Monday, February 01, 2016

What Was The Point of the Civil Rights Movement? Not This, I'm Quite Sure

The whole purpose of the Civil Rights Era was to end segregation and different treatment based on race.  There is a direct line from Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, through Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, through the Little Rock Nine (commentary here), through the March on Washington, through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which was signed by President Johnson when I was a few months old).  The Civil Rights Era can be summarized in a way in two quotes:
"There is no understandable factual basis for classification by race...."
-Thurgood Marshall, in his brief for the NAACP in Sipuel v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 (1948)
(read more from Marshall here)

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1963 "I have a dream" speech
The goal, quite clearly, was legal equality for all Americans.  There could be no color bar any longer.  Somehow, though, in the intervening half-century since the end of the Civil Rights Era, the idea of civil rights has morphed--actually, it's more apt to say it's been twisted--from its rightful focus on individual rights to what we have today, which is a focus on "group" rights.  And unfortunately, this focus on group rights has brought us full circle; we again have a situation in which some people are "more equal" than others, but this time it's minority (in this case black) students instead of whites, and what many of them are asking for is neo-segregation:
The University of Connecticut is hoping that black males will graduate at a higher rate if they spend more time with one another, and is building a new residence hall to facilitate just that.

The ScHOLA²RS House—which stands for "Scholistic [sic] House Of Leaders who are African American Researchers and Scholars"—"is a scholastic initiative to groom, nurture, and train the next generation of leaders to address grand challenges in society through the promotion of academic success in undergraduate programs at the University of Connecticut and in competitive graduate programs," the website states...

"It is a space for African American men to, one, come together, and validate their experiences that they may have on campus," he (a faculty director) explained. "Number two, it's also a space where they can have conversation and also talk with individuals who come from the same background who share the same experience."

The specialized housing does not—quite—constitute a "segregated" residence, as it is currently optional, much like the "affinity housing" that other schools have put in place to serve as a "safe space" for minority students.

Isaac Bloodworth, a sixth-semester puppetry major, however, ascribed opposition to the plan as simply racist.

"The white portion of the University of Connecticut is probably not ready for it," he speculated. "You have people who are going to go against it because they are just racist and they see this as a form of segregation or that we’re getting better things than they are."
Who sounds more racist: a person who considers this a form of segregation, or Isaac? 

We've heard for years, starting with Bakke in 1978, that the rationale/justification for so-called affirmative action in higher education is "diversity"; where's the diversity when you separate people by race?

Can racially-segregated dorms be justified by Marshall's and King's ideals?

Are the post-Ferguson Black Lives Matter protest demands (a view from the left here, a view from the right here) congruous with Marshall's and King's ideals?

Is this really what we want in higher education?

3 comments:

Janet Lee said...

"puppetry major"?? We're supposed to take a "puppetry major" seriously?

Probably a puppet of the Left - now *that* makes sense.

Joanne Jacobs said...

According to Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/blacks-dorm-uconn/), this will be a "learning community" housed on part of one floor of an existing, multi-everything dorm.

"NextGen Hall will house over 700 students participating in 8 Learning Communities, providing ample opportunity to engage with students from across majors, interests, and backgrounds: EcoHouse; Engineering House; Eurotech House; STEM Honors House; Innovation House; ScHOLA²RS House; Public Health House; and WiMSE House (Women in Math, Science & Engineering)."

Anonymous said...

This is for real? Not from the Onion? A 6-year puppetry major? What the heck is that?!