Predictably, the housing segregation created segregation in pretty much every aspect of life -- schools, playgrounds, grocery stores, clinics, and more all tended to be of lower quality where they lived. Thus, migrants from the South quickly found that the North was little more than a slightly different flavor of terrible. And that brings us to how ...
Myth: The Civil Rights Movement Was A Resounding, Permanent Victory
Cecil Stoughton/White House Press Office
Yes, the changes were huge and profound. Segregation is now illegal. We have a black dude in the White House. If a celebrity says something racist, their career is over (for a couple of years, anyway, depending on their performance at the box office). Sure, you get a questionable police shooting every once in a while, but if anything, that emphasizes the horrible shit they used to get away with.
But there is a very good argument to be made that while overt racism went out of fashion, the actual elements which made life harder for minorities are all still there -- they just once again rebranded themselves to be less overt.
For example, there are the ongoing waves of racially-charged voter suppression laws, all of which undermine the Voting Rights Act. Black people are still much more likely to live in poverty, be the target of police brutality, and have higher mortality rates. African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites for the same offenses. It's a system that has evolved to the point where every example can be hand-waved away as having nothing to do with race ("Those voting laws are about preventing fraud! Poverty is due to lack of work ethic! Why should I feel sorry for a prisoner who chose to break the law?") while continuing to ruin black lives with brutal efficiency.
"Next time, don't be born into an unending cycle of poverty with limited access to upward social progression, asshole."
For a breakdown of how it works, let's look at the most damning metric of all: education. The good news is that graduation rates for black students have increased hugely since the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954, which declared that separate schools for black and white students were unconstitutional. The bad news is that this decision, which was perhaps the biggest victory of the Civil Rights Movement, has been neutered and robbed of its power at every single turn.
Immediately after the ruling, private "segregation academies" started popping up, carefully priced so that they were inexpensive enough for white kids while being juuuuuust a tad too expensive for African Americans (incidentally, many of these schools are still thriving today). Meanwhile, channeling black populations into poor neighborhoods meant channeling them into underfunded schools (only this time everyone can say, "But no one is forcing them to live there!").
"Wait, are you good at sports? We'll
exploit enroll you if you're good at sports."
How much of the school desegregation work has been undone? Well, in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement in the early '70s, only about a quarter of black kids in the South attended all-black schools (where minorities are at least 99% of the student body). Today it's 53 percent. Nobody had to pass a law forcing it; they merely had to step aside and quietly let the market price them out. The Supreme Court has even ruled that it is unconstitutional for local governments to try to actively change this through enrollment policy.
So there remains a huge racial discrepancy between students' graduation rates, minorities wind up with lower-paying jobs and thus end up in poorer neighborhoods, ensuring that their kids end up going to those same underfunded schools. And on and on it goes. But if you bring this up, invariably the first response will be, "Ugh, are you guys still complaining about this?"
Adam Koski wrote most of an exciting, hilarious novel about fairy sisters who have to save their village after everyone turns into monsters called Forust. More writings by Bevan Morgan are waiting on Squarespace.
Let's keep this misconception train rolling with 6 Civil War Myths Everyone Believes (That Are Total B.S.) and 5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam.
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