Saturday, June 24, 2006

Black and in School

There a couple of things recently that have peeked my interest as it relates to race and education. As you know, the state of Michigan remains embroiled in a battle over Affirmative Action, which may come to a head in November. I'm slacking on the updates around the legality of the MCRI signatures, but I'm figuring that stuff will wash itself out. If you want me to continue posting on that stuff, drop me an email or comment. Okay, but I digress.

The Supreme Court has recently decided to hear cases on the race and school assignment. If you had a chance to read any of the Harvard Civil Right's Projects reports over the last five years, you know that our children are going to more segregated schools than they did nearly 50 years ago. Of course this is not without debate, the Thernstroms have argued that segregation has decreased in school in their book No Excuses. Regardless of which side you believe (and I fall in line with HCRP because of their methodology, not ideology) the classrooms that children attend as well as the students they sit next to affect their educational performance.

In this NY Times piece the CEO for the Center for Equal Opportunity classifies research that provides evidence that racially mixed schools yield educational benefits as "touchy-feely social science." *Ouch* I guess considering the relationships between children as important to their educational accomplishments is soft. Well then, call me a powder puff.

I think at the root of this issue is not simply desegregation, but integration. While a court can mandate that groups co-exist and occupy the same space, a court can never guarantee that these groups will integrate into each others lives. As someone who finds myself aligning more with Black nationalism (in some form) than liberal intergrationism, I know their are many issues in this. Many nationalists as well as conservatives will take this opportunity to suggest that consideration of race or desegregation is not needed, but not so fast. I would argue without desegregation, the odds for integration dramatically reduce. I guess one could consider desegregation the lynch-pin to integration. In that sense, without desegregation, you shouldn't expect to see the "benefits" of integration. Which leads me to Booker T. Washington.

The larger question of integration is one that has always intrigued and plagued me. Booker T. Washington posed an interesting position at his Atlanta Compromise address when he said,
"In all things purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress."
In my own research, I've come to see the issue with this idea is the fact that social worlds between Black and Whites are largely separate. So the ability to reap the economic, and in this case educational, gains of others is less likely.

Simple example, trips to the local library to read about Peru pale in comparison to trips to Peru. When we talk about children's experiences and opportunities we have to realize that exposure is paramount for healthy social and academic development. By assuming that we can segment our experiences, when they are still unequal, will leave us behind still, right? Aight this is way too complex for me to be posting on right now. In fact this post was started weeks ago and I need to be writing a dissertation!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Organizing for peace in Ypsi

In the past two weeks I've received an email from current U of M student Krisilyn Frazier about the death of Clifton Lee Jr at the hands of the Washtenaw County Sheriffs. Issues of police violence can brew uprisings, distrust, and organizing for progressive change.

Krisilyn has stepped up and wants any help she can get in organizing a Peace March later this summer. She says it best, so I'll quote her here,
As I stated before, the purpose of the Peace March is to promote peace and unity within the community. It will give the community an opportunity to speak out against black on black violence, police brutality, and racism. This is not an attack on ALL blacks or ALL police, just against those who commit the crimes and those who demonstrate insensitivity toward minorities as individuals who deserve equal respect and protection under the law.

You can contact her at for more information.
*As a note the information on Accountable Community Policing that I linked to can be found in Covenant IV of the The Covenant. Gotta use what we know.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blackness in Ann Arbor

The post title probably makes you think I'm gonna write some deep introspective stuff... sorry not tonight. But there are a couple of things going on in Ann Arbor that I thought you may like to know are going down.

This Saturday the Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP is hosting its annual Juneteenth gathering! It will be happening from noon to 5pm at Wheeler Park. It's a nice family friendly event which features food, performances, and even some Bid Whist (how's that for Midwestern)!

Next Thursday, June 22nd from 10am to 6pm The Black Factory is stopping into Ann Arbor. The Black Factory will be at Liberty Plaza, it's that little concrete park thingy at the corner of Liberty and S. Division. Definitely follow the link above to see the brochure about the Black Factory. I'll have to try to stop by to see what is going on, it seems really interesting.

And while I'm on my Ann Arbor kick, have you been to Another Ann Arbor? It's a great website which is one of the original resources on things Black in Michigan.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Why can't we have nothing??????!!!!!

Remember this? Well take a look at this. (shakes head in disgust)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Covenant Book Review

The book, in my estimation, is a continuation of the lineage that Du Bois sought to establish with the Atlanta Conferences. While many have attempted systematic analyses of the conditions of African-Americans across a broad spectrum, few have successfully conducted these analyses and provided prescription for change that could be understood at the individual, family, community, and policy levels. The Covenant does this. Now of course the book is not perfect, one could desired deeper analysis from some of the contributors, but I ask you to suspend your “academic hat” of deconstruction and “critique for the sake of critique” and take the time to see how each essay fits into the whole.
Read my full review here.

The Covenant Tour is going to conclude in Detroit this Friday, June 16th at 7pm at
Greater Grace Temple
City of David
23500 W. Seven Mile Road
Detroit, MI 48219
It's free and open to the public!!!

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Study for Intervention: Invisible Man #1 by Charles H. Nelson

So it's apparently here, the (print) media blitz over Black men. The Washington Post is now running a series on Black men, I plan to post my thoughts on their series and like most other things, whatever else I darn well please!

The opening piece in the series is based on a poll that the Post conducted. As the title suggests, the results are a really mixed bag. For the past 8 years or so, I've found myself consistently uttering the statement, "Being a Black male is all about contradictions." I often say this statement with a tongue-in-cheek candor to my friends and family, but I, in many ways, do believe this. From my perspective, Black masculinity is a fabulously contradictory constellation. I won't dive into that, better minds have already done this (1,2,3).
But the survey, at the least, confirms that we see ourselves in complex and in some cases in contradictory ways. As a young Black man I can think of times when I complain about the ways in which women (often White) have changed their posture upon seeing me or outright have run from me because they saw me approaching on a street. But at the same time I recently told my girlfriend that while those types of responses are not ideal, that she should do what she thought made her feel safe (within reason) when she asked about a similar situation. Contradictions. It's kind of the the same way we don't flinch when Pac can make "Keep your head up" and "Wonder why they call u b-tch." To many, this would be a fatal flaw among Black men, but if it is a fatal flaw then we should really struggle to understand where it comes from. In part, it's got to be attributable to our social position - privileged as men but disadvantaged as Black men in a predominantly White world. But as always, there is more to that story...

Despite our diversity of perspective on our own social conditions and why we are where we are, some things remain pretty central to us.
Despite their clear achievements and general optimism about their prospects, black men worry more than virtually everyone, the survey found.

For a while social science research has been finding evidence that more middle-class African-Americans experience more discrimination, but this still seems to shock many. It really challenges the dominant economic narrative of racial discrimination really being discrimination based on skills or other "unobservables".

If anything, the survey suggests that better-educated black men experience more direct racism than those with fewer resources. For example, 63 percent of educated, upper-middle-class black men said they have been unfairly stopped by police, compared with 47 percent of less-advantaged black men.

It's also pretty interesting to see how White men view us... more details are in the survey pdf if you want to check it out, but here is a snippet from the article.
Regarding the obstacles black men face and their prospects for the future, whites were the most optimistic. Black women tended to be the most pessimistic, even more than black men, with only 44 percent of black women saying that now is a good time to be a black man in America . Black women were also just as likely as their male counterparts to see the economic system as biased against black men.

In sum, I am very interested by the poll and will hopefully this weekend plow through the supporting materials in their entirety. Two glaring issues are incarceration and that fact that it was conducted over the phone. With 8 percent of the Black male population imprisoned, there is a considerable perspective that may be missing. And a phone survey likely means that they undersample lower-income people or people with more transient lives. But that's just the sociologist getting a little nerdy.

Rachel over at Rachel's Tavern also beat me to posting on this, so I'd suggest you drop by her spot and see what she has to say.

Oh, and should I be ashamed that I cringe each time I see Chuck Brown picture...