Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Jim Crow in the Classroom: New Report Finds Segregation Lives on in U.S. Schools

In a legal climate that sanctions (encourages you could argue) the disenfranchisement of African American voters, while simultaneously (re-)creating a three-tiered racially and economically segregated schooling system, many African American children and families are still managing to create meaningful opportunity out of limited resources - consistent with the generations of our families in front of us.

As we continue to press on, and do our best for our children and families, we have to simultaneously look outside of our own neighborhoods and communities so that we can see the larger pattern. This, I would argue, will help us to better understand what's really happening in our own neighborhoods and communities.

Another article discussed on Democracy Now yesterday, The Resegregation of America’s Schools, tells some of this larger story. I've always argued that we need to be more attentive to what's happening around us, otherwise we'll continue to be on the receiving end of policies and schemes to undermine our children, our families and our community.

From the interview and discussion...

Well, I think it’s very obvious, if you just look strictly at the facts, that we still have a racialized K-12 system and that black and brown students tend to be in schools where they’re receiving an inferior education. They have a less rigorous curriculum. They’re less likely to get access to classes that will help them in college, such as advanced placement physics, higher-level math. And they are most likely to be taught by inexperienced teachers. So, when you have this system where black and brown students are receiving a very different education than white students, and then once you get to the college level you say race no longer matters, and despite your disadvantage in a public educational system, that now we are all—everyone should compete at the same level, I think, in some sense, it’s just—there’s just a big disconnect between what’s happening on these two levels of education.

Approximately 20 minutes...



Michigan & Affirmative Action: Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Dissent – April 22 2014

Many of you have seen or read stories by now about the Supreme Court's refusal to overturn the State of Michigan's ban on affirmative action in university admissions - decided upon as a change to the state constitution by voters during a 2006 statewide election. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which issued it's ruling yesterday.  (Link to opinion below)

Dissenting were Justice Sotomayor and Justice Ginsburg, with Justice Kagan recusing herself, presumably because of her direct involvement during the earlier stages of the case.

There is much more to be said about the significance of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling, but in the meantime, here is a short excerpt from the closing portion of Justice Sotomayor's 58-page dissent:

The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat. But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities. The political-process doctrine polices the channels of change to ensure that the majority, when it wins, does so without rigging the rules of the game to ensure its success. Today, the Court discards that doctrine without good reason.

In doing so, it permits the decision of a majority of the voters in Michigan to strip Michigan’s elected university boards of their authority to make decisions with respect to constitutionally permissible race-sensitive admissions policies, while preserving the boards’ plenary authority to make all other educational decisions. “In a most direct sense, this implicates the judiciary’s special role in safe­guarding the interests of those groups that are relegated to such a position of political powerlessness as to com­mand extraordinary protection from the majoritarian political process.” Seattle, 458 U. S., at 486 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court abdicates that role, permitting the majority to use its numerical advantage to change the rules mid-contest and forever stack the deck against racial minorities in Michigan. The result is that Michigan’s public colleges and universities are less equipped to do their part in ensuring that students of all races are “better prepare[d] . . . for an increasingly diverse workforce and society . . .” Grutter, 539 U. S., at 330 (internal quotation marks omitted).

Today’s decision eviscerates an important strand of our equal protection jurisprudence. For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.

I respectfully dissent.

You can click the link below to download and read the full ruling, including the concurring and dissenting opinions.

Justice Sotomayor's dissent begins on page 51 of the PDF file linked below.  From there, it reads 58 pages to the end of the PDF.

Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (Michigan Affirmative Action Ruling - April 22 2014)


The Black Bruins – Sy Stokes and Black Male UCLA Students (Spoken Word)

Here's a moving video that's been floating around the internet in the last several days.  It's a protest video of sorts, made by Sy Stokes, a cousin of the great Arthur Ashe, and several of his classmates at UCLA.

In this video, they call attention to the small number of African American students at the university - African American males in particular, during these post-affirmative action years.  Among those few African American males who are on the campus, more than half are university athletes.

...When we have more national championships than we do Black male freshmen, it's evident that our only purpose here is to improve your winning percentage.

...So we have become our own painters, with our own pallets, and we have voices that speak defiantly.  So we ignite the flames that help us find our path to our future; increasing graduations, not incarcerations, transforming education because our numbers can't be any fewer.

...So don't be surprised that we have become rebellious for what has happened to us.  When every Black student in class feels like Rosa Parks on the bus.

...Stop pretending that the wounds of our past have healed.  We are not asking for a handout.  We are asking for a level playing field.  Those with less opportunity are fighting for their position, trying to find their place; but those with privilege are hitting triples when they were already born on third base.  So with all of my brother's hopes and dreams, that this university has tried to ruin, how the hell am I supposed to be proud, to call myself a Bruin...?

We should all applaud and celebrate these students' determination, their courage, and their willingness to speak truth to power.

We must all step up our efforts to keep the doors of educational opportunity open to our youth.