Jim Crow's New Face
by La Shawn Barber
A New Visions Commentary
paper published September 2003 by The National Center for Public
Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002,
202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail Project21@nationalcenter.org,
Reprints permitted provided source is credited.
Legal segregation of the races is an
embarrassing part of America's history. Called Jim Crow after
a black character from an 1840s minstrel show, the laws prescribed
separate facilities for blacks and whites from around 1865 until
"Separate but equal" proved
separate and unequal for black Americans. Considered lesser humans,
blacks were held to a lower standard. The object was to keep
us subjugated, subordinate and "in our place."
You don't have to watch PBS or read books
to know what Jim Crow was like. Just look around. It still exists.
Even in the post-civil rights era, a subtle form of segregation
has taken its place. Under the guise of "affirmative action,"
white liberals have convinced many of us that, just like the
victims of the old Jim Crow, we now deserve special treatment
and separate standards.
Same scourge, different face.
So ingrained are these new "laws"
that blacks openly and shamelessly assert their right to lower
standards. In Florida, black leaders are urging a boycott of
the state's extensive theme park industry to stop the enforcement
of educational standards. After a large percentage of Florida's
students failed the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment
Test (FCAT) this past spring, many of them blacks, the NAACP
filed a civil rights complaint while others demanded the test
results be thrown out.
To avert an initial boycott of Florida
citrus products and the state lottery (a boycott of the latter
being not an altogether bad thing), Governor Jeb Bush endorsed
a plan to allow high school seniors who failed the FCAT to graduate
with low SAT or ACT college test scores. These acceptable scores
come close to what you supposedly get if you fill in your name
correctly. This proposal, however, was rejected by state lawmakers,
who are now looking into allowing additional chances to pass
and giving the teachers responsible for this mess the authority
to graduate a student even if the FCAT found him seriously lacking
in rudimentary skills.
Once recognizing the faulty reasoning
behind the boycott scheme, Governor Bush said, "The underlying
premise of this boycott seems to be flawed... if you have high
expectations for every child, irrespective of race or nationality,
you can achieve results that become the envy of other places
in the country." Such noble words; such pitiable actions.
Black proponents of race preferences
seem blind to the irony. Our forebears fought and died to dismantle
such racist practices. For whites, one could almost excuse it.
Misguided guilt, wrong-headed compassion or the embarrassment
of lagging minority students who've already been given so many
advantages - take your pick. But, for blacks, it's inexcusable.
Children are being taught that appealing to white guilt can take
them far in life. With Republican "enemies" like Governor
Bush, who needs liberal friends?
"To suggest that we have a lower
standard, a lower expectation for one group of kids... just doesn't
make sense," Governor Bush said to State Senator Larcenia
Bullard, a black Democrat and vice chair of the education committee.
"It would be heartbreaking for us to have a system where
we give up on kids."
What's heartbreaking for minority students
is the apparent easy surrender to this lunacy. If 12th graders
can't pass a 10th grade-level exam after the sixth try, what
does it say about their public school education? Black parents
have a right to be angry, but at the right people.
Public schools must be held accountable
for promoting unqualified students, but proponents of special
treatment such as Senator Bullard instead turn their venom toward
Governor Bush and the state of Florida. Their time would be better
spent working for school vouchers. Instead of embracing school
choice in light of students' failure to pass a basic skills test,
however, black liberals viciously oppose it.
Jim Crow created a caste system in America
that lasted for generations. In 2003, power-driven, pandering
politicians want to make sure it remains in place. As long as
blacks refuse to hold themselves accountable for failure and
continue to perceive themselves as victims entitled to special
categories, black liberal politicians will always have a constituency
keeping them in office... and we will forever remain "in
(La Shawn Barber, a member
of Project 21's National Advisory Council, is a freelance writer.
Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author,
and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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