December 4, 2006
So, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments today in a case that could overturn Brown v. Board of Education. In this case, residents of Louisville, KY. are complaining that their children aren’t able to attend the schools of their choice because of that state’s efforts to racially integrate schools. NPR’s Nina Totenberg has her usual balanced and in-depth report on the issue.
In reality, this is not identical to the “affirmative action” issue in Michigan, but it is certainly of the same genre. Perhaps on practical grounds, racial integration at the primary and secondary school level creates a burden upon families that outweighs the benefits of forced integration. But have we, as a society, really reached the level of race consciousness that would allows us to reasonably return to the “separate but equal” standard of Plessy v. Ferguson without in fact increasing racial inequality? Some argue that is the case. I don’t need to remind anyone of the recent racial slurs of Michael Richards, but perhaps we need to be reminded of that LA police officers are again in the news for issues concerning racially motivated use of excessive force. Up for debate is the introduction of mandatory cameras on police cars to monitor use of force. This following some disturbing videos put on You Tube. Consider this one of a student being tasered for not carrying a library card.
Of course, these are separate issues, but they highlight the lack of race consciousness acrossed society and the need to continue to guard against our inherent prejudices. It seems that rolling back Brown v. Board of Education is premature.