And no one bats an eye.
I was an Air Force brat which meant I moved around my entire life until I settled down and got married. We rarely stayed at one assignment for more than four years and my father was often gone on “TDY” ( temporary duty) to many different countries. It was difficult, but I saw many different parts of the country.
When I was in second and third grade, ( around 1961) we lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. I walked to Arthur Circle Elementary School every day. It was about a half mile from my home.
While I was on that walk I passed two different bus stops. One was for white people and one was for black people. I didn’t understand it at the time, but when I asked why there were two bus stops, my mother explained it to me. I didn’t understand, but she did her best. She seemed reluctant to talk about it. It was my first exposure to racism and segregation.
The next time I heard about segregation was when some classmates of mine were talking about a new law that might be passed that would allow black and white students to go to the same schools. Again, I didn’t understand why this was a big deal, but the children talking about it seemed fearful that it would happen. I had never met any black people, so I wondered why the other children were afraid. Again, I asked my Mom and she just explained that sometimes two different groups of people didn’t get along.
We left Shreveport and moved to Nebraska before anything changed in Louisiana. My experience there was completely different. While there weren’t many black kids in my school, we weren’t segregated. I was in schools that were on Air Force bases, and the military didn’t allow segregation, thankfully.
While I was in school in Nebraska, I learned about slavery, segregation, and civil rights in my history class. It was the time of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. I came to understand what the horrible truth of racism was. By the time I left Nebraska, both Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy had been murdered.
So, while I was able to see racism and segregation first hand, I was never a victim of it. And, still, the decision of the Biden Department of Education to reverse a Trump Administration policy that called dividing students, parents, and teachers into race based groups ” discriminatory” is shocking to me.
What this means is if a school system wants to divide those groups by race, it’s okay. Now, they can do activities that are black only, white only, hispanic only, whatever. They say it is for addressing issues of racism with others of the same race. This will make them more comfortable discussing problems, feelings, etc.
But, from where I stand, it is just segregation again. And I think it is counterproductive. What we need is not conversations in our tribal echo chambers. We need conversations with EVERYONE so we can learn from each other.
Example. The other day I was in the gym with my trainer ( the owner of the gym) and another friend who is a preacher having a discussion. For context, I will add that the gym owner is white, the preacher is black. We were talking about racial issues that had recently been in the news. The conversation took up most of my training session, but it was so worthwhile.
It was a lively discussion with each of us stating opinions, the others listening and asking questions, and yes, at times strongly disagreeing. But, amazingly, unlike what we read on social media or hear on T.V., there was no name calling, no shouting, no dismissive attitudes, etc. And, when it was over, we all were still friends. But we were friends with new found respect and perspectives.
That would not have happened if we were in a segregated group.
I believe the more we are together in person, the more we learn about each other and begin to have real understanding. Heck, we may even change our minds on a thing or two.
And that’s what we need right now. We don’t need anymore divisive labels and groups. We have a huge fight ahead of us. It’s a fight FOR freedom and against slavery, a fight for individual rights and true equality. Not the equality of having a hierarchy of victimhood, but equality of allowing each person to receive the same protection under the law and to conduct an equal pursuit of happiness.
There are powerful forces that don’t want us to achieve that. They want to dismantle it. That is why, as with the Biden Department of Education reversal, they want us isolated in our own little boxes by race and gender. It’s easier to defeat a country that way. Ask the Chinese. Or the Russians. Or the Germans of the 40’s.
Forced segregation is not and will NEVER be good. We hope that people don’t voluntarily segregate from others for reasons of race or gender. NO matter how many pretty reasons you create for it or academics you get to support it, it is racism, plain and simple. Just like those old bus stops and schools of my childhood in Louisiana.