs. Board of Education.

Yes, that’s right–it’s against the spirit of the decision that made it possible for children of all colors to go to school together to encourage children of all colors to go to school together. The only way to avoid racism is to DENY it and ignore it and NOT DO ANYTHING TO STOP IT. That’s what being “colorblind” is all about!

As the NAACP’s Theodore Shaw put it on The Newshour With Jim Lehrer tonight, it doesn’t get much more Orwellian than this. This is Civil Rights Lite to the extreme. Hence the vigorous dissent:

[Souter] said the chief justice’s invocation of Brown vs. Board of Education was “a cruel irony” when the opinion in fact “rewrites the history of one of this court’s most important decisions” by ignoring the context in which it was issued and the Supreme Court’s subsequent understanding of it to permit voluntary programs of the sort that were now invalidated.

I was particularly horrified by the anti-integration argument that many parents “don’t want this” (“this”, presumably, being the horror of their children going to school with black kids). For example, here’s Roger Clegg, president of the deceptively named “Center for Equal Opportunity” (his group filed an amicus brief in the case) celebrating the anti-integration decision on the NewsHour:

I think that school boards are also going to be sensitive to the fact that most parents don’t like it when they are told that where they can send their children to school depends on what color they are.

And…

I think the question is whether anyone believes that a politically correct racial and ethnic mix, that kind of diversity, is worth the price of racial discrimination. And I think that most Americans would say that, no, it is not.

Sure, lots of Americans–bigoted and ignorant ones–protested school integration back in the day because they didn’t want it, either. That didn’t make them RIGHT. That was the whole POINT of Brown vs. Board! As the NAACP’s Shaw put it:

This [integration] is not about school districts telling people that they can’t go to school on the basis of their skin color. This is about school districts trying to continue to fulfill the promise of Brown and to avoid segregation. In no way is this comparable to the kind of regime of segregation and discrimination that existed under Jim Crow.

Exactly.

Finally, while we’re on the topic of Brown vs. Board of Education, this is particularly bad timing, because I just did a dystopian cartoon for Lambda Legal wondering “What would life be like without integrated schools?”:

Prepare to find out. And God Bless Our Colorblind America, where the playing field is level, everyone has an equal chance, and white kids can just learn about colored folks on their Tee-Vees!

Next up: The Supreme Court rules that allowing black people and white people to drink from the same water fountains is racist.

P.S. I would have called this cartoon “Separate But Equal: The Sequel”, but I already drew a cartoon with that title. Oh well.

P.P.S. Just so it’s clear–in the cartoon, the kids of color are locked up in a “Jim Crow Max Security Educational Facility” not because they’re troublemakers or deserve to be there, but because they live under racist segregation.

Cross-posted at Boiling Point Blog.

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3 Responses to “”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    one of the lawsuits that brought this about was a seattle caucasian boy that had to be bussed across the city because there were too many other white kids in his area. That is unfair. I for one agree with the ruling, we have passed the days of slavery and “white only” ideals. Perhaps, for the most part, bigotry is dying off with our grandparents generation.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    wow man, i had promised 20 usd agsinst ann coulter, but when i say im ok with this ruling you censor me wtf, ya tell the seattle boy its ok to bus him across town cause he’s white

  3. Mikhaela Says:

    No one was censoring you–Ted was away in Tajikistan and didn’t have access to his computer to approve comments!

    The bottom line here is that the court has declared that diversity does not matter and that schools cannot deliberately encourage racial diversity in schools, even as one factor among others.

    Sure, busing can suck for the kids involved. But as flawed as some implementations of integration plans may be, we have to do that difficult work, and the goal should not be to abandon integration, but to make it work.

    We do not have a level playing field in this country, and racism is not dead and gone.

    So sure, some integration plans are flawed. What’s the alternative? Let go of the dream of racial integration? Let racism be and just pretend it doesn’t exist? Let neighborhoods segregated by race and class lines mean that schools are similarly segregated?

    I’m thinking of my hometown.

    I was lucky enough to be part of a busing program that took kids from all over the city to a public school that deliberately aimed at diversity and reflecting the diverse mix of kids from my entire city of Lowell, Massachusetts. My school was about 40% white or less, and maybe 20% black, 20% Southeast Asian and 20% Latino/a, and we were from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. When your friends are kids of all different backgrounds and countries of origin and colors, I think kids of all colors benefit, because you don’t grow up thinking of people as “other” or a one-dimensional stereotype or some weird kind of person only visible in the media. They’re just your friends.

    But as for the “neighborhood schools”… It was a good-size small city, but the neighborhoods were very much segregated by class and ethnicity and so on. So the schools in the white neighborhoods were fancy-pants schools with new textbooks. The schools in the Cambodian and Latino and black neighborhoods … well, I remember going to a school my dad taught at when I was a kid and there weren’t any doors on any of the bathroom stalls and the building was falling apart. And even aside from that, in such a diverse city, the kids were only surrounded with their immediate neighbors.

    I’d hate to see an America in which segregation is ignored and tolerated in the name of colorblindness.

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