Friday Reading List: Segregation is Policy, Hov in the NYTimes, and A Specific Word

Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat looks at a federal rule that makes school integration strategies hard to execute:

... each of these fledgling integration efforts — and similar ones across the country — could be imperiled by obscure budget provisions written during the anti-busing backlash of the 1970s, which prohibit using federal funding for student transportation aimed at racial desegregation. The rules have been embedded in every education spending bill since at least 1974, as Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia pointed out in September when he tried unsuccessfully to remove the provisions from the latest appropriations bill.

The next time you're tempted to say "That's just the way it is" about housing and school segregation, this is a great example of how deeply embedded racial discrimination is in our public policy. This policy explicitly PREVENTS towns and cities from pursuing desegregation strategies. Busing is nowhere near a perfect policy solution, and the vast majority of busing schemes asked non-White families to make significant sacrifices in order to attend stronger schools. That said, defeating segregation in this country will require a multiplicity of approaches, and the fact that federal law officially forecloses some of those solutions is a good indication of the road ahead.

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In other news, Jay-Z has an op-ed in The New York Times about what the sentencing of Meek Mill says about our criminal  justice system*:

What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day. I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s. Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew. Taxpayers in Philadelphia, Meek Mill’s hometown, will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to keep him locked up, and I bet none of them would tell you his imprisonment is helping to keep them safer.

It's important to remember that we are paying attention to this particular instance of injustice because of the high profiles of the individuals involved. Tens of thousands of Black men experience similarly unfair treatment in obscurity. Their plight isn't just a drag on their lives, families, communities, and economic opportunities ... mass incarceration also exerts a significant drag on the productivity and fairness of our culture more broadly.

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Finally this week, Marcus Donaldson has a long, thought-provoking exploration of how White people are infatuated with a very specific word:

I have heard numerous White people over the years use the N-word around me. In their words, it was a casual “slip of the tongue” or they “forgot I was sitting there” or “I’m just quoting 2pac” or “it’s from Training Day!” To which I don’t even acknowledge. The simple fact that the word “slipped out” means they are comfortable enough and say it frequently enough to not even recognize I (a Black man) am sitting right next to them. Either way, this Freudian slip would always be followed by them profusely apologizing, which would indicate they knew not to be saying it. Why else would they apologize?

Donaldson goes on to share a range of thinking on both why it's inappropriate for White people to use the word, and the various social undercurrents that make this discussion so critical. Take the time to read the whole thing.

Have a great weekend!

*I never thought I would have the opportunity to write this sentence.