The 100-Year-Old Penalty for Being Black

@Mindysan33 and @milliefink I know would be interested in this, and might not have seen it.

It’s a concise explication of why African-Americans have not magically become economic equals in the U.S., with lots of links to read.


This looks very interesting. Thanks for sharing it with us!


Thanks! Nice to see it taken as a given that what’s needed is extensive reparations:

What would it take to level the playing field? Improving the incomes of the parents will help, but only so much. So reparations cannot just be a check in the mailbox. What’s needed is comprehensive social, political, and economic effort to make sure that the disadvantages—inherited through slavery, and maintained through successive rounds of legal and under-the-table discrimination—are finally stamped out, and black children are able to advance at the same pace as white ones.


Thanks for posting this Liz.

In before any of usual false equivalency trolls with their bullshit excuses and lame attempts to marginalize the problem, deflect the significance and/or derail the topic.


Good information, but this isn’t exactly news to many of us

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No, but it’s useful to have a respected source (The Atlantic) with links right at hand, for when someone says “prove it” in an internet discussion. :wink:


This is what I keep talking about.

When every child of color has had at least the advantages my daughter has had, the police will no longer be able to get away with using skin color as a targeting method. When every poor southerner or inner-city dweller can gain for their children the same level of education as the children of the rich - that being the best education our society can deliver - the clerks and bankers will no longer be able to get away with using speech patterns and clothing as a way to deny access to economic tools and advancement.

My heresy, or course, is that I also want to help poor southern whites who are also still suffering from the effects of the Civil War. I agree with Dr. King on that, which puts me out of step with modern political thought.

School boards matter. Down with charter, magnet and private schools!


The Case For Reparations is just as good, maybe better.


I think it’s just that @chgoliz knows @milliefink and I talk and think about this issue quite a bit.


Oh, absolutely that’s a must-read, but it’s more academic and thus a lot less likely to be read by the sorts of people who NEED to read it…you know?


I am not at all confident that the people who need to read any of this stuff will read it


IIRC, it’s also hella long. The conciseness of this piece makes it useful.

Not sure what you mean by “modern political thought” and who you think thinks it, but I absolutely think that poor white folks have generally been screwed too (just not as much as poor black folks). The whole concept of white supremacy has been used to divide black and white people from each other, keeping them from uniting and resisting, and even seeing, the oppressive dominance of their economic “betters.” And I’m certainly not all that unusual in thinking that.


Agreed; the whole idea of “At least you’re not Black!” has long been ‘the string’ that ties the proverbial carrot to the fuckin’ stick.

In my book, the ‘greatest trick the devil ever pulled’ wasn’t “convincing the world he doesn’t exist;” it was convincing it that pale skin is some kind of fuckin’ commodity.


I was 100% with you, colorblind help for those who who are underachieving in our society and need it, up to the last line. Charters and magnets serve a real purpose in places with historically bad schools. The thing is they need to be scrutinized and mercilessly killed if they’re failing to deliver, not given a pass like the failing students in the district schools. My son has a huge number of immigrant and minority classmates at his “test in” HS who are the 1st in their families to to go to college, some of them to Ivies, at least 1/3 to Rutgers. The school is less than 10% white, it’s not a smokescreen for segregation, nor was their charter k-8.

My wife read something recently about how the redlining of suburbs after WW2 kept black soldiers from taking advantage of the GI Bill’s loan benefits, something that has set back the middle class black community hugely in terms of the multigenerational wealth gains from home ownership. We need to make the equal protection of the Constitution real, its the law and its been flouted for 150 years. Enough.

You’re almost directly channeling Dr. King, in fact. His speech of March 25th 1965 contains much the same.

Such schools don’t even make a specious claim of “separate but equal” - they are specifically and purposefully “drawing off the cream of the crop” to assure that the students that are already advantaged through income disparity, parental education or simple genetics will be placed in a superior learning environment.

In order for the above paragraph to be true, it should be obvious that such systems ensure that those who need the most educational intervention are granted the least. That, to me, is the very heart and soul of structural racism, right there, that is what created and perpetuates the issues of this thread.

Statistically, if an American child has no library in their home, that makes it far more likely that there is no library in their school. Uneducated parents, increasingly left behind by an increasingly automated labor market, cannot by themselves make up for the lack of education that test-in school systems are testing for. Such parents are mostly white, it is true, but the population denied optimal educational opportunties is disproportionately composed of people of color, by orders of magnitude. It is this disparity that makes it possible for police and bankers to use skin color as a proxy for income and social status levels, which is again the expression of structural racism.

It all starts with the schools. Magnets and charters and private schools are the driving engine of racial injustice.

The reason it works is simple; every parent wants their child to have the best education they can get. So, as long as there is a way to get your child into a better school, nearly everyone who can, will. And they’ll justify it various ways, and ignore the fact that any unequal educational system will always victimize the already economically disadvantaged.


What do you suggest low income people who live in poor neighborhoods with failing schools but the understandable desire to give their own children access to better education do in the meantime?

My state is red through and through, and prides itself on spending almost the least amount of money on education in the country. Rich suburban areas with high parent participation still manage just fine, but the low income schools are terrible. Should parents just accept that their children’s education must suffer?


Again, I disagree with throwing these all in the same bucket. No argument about private schools. Charters, at least around here, are exclusively lottery entry. I’ve heard of some of the big for-profit NYC charters weeding their classes, but not here, where they’re almost all non-profits.

Magnets force the question of whether some kids need to be held back to enable others to do better. I disagree with this notion. And around here, the test-in schools (somewhat different from magnets that simply have different curriculum) are actually funded less that the regular schools. It all really comes down to funding equity rather than whether there’s a couple of better students in a classroom getting bored, and both magnets and charters draw away less per pupil than the district gets for them. My kids charter, nonprofit and with a separate teachers union contract, actually got significantly less than the district schools, and routinely dramatically outperformed them. And as I already said, my kids magnet HS is almost entirely non-white, so your racial argument doesn’t hold water, at least here. My son is one of 3 white boys in a class of 180.

Where I agree somewhat with the charter criticism is that the Districts should be modeling the successful ones, rather than the idea that charter should replace all district schools. They should be a laboratory, not the end product.

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The same thing every person should be doing. Getting into those schools and stopping their failure, and voting for politicians who want to prevent the privileged classes from “opting out” through magnet and charter and private school systems.

Those schools are failing because the rich and advantaged have pulled out. Joining the people who are destroying the schools, by pulling your own children out, is basically only an option for those who could make a difference. That’s the whole swindle in a nutshell, that’s why it works.

In my area bussing is another key element of the tragedy; the children of poor city dwellers with no cars are bussed outside the city transportation systems, so that their parents are physically prevented from being present in the schools.

My state is blue through and through, and the educational system is heavily economically segregated, because color-line segregation is not acceptable any more to the populace and ruling Democratic Party apparatus. By economically segregating through gambits like test-in magnet schools, charter schools that do not have cafeterias*, and of course private schools**, the lawmakers can make sure that the “penalty for being black” remains solidly in place - and even extend it to additional groups, like white eastern european immigrants.

* thus no participation in school lunch programs, thus no poor children. Such schools are sometimes located in very poor neighborhoods, but the children living next door are bussed to inferior schools elsewhere.

** which will soon be publicly funded through voucher systems if Betsy deVos has her way, further depleting resources available to public schools.


That all sounds awful, but your local truth is simply not universal. My local k-8, where a large proportion of the students are from housing projects and where my kids would have gone had they not gotten into the charter, is oversubscribed due to the middle class staying instead fleeing when they had kids. Kids are being bused out of the neighborhood because there’s not enough slots. Where does that fit in your “white flight” program?

So, “separate but equal” is fine, is that what you are saying? Why not actually have comprehensive neighborhood schools that every child can walk to, with no private opt-outs allowed? It wouldn’t stop you from sending your child to extra school like Jewish and Chinese people do - but the rich shouldn’t be able to get out of public schooling, so the public schools would receive the funding they need.

This does hit an important point; this stuff varies a lot from place to place, and it should be understood that each of us is talking about their own experiences when we’re talking about details alike funding and admissions.

But there are still global truths; separate but equal is not equal, and the school where the rich and privileged children are taught will always be the best school, and parents will try to do their best for their children and will justify their (possibly quite unjust) actions however they need to.

In my area, the charter schools are supposedly not segregating. It’s totally an accident that they have no cafeterias and no public transportation service, so that the poor kids who are allowed in don’t end up attending.

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