This post was written by Lamont Douglas, a father, advocate and blogger at Secondline. He resides in New Orleans, Louisiana where he has been a powerful voice for educational equity. For more NYST coverage of the integration uproar on the Upper West Side, see here, here, here, and here.
Melba. Minnijean. Elizabeth. Ernest. Gloria. Carlotta. Thelma. Terrence. Jefferson. We stand on the shoulders of the Little Rock Nine. Ruby – we definitely salute you as well.
They were physically and verbally abused, spat on and called names. Melba had acid thrown in her eye and they attempted to set her on fire. Minnijean was confronted by a group of young men who assaulted her yet she was suspended for the entire year. Mobs shouted at them in attempts to put fear in their heart and minds. They were the subject of mass ridicule and torment.
I say this with high conviction and the utmost purpose; I don’t want my children around those type of white people! And any other children for that matter! A few weeks ago, in the affluent Upper West Side section of Manhattan, the seeds of those crazy, hateful, prejudice, and racist mobs were planted yet again and God forbid if we allow them to harvest. The city’s plan is to diversify the New York school population by bringing in students who have been affected by the city’s school choice policies. Policies that often lead to more affluent parents moving to and flooding certain parts of the city. Yes, gentrification at work once again. As a result, the resources and money follows those families and students. Lower income families and students get pushed out of neighborhoods they once occupied and pushed directly into schools with lower resources and money, a cycle some parents seem to be fine with just as long as their child is being served.
The city’s school officials and elected parent leaders identified want to make New York schools more representative of New York’s demographics by diversifying and desegregating the schools. They want to bring in children with economical and educational disadvantages to benefit from the advantages allotted to schools with an affluent student body. But at what cost?
We have seen the actions of parents, students and mobs of yesteryear when desegregation was forced on them. I don’t think that is something I want to send our beloved children into today. My hope is that the children of these school would be different from their parents, but middle school-aged children are very impressionable and many may possess the soul and spirit of their parents by default. It has been, respectively, 61 and 58 years since the Little Rock Nine and Ruby Bridges desegregation crisis. It seems as if we are still battling the same issues decades later. I know gentrification, zip codes, and demographic games are being played, but I have to ask black folks these questions:
Why are we still trying to inhabit spaces where we are clearly not wanted?
How long will we continue to send our children behind enemy lines and into enemy territory to fight a battle that there is no chance to win?
In closing, this quote by the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King really hits home, “I fear, I am integrating my people into a burning house.”
When asked what should we do in this case, Dr. King replied we should become the firemen and put the fire out. But, I as a parent don’t have any interest in putting out any fires for American souls on American soil. I am not concerned with the feelings and white tears from white parents suffering from influenza. I am not comfortable in continuing to fight others at the expense of my child and especially when those others seemed to be morally, mentally, and emotionally bankrupt.
Dr. King also said, “Some of the old optimism was a little superficial and now it must be tempered with solid realism.”
As a parent, I realized this has been tried before and we need to find more innovative ways to educate our children and get them the advantages they need. We were enslaved and still managed to learn how to read and get educated. The early schools that educated us were amazing institutions of higher learning that were segregated and educated many of our great leaders. Why are we settling and sending our children into harm’s way? The time to re-evaluate these actions has come and I still say loud and with vigor, I don’t want none of our children around them white folks!