By: Joseph C. Phillips, BlackAmericaWeb.com
The responses of the Democratic candidates for president following the recent Supreme Court decisions in Community Schools v Seattle School District and Meredith v Jefferson County Board of Education were predictable. Each of the candidates stood before an audience at predominately black Howard University and spoke gravely of the Supreme Court turning its back on the legacy of Brown v the Board of Education, turning back the clock, and the need for diversity to ensure black academic success. Alas, it was the same hyperbole and condescension that they have been offering the black community for the past 30 years.
The idea that opposition to race ratios means support of segregation is quite simply hysterical. Moreover, there seems something a bit thick about standing on the campus of a predominately black university and speaking passionately about the educational benefits of diversity. Indeed, the history of scholarship at Howard, and other historically black universities suggest such benefits are inflated.
Most troubling, however, is the seeming inability of the new left to focus its vision past circa 1965. It is, as the song to a popular television program once proclaimed, “a different world.” We have successfully laid the legal barriers to discrimination (and certainly anyone practicing racial discrimination should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law), and the environment for black success has been established; what is more, it is fertile. Can we succeed without affirmative action? Absolutely! And it is because most Americans share this sentiment that the days of race-based affirmative action are numbered.
The two cases decided by the Supreme Court last week are just the beginning. The American Civil Rights Institute is planning to introduce propositions banning the use of race in public education in five states — Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri — in the 2008 elections. Similar propositions received voter support in California, Washington and Michigan. Passage in other states is not a guarantee, but the tide is clearly turning.
Rather than offer constructive thoughts on life after affirmative action, the new left stood before the audience at Howard stoking the fires of historical fear and then proposing the same old solutions of benevolent, big-government protection. I believe Sen. Obama would call that cynicism. Had the candidates been looking forward rather than backward, here is what we might have heard:
If the problem in public education is truly one of equity of resources, then let us begin discussing ways to make certain more of the dollars go to the students instead of education bureaucrats. Perhaps we could move away from the equity challenged and inefficient policy of funding school districts from the top down and begin funding our public education from the bottom up by empowering parents with dollars to spend at the schools of their choice.
There is no monopoly on brain power! Black children are capable of competing academically with other children. However, if certain values are not present in the home, there is little a teacher can do in the classroom — no matter how well-paid. If the problem is one of culture, let us discuss ways to change a culture that has strayed from the values that have historically made us strong. Let’s find ways to strengthen child-centered marriage so that fathers are in the home taking care of business. And let us finally put to death the negative belief that academic achievement is acting white and replace it with the positive certainty that academic success is acting black!
Affirmative action advocates are well-financed and no where near ready to concede the fight. But the end is nigh, and it would behoove black folk to begin preparing for the day. Unfortunately, last week’s debate made clear that the new left would have black folk out on the street, thumbs flexed, waiting for the next government bus to take us to the Promised Land.
That bus called Affirmative Action doesn’t run as often as it used to — and will soon be re-routed. Better get to stepping.