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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Apartheid Lover... 

Stevie Wonder's tune was never meant to be this...

Call up, ring once, hang up the phone
To let you rot in schools alone
Don’t want nothing to be wrong, Apartheid lover...

Because when you consider the message in "Jim Crow's Children" and the message in serious studies of school segregation...including Harvard University...you realize that from Brown vs. Board of Education (1954, more or less implemented by 1960) until roughly 1980 (and certainly no later than 1990) was the window of opportunity for integration in America...a window that seems to be closing:

Half a century after the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of American education, schools are almost as segregated as they were when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, according to a report released today by Harvard University researchers.

And it's not just African Americans:

The increase in Latino segregation has been particularly marked in western states, where more than 80 percent of Latinos attend predominantly minority schools, compared with 42 percent in 1968.

Why is this disturbing? Well, in reading a good overview on resegregation at http://www.ncrel.org/gap/library/text/isthere.htm, one item of interest is:

[D]irect research...demonstrates that desegregation has positive effects on children. [S]tudies show that desegregation improves test scores as well as changes the lives of students. [R]esearch also indicates that desegregation benefits children in the long run in terms of college attendance, employment, and living in integrated communities as adults. [T]eaching in an interracial setting is not as difficult as some might think...there are well-documented and relatively simple teaching methods that have proven effective for teaching in an interracial setting.

San Francisco is the most integrated city in the US, and it's a fantastic place. There is no place I feel safer--not to mention more alive--than a truly convective melting pot. Studies have shown differences of perspective, experience and worldview contribute to greater progress, greater intelligence, and greater measures of happiness and well-being. This is what has made America great, too. America's technological prowess is built on the backs of immigrant genius from Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, East Asia, Russia--and everywhere else. A melting pot is simply better than a single flavor stew.

Sadly, it appears us older Gen-X'ers lived our young lives in this window of opportunity, and thought it would always be this way. One thing I honestly never thought I would be saying about America in 2005 was that it was a racist, Apartheid society. But facts indicate it is.

The real disease in America, of course, is classism. The disparity between the rich and the poor. And this disparity is growing at an astonishing rate. But racism is a convenient symptom. Like getting women to fight for abortion rights. Racism "colors" the real issue, that of the rich robbing the poor. Well, the rich need folks to be distracted from this or the numerical imblance would bode ill for them--racism and abortion rights are two good red herrings to throw in the water.

Don't be fooled. Hug a brother or a sister, high-five a ghost, lap swim with a Latino today. You have a lot more in common with another working stiff of any ancestry than you do with a rich person. Move on to the disease and stop being sidetracked by the symptoms. It'll make you happy and really irk a billionaire.

-Vulf

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