The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in the most important civil rights case since Gratz v. Bollinger. The case involves a challenge to voluntary desegregation plans in Louisville, KY and Seattle, WA. The advocates against voluntary desegregation ooze insincerity. They live in a wingnut fantasyland in which whites are victimized by “reverse discrimination” and pernicious “race consciousness” in which whites are illegally disadvantaged in schools and in the workplace. It is a patently ridiculous argument and downright disingenuous.
Theodore Shaw, Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has written, “The notion that race-conscious efforts to address racial inequality are racially discriminatory is like telling a physician that she cannot make a diagnosis when treating a disease because the diagnosis equals the disease. There is no equivalency, moral or legal, between race-conscious attempts to address racial inequality on the one hand, and racial discrimination based in notions of superiority and inferiority on the other.”
The advocates against voluntary desegregation are the same people opposed to affirmative action. They seek to get the Courts to genuflect to their superior racial position in American society, which is essentially: I’m White, I’m right, let me have my way! Invoking white privilege has gotten them all the way to the Supreme Court and the Justices always affirm this spurious reasoning or meet them halfway.
The truth of the matter is that in most urban locales, whites have abandoned the public school system for reasons, which have nothing to do with educational quality and everything to do with race. They just don’t see educational quality in public school systems with “too many” black and brown faces. Voluntary desegregation plans are an attempt to respond to white flight and create racially diverse, high-quality public schools that don’t ghettoize children of color in inferior schools populated by the children of disadvantaged working class people.
It should be noted that the cumulative efforts of the Reagan-Bush Administrations has been to stack the federal courts with right-wing ideologues sympathetic with the fantasy jurisprudence of white victimization. The timid efforts of the Democratic Party to halt the long march of the Right for federal judicial dominance have led us to the dangerous racial precipice we are dangling on today. What is at stake is the continued life of equal opportunity in this country. The Right believes equal opportunity is synonymous with white privilege and seeks to render us blind to the institutionalized racism against people of color.
Theodore Shaw believes “The work of racial justice does not require us to gouge out our eyes so that we cannot see race. The race problem in America has never been mere race-consciousness; it has been White Supremacy. The question is not whether we see race; the question is, having seen it, what is its significance? Having seen it, are we an inclusive or exclusive society? This is not a time for blindness. This is a time for sight.”