As protests continue in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the shooting death, by police, of Keith Lamont Scott, David Graham at The Atlantic looks at the racial rifts in that southern city:
What followed [court-ordered desegregation] in Charlotte was a surprisingly successful experiment. The city undertook busing, producing a school district that was both well-integrated and produced strong student outcomes. In stark contrast to violent and deadly riots in Boston over busing, Charlotte was widely known as “the city that made desegregation work.” In the meantime, Charlotte was becoming a gleaming, corporate city, home to corporate giants like Bank of America, Wachovia, and Duke Energy. The rosy period of integration didn’t last. After a lawsuits in the late 1990s against the school district from parents who opposed busing, Charlotte-Mecklenburg returned to a “neighborhood school model.” The result was a massive reversal.
Welp. While the expression "neighborhood school" might have picayune connotations, the term has been used as racial code for enforcing segregation since at least the 1960s. As late as the early 2000s, educators pointed to Charlotte as the integrated, metropolitan success story of American schooling. The city's regress is another data point demonstrating the fragility of both academic progress and racial reconciliation in this country.
Michael Stover at Blavity takes a closer look at the protests, focusing on a particular interaction between a Fox News reporter and a Charlotte woman. You can watch the full video of the encounter:
While Steve Harrington was reporting, he was interrupted by a woman who was peacefully protesting. Making her stance known immediately, we can feel the passion and emotion behind her words saying “It’s okay for our brothers and our fathers not to come home right?" Through this entire clip Harrington is trying to look into another shooting that was reported earlier. The woman stands her ground and when asked why she was there. She continued “I’m here because...whether I’m here, I’m in school, I’m in my car...I can still get shot by the police."
It's important to understand the full range of emotions that we all bring to racial justice work. The anger here is justified in every imaginable way. In fact, Charles Cole, writing at Citizen Education, wants to coin a new term for what Black America is experiencing right now:
The rest is a terrific piece of satire, which is a welcome relief from the heaviness of the last few days.
The contrasting perspectives illustrate important differences between how people with different backgrounds can see the same situation so differently, and highlights the instinct of some white reporters to downplay or avoid addressing race explicitly– in so doing erasing the contributions and perspectives of parents and teachers and students of color. “I think it’s a matter in general many journalists having – how to phrase this? — having a really hard time figuring out how to write about race,” said [New York Times Magazine writer Nikole] Hannah-Jones. “They’re much more comfortable with race being implicit rather than explicit.” ... “In whitewashing any mention of race out of an article about nothing but race,” wrote blogger Justin Cohen, “Graham feeds that outdated notion that the safest way to address race is to ignore its existence.”
Here's to a weekend of not ignoring the existence of race!