Happy Monday Family. I hope you all are well rested from the extended weekend and ready to get back to the grind.
Often as I sit and craft my blog post for the week, there’s always a list of things I must do. Never in any particular order but the list usually follows as such:
- First I have to really look at the historical event that I am charged with reporting on and ask myself how much I really know about the subject. I know that from reading CREADs daily posts, that many of you assume we are masters of all Black knowledge and history. This is false.
- Most times I have to look at a topic and gauge its relevance not only in relation to what I will write but also to the larger connections it has to my own reality and the reality of the diasporic people.
- I have to research and engage with the material on a deeper level than just recounting a historical event.
- Lastly, I have to create content that is not only informative but that is also engaging and that helps to push the narrative of Black triumph and resilience amongst of backdrop of White Supremacy.
With that being said, INTEGRATION WAS A FAILURE and is the worst thing to ever happen to Black people. Integration was meant to assimilate Blacks into White America and White norms saw the downside of prominent Black communities, businesses, and educational systems. By creating public spheres where WHITENESS became the goal, Black people lost the independent structures which helped to foster some of the brightest minds in our people’s history.
What sparked this?
In the 1954 case of Brown V The Board of Education of Topeka the Supreme Court made a unanimous decision that struck down the law of “Separate but Equal,”effectively dealing a major blow to segregation in schools and sparking the Civil Rights Movement.
When the Supreme Court officially ruled that the segregation of schools was illegal, Wypipo around the country lost their Effinnnn minds.
“A campaign of “Massive Resistance” by whites emerged in the South to oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling that public schools be desegregated in Brown v. Board ”
Khan Academy- Massive Resistance and the Little Rock Nine.
After experiencing the benefits of segregation in every form of life, you think Wypipo really wanted to see desegregated schools? Their precious White babies learning beside Black bodies? Descendants of the master and descendants of the slave in the same classroom?
“Southern congressmen issued a “Southern Manifesto” denouncing the Court’s ruling. Governors and state legislatures employed a variety of tactics to slow or stop school desegregation; white Citizens’ Councils emerged to lead local resistance.”
Khan Academy-Massive Resistance and the Little Rock Nine.
This hateful message of Black oppression and segregation was shared by everyday citizens then and as we’ve seen, it continues now; they are our postmen, dentists, police officers and even elected officials. The Southern Manifesto was a sentiment shared by some of the most powerful of southerners, those who had ascended to the ranks of government.
How the hell we supposed to believe in good White people when you got s**t like this taking place. While these individuals positioned education reform and “equity” as the contemporary issue, their underlying focus was upholding White supremacy and racial prejudice holistically as a system and way of life.
We must remember that in the history of America, BLACK progress has always been met with MASSIVE WHITE RESISTANCE.
That brings me to this day in history and the LITTLE ROCK NINE
I was going to start off by calling this group of young scholars brave, but honestly that s**t would be an understatement. You have nine kids who literally have to face White Massive Resistance and all it’s ugly iterations head on. I’m talking White hate, White aggression, White violence and all of the identifiers of White Supremacy. Simply because they wanted access to better funded schools. These nine kids were “powerful beyond measure” as the great Marianne Williamson once wrote.
In 1952 the Supreme Court decided to hear five separate cases of racial discrimination, one being Oliver Brown’s claims of racial segregation by schools in his district in regards to his daughter, which together, collectively became known as Brown V. Bd of Ed. These were claims made by Black families who were dissatisfied with the education their children were getting under this “Separate but legal” regime. This created conditions where their kids educational needs were neglected; due in large parts to unfair funding prompted by racially unequal tactics. They wanted to have a choice about where their kids were educated, but didn’t realize that these new conditions would in turn destroy Black schools.
On September 25, 1957, three years after the initial Brown v Board of Ed court ruling, schools in Arkansas and a lot of the Southern states had yet to enforce the law of the land.
Initially, the nine Black children who were to attend Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas, were set to start school on September 4, 1957. But racist Gov. Orval Faubus was not having it y’all. He called on the National Guard, not as a means of protecting these young brave students but instead as a militia force to keep the kids out, acting as a barricade around the school. All the while turning a blind eye to the mob style violence enacted by angry racist White citizens.
Wypipo thought that desegregating schools and the larger society was a huge mistake. Even President Eisenhower didn’t out right support the legislation. He was quoted as saying:
“I don’t believe you can change the hearts of men with laws.”
After several attempts by the Governor of Arkansas to defy the President’s enforcement of the court order, Eisenhower decided to deploy the federal troops and the National Guard to finally make sure these kids were protected and escorted into school.
In the end the kids attend a hellacious first year of school at Central High. They faced daily threats of verbal and physical abuse that extended from the crowds that lined the steps of their school all the way down to the White peers. It must have been traumatic for them to get up and learn everyday. How challenging it must have been to muster up the resilience necessary to experience racism in such a visceral way.
In my research I came across an HBO documentary entitled Little Rock Central: 50 years later, a film shot in 2007 which spoke about the historical event and chronicled the reality of the school in contemporary times.
The Little Rock Nine and their legacy is one interconnected with the history of education reform and the fight for social justice. I think of this amazing tale of Black liberation and the fight for education and I’m like “damnnnnnnn. I don’t think I would have endured that just to go to school.”
After watching the documentary, I was left questioning the status of today’s schools and the realities it has for our children. Today Central High school is made up of Black and White students across class lines. However, the school is seemingly “diverse,” Black kids intermingling solely with other Black kids, while White kids mixed only with other White kids.
Black youth were underrepresented in Advanced Placement courses, while White kids were overrepresented. The Black students, most of whom, hail from mostly impoverished neighborhoods, experience different realities than the White students who commute from more wealthy areas.
It’s clear that integration failed this school and these students. Fast forward 60 years and still the conditions of the school only benefit the White students. Black students struggle and sit at the bottom of most statistical categories, in a school where they are the majority. In the same space where integration was something people fought for and against, there is not much indication that it was ever necessary for Black students to excel in America.
I sat back and tried to pinpoint the difference between then and now for our Black youth. In contemporary times there aren’t mobs of violent hate spewing Wypipo standing right in from of the school attacking our kids. However there are racist educators and administrators, whose practices lead to the so called “educational gap” America loves to speak of.
So how much has changed? Like really how has the status of education in America changed for the better for people of color?
We here at CREAD think of teaching as activism and I’d push that even further by saying that learning in and of itself is a form of activism for People of Color. Since enslaved Africans were first stolen and brought to these shores, there has been a desperate and downright criminal attempt by Wypipo to keep us from learning the actual truths about our immaculate history and how we use that to shape our future.
The question is why? And what are they so afraid of?
Teaching and learning is as controversial today as it was in 1957 and the same group of students are still left to suffer.
We have a President and a Secretary of Education who have shown that the status of public education is not of great focus or concern for them.
- How are the times much different?
- If they aren’t, then what are the implications and ramifications left to befall our children?
- How are we constantly working as educational activists to shift the narrative around education for our Black students who suffer so much under White supremacist tyranny?
- What are we bringing back to our own classrooms and school communities to ensure that all students receive a quality education and not one that’s based of this “separate but equal” mindset?
60 years from now If we look back and realize that we haven’t moved the needle much further than 60 years before; then we have failed ourselves and our children.
Hold it down good people!