Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
It has been
half a century since *Brown vs. Board of Education* became law,
and the racial segregation of public schools was outlawed, and desegregation
was ordered "with all deliberate speed."
was first decided, I was not yet born. Yet, despite the law which
ruled segregation unconstitutional, my elementary, junior high and
high schools were institutions with over 95% perhaps 98%
as teachers or students, were quite rare, over a decade after *Brown*
in my private studies, I learned that *Brown* wasn't decided because
of the educational needs, or violated rights, of Black citizens,
but because of the ideological needs of the U.S. government, which
was trying to present a false face to much of the Third World, many
of whom were horrified at the images of dark-skinned people brutalized
by racist cops for trying to get a decent education.
In 1952, US
Secretary of State Dean Acheson submitted a letter to the US Supreme
Court, noting that "the continuation of racial discrimination
is a source of constant embarrassment to this government ... and
it jeopardizes the effective maintenance of our moral leadership
of the free and democratic nations of the world."(1)
was a propaganda victory, designed to defeat rhetorical attacks
from the communist countries, which argued that the U.S. was a violent,
It has been over 50 years since *Brown*, and ghetto schools from
coast to coast, from North to South, are as segregated as they were
in 1953. They are segregated, not by law, but by practice, as a
class; poverty-stricken, with few resources, increasingly poorly-trained,
poorly-paid and demoralized teachers, and few educational expectations
or outcomes of excellence.
be law on the books, but in the lives of millions of dark-skinned
kids, it's barely an asterisk. It is meaningless.
legal scholar, Derrick Bell, has long argued that *Brown* represents
a prime example of what he calls "interest convergence",
or an occasion when Blacks may benefit, but in order to do so, whites
must benefit. Thus, under *Brown*, almost half of Black educators,
especially in the South, lost their jobs. Whites were hired to replace
them and also for the swell of private white academies that sprung
up in opposition to the *Brown* decision.
are but training grounds for prisons, and in an age of computerization
and increasing outsourcing, they are struggling to find economic
and social relevance.
Writer Jonathan Kozol has written tellingly and touchingly of the
deplorable conditions of urban schools, which are Black and Brown
sinkholes of societal rejection; yet little has changed.
elite loves to kiss babies when they run for office, or even to
offer empty words about "our children" when discussing
them, but from coast to coast, 'from sea to shining sea', urban
public schools are places not of learning, nor of refuge, but of
societal rejection and dismissal.
and lack of sufficient resources reflects the subtle truth that
they are engaged in a war of ignorance, and forgetfulness about
them and their futures.
They are citizens, yes; youthful citizens who may be safely ignored,
for they have no voice, and no vote in the system.
Nothing is expected
of them. They are consigned to the bitter fringes of the ghetto
cash economy of all against all for sheer survival.
Let the bourgeoisie,
and the Black middle class celebrate *Brown*. Meanwhile, let the
rest of us ignore it.
Lerone Bennett, *Confrontation: Black and White* (Penguin, 1965),
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.