It's about our community and our spirituality!

The More the Supreme Court Changes the More It Stays the Same

Supreme Court Bldg

September 25, 2007 was the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine. Nine black students trying to integrate then all white Little Rock high school. The white people were incensed. Many of these people had the attitude that Little Rock high was their school and black people need to go to their own school. Many of us have seen the video with the white people taunting the black students and doing their very best to make attending the school as difficult as possible if not impossible. The angry white people were doing their best to protect their sense of white entitlement to superior facilities. If black people wanted an education they had to do the work necessary to establish their own school. Black people should quit trying to learn for free. Those nine black youths were expecting a handout or something and they haven’t made the necessary contribution to the educational system to expect any benefit from it. I wonder what these good white folk thought the white twelve or thirteen year old student did in order to justify attending the school. The lives of the nine black students were threatened by white people and the federal government had to get involved. In order to enforce the court order President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to protect those black students and get them inside the school so they can get the education they were entitled to as a citizen of the United States.

White people’s sense of educational entitlement further manifested with Governor George Wallace of the State of Alabama. As the Governor said in his inauguration speech on January 14, 1963, “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” The Governor promised his white constituents that he would stood in the doorway of the university before he would allow a black person to enter the school. On June 11th of that same year the Governor stood in the doorway of Foster Auditorium on the University of Alabama campus before he would allow Vivian Moore to enter the school. President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard in order to get the Governor to submit to racial integration at the school.

The 1954 landmark case of Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka declared that state laws which established separate public schools based on race denied black children equal educational opportunities. The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, reversed the earlier decision by the nation’s high court decided in the case Plessy versus Ferguson in 1896. In the Plessy case, Justice John Marshall Harlan was the lone dissenting vote in the establishment of the doctrine that became known as “separate but equal”. But the Brown case saw a unanimous Supreme Court make the case that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal and paved the way for racial integration in our nation’s schools and the Civil Rights Movement.

Ever since the Ronald Reagan administration a concerted effort has been made to make the Supreme Court as conservative as the high courts of the late 19th century that consisted of men who grew up in an era of institutionalized slavery and plantations. Mr. Reagan is responsible for the employment of conservative justices as Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy. Reagan’s protégé President George H. W. Bush (the senior) hired David Souter and the god awful Clarence “I’m Black?” Thomas. And George W. Bush (the junior) hired Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. Six of the nine positions on the high court have come from conservative presidential administrations. Although it should be noted that although Mr. Souter came out the box hitting home runs for conservatives in his first three years on the high bench by voting with the conservative Mr. Scalia eighty five percent of the time and the conservative Mr. Kennedy ninety seven percent of the time, Mr. Souter has since become associated more with a liberal left. However, five out of nine Justices are firmly conservatives. President Clinton is responsible for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburgh and Steven Breyer. The only other justice, John Paul Stevens, was hired by President Gerald Ford.

With such a conservative assault on the high court it is no wonder that the high court has decided to turn back the racial diversity clock in America. Is there any wonder why in 2007 the Supreme Court upholds the decision in Brown versus Board but rolls back the impact of the case by the reinterpretation of the original decision? Now, the conservatively biased Supreme Court can actually make official statements like the best way to prevent racism is to not look at race as a factor when it comes to educational enrollment. So how will we know if a school is making progress or not? Essentially, we’ll know that a school is making racial diversity progress if the school doesn’t keep any records on the racial makeup of the school.

It is preposterous to think that not looking at the racial makeup of our schools is going to solve our racial disparity. To say that the 1954 decision on Brown versus Board, which was intended to help prevent instances of racial discrimination and the subjugation of black people, can be improved if we just don’t pay attention to race is no different than looking the other way when we see disparity in other areas of our society. No one says we can stop poverty if we stop looking at bank accounts. No one says we can cure obesity if we stop weighing ourselves. It is only when we try to examine instances of racism against minorities do we say everything will be okay if we take a dysfunctional approach just stop acknowledging the symptoms. After so many years of affirmative action where white people were the sole beneficiary, white people want to use the artificial concept of reverse discrimination to try and correct the imbalance of their centuries of favoritism.

In the mean time, we won’t know that an all white school is all white because we won’t have the records to prove that it is all white. Just standing outside the schoolyard and watching nothing but white people come and go and seeing the all white homogeny isn’t enough. The common sense of seeing racial discrimination before our eyes is no longer enough. We have to get a jury of our peers together and listen to someone make the complaint of racism and listen as someone else defend the racism as nothing more than circumstantial chances and luck of the draw. Who ever puts the best spin on the situation, who ever can tap into the prejudices and convictions of a jury to convince them to believe their version of the story, the one who can convince a judge that a racist system is actually justifiable will be the winner in our courts. A judge or juror sympathetic to conservative practices such as racial discrimination can do much to damage the credibility of our judicial process.

Since the decision of Plessy versus Ferguson in 1896 the Supreme Court has gone through a number of changes. Many justices have come and gone. But here in the 21st century, the majority of justices on our Supreme Court have the same sensitivity towards issues of racial discrimination that the justices had in the 19th century. The conservatives have managed to manipulate time itself and turn the clock back on decades of progress in the perpetual march towards racial equality.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Justice, Life, Philosophy, Racism, Thoughts

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