The playing field is still not level

book by Ira Katznelson, W. W. Norton & Company, 2006

When Affirmative Action Was White:
An Untold History of Racial Inequality in
Twentieth-Century America. Ira Katznelson

Which is why we still need affirmative action.

Don’t think we are now living in some type of post-racial wonderland simply because we now have a black president, and will for the next four years—voters willing. We know that economic inequity has deepened the divide between the rich and the rest of us, and we have blinders on if we fail to see the relationship between social class and race/ethnicity in our society. Key to the development of a middle class is education beyond high school, yet when we live in a country which still has de-facto segregation in much of K through 12 education, we cannot make the old segregationist argument that “separate, is equal.”

Schools Are More Segregated Today Than During the Late 1960s was the headline of an article in The Atlantic over the summer.

Ironically, Mitt Romney’s father George attempted to address this, pointing to housing discrimination as a root cause.

Forty years ago, George Romney, Mitt’s father, resigned as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development after unsuccessfully attempting to force homogenous white middle-class suburbs to integrate by race. Secretary Romney withheld federal funds from suburbs that did not accept scatter-site public and subsidized low and moderate income housing and that did not repeal exclusionary zoning laws that prohibited multi-unit dwellings or modest single family homes—laws adopted with the barely disguised purpose of ensuring that suburbs would remain white and middle class.

Confronted at a press conference about his cabinet secretary’s actions, President Nixon undercut Romney, responding, “I believe that forced integration of the suburbs is not in the national interest.” This has since been unstated national policy and as a result, low-income African Americans remain concentrated in distressed urban neighborhoods and their children remain in what we mistakenly think are “failing schools.” Nationwide, African Americans remain residentially as isolated from whites as they were in 1950, and more isolated than in 1940.  

Crickets from Romney on the Fisher v. University of Texas case.

NBC’s Martin Bashir talks about Mitt Romney gutting affirmative action in Massachusetts, as did an article in the Huffington Post.



The looming decision we are faced with from the Supreme Court as they sit to decide the fate of affirmative action in our nations colleges and universities is not simply a matter of higher education, nor is this discussion one that should be examined as solely the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement.  

All of the seething resentment about “entitlements” and “reverse discrimination” (a Bakke era term I abhor) that you hear presented as a rationale to dump the programs, are rooted in history, one that we often fail to acknowledge. The playing field is not only not level, it was rigged, and still is.  

(Continue reading below the fold.)


Judge enjoins PA Voter ID law for 2012 election

Viviette Applewhite, lead plaintiff

Viviette Applewhite, lead plaintiff

The Hon. Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has issued an opinion and order today preventing election day officials from enforcing those portions of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law which would require registered voters lacking photo IDs to vote on provisional ballots (with six subsequent days to verify identity). Judge Simpson rejected Plaintiffs’ efforts to block officials from asking voters to show photo id, but ID or not every registered voter gets to vote on a machine. Judge Simpson:

I expected more photo IDs to have been issued by this time. For this reason, I accept Petitioners’ argument that in the remaining five weeks before the general election, the gap between the photo IDs issued and the estimated need will not be closed. I reject Respondents’ argument that my initial estimate was overblown.

Consequently, I am not still convinced in my predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election. Under these circumstances, I am obliged to enter a preliminary injunction.

As to Plaintiffs’ request to enjoin the asking-for-IDs, Judge Simpson argued that it was unnecessary to accomplish the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s goal of avoiding voter disenfranchisement, and could be useful in continuing the transition to a voter ID regime in the future:

I reject the underlying assertion that the offending activity is the request to produce photo ID; instead, I conclude that the salient offending conduct is voter disenfranchisement. As a result, I will not restrain election officials from asking for photo ID at the polls; rather, I will enjoin enforcement of those parts of Act 18 which directly result in disenfranchisement.

I would expect Gov. Corbett to appeal this order. Such an appeal will likely be heard during the week of October 15-19, when the Supreme Court convenes again for oral argument.


Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul

Reposted on the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. King. MB

This will be a very short diary. It will not contain any links or any scholarly references. It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.

The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.  

What most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

Head below the fold to read about what Martin Luther King, Jr. actually did.