Monday, January 18, 2010

Ya basta! It is enough!

A friend of mine, watching a special on Martin Luther King, Jr. the other day with her oldest grandson, was startled when he turned to her and asked point blank, "If Martin Luther King died so I can have equal rights, why am I still treated differently in school because I'm Black?"

This child doesn't need a blog post to tell him what his daily experience of life is. And the look of pain in his eyes wounded her so badly, she could hardly discuss the conversation.

The story reminded me of the statement the Zapatistas released when they first rose up against their own government's collusion in signing the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994: "We have nothing to lose, absolutely nothing, no decent roof over our heads, no land, no work, poor health, no food, no education, no right to freely and democratically choose our leaders, no independence from foreign interests, and no justice for ourselves or our children. But we say enough is enough! We are the descendants of those who truly built this nation, we are millions of dispossessed, and we call upon all our brethren to join our crusade..."

The boy's question also reminded me of a post written by Dana Goldstein about school de-segregation and the federal stimulus dollars. Goldstein suggests that fancy federally-funded urban magnet schools are the answer to the problems she so well describes. I don't agree. That may work in Connecticutt, but it hasn't worked most places because "magnet" programs (full of White kids) are typically run like separate schools with different buses, different lunch times, different entrances, and so forth (to make the programs fit the guidelines, while also being palatable to White parents who really want the benefits without having to actually have their children interact know...those children).

Still, the post does draw attention to damning research on the fairness of schools for children of color, something Jonathan Kozol has beaten fairly to death in his many books and articles on what he termed Savage Inequality in one title. Goldstein also links to a new report by UCLA's Civil Rights Project that outlines why Black children are more likely to be attending a majority Black school now than they were in 1988. Sigh.

Martin Luther King, Jr., may have had a dream about little Black children and little White children, but so far, big White parents are managing to make sure those children meet as little as possible under positive circumstances. But then the U.S. Supreme Court only mandated full and speedy de-segregation of all public schools in this country as a matter of constitutional rights in 1956. U.S. citizens of color can't expect to have their constitutional rights recognized and protected -- just because they're U.S. citizens -- in only fifty-four years. Right?


BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Children are not dumb,they know what their eyes see and ears hear.It's we adults who have not the courage to face the truth!Until enough adults get off the track and onto the train it will not move.

Changeseeker said...

What a great line, Bigmac!! I'm SO gonna use it every chance I get! "Until enough of us get off the track and on the train, it will not move." Whew! And that says it all.

That's what I was trying to say in the post on activism the other day and you've encapsulated the whole post in sixteen words. I love it. :^)

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Thanks,I'm in the middle of your new post at the moment.