Monday, May 17, 2004

A few words on Brown v. Board:

It's a sham. America's public schools are still separate, and still unequal. The most segregated population in the US today: white people, who run like hell from integration at the first opportunity. Even in the South, where people really tried to desegregate, integration turned out to be the brief period between the first black family moving in and the last white family moving out. This story from the Tribune is really frustrating - it's sort of a best case scenario, and it still stinks. The problem in Atlanta, and everywhere, is suburban sprawl. In this country, government services such as public education are pushed down to the local level. This makes it easy for people with resources to simply move out of a town and set up their own "community" right next door, with a new government, school district, tax code etc. Then, through minimum lot sizes, zoning against multi-family homes, and so on, communities can exclude anyone without money. They can't formally exclude by race, of course, but they can keep building new houses as unwanted neighbors move in.

Full disclosure: I live in Chicago, perhaps the most segregated city in America. They city is 31% white, but only 9% of public school students are "white" - and the states weird definitions count Indians and Pakistanis as "white." White families who can't afford to send their kids to private school mostly move to the suburbs when their children turn 5. The city has improved in many ways recently, but residentially, the African American community couldn't be kept more separate from the rest of the population if there were still Jim Crow laws. In a city that is 36% Black, 31% White, and 26% Latino (the rest are Asian, Arab, Native American etc) the majority of African Americans live in neighborhoods that are 97% Black. The boys here live in Arlington, the majority-white county which seceded from DC in the 1800s to rejoin Virginia. In Arlington, one can enjoy most of the benefits of the capital city without actually paying the taxes to support them (I wonder if the District benefits in any way from all the new development in Northern VA? I doubt it) So I'm not saying we are innocent in this, I'm just saying it sucks. You probably can't force people to live next to each other in a democracy. But we should be able to come up with a system where we all pay into the same pot for basic services, in which people can't avoid their responsibilities as citizens simply by moving to another "town" anyway. And who knows, without the tax benefits maybe people would stop building these horrible new mall-subdivision-mall exurbs. They certainly don't have anything else going for them. You've got to admit, pretty much every community that wasn't on the map in 1954 is a boring, lifeless hellscape . . .
Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?