Was Desegregation A Blessing Or A Curse?

The more Black and Brown folks try to desegregate America, the angrier (and distant) white people become.

Was Desegregation A Blessing Or A Curse?

The more Black and Brown folks try to desegregate America, the angrier (and distant) white people become.

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

America Hates Desegregation

I have been thinking a lot lately about why it’s so hard to undo what’s been done in America, and one of my most thought-provoking followers, Mia George, said something profound which caused me to think about the many ways White Supremacy has destroyed Black and Brown lives all over the world.

White supremacy is an overarching, global sociopolitical variety of fascism meant to redistribute resources from a wide variety of POC’s to Europeans, and in particular from Black people to Europeans. It worked through its disregard for basic morality.

Mia made an excellent point about White Supremacy, which is undeniable. Colonialism, the father of American White Supremacy, has extracted and continues to extract untold wealth and resources from Black people and people of color (POC), redistributing them to Europeans and Whites. Even when viewing America as a Black woman, I can see how White Supremacy has extracted wealth and resources from Black and Brown communities to sustain White ones. Look no further than our political system and the biggest beneficiaries of the results as proof. The folks who complain the most gain the most — and those folks are White people.

Black and Brown folks pay heavy prices for demanding and pursuing equality, fairness, and justice. Our pursuit of happiness often leaves us unhappy and disillusioned.

When I think of the long-term impact of integration and desegregation, I can see the same hallmark footprints colonialism and White Supremacy. White people have gained much more from integration and forced desegregation. And while there may be an entire generation of folks who may disagree with because they have yet to feel or see the impact of American integration, I dare say people over the age of 35 who haven’t sold their souls to the devil

Black and Brown people have aided in wealth-redistribution when we engage in desegregation and integration. Without understanding the long-term impact of what we were doing, by Black and Brown people buying into the illusion of inclusion (i.e. seeking education, housing, communities to be with/compete with Whites, engaging in capitalistic financial practices, relinquishing our cultural norms, etc.), we’ve aided in redistributing our resources (i.e. time, taxes, talents, money, cultures) to help make life better for White folks.

How many of us have left our own communities in pursuit of “good” schools, “good” communities, and “good” lives, only to turnaround and belittle the very places we come from because they haven’t grown, flourished, or prospered the way White places and spaces have? I know I have. How many of us have been embarrassed by our own people because they aren’t polished, educated, articulate — all the stuff required of minorities? These are the same people who paved the way for us to get where we are today.

I had to look in the mirror. How can I complain about my people and my communities not having when all my family had ever taught me is to pursue a “good” life? A good life requires I help build up white supremacy as I leave my culture and community behind. Having a good anything requires I attach myself to whiteness.

To me, desegregation has worked a lot like slavery in requiring we all adopt anti-Blackness in exchange for a little upward mobility that we perceive as a wonderful life. While we can become a little upwardly mobile, there is only so much we can achieve.

Mia made another brilliant point about how America’s enslavement of people is like no other globally. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade has affected nearly everything on the globe. Mia briefly, yet concisely explains the differences between all other slavery, the impact of the nefarious Transatlantic slave trade:

“The TransAtlantic Slave Trade is NOT the ‘same as all other slavery’; it was GLOBAL and it REQUIRES ANTI-BLACKNESS. It requires anti-Blackness at its core to exist. POCs of all kinds — definitely nonBlack ones, which is my category — DO participate in white supremacy by attaching themselves to whiteness.’”

Thinking back on my experiences with integrating and desegregating white spaces, I have found no joy in them, nor can I point to any long-lasting fruit for me in doing so. If I’m truthful, I can look back and say we’ve collectively gained a little, lost a lot. I realize my ancestors fought for equality and they meant well, but I really think they underestimated the power and passion of white supremacy. I’m sure others recounting their experiences being a part of the first generation to integrate America post the five hot-minutes of the Reconstruction Era if they are honest will reveal similar feelings.

Assimilating, desegregating, and integrating has made little progress over the past 56-years or 154-years depending on how far back you go in holding America’s racist, inequitable ass accountable. I’m weighing whether desegregation and integration are blessings or curses for Black people.

A Desegregated Public Education Hasn’t Helped Us Much

America’s public education and private education made us a nation of ignorant folks. I think after seeing how many people don’t know basic American history, many of us can attest to this. We hardly know anything except how to pass a stupid standardized test (just barely). Most of us couldn’t tell anyone our own national history, let alone the history on another continent and how it’s connected to America. But a desegregated education is not as good as it may sound.

White people created testing, proficiency, and standardization as a method to keep Blacks from receiving an equal education. The origins of standardized testing are racist. White people didn’t need to be tested until we entered their school systems. Testing is a way to keep things unequal and a way for White people to continuing claiming they are smarter than us.

Since America freed Blacks from slavery we’ve behind, and we’re still behind to this very day.

White supremacy has also ensured White folks in power controlled what we learned. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s shown us we don’t know shit about anything except White people’s shit. We learn about all the wars created (and not ended) designed and started by White people, the glorious founding fathers, the Confederacy (some of you know about it and it wasn’t even your battle), patriotism, the National Anthem, and many things deemed important to White culture, white history, and white supremacy.

Anything useful has been phased out of public education if America doesn’t care whether our children learn to survive.

In public education, American children spend very little time on African-American and slave history, Native American history and culture, Mexican-history, Caribbean history and culture, Jewish history and culture, immigration policies, and so forth. Rarely are we taught America is a nation of immigrants, stolen by pirates, founded by tax evaders, and has been sustained by some form of slavery since its founding. White people have made sure we’ve spent our entire lives learning about them, modeling our lives after theirs, and learning to chase what they like to chase we hardly know anything about ourselves.

Thankfully, my father was a strong, proud Black man who believed in Black liberation, Black community-building, and self-sufficiency, so he made sure we had book and encyclopedias written by Black folks to accompany the White hand-me-down books we got in our predominantly Black schools.

The last three years have been truly eye-opening on how many of us grew up here and know less about ourselves than immigrants educated outside of America.

Our fight to get a “good” education has backfired on us, mostly. We fought to have some of that “good” education white folks received, and where has that landed us? Is the education we received since Brown vs the Board of Education superb/better? It didn’t improve our standing financially the social order. Blacks are more educated than ever, yet as poor as we were before desegregation if not poorer despite having fewer children per household as we did back in the old days. We Black folk get educated to buy stuff, not understanding how we are engaging in our own bondage to capitalism because living good has a certain look that we must live up to. A part of white supremacy’s education program is learning to consume and give away our hard-earned money by trying to buy our way into Whiteness and goodness.

Integration + More education + More stuff = White blessings, streets paved of gold, better treatment, a wonderful life, respect, and more money.

It rarely works out that way for us.

Black folks did not understand embarking on our desegregation journey for more access to public education would mean we wouldn’t be better off. Had the ancestors known life would be like this for us, I’m sure they would have stayed segregated and safe, as much as they could, anyway. Black people completely underestimated the power of white supremacy in the short and long term. Today we are paying for it.

White supremacy stops the upward mobility of Blacks dead in its tracks anytime it wants to and often recruits Blacks and people of color (POC) to help them achieve their goals. White people often require allegiance and disassociation (assimilation) in order to get into the club. Blacks and people of color will integrate and then either eat our own, block our own, or compete against each other. White supremacy wins.

They stay strong and together; we stay divided, poorer and weaker. White supremacy works as it’s intended.

Black folks will borrow money we don’t have to get an education that will never pay for itself, which translates into less transferred of wealth. That defeats the entire purpose of going to college in the first place, but most of us never think of it that way. We’re taught paying for a bloody education we can’t afford is a part of the American dream. We know education is our ticket to a better life, we just never know how we will pay for if a degree translates into success, because education is no match for structural racism.

We have school-to-prison pipelines thanks to racist school district policies and racist, intolerant White school teachers who love disrespect but hate being disrespected. We have racist policies that close our schools despite America’s history of underfunding them. We have few Black teachers and teachers of color because White people doing the hiring think of their own livelihoods and professions instead of who their student populations may learn from best.

Studies have shown Black children and children of color learn better from their own because their own people can connect with them in ways that White teachers cannot and will not most times.

Everything about public education is inequitable, inside and out, from the top to the bottom. Desegregation in the classrooms hasn’t helped us much, because the gatekeepers for white supremacy ensure things remain inequitable. White people love blaming us for our own under-achievement when in reality they are the primary reason Black people fail.

When Black folks say the system is rigged, we mean it.

Integration Has Not Been Much Of A Friend Either

If there is one thing White people have perfected, it’s fleeing integration. On the flip-side, if there is one thing Black people have perfected, it’s chasing White people down to integrate their sacred White spaces (lol). Guilty as charged occasionally.

We have been able to integrate a lot of areas, communities, career fields, and spaces, but only a few of those coveted, high-paying jobs. White folks hold those close to the vest for their own, like Fort Knox. While there are many communities and organizations that have refused to integrate since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many have — or at least they like to give the appearance of having done so.

For example, we move into White communities when we “make it.

Being the first one of anything not White or White-passing is usually a problem. I’ve been the token Black and first Black on my street and let me tell you, it’s no fun. They let you know without saying a word you’re an anomaly and that they aren’t used to any of your kind being around. The other crazy thing is that if too many Black people and people of color move into lower and upper-middle-class communities, White people will start moving out.

We catch and lose White people as much as a hunting dog runs and loses ducks. And after all that chasing, trying to befriend, rejection, and moving again, what do we really gain from it? Not much. Living among White people didn’t really accomplish what we hoped it would. Many of us are coming to the sad conclusion midway through our adult lives that we can never satisfy white supremacy.

We’re never enough. We’ve been their tokens, projects, and pawns. We’re chasing an unattainable and unachievable goal. We are literally making ourselves and our children physically, mentally, and emotionally unwell trying to pursue white happiness, white trappings, and white lives.

For example, we Black and Brown folks move to the suburbs with our kids so they can attend better schools. Our kids suffer because there is little culture or culture representative of their culture. Black folks used to get an entire month of the same old tired Black History Month education. Most schools today don’t even address the other various cultures and ethnicities of staff and students in their schools, which reaffirms whiteness is the thing we should all aspire to. It forces Black and other minority kids to assimilate and like it. Non-White folks are strongly encouraged to ignore our own cultures the first day we enter public schools.

Minority kids often lack the Black and or Brown friends and other supports they need to withstand all the racism that’s hurled at them at school. Most White folks raise racist White little kids who go to school and show exactly what they are learning and living in their homes. White folks do not understand how much racist propaganda their kids consume alone in their rooms on their computers, cell phones, from friends, or even from them.

White parents also don’t realize how much they reinforce white supremacy by residing and revolving in lily-white spaces. Without saying one word, many white parents reinforce in their children playing with Black and Brown children is bad. Living with them is bad. Shopping with them is bad. Being entertained with them is bad. For many White households, the model to their children only white children can be considered friends because those are the only children their parents arrange for them to play with. White folks teach their children minorities are inferior early on, and they carry their parents’ bags their entire lives. Guess where they practice what they are taught in their homes? The school.

When it comes to the quality of life issues, “good” anything coded White people speak. White people are always on the prowl for their coveted “good.” Sadly, Black and Brown people have picked up white people speak and use it to exclude themselves from their own and discriminate.

Black kids often suffer racism and rejection in all-white settings, causing many to suffer from depression and anxiety. Integration exposes our children to health-related issues caused by racism at a very early age. As most of us know, Black children and Black people will suffer from racism the most. The long-term impact of chasing whiteness is devastating to our health.

Let’s not talk about the ingrained racism and prejudice that comes with integration. Black and minority families integrating, if not done properly, often end up raising racist and/or prejudiced kids. Kids often raised in White settings forsake their own ethnicity and identities to assimilate to Whiteness. With that comes looking down on your own folks. I can’t tell you how many young Black people I eat alive for enjoying certain aspects of their own cultures but disliking their own people. Like White people, many Blacks and people of color have learned to cherry-pick parts of their own and other cultures (i.e. sports, music, and fashion) to enjoy the fun and tasty parts and belittling the rest.

I’ve seen it with my own kids in high school, but life was the best teacher of what that gets you.

With integration often comes self-loathing and comparing Black people against other Blacks and people of color to see who is the best whitewashed Black or Brown person for White people. Integration makes us compare us to ourselves to prove we are better or superior to others in our group, even though none of us are White. And when White people want to let us know our place is not with them, they’ll quickly let us know (i.e. Wuhan Virus, All Lives Matters, go back to your country, speak English, Shariah Law, crime tropes, sexual stereotypes, etc.).

White folks love us until they don’t. It’s crazy.

Integration has been terrible for the self-esteem of Black and Brown children and their parents. Most of us always walk away feeling less than or never enough. I had similar experiences with my children. We still discuss the injuries caused by integration and White supremacy to this day. Navigating racist White peers, racist White teachers, a racist education system, and racist, covertly segregated communities is a full-time, never-ending job. And when our kids become adults, we have to train them on how to work and live in a pseudo-integrated nation. A good Black or Brown momma’s work is never done.

Integration Destroys Land and Communities

White people have turned so much of America into deserted strip malls because they are always stretching out trying to get away from us. Creating “good” suburbs is one of White folks’ favorite things to do, and even the racist president knows it as he cried out to them last week about their beloved suburbs in white people speak. White people work hard trying to stay White, though they’ll never admit it.

They will say they are running away from crime (always code for Black people), but very few White folks have ever been exposed to any crime perpetrated by people of color because they choose not to live where people of color live have seen no, and because most people who commit crimes do so among their own folks in their own communities. It’s easier to do a crime where you live.

Even with the data telling White people they don’t have to fear us, they fear us anyway. And even though we know better, we follow them up. Now tell me who is the bigger fool?

Everywhere White people have been, Black people have felt the need to be there. The reasons for integrating for us vary. For many people born in my generation (the early 1970s) and beyond, we pursued the “good” places to live so our kids could have a “good” education. Good was a lie. Good in this case is definitely subjective.

When I think about integration, I have seen no upward movement socially, economically, or financially for Black folks that make it worth our while. White folks have proven time and time again they aren’t interested in being fair, making desegregation a failure.

In fact, I’d say there has been retribution against us since 1964 for forcing integration and desegregation. Integration has not been very kind to Black folks. If it had, we wouldn’t still be saying “the first” [fill in the non-White ethnicity/racial group here]. Collectively integration hasn’t been that great for any minority group in America. White supremacy makes sure we know we don’t belong.

DeSegregation Caused Major Rifts Betweens Blacks and POC

Since integration and desegregation occurred, America has had an influx of Black and Brown folks who have to into the country for a variety of reasons. These folks can now work in positions they once weren’t allowed to because of the color of their skin. Thanks to the Civil Rights At of 1866, any Black or Brown people coming here after slavery had rights. Since that time, Black and Brown folks all over the world have come to America to chase that stupid dream White folks have sold us. The past 12-years have shown us how much of a lie America really is. The more things about America change, the more they stay the same.

Attaining the American dream for Black and Brown folks has caused a rift between nearly all Black and Brown groups falling under the people of color (POC) category because of white supremacy, racism, and colorism. White supremacy has taught people of color to dislike and even disrespect Black people because we hold America accountable and because we refuse to fall into white supremacy’s old trickery (as best we can anyway). Other immigrant and POC groups dealing with colorism and racism issues from their own country thanks to colonialism and the slave trade import their racism and anti-Black sentiments to the states with them.

Desegregation led to Black and Brown folks competing for that coveted white gaze. Instead of working together to defeat white supremacy, people of color come to America and join white supremacy is discriminating, redlining, anti-Blackness, employment discrimination, healthcare discrimination, emotional abuse, commit physical violence against Blacks, and they often perpetuate the same racist tropes and stereotypes white folks perpetuate. Black folks retaliate.

Blacks and people of color are in one big domestic violence relationship abusing each other. Native Americans are primary victims, Blacks are secondary victims, and immigrant POC groups are tertiary victims of violence. Instead of POC acting like they are victims, they often act as perpetrators of abuse. We need to recognize what’s happened to us and work on healing.

Desegregation and integration require assimilation which then leads to conflict between Blacks and people of color. We all have adopted some white supremacy’s superiority complex in our efforts to achieve equality. Before there can be any substantive change in America, we Black and Brown folks really need to detangle ourselves from white supremacy. We need to understand that white supremacy requires we submit to it in order to be rewarded with a little money and a lifetime of supply of side effects.

In Closing

As I reflect on my personal experiences with integration and desegregation, I really have nothing good to say about it. I was able to get an education, but I have spent more time on my own learning about what I didn’t get in my K-12 education. I have worked in higher education, so I have seen the unfairness and inequity in it from top to bottom. I have integrated a neighborhood, and I’ve experienced the displeasures of that. I have been the only in many places, and while I am accustomed to it, the sadness of how few Blacks and minorities there are in so many white spaces does not escape me.

My required assimilation and my personal de-assimilation efforts haven’t escaped me. Code-switching reminds me of the mental gymnastics I go through in my life to exist and to survive. Outside of entertainment, there is hardly a place in America that doesn’t require or demand code-switching. It’s a consolation prize for desegregation and integration. If you want to be with White folks, the first rule is you must learn to be more like them. It just makes life easier.

Truth be told (for those willing to be honest), Desegregation and integration don’t result in more equality and more inclusion. Desegregation and integration have done just the opposite. Both have rewarded America with more inequality and more segregation.

The more we Black folks chase, the more White people flee. The more equality we achieve, the more inequality they create. The policies we get to legislate their hate, the more they hate. The more we attempt to vote our co-interests, the more they assert their white ones. The more educated we become, the more they resent it. The more we see them for who they are and prioritize us, the more they require us to assume more of them — with threats of taking away our means to survive.

Black people are very much like the jilted lovers of White people. We beg, plea, show up unannounced with our educated, right-kinda income asses in White communities and in white-centered extra-curricular activities just to be spurned by the very people we’re trying to cozy up with.

When I evaluate nice and good relative to American life and equality, I’m always forced to think about what I must sacrifice for it, and what/who I must leave behind to acquire it. I find myself never really satisfied, always empty, constantly yearning for what is mines. My Black stuff. My Black self. My food, my language, my style, my people. I think most Black people and people of color have similar experiences unless they grew up completely absent from their own ethnic culture.

The older I get, the harder it gets for me to see the blessing in mingling with people who aren’t interested in being with you, fighting against a system and a nation that wasn’t built for you, trying to convince White people that sharing really is about caring, and constantly working our asses off to convince even people of color of what Blackness is not.

It’s very hard to see the blessings in desegregation as Black woman, mother, former-wife, sister, and daughter. The scars from the necessary evil of desegregation will last us a lifetime. Although most times it feels like the curses outweigh the blessings, I’ll never stop trying to make America share what it stole from us, because sharing is caring, and America hasn’t learned how to show it cares for Black people yet.

I’m not sure she ever will.

America seems incapable of loving anyone except White people, and even her love for them appears to be fading fast.

Marley K in Quarantine 2020