AMAC Exclusive – by David P. Deavel
Showbiz, the education blob, and the mainstream—read: “left-leaning” or even “pushing”—media have long been invested in the narrative that conservatives are motivated almost entirely by racism. Yet the reality is that open discrimination has long been the policy on the left. Today while some of this discrimination is being pushed back, the hot new trend is progressive segregationism, both direct and indirect. It is ugly and it needs to be fought on different levels.
Democrats and progressives have for years peddled discrimination in various forms that range from affirmative action programs (that often end up discriminating against whites and other racial minorities) to government contract set-asides, to the USDA’s $3.8 billion forgiveness program Democrats rammed through Congress in March that was only applicable to “socially disadvantaged” farmers, determined by the Agriculture Department to be those “who are one or more of the following: Black/African American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or Pacific Islander.” The current “infrastructure” bill Democrats and even some Republicans have tried to foist on us includes attempts to racialize aid to states in building better internet connectivity: the “whiter” your state is, the less money it gets.
The good news—if you can call it that—is that people on the left are at least more honest about their beliefs. Ibram X. Kendi, the current guru of “antiracism,” shouts from the rooftops what used to be whispered in corners: “The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.” Racial discrimination is good if it agrees with my policy goals! Roger that, Dr. Kendi.
The much better news is that some of this discrimination is being defeated. The aforementioned USDA regulation has been the subject of a dozen lawsuits, and Florida, Wisconsin, and Texas have all received preliminary injunctions against the bill. Not only that, but the Biden DOJ has failed to contest any of the injunctions, including the Florida one, which had a 60-day limit on appeals that has now expired. As the Wall Street Journal editorial page rightly observed, this is a good sign because this “retreat” signals a possible fear that by fighting for racial preferences in court, DOJ might trigger a ruling that stops a lot more policies than the racist bill on farm loan forgiveness.
Yet the bad news is that the penchant for segregation along racial lines is chugging along full-speed in many education, corporate, and even government sectors. It happens in an indirect way via leftist policy. Climate policy is perhaps the best example. In “Jim Crow Comes to California,” Joel Kotkin wrote last week about a new report from the environmentalist Breakthrough Institute detailing how energy and housing policy are driving the Golden State’s astronomical electricity costs, rent, property values through the roof. Combined with the destruction of blue collar industries, these have hit minority populations hardest—especially in the wokest of cities. San Francisco’s population, once almost 15% black, now is at about 5%. Proposals of a universal basic income to combat the inequalities, Kotkin notes, will, if passed, likely cause more dependence and more segregation in California.
If Critical Race Theory were ever applied equally, such presumably unintentional segregation and inequality would yield a judgment that the monolithic Democratic government in California is the racist entity of entities. After all, to quote Ibram X. Kendi again, “When I see racial disparities, I see racism.” Somehow that principle is never applied equally. Perhaps leftists are willing to stomach the results of progressive policies because they at least make so many people of all races and colors equal—and equally miserable.
What is more disturbing is the intentional segregation that is being foisted on people at all levels. The big story recently came from the South. Not, contrary to still-current Hollywood stereotypes, the “Old South” but what many have called the “Black Mecca.”
A long-time educator whose husband is the school psychologist at Mary Lin Elementary in Atlanta described attempting to get her second grader into a particular class at the school. “When the principal reached out to me,” Kila Posey told CBS News, “I had already given her the selection for our children and she tried to sway me into one of the other two classes, the ‘Black classes’ — that was her phrase for the classrooms.” Mrs. Posey has recordings of some of her conversations with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) administrators in which one official confirmed knowing about Mary Lin Elementary’s practice, and she is using them as evidence in her complaint to the Department of Education. Yet, as CBS reported it, Mr. and Mrs. Posey complain “that the APS and the U.S. Department of Education are dragging their feet in rectifying the matter.”
Well, they might. If the DOE does actually deal with such discrimination, they might be besieged by other complaints. Higher education has become brazen enough to begin offering “affinity” housing that is explicitly racial. From Western Washington University, American University in Washington, DC, and Appalachian State and their “Black Affinity Housing” to Arkansas’s Bates College and its Empowering Young Minds (EYM) residence hall designated “for womxn of color and/or marginalized gender,” we see segregated housing from coast to coast and even in the Ozarks. These examples are only a few of the housing programs. And they are approved by the academic establishment. The linked article on American University includes a line by the “Executive Director of Residential Life at the University of Nevada-Reno,” who called housing segregated by race “a national best practice in university residential life and housing communities.” Whether it is “best” or not, it is a practice that is growing. The National Association of Scholars’ 2019 report, “Neo-Segregation at Yale” by Dion Pierre and Peter Wood, noted that as of that time over 200 institutions had segregated housing options on campus. Given the proliferation of such programs, the number today must be much larger.
But it’s not just housing! The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced a Welcome BBQ via a flyer this fall that read, “All are welcome, intended for self-identify people of color.” (Never mind the bad grammar in the announcement. As college English professors have now determined, the very idea of “standard grammar” or “correct English” is racist.) Nearby Beloit College now has a coffee shop that is black-only. Segregated graduation ceremonies are also coming up. Columbia University caused a backlash this spring when it was learned that they would be holding six different graduation ceremonies based on race. They backed down, kind of, by downgrading the segregated events to “celebrations” they claimed were not replacements for Columbia’s main commencement exercise.
If you’re wondering if “whites only” events are going to come back, you can wonder no more: California State University, Dominguez Hills offered a two-and-a-half hour zoom seminar for white people only. Oh, well, it was inclusive enough to include also other “practitioners of unconscious race bias.” Brandeis University offers a non-virtual whites only space for students who are willing to undergo six weeks of training about the evils of “whiteness.” Joy von Steiger, a clinical psychologist serving as director of the Brandeis counseling center, explained that white people need to have such training in order to share spaces and converse with non-whites and not “cause harm.”
One can laugh this off, as too many conservatives have over the last three decades, and observe that such nuttiness is not “the real world.” But it is the real world—students are learning how to conform to such measures at universities even if they disagree with them. And they are taking their segregationism in the name of equity with them into the non-university world.
As Christopher Rufo wrote last fall in City Journal, racial segregation pervading Seattle’s government system leads to separate and unequal training sessions for white people and people of color because of the supposed dangers of free discussion on racial issues. Like Brandeis, Seattle cannot allow people of different races to speak to each other lest there be disagreement. (Or possibly agreement those in charge don’t want?) As Rufo notes, this infantilizes non-white people and can lead to genuine division on racial lines. And it assumes, as do most of the university training materials and rationalizations for segregation, that white people can be reduced to a category of privileged oppressors while black people can be seen as helpless victims.
It’s racism all the way down.
And it needs to stop. Like the Poseys have done, any segregation in K-12 classrooms needs to be fought at both the local and the national level. And segregation on university and college campuses needs to be fought the same way. It is easier to do so on state university campuses. A spring conference on teaching at Michigan State that was going to include segregated discussion groups was successfully altered when complaints to the Office for Civil Rights forced the university to back down. Similarly, government offices facilitating segregated meetings or events are vulnerable to litigation.
For students at private universities, there are fewer avenues for changing policies, but the least one can do is keep up with what is happening at your old alma mater or your kids’ or grandkids’ schools. Parents should pressure colleges and universities to give them access to the internal websites—because stealthy colleges have taken to hiding events on internal sites only available to “members of the community.” And students need to publicize any of these spaces, events, or training sessions that divide up students by race and demonize one group or infantilize another.
There are certainly still divisions in our country, even ones that sometimes have a racial element to them. Progressive policies, on display above all in California, make these worse. But making sure different groups on campus, in government, and anywhere else are separate and unequally treated is one of the surest ways to take what was a small fire and turn it into a conflagration.
David P. Deavel is editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, co-director of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, and a visiting professor at the University of St. Thomas (MN). He is the co-host of the Deep Down Things podcast.
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