RacialSegregation and inequality 64 years After Brown v.
Board of Education DariaLysenkoEnglish 122-342: English Composition IINovember28, 2017 Sixty-threeyears ago, the U.S Supreme Court ruled in favor of Brown and twelve otherAfrican-American parents from Topeka, Kansas, who wanted their children toattend local public white schools. Their lawyer was Thurgood Marshall, who waslooking for an opportunity to combine similar cases together and challenge theseparate but equal doctrine upon the court. It was a wild guess as the white majority including justices wereopposed to the changes in education system, they were subconsciously resistingthe idea of desegregation. Racism and discrimination was a normal practice. In fact,in many states, segregation was mandatory and some states allowed suchpractice, so the real issue of racial segregation lied in the governors’ discriminatingpolicies. Whencourt decided Brown, “declaring segregated schools “inherently unequal” andunconstitutional”1there was a big shift following the “desegregation of public accommodations andthe mostly unhindered right of African Americans to compete for jobs, to vote,and to purchase or rent homes”2.
Those changes didn’thappen overnight and nothing came easy. It is difficult to overestimate theimportance of Brown’s case, however, his goal is far from being achieved. Today,despite all the progress made since Brown v.
Board of Education, racial segregationis still a widespread and growing issue and inequality remains. Recent data reported in U.S News shows “from school years2000-2001 to 2013-2014, the percentage of all K-12 public schools that had highpercentages of poor and black or Hispanic students grew from 9 to 16 percent”3. Besides, schools withhigh concentration of black or Latino students offer lower quality educationand less future educational opportunities due to lack of college preparationcourses. Also, the drop out and suspension rates in such schools are muchhigher than in other schools. All that leads to huge achievement gap betweenwhite and black or Hispanic students, which has a direct connection with poverty.
According to the PBS News “in 2011, 72 percent of the country’sAfrican-American students and 68 percent of Latino students attended publicschools where more than half of their classmates were living in poverty”4. That is when the “doublesegregation” by race and economic status begins.Racialand economic segregation in neighborhoods is a real cause and the foundation ofthe segregation in public schools as all neighborhoods are assigned to specificschools. Before Brown, it used to be that black or Hispanic kids would have towalk miles to get to their segregated schools, as they were often denied inadmission to their nearby white public schools. But how come that today, when schoolsare legally integrated and children of any race can attend public schools basedon where they live, majority of black and Hispanic children still attendminority schools and segregation remains a huge problem? The answer is obvious,as when neighborhoods are racially and economically segregated, schools in thoseneighborhoods will see an identical pattern.
Neighborhood segregation is bestdescribed in the report for the BBCNews: Kansas City, Missouri, is one of the country’smost segregated cities. Drive around the west of Troost Avenue and there arelarge houses, their vast porches overlooking equally vast driveways. Propertiesare anything from $356,000 (£243,000) to $1.2m. But you only have to go east tosee a very different picture. Abandoned houses and unkempt lawns greet you atmost corners. One building I pass is completely boarded up, with piles ofrubbish outside, and the words “Stay Out” in spray paint. The housingon either side of Troost is very much split down race lines.
5Nevertheless,to fully understand what caused such a racial segregation in neighborhoods, weneed to look at the sequence of the events that happened way prior to Brown,which lead to the widespread inequality. It all started with FranklinRoosevelt’s New Deal with its administrative guidelines and residential racepolicy, which “was explicit, unhidden, and just as unconstitutional as schoolsegregation laws”6.First, Public Works Administration created a number of projects intended tohelp middle-class white families with housing after the Depression. Prior tothe projects, in Atlanta, for example, there was a neighborhood called “theFlats”, which had almost even number of whites and blacks, but was replacedwith the public housing for whites only. Separate housing projects were builtin the same neighborhood for black population only, creating racial segregationin cities all over the country. Whenduring World War II people moved to the west coast for jobs, the federalgovernment created racially segregated war housing, where “black-designated buildingswere placed along the railroad tracks while white-designated buildings wereplaced inland near shopping and white residential areas”7. Besides the FederalHousing Administration implemented the “redlining policy” that would draw finelines on the map, separating white and black areas by not allowing to issuemortgages to African-Americans. When William Lewitt was building Lewitton inNew York, he got the government-guaranteed loans by promising the prohibitionof sale and re-sale of houses to black population in suburbs8.
Furthermore, governmentcreated zoning ordinances to prevent mixed-income populated in the future. Decadesof such policies have left its mark, even after 1968, Fair Housing Actprohibited housing discrimination, the effects of years of segregation andracism can be seen nowadays. It is extremely challenging for majority of backpeople to move to a different neighborhood and intergrade, as what they couldafford to buy back then they no can longer afford. In fact, as reported in theNew York Times “In many of America’s largest metropolitan areas, including NewYork, Chicago and Los Angeles, black families making $100,000 or more are morelikely to live in poorer neighborhoods than even white households making lessthan $25,000″9.That being said, having neighborhoods segregated even nowadays after Brown,children will attend schools in their communities, which gives us little to nohope for integration. Thebottom line is that the focus of our government should be both on desegregationof schools and communities, as it is pointless to attack one without another.It has been sixty-three years since Brown, but the issue of racial and economicsegregation remains unsolved.
It is time for both our government and thesociety to understand that the reason of the widespread segregation lies intothe decades of racial discrimination and government-sponsored schemes thatunequally separated our population into neighborhoods based on color andwealth. The unconstitutional actions of the government has shaped cities,neighborhoods, relationship between black and white population and self-imageof minority students who still don’t get same educational opportunities aswhite children. Therefore, unless our government and courts implement somenecessary policies to desegregate neighborhoods, we will keep getting furtherfrom the Brown’s idea of integrated schools.BibliographyStrauss, Valerie. “Analysis |Brown v. Board is 63 years old. Was the Supreme Court’s school desegregationruling a failure?” The Washington Post.
May 16, 2017. Accessed November29, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/05/16/the-supreme-courts-historic-brown-v-board-ruling-is-63-years-old-was-it-a-failure/?utm_term=.
d7ee33051759. Camera, Lauren.”More Than 60 Years After Brown v. Board of Education, School SegregationStill Exists.” U.S. News & World Report. Accessed November 29, 2017.
https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-17/after-brown-v-board-of-education-school-segregation-still-exists. Mason, Kyla Calvert. “Have weabandoned the goals of Brown v.
Board of Education?” PBS. May 16, 2014.Accessed November 29, 2017. https://www.pbs.
org/newshour/education/60-years-brown-v-board-tale-two-city-schools. Gebeloff, John Eligon And Robert.”Affluent and Black, and Still Trapped by Segregation.
” The New YorkTimes. August 20, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/us/milwaukee-segregation-wealthy-black-families.html.
Vaidyanathan, Rajini. “Whydon’t black and white Americans live together?” BBC News. January 08,2016.
Accessed November 29, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35255835.
1ValerieStrauss, “Analysis | Brown v. Board is 63 years old. Was the SupremeCourt’s school desegregation ruling a failure?” The Washington Post, May16, 2017, , accessed November 29, 2017,https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/05/16/the-supreme-courts-historic-brown-v-board-ruling-is-63-years-old-was-it-a-failure/?utm_term=.d7ee33051759.2Strauss, no page.3Lauren Camera, “More Than 60 Years After Brown v.
Board of Education,School Segregation Still Exists,” U.S. News & World Report, , accessedNovember 29, 2017,https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-17/after-brown-v-board-of-education-school-segregation-still-exists.
4 Mason, Kyla Calvert. “Have we abandoned the goals ofBrown v. Board of Education?” PBS. May 16, 2014. Accessed November 29,2017. https://www.pbs.
org/newshour/education/60-years-brown-v-board-tale-two-city-schools. 5 Vaidyanathan, Rajini.”Why don’t black and white Americans live together?” BBC News.January 08, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2017. http://www.
bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35255835. 6Strauss, no page.7Strauss, no page.8Strauss, no page.9 Gebeloff, John EligonAnd Robert.
“Affluent and Black, and Still Trapped by Segregation.”The New York Times. August 20, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2017. https://www.nytimes.