The campaign to force the comingling of blacks and whites hasn’t worked, isn’t working, shows no sign that it will work, has become an industry, and enjoys the support of few. Usually the proselytizing for what seems unwanted togetherness is intense and swathed in righteousness. It is said to be intended to end mistreatment of blacks. The one question never addressed: Do blacks want integration? Does anybody want it?
I would like to see the results of a poll by a reliable organ, Pew perhaps, asking blacks in all walks of life:
“Would you rather send your children to a white or a black school if both had the same funding, quality of facilities, and quality of instruction?”
Black kids might be asked which school they would prefer. For twelve years they bear the brunt of policies made in their name by people they don’t know to promote ends they may not share, without their preferences being taken into account or at least heard.
If the results of such polls showed that blacks—ordinary blacks, not activists and politicians—do not want integration, What objection could there be to having schools for blacks only governed by black officials, and likewise for whites? Call it salutary disengagement.
Let us admit it: Schooling in its biracial form has been a source of endless friction. Whites complain of affirmative action and dumbing down, blacks of racism. White parents, or some of them, want their children to learn good English, while blacks apparently see grammar as alien and oppressive. Serious differences exist as to what should be studied. The cultures seem so far apart as to be immiscible. What to do?
Why should both races not enjoy self-determination, each deciding in its own schools what should be taught? Literacy should be required of all citizens, but what beyond this? I want my children to know of Fifth Century Athens as it is a formative source of their culture, but why should black kids, having no roots in Greece, have to learn this stuff? For that matter, if white parents in the Bible Belt want their children to learn about Christianity, why is this anyone else’s business?
Blacks and whites have proved unable to live amicably intermixed. What alternative is there? Many people have argued for a policy of separate but equal. In its 1954 Brown decision, the Supreme Court said that “separate is inherently unequal.” This was both illogical, and arrant twaddle, but fit the court’s mood. What was true in those days is that separate invariably meant that blacks schools got less funding and less support. They observably, documentedly were not equal. In today’s world, with its willingness to engage in affirmative action, ensuring equality of resources by enforceable law would be easy as would be the continued provision of such things as lunches and books.
While there is much talk of the equal value of all cultures, in practice we homogenize them by forcing people of very different backgrounds together, and thus slowly destroying both ethnicities. If we regard different cultures as being of equal value, why do we not regard them as equally worth saving? Why force them on each other when neither wants it? A good name for this philosophy might be…well, how about…”freedom”?
Another question for Pew to ask of blacks: “If two suburbs had an equal quality of housing, public services, access to shopping and transportation, but one was populated almost entirely by blacks and the other by whites, in which would you prefer to live?”
We might find (or might not. Shall we ask?) that that the people in whose name residential integration is pushed don’t much want it. If so, why push it?
Much fog might be dissipated by a question such as this:
“Put numbers beside the following to indicate their importance to you, with 1 being most important: Safe streets. Good housing. Racial integration with whites. Good jobs. Good schools. Affordable medical care.”
Note that even the people most ardent of integration do not want it. They want it for others. Washington is full of liberal whites who are outspokenly, even explosively opposed to racism. This was true twenty years ago when I still lived there. Being relatively young and single, I spent time in bars, restaurants, and multitudinous joints of the swing-dance circuit: Tornado Alley, Twist and Shout, Cowboy Café South, and at blues clubs like Blues Alley on upper Connecticut, the heart of prosperous, decent, anti-racist white Washington.
Almost never was there so much as one black present, (with the exception of black musicians in dance joints, such as Daryl Davis at Studebaker’s) though the city itself is usually about half black and many blacks live in the suburbs.
I return maybe twice a year. Nothing has changed. These proponents of integration observably, documentably, unmistakably do not want to mix with blacks. Or vice versa: Blacks do not come to white clubs any more than whites go to black clubs. The whites do not think of themselves as avoiding blacks and would resent the implication. Yet they do not mix.
It would never occur to my white, good-hearted, intelligent, well-meaning friends that they talk the talk but do not walk the talk. They regard themselves as warriors for good because they are ideologically sound. They do not dislike blacks and are on good terms with those they encounter at work, the only place where much mixing occurs. At any mention of, say, black crime, their hackles go up and they talk of social causes. The thing they never, ever do is go into a black neighborhood, bar, or night club. With the sole exception, once, of a musician friend, I have never seen them in the company of a black.
The whole integrationist crusade feels artificial and contrived. During the push to force the Washington Redskins to change their name, a poll revealed that ninety percent of Indians saw no reason to do so. The same zealots pushing on Indians something they didn’t want are doing the same thing to everyone else. Have we asked them this favor?
Another question for blacks: “If you lived in a black neighborhood, how important would it be to you, on a scale from one to ten, to have an all-black police force?”
I can guess, but I could be wrong. Why not ask? Reflect on how many of the riots and burning cities have come about because of using white cops to police blacks. Whether you think the blacks or the police at fault depends on your politics, but if the white cops hadn’t been there, the cities would not have burned.
In my years as a police reporter I cringed to see white cops ordering blacks to take drunk tests “Now stand on one foot for five seconds….”) while ambient blacks looked on with hatred. The cops weren’t doing anything wrong. They were doing it to the wrong people. Why not withdraw white cops from black neighborhoods? Why insist on doing something nobody wants when you know it will bring disastrous results?
A more far-reaching solution would be to let well-defined black regions recruit and train their own police forces, who would receive the same pay, equipment, and retirement packages as all police in the city. If black prosecutors in black regions handled trials of blacks before black juries, outcomes might be determined by guilt or innocence instead of race, as now is common. A white jury acquitted the white police who beat Rodney King. A black jury acquitted OJ Simpson. Whether a black justice system would go harder or more leniently on this or that crime, I don’t know. I don’t need to know. It would be their business, not mine.
Different cultures have different views regarding the enforcement of law and of what things should be illegal. For example, blacks detest the stop-and-frisk policies applied in some jurisdictions, object to high levels of traffic stops and associated demands to search cars, and the imprisonment of young blacks for drug offenses. Why should not black (and other) communities decide what laws to enforce within their communities? If a black region of, say, Detroit decided that possession of crack cocaine should, or should not, be penalized and how, what could be my objection?
Nowhere do we see enthusiasm for racial integration. In Washington, when blacks weary of the city and its problems, they move to Prince Georges County, overwhelmingly black. Whites move to Fairfax, chiefly white. When whites move into cities in gentrification, blacks react with anger. When blacks move into white regions, the whites flee.
In universities, blacks want dorms and student centers for blacks only. So far as I know, white students do not seek entry into these domains. Blacks want departments of Black Studies, in which white students have little interest. Blacks want to read black authors, not Aristotle and Cervantes. In dining halls, by all accounts blacks sit together, as do whites. Blacks often want separate graduation ceremonies. So what?
Obviously, without relentless pressure from government and the media, the races would disengage. People want to live among their own. What is the problem? Why do we keep doing stupid things in the furtherance of social theory that few want and that produce catastrophic results?
Some steps toward a mutually agreed degree of autonomy (if poll results favored it) would be easier than others to effect. Withdrawal of white police could be accomplished almost overnight. Anything requiring changes to laws would be harder. The choice is to continue as we are.
Another question for Pew to ask of blacks:
“On a scale of one to ten, how important to you is having your daughter marry another black?”
This takes us into sensitive territory. Few groups, whether racial, religious, or ethnic, like to see their women marrying out. The intensity of the distaste seems to depend on degree of difference and the amity or lack of it between them. The encouragement of interracial coupling through relentless portrayal on television produces quiet, but real, hostility in a country that doesn’t need more hostility. Why not let people decide such things for themselves?
Allowing voluntary disengagement in so many venues, or encouraging it, would be said to amount to balkanization of America. Just so. Enforced togetherness has failed since the early seventeenth century. Perhaps we could try something else. We might like it better.