Tags: Affirmative Action, African American, African American Community, African American History, African Americans, black, Charles Dickens, Civil Rights, ethnicity, European American, European Americans, President Obama, Race in America, unemployment, Voting Right Act
Shortly after President Obama was elected a cry of America being a post-racial society was heard. The thinking was that since America had elected an African American president that all the concerns about race and its negative derivatives had been addressed and was now in the past. The truth of the matter is that America has yet to deal internally with the concept of race other than to continue its illusion. What might be passing for social progress is mostly illusion since not much has changed for the betterment of African Americans relative to employment, education, and incarceration. Certainly, we can point to a number of areas where African American involvement and participation in society have made them more visible, but that visibility usually underscores their ethnicity rather than their being viewed as simply Americans. The stigma of race (ethnicity) always accompanies the African American and the attention, positive or negative, received. In a democratic society the resolution of one problem usually represents the creation of two or more problems. A case in point was school desegregation beginning in 1954. Using a phrase from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worse of times,” when we examine some of the repercussion visited on African Americans as a result of desegregation.
Education in America prior to the Brown decision in 1954 was separate, but certainly, not equal. Education in America can never become equal, because that term pertains to mathematics, not sociology—nothing involving human beings can ever be equal. That term was used to create an illusion of fairness. The idea that African Americans wanted to attend school alongside European American students for social reasons was false; they just wanted an education comparable to that of the European American students. Fortunately, and unfortunately, the only way to ensure that all students receive a fair and comparable education was to discontinue segregated schools. For the African American community, that created numerous problems, two of which involved education and economics.
When the schools were segregated, the African American students were the recipients of information relative to African American history, past and present–information that helped to created a positive self-image as well as one of self-value. The history underscored the many individuals who time and time again triumphed over challenges to achieve some measure of accomplishment. These examples helped the students to develop the courage and desire to accept the many challenges they must face in an ethnically biased society. American history from an African American perspective was not simply an objective look at past events, but a continuing story of the struggles of African Americans to gain fist-classed citizenship in America.
Once the schools were desegregated, many of the former African American teachers were dismissed in favor of European American teachers. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not note that once desegregation became the law, many European Americans who could afford it, moved to suburbs in an action that came to be known as “white flight” because they did not believe in ethnic mixing in any context, but especially at school. As a result of “white flight” the court required bussing of students to achieve desegregation. Since most of the African American schools were physically inferior to those of the European American schools, African American students were bussed to European American schools. These changes, white flight” and “bussing” had a dramatic affect on the African American students.
Once the African American students were bussed to their new schools, they had to adjust to totally new and different environments where they were generally in the minority. Without a doubt, European American students had to make adjustments as well, but they had the benefit of attending their home schools and being taught by familiar teachers. No special considerations were made for the African American students relative to their social adjustment; they were expected to simply “fall in line” along with the majority students. One major difference existed relative to the African American students involved in this desegregation experience; they no longer received or learned African American history. The fact that the majority teachers had no background and little or no knowledge of the African American historical experience, they could not bridge the ignorance gap that could have provided some insight into the problems that created the need for desegregation in the first place. In this case, all students were disadvantaged.
A second negative affect of desegregation to the African American community was the loss of an entrepreneurial class of business men and women. Once the schools became desegregated, many chain-store businesses came into the community and ended much of the “Mom and Pop” businesses that existed in the community because the chain-store business could easily offer goods, services, and products at a lower price. The smaller, African American owned businesses could not compete with the larger ones; so many African Americans who formerly worked at these businesses were displaced. So, the immediate affect of desegregation for the African American community was mixed in that while the African American students would share classrooms with European American students, and thereby receive a comparable education, the African American community would lose many of its entrepreneurial members and businesses and be changed forever.
So, the people who would like to think that America is in a post-racial present might want to reconsider that thought when they examine areas of: education, where we learn that schools today are rapidly becoming more segregated rather than integrated; or consider the wealth gap among ethnic Americans of color compared to European Americans, and the unemployment rate that contributes directly to the standard of living; or to the recent and current news items from Florida, to New York, from Illinois, to California, and places in between where young African American men have been killed by law enforcement agencies; or the fact that many of the previous accomplishments relative to social progress have been eroded, like voting rights, affirmative action, and economic upward mobility in general.
Rather than talking about a post-racial society, America should be looking at the debunking of the illusion of race. One of the primary problems in America today is that too many people do not want to face facts and the reality of those facts—race is and always has been an illusion. The idea of America as a post-racial society is an oxymoron.
Tags: African Americans, Antoni Scalia, Civil Rights, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, Fourteenth Amendment, government, Jon Stewart, politics, public scrutiny, Rachel Maddow, Supreme Court, supreme court justice, third word, U.S. Constitution, Voting Right Act, white
When Supreme Court justice Athoni Scalia made a comment concerning voting rights last week, he readily got the attention of many people, including a number of his colleagues. He got their attention when he used a certain phrase that created cause for concern in how he looks at the right to vote. Part of his comments were:”I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”
The phrase that caused concern is “perpetuation of racial entitlement” because it opened the door to a number of interpretations. Depending on how one interprets the word “entitlement” the fact that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of every citizen to vote would not make voting an entitlement. On the other hand, if one interprets the word “entitlement” as a “right,” then the question of his use of the word “racial” comes into play; that is, he would be suggesting that a racial right exists. If, however, someone interprets the words “racial entitlement,” as a reference to a group of people receiving special privilege, then the third word “perpetuation,” becomes more significant in that the entire phrase can be interpreted as a continuation of giving special privilege to a certain group of people based on their ethnicity.
The problems involving voter registration before and during the last election brought to public scrutiny how some states were attempting to prevent some citizens from voting. Scalia’s use of the phrase “racial entitlement” does not have a place in the discussion on voting rights. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution is very clear on who can vote and where they can vote: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The wording of the Amendment note specifically that “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Nowhere in this Amendment is there a reference to race or entitlement. So, why would he use such a phrase?
On a number of occasions, Justice Scalia has made statements that could be interpreted as having an ethnic bias. With that in mind, we learned that Rep. Jim Clyburn reacted “on the latest Supreme Court’s hearing on the Voting Rights Act and he had some harsh words for conservative Justice Antonin Scalia saying that his criticism of the landmark civil rights legislation is rooted in the fact that he is ‘white and proud.’”(Fox Nation) In essence, Clyburn sees Scalia as having a bias towards non European Americans.
One wonders why Justice Scalia would possess any inkling of bias against minority Americans seeing that his father was an immigrant from Sicily, and his wife’s parents were immigrants from Italy as well. The fact that most Italians prior to 1952 were viewed along with other ethnic minorities as non-white, led to the immigration of people from Italy, Poland, Russia and Greece being drastically cut. One must assume that Scalia as a youth was not subjected to the ethnic discrimination that would have created for him some memorable experiences that might serve as a base for dealing with prejudice.
If Jim Clyburn’s statement has any creditability regarding Scalia being “white and proud,” then we have an idea of why he might view ethnic Americans in a different light from the way he views so-called whites. The self-conception of European Americans after World War II as being the only true Americans must have been the philosophy adopted by Scalia, since he see himself as white. The idea for “white” being the true Americans and superior to all other Americans must have been a comforting through to Scalia. Unfortunately, those concepts were false along with the concept of multiple, biological races. Nonetheless, bigots still hold on to their beliefs and display them at opportune times.
Rachel Maddow on the Jon Stewart show (3-1-13) talked about the fact that the Rosa Parks statue was being unveiled during the time the Supreme Court was meeting on the Voting Right Act. She noted that Scalia used that time to make his suggestive statement. She said:
“He’s a troll. He’s saying this for effect. He knows its offensive and he knows he’s going to get a gasp from the courtroom, which he got, and he loves it. He’s like the guy on your blog comment thread who is using the n-word. ‘Oh, it made you mad? How about if I say this? Does it make you mad? Did it make you mad? Did it make you mad?’ He’s that guy! He’s that kind of guy! When we’re all shocked that he said something so blatantly racially offensive while talking about the cornerstone of the federal Civil Rights Act, he’s thinking, ‘Oh yeah!'”
In his language and behavior, Scalia seems to be saying that he is not only white but also a Supreme Court Justice, so he can say anything he want to say without fear of reprisal. To not be aware of our country’s history on race is not good for a Judge. For a justice to display a biased character from the bench is worse.
According to Maddow, Scalia loves to make people angry by making these uncalled for remarks, but they get him the attention he wants. Let us hope he does not influence any of the other judges. That would be a disaster for the country.