Looking through the store window from rational street affords one the luxury of a quasi buyer’s remorse sense of righteous indignation. Blacks bought integration in the 60s, tried it on in the 70s, realized it (integration) didn’t fit in the 80s, sent [it] to the tailor in the 90s and now in the 2000s, are making every effort to return it, minus the wrappings and the receipt. What is worse is that there exists no store to which to return it. Thus, in lieu of the in-ability to return integration, blacks have decided, as the courts would say to, ‘constructively evict’ themselves from society.
However, in the midst of this constructive eviction/self-segregation, questions arise concerning cause, effect, and intent. Intentions notwithstanding, the term self-segregation evokes for some, images of a reversal of blood-bought progress, while for others a welcomed come-to-Jesus moment. For example, the remaining remnants of Black Nationalists whose originators according to Northwestern University Professor Sterling Stuckey, PhD, "emphasized the need for black people to rely primarily on themselves in vital areas of life—economic, political, religious, and intellectual—in order to effect their liberation.”
Authors Bracey, Meier, and Rudwick argue in [their] book “Black Nationalism in America” that, "the concept of racial solidarity is essential to all forms of Black Nationalism." The authors added that, "no ideological or programmatic implications beyond the desire that black people organize themselves on the basis of their common color and oppressed condition to move in some way to alleviate their situation." However, familiarity demands we must once again ponder what intent, if any, lies in this present day self-segregation of Black America.
Despite the fact that nationalism as a doctrine, manifested in the North, nationalism originated in the South. It was there in the South during the 19th century that Africans banded together in an effort to distance themselves from forced assimilation refusing for many years to refer to themselves as Americans. Subsequently, the south represents in 21st Century America the obvious choice for research pertaining to segregation and [its] effects on blacks.
In 2012, researchers from Dartmouth, University of Georgia, and the University of Washington released a comparative study of trends in racial diversity. According to data obtained from the U.S. Census in 1990, 2000, and 2010, the study found that although racial diversity in the nation’s largest cities has been on the rise over the last twenty-years, African-Americans remain concentrated in segregated neighborhoods; that highly diverse neighborhoods are actually rare; and newly arrived immigrants continue to settle in concentrated racial residential patterns.
The research published in the Professional Geographer, presented substantial evidence of changes in neighborhood racial configuration in major cities. In addition, the research found that while there are no longer all black or all white neighborhoods in major U.S. cities, segregation still exists. According to Dartmouth geography professor Richard Wright, "It's clear from our research that we still have problems…with segregation.” Atlanta, Ga. for example according to Wright is a city that has changed dramatically over the last twenty-years, yet remains segregated.
“The trend we've seen is for predominantly white tracts to become more racially diverse and this is because of immigration….African-Americans have a longer history of settlement in the United States. So old histories are getting rewritten in these metropolitan areas, but African-Americans remain segregated," he said. Furthermore, according to a 2003 report by Harvard's Civil Rights Project at the beginning of the 21st century, education for Blacks is more segregated than it was in 1968.
Moreover, black students are the most likely racial group to attend what researchers call "apartheid schools," — schools that are virtually all non-white and where poverty, limited resources, social strife and health problems abound. One-sixth of America's black students attend these schools. The report also suggests a strong link between racially segregated schools and segregation by class noting that in heavily segregated schools the economically disadvantaged account for nearly half of all students.
Yet, as previously mentioned, proponents of Black Nationalism might welcome this segregated dynamic though surely not the results. In addition to Black Nationalism, the concept of Afrocentricity posits that African paradigms, symbols, myths, and values should constitute the starting point for all things black in America. For instance, adopting of African names, fashions and dress (kente cloths, kufi hats, African beads), hair styles (braids, dreadlocks, Afros), food, music, and religiosity. Despite its popularity however, Afrocentricity was not without [its] critics.
Noted African-American professor Henry Louis Gates and white liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger being among the most vocal. Both Gates and Schlesinger argued that despite its intent and contrary to what proponents of Afrocentricity believed, Afrocentricity might lead to the establishment of distinctive ethnic communities. Schlesinger even went so far as to label the pedagogy of Afrocentricity as racist, writing, "If a kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan wanted to use the schools to disable and handicap black Americans, he could hardly come up with anything more effective than the Afrocentric curriculum."
Having made the aforementioned points it is important to note that the underlying question of how these points detrimentally and broadly affects black America and America by default looms ever so large. Although the answers appear difficult considering the data relative to schools and education there remains the subcutaneous symptoms festering beneath the visual wounds. Moreover, the side effects of the recommended solutions have yet to be addressed, and might never be.
If the plight of America were to be determined according to African-American contributions the results gleaned from empirical evidence regarding incomes, wealth, education and political influence might appear to render America’s future bleak. In addition, were the determination real and not imagined other ethnic groups might well champion [their] respective ‘we told you so’ attitudes. Meaning that African-American contributions or the lack thereof might lend credibility to the facially neutral segregation of whites and other ethnic groups.
However, it is not the facially neutral segregation, which causes concern. It is the detrimental effect of self-segregation of Black America. Yet, for us to answer that question we are required to consider the visual wounds in addition to those not seen. In all probability, Black America has no idea of [its] self-segregation. It is likely that Black America sees only a neighborhood, sees only unemployment, sees only crime, and despair.
What Black America and the rest of America fails to see is how self-segregation effects the health of blacks in the form of hypertension, mental disease, low birth weights among infants, and practically no political representation, - sans Ferguson, Mo. What Black America and the rest of America also fail to see is how self-segregation eclipses the ideological norms of race and neighborhoods. Self-segregation also translates into shunning one’s own people.
For example, in his 2010 book, "Buying Black - the Ebony Experiment," author James Clingman Jr. wrote, “There is $850 billion moving through Black consumers' hands each year, with 90 percent of that amount going to businesses owned and controlled by non-black businesses.” Back in the day blacks created benevolent societies to assist one another in times of hardship. If a member became sick or fell on financially hard times, the society would pitch in with food or visit and clean the affected member’s home.
When blacks needed one another, blacks loved one another and vice-versa. Moreover, it appeared that blacks enjoyed segregation. What frustrates the situation is that it is virtually impossible to remain clinical regarding this topic. Thinking outside the box takes us only so far before returning us back to the known and the visual wounds. Too often making factual observations is confused with passing judgment or assigning blame.
On the surface, it appears Black America is unconsciously attempting to return that old worn out suit of integration. Apart from engaging in the things Black Americans believe qualifies [them] as black, most blacks think of themselves as normal. Yet, it just might be the normal of Black America that results in blacks’ constructional eviction and self-segregation, intentional or not. Finally, self-segregation although strengthening the esteem and imagined superiority of others, undermines the foundation of the American economy and [its] ability to remain globally competitive.
Written by Jay Arrington, Maryland Daily Examiner
For additional articles and information regarding the Maryland Daily Examiner, visit their website or contact Reggie Kearney, Editor-in-Chief by sending an Email.
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*History – UCR - http://history.ucr.edu/People/Faculty/Stuckey/
*Smith, Robert C. "Afrocentricity." Encyclopedia of African-American Politics. New York:
Facts On File, Inc., 2003. African-American History Online. Facts On File, \
*Dartmouth University - now.dartmouth.edu/.../racial-diversity-increases-but-s...
*Tolerance.Org - www.tolerance.org/supplement/segregation-today