Brown decision’s negative side
6/16/2017, 1:30 p.m.
A. Peter Bailey
May 17 was the 63rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring that legally sanctioned and enforced school segregation is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
At the time of the decision in 1954, and often since then, the high court’s decision has been heralded as a major victory over the white supremacists and racists in the former Confederate states in the South.
No doubt it was. But the aftermath of that historic decision has not proven to be totally positive for black folks because it has been interpreted as meaning all-black schools were inherently inferior — not because of deliberate decisions made by state government officials and the white supremacist-racist attitudes and practices of the majority white population, but because they were all-black.
Through the years, that interpretation came to include all-black businesses, black professionals, all-black colleges and universities, all-black anything. As a result, way too many black folks basically abandoned black businesses, professionals, colleges and universities and restaurants, etc. With enthusiasm, we began delivering most of our economic resources mainly to white-owned establishments, but also to businesses owned by members of other nationalities and ethnic communities.
This practice has cost us dearly — psychologically, culturally and economically. Psychologically, to believe that anything is inherently inferior just because it’s “black” is self-defeating and demoralizing.
Culturally, it means too many of us with dyed blonde hair and blonde wigs. It means accepting the use of the n-word as some kind of liberating act. It means way too many of us still talking about a woman being “dark-skinned but pretty” or having “good hair.” It also means giving people from other ethnic groups millions of dollars annually for fake hair. I guess black hair is inherently inferior.
Economically, it means practically donating several billion dollars annually for services that we could get from other black folks to white doctors, lawyers, dentists, press agents, public relations operatives, newspapers, magazines, car dealers, restaurants, bars, and on and on.
For the sake of our children, if not ourselves, we must reject any declaration that all-black schools were inherently inferior in 1954. They were physically inferior because of deliberate policies to make them so by white supremacists and racists.
We must remember that those schools were the initial learning spaces for the overwhelming majority of the civil rights and human rights warriors in the 1950s and 1960s.
Our focus in 1954 — and today — should have been doing everything possible to provide a quality education for our children. That does not require integration or diversity. It requires a determined group of black folks inspired by the following observations of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the measure to help our children and people rediscover their identity and thereby increase self-respect. It is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who also prepare for it today … Afro-American parents must be willing and able to go into the schools and see that the job of educating our children is done properly.”— Malcolm X
“Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by educated thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be armed with knowledge as they are. Our policies should have the strength of deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents.”— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The writer is an author and journalist.