Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
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Should integration be the goal?

At the risk of sounding like a Jim Crow advocate, I have to wonder: Has the effort to integrate all the nonwhite groups with white fallen short by confusing integration with equal opportunity?
     Of course it is vital that people not keep sorting themselves into colors. I just worry, now, based on my reading, that not enough resources have been directed toward making opportunity equal, and too much resource has been directed toward blending everyone.
     One of the most commonly highlighted facts is that children seem to learn best from people of their own color, but there are not enough teachers of color. Consequently, many nonwhite children are taught by whites, especially by white females. Amongst other things, they learn that teachers aren't black or Hispanic or Asian very often, so relatively few grow up grow up thinking of themselves as potential teachers.
     Since the 1954 ruling in Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, and also since the school integration efforts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, school districts got more integrated, but are now as segregated as they were prior to the 1960s. This re-segregation has resulted from many factors, especially deregulatory moves at the federal level that have fostered the re-growth of wealth inequality. In economic hard times, white people suffer less setback than people of color because whites have more social and economic capital to start with. As people become more poor, they have to move to less wealthy school districts. The children in those districts tend to have parents less able to spend time with them because the parents struggle with two or more low-wage jobs. As more children of color fall out of the middle-class and upper-class school districts, the districts re-segregate.
     Do we need to focus on integration as much as we need to focus on regulations aimed at building wealth among people of color?

2 Comments to Should integration be the goal?:

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