Tag Archives: segregation

SEGREGATION TALES

It increasingly has become evident that many supporters of people like Rand Paul completely misunderstand issues involved in ending segregation. They invariably pose discussion of integration as one of “property rights” and the individual’s right to decide what happens to his property, and that individuals have a right to decide who does or does not enter their property. Let me begin with a story told me by a cousin who was in training at Ft. Benning,Georgia on his way to landing on Omaha Beach. He was on a trolley when a black woman carrying packages entered, as a good New Yorker, he rose and offered his seat. The trolley car conductor halted the trolley and insisted my cousin had to return to his seat because the LAW said, he did NOT have the right to give his seat to a black person. Segregation was a LEGAL SYSTEM, not a personal decision. During WWII, Southern states even had segregated bomb shelters!! The most outrageous example of segregation occurred during WWII when captured German and Italian soldiers who had fought against British and American soldiers were sent to the American south and placed in POW camps. Unlike today, during WWII, the USA respected the Geneva Conventions regarding prisoners, even those who were dedicated Nazis. The Geneva Conventions allows POWs to work if paid and thousands of German prisoners in the South took advantage. In my files, I have a famous cartoon which depicts a German POW entering a WHITE ONLY restaurant(many POWS got weekend passes and they could go to town and spend their money) while his Negro guard can not!!

Segregation laws prevented Negro men and women from gaining access to hospitals, it prevented attending university law and medical schools, it even dictated entry to a circus. Perhaps, Mr. Rand Paul can defend Southern laws which MADE ILLEGAL A MARRIAGE BETWEEN A WHITE AND BLACK SKINNED PERSON. Talk about INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS!! Mr. Rand Paul is a nice man, unfortunately, he lacks knowledge the system of segregation and its impact on the lives of Negro and white people.

How about a trip to the library, Mr. Rand Paul??

Prime Minister OLmert Blasts Racism Against Ethiopian Jews

A week after reports of the segregation of four Ethiopian girls in a Petah Tikva school caused an outrage, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he intended to pursue an extensive plan to deal with the growing racism in Israel against dark skinned people. “There is a problem and there is trouble. The feeling of injustice for the Ethiopian Jew is not detached from reality and it is our responsibility to change it.” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also noted that discrimination ‘forces Ethiopians to be concentrated into their own neighborhoods, without integration, and this situation harms the absorption process in general.”

If there is on nation in the world which must ensure the disappearance of prejudice and segregation, it is Israel. Jews have been denied equal rights and forced to live in segregated housing in most nations so it is imperative that such actions not be tolerated in Israel. My mother went to school in Poland at the beginning of the 20th century at a time when Jewish children sat in segregated areas of the classroom. It is shocking that any child in the year 2007 would be segregated in a Jewish school. Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni deserve praise for their immediate actions to deal with this horrible situation. Hopefully, their concern will also spread to protecting the right of Darfur refugees to remain in Israel and avoid being deported.

Toronto Considers Schools Designed For Black Students

The Toronto school board is considering opening schools specially designed to meet the needs of black students in grades kindergarten to grade 8. Donna Harrow, an advocate of such schools notes, ‘Whatever is being used in the system at this moment is failing a lot of students–and more specifically a lot of black students.” Black focused schools have been a center of controversy since first being proposed in a 1995 province report by a Royal Commission. The debate as to whether or not black schools staffed predominantly by black teachers where an emphasis is placed on reading black authors or studying black history will lead to results has long been discussed in Canada and the United States. The Toronto School Board already has an elementary and a high school for First Nations students and an alternative high school for gay and lesbian teens.

As one who has spent fifty years in education, this debate has been one going on for most of the 20th century. A visit to schools in New York City or Washington D.C. or Detroit or St. Louis quickly reveals most of them are, in effect, “black schools.” The overwhelming majority of students are black, a high percentage of teachers and administrators are black, the curriculum emphasizes black history and literature, and the results are not that markedly different than in schools where black students are with white students. Back in the 1960s the idea cropped up in Milwaukee and it was tried. Ironically, America has too many “black schools” and too many failing to meet the needs of ALL students. The same issues being discussed in Toronto about how to reach disaffected students can be heard in rural American schools. Perhaps, problems stem from teaching the wrong curriculum using the wrong teaching methods and measuring success the wrong ways. A boring white or black teacher bores students. Young people need role models, but the color of one’s skin is not sufficient to transform a person into a role model. Toni Morrison, the writer, once said if you tell me the color of a person’s skin, you have told me nothing about who they are.