Sunday, July 05, 2020

Nah Jim, Black America Didn't "Opt Out" - White America Violently Rejected Integrating Black Children


I was fetching around for a way in which to try and integrate today's dismissals of both BLM and the black political mainstream, with tomorrow's refresher course on American racism and living memory history. Tomorrow is REALLY important.  That said, I suspect that even here, short attention span theater predominates - such that a simple succinct six minute turn that Irami Osei Frimpong offered - will have been lost even on my audience.

For sure what has been lost is the fundamental, core living memory experience of racism that shaped my life, largely i'm guessing, because it had little to no impact on any of your lives. What I'm referring to is public school desegregation attempted in the 70's and flatly and legally and politically rejected by white Americans of all socioeconomic and political persuasions. 

Kunstler entirely misses this in his haste to blame black folks for their exclusion and alienation from the American mainstream. See, I and a number of my peers, my immediate personal cohort, were among the lucky and durable ones who integrated public and private schools during the 70's, survived, got tough, and thrived, all the while learning everything there is to know about white America. 

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, don't get me wrong. I'm not crying about anything, I'm not playing a victim card, and I sincerely believe and exemplify the ethos "that which does not kill you". But the simple fact of the matter is, that when white Americans refused to accept integration of public schools and shifted themselves in very dramatic macro-scale fashion in response to the prospective horror of little Cindy Lou sitting next to young Tyrone in the 3rd grade, well..., that kind of set the mold for much of what has followed over the next 50 years.

kunstler |  That business was the full participation of Black citizens in American life. The main grievance now is that Black Americans are still denied full participation due to “systemic racism.” That’s a dodge. What actually happened is that Black America opted out and lost itself in a quandary of its own making with the assistance of their white dis-enablers, the well intentioned “progressives.” 

Let me take you back to the mid-20th century. America had just fought and won a war against manifest evil. The nation styled itself as Leader of the Free World. That role could not be squared with the rules of Jim Crow apartheid, so something had to change. The civil rights campaign to undo racial segregation under law naturally began in the courts in cases such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954). So-called public accommodations — hotels, theaters, restaurants, buses, bathrooms, water fountains, etc. — remained segregated. By the early 1960s, the clamor to end all that took to the streets under the emerging moral leadership of Martin Luther King and his credo of non-violent civil disobedience.

Many acts of non-violent street protest were met by police using fire-hoses, vicious dogs, and batons to terrorize the marchers. This only shamed and horrified the rest of the nation watching on TV and actually quickened the formation of a political consensus to end American apartheid. That culminated in the passage of three major federal laws: the Public Accommodations Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Meanwhile, something else was going on among Black Americans: not everybody believed in Dr. King’s non-violence, and not everybody was so sure about full participation in American life. Altogether, Black America remained ambivalent and anxious about all that. That full participation implied a challenge to compete on common ground. What if it didn’t work out? An alternate view emerged, personified first by Malcolm X, who called MLK an “Uncle Tom,” and then by the younger generation, Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panthers and others retailing various brands of Black Power, Black Nationalism, and Black Separatism. It amounted, for some, in declining that invitation to participate fully in American life. “No thanks. We’ll go our own way.” That sentiment has prevailed ever since.

So, the outcome to all that federal legislation of the 1960s turned out not to be the clear-cut victory (like World War Two) that liberals and progressives so breathlessly expected. The civil rights acts had some startling adverse consequences, too. They swept away much of the parallel service and professional economy that Blacks had constructed to get around all the old exclusions of everyday life. With that went a lot of the Black middle-class, the business owners especially. In its place, the liberal-and-progressive government provided “public assistance” — a self-reinforcing poverty generator that got ever worse, especially in big cities where de-industrialization started destroying the working-class job base beginning in the 1970s.  Fist tap Big Don.

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