My understanding of the Parents v Seattle decision has marginally increased since yesterday. I've listened to Carol Swain and the head of the NAACP LDF speak out on it on NPR, and I've read a bit more of the actual decision.
Over at Maxambit we're having a great discussion about race raising vis a vis class criticisms within black America and the extent to which they are valid and useful. My last insight to this, had the Parents decision in mind.
I’m saying that the solutions to black people’s problems have already been found, and millions have already implemented them. The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.
The question of race raising has to do with the ability to sustain networks of blackfolks who have already handled their business and getting others to follow in similar tracks. So when Cosby says ‘GET MARRIED’ and other blackfolks don’t listen, what are you supposed to do? Say Cosby isn’t really black?
The primary difference between liberal and conservative thinking is that liberals prefer that the distribution of black peoples solutions be done through government. Conservatives say the distributions should be done through private enterprise. Malcolm said religion was the proper channel of distribution.
It is that matter of channels of power that are rather crucial to the practicality of the advancement of African American interests. I think one of the primary misunderstandings about the black Conservative agenda is that it proposes no government solutions aside from marginal support for Republican programs like NCLB. The reaction is generally that black Conservatives are disingenuous, but what I think is closer to the truth is that blacks who are conservative, and especially those who are activists, have already overcome the middle class mainstream boundaries that vex so many African Americans. There is a class issue. Our answer is '"just go get a job" and we don't realize that we're talking to folks who can't "just go get a job". Our answer is "don't make racial identity your focus" but often we're talking to folks for whom society has no other way, nor they have any other way to distinguish themselves.
If Cobb take a lot of well-deserved flack it's because I'm flip about this in a way that should be familiar to blackfolks. I assert BAP privilege. Which is to say that I've put up with enough jive Negroes in my life not to be especially attached to their plight. I know a nappy headed ho when I see one and I don't give her the time of day. As well, working class brothers know an uppity Negro when they see one and are just as apt to dismiss me. None of this weighs heavily on my mind except when mischaracterizations are made. I do want to represent my class and political perspectives correctly, and I don't want to do an Imus at anytime. Let me not be misjudging anyone. So I'm especially annoying and fine pointed when it comes to making ambiguity disappear, but I have no problem at all calling them as I see them, and I'm perfecting my vision every day. I've always known that there were going to be harsh class conflicts - I never expected any more than 15% of African America to go Republican by '08.
Be all that as it may
Diversity in the breach.
Are we a diverse nation? I think only a fool would say that we are not. How did we get that way? What do we need to keep it that way. Michel Martin asked this bomb question of her guests and that's when the brother from the NAACP had to pitch out some rhetorical pepper. Unfortunately it was way out of the strike zone.
You really have to tell me what's going on when a school is lacking in diversity. What difference does it make, and what does that have to do with racial segregation? What's not being said here AT ALL is that if all of the plans to integrate were class based, you'd get all of the desired results with one big nasty side effect. You'd have to get all of the inner-city parents to admit that they don't want to live geographically close to the suburban parents. There is no value in 'diversity' which is what I ahve been saying for years. And if race becomes a tie-breaker, it can become the sole arbiter, there is no way of avoiding it, there are just ways of mitigating it. But if people have already decided that the inconvenience is not worth them moving across town to get out of a bad educational situation for their kids, then they have already decided that they want it to be the deciding factor.
That means as mitigated as race has actually become under the guise of diversity, every inch you take away from it is causing aunguish. What people really want is race. There is no getting away from that eiter. Meaning they want positive racial discrimination in favor of non-whites. This has gradually become, for white parents and people clear-headed to see it for what it is, increasingly intolerable. It may be unfortunate that there are some racists riding in the same bus, but they're not driving and they're not in control. The direction we are heading is proper, which is the direction of disabling racial discrimination period.
For a long time, in fact for most of my political life, I have been an advocate of positive racial discrimination. But I have never been able to reconcile that with my desire to bust up the black monolith, and common sense. There can be no denying that blackfolks aren't all alike, nor do we even experience racism in the same way. So to the extent that I cannot bear to be lumped in a racial box for any reason, given what I know about people within one social category of race actually are, I cannot advocate equally for positive racial discriminations. I know class makes a difference. I know attitude makes a difference. I know geography makes a difference. I know education makes a difference. They must be considered first. I cannot say with any certainty that ought to be law, how the state ought to view race, or what ought to be permissible as a racial distinction for the purposes of positive discrimination. Nor can I say under which conditions racial discriminations are actually zero-sum games. I like to believe they are not, and I like to believe that in the aggregate that white suffering is diffuse enough to absorb the negative impacts of positive discriminations for minorities - but that is all contingent on historical contexts that change.
In short, this game is too slippery to nail down, and it's better left aside.
Black Patches, 1966
I don't want the state telling me how much blackness is enough. Let those who will complain and squirm do so. They will play themselves along with their adversaries. I just don't have enough dog in that fight - not over government resources.
I don't know how many Supreme Court decisions and interpretations it's going to take to satisfy every contingent who are chasing after the perfect balance of 'diversity' in public schools, but I'm losing track of where we are now. Bakke, I understood. Hopwood, I think I understood. Grutter I understood. Loving I understood. Aderand, I didn't really understand. Brown I understood. Why do I have to know all this? Because we're trying to keep track of exactly how much racial privilege should count in America and re-weighing it ever 7 years or so in all aspects of life. Can't we just get off this hamster wheel? I really think we're going nowhere fast.
Somebody said that the law was supposed to be like a jungle. Always permeable by the dogged, always impenetrable by the common man. There is no absolute law but God's laws - the laws of physics, the nature of mankind, the Natural Law. Everything else can be circumvented. At any moment, the validity of the law is determined by the consistency it has with itself and the balance of power it maintains as it is challenged from all sides. But the law is never simple, it is complex for a reason. I am coming to the conclusion that our law on race is becoming like tax law - it gets increasingly byzantine by the decade. The ultimate question is whether or not the state has any business getting into those weeds in the first place. Certainly the conservative court has applied tougher barriers over time for the state to have any interest in checking up on race. It's very difficult for me to disaggregate the opposition to that coming from professionals who study race and those who stand to gain or lose most from the application of new regimes. Which way is this hustle going anyway?
Parents v Seattle. I expect I'll be hearing that it's "White Parents vs Seattle", but only non-whites could call it that. I don't think it's a reason to make new laws. Then again maybe all of those growlers are denizens of Sherwood Forest who can't settle their differences any other way. I think it's really a damned shame considering the quality of public education in the State of Washington, which was, last time I checked, rather abysmal.
The question begged here is that whitefolks should not benefit from the application of civil rights laws, and that's what's just wrong. As long as Americans are going to play games with race, and that's what this is, high existential stakes poker, then we're going to keep suing and keep sending our complaints up the judiciary. I simply don't believe that these decisions are anywhere near as significant as they used to be. After all, this is all about 'tiebreakers' for 'diversity'. I'm trying to see exactly what that is supposed to mean.
I'm keeping my eyes and ears open on this debate.