Jan 9, 2023Liked by Darrell Owens

Maybe, I don't know. I appreciate your lived experiences but would like to see some hard data on this. I suspect that poor Blacks living in diverse neighborhoods do better than those in extremely segregated neighborhoods but I don't really know.

I do know that poor Black and Latino students do better in integrated schools than they do in very segregated schools. One of the really impressive things that Berkeley has done is create a pretty integrated K-12 school district where poor (SES in the lingo) Black and Latino children do much better than the state average. In SF it's a disaster as it is in most of the state.

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We desperately need something like Cory Booker's Baby Bond's program. "Universal Basic Wealth."


The proposal would do as much to redistribute wealth to descendants of slaves as any serious proposal that's been made for "reparations" -- while being facially neutral regarding race, and also helping out plenty of poor Whites (which IMHO should be regarded as a feature, not a bug).

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I'm a white guy that grew up in like the whitest suburb of Memphis but now lives in Seattle, and I very much agree with you that white liberals often fk things up by conflating causes and symptoms. The educational culture on the West Coast appears to be in a race to the bottom so that white people can flex how enlightened they are. Seattle used magnet programs as a way to desegregate their public schools on paper, but created schools within schools with apparently little mixing, where black kids who lived in said districts were shunted to standard classes and the white kids shunted to honors. Now that's recognized as being a racist process - it is - and rather than, I dunno, making a better effort to reach out to talented black students, or just have subject-based tracking (some people suck at math but are great at english or vice versa) they eliminate honors programs. To me that's waaaaaay more racist than the initial insult (and does nothing but set the white flight in motion that the magnet program sleight of hand was trying to prevent in the 70s).

Greater Memphis is practically defined by white flight, though the suburb i grew up in was mostly rich horse farms when the Fair Housing Act was passed, so I don't think it was really red-lined much. My family moved into a relatively modest house there in the eighties but nearly everything built post 1985 was expensive enough to enforce segregation by price. There was one black household on my street - a FBI agent and his daughter. The public schools were excellent, but there were never more than a handful of black students. More related to the point of this article, they may have had black skin, but they were the children of parents who had enough capital to move to that school district.

We didn't have a magnet program, but we did have lots of honors and AP classes, and there were lots of students tracked by subject. I don't want to advertise this school system too much, it was hell in a lot of ways if you weren't Southern Baptist or just different. But academic standards were pretty high, minus the lost cause crap in US history and the honors biology teacher skipping the evolution chapters. I was in all honors and thought a lot of the kids in standard classes were dumb at the time, but I've had to eat my prior misconceptions as many of the kids I thought were dumb are now physicians or attorneys.

When Seattle culture warriors started talking about how honors classes were inevitably racist, I went back to my high school yearbook, because I knew the black kids at my school *through the honors classes*, and counted. There were 11 black students out of 383 in my graduating class, and out of those i counted 7 I had at least one honors class with. Three are physicians, a fourth one (who was standard-tracked) is an oral surgeon, and as far as I can facebook all are successful professionals today.

The ambient level of racism at the school was relatively high, but the black kids never really had the critical mass to self-segregate, and I think we were tracked in a colorblind way (though I don't know if the black kids' parents had to intervene to have their kids placed in honors courses, it's certainly likely negative stereotypes led teachers to improperly downtrack a black student at some point, but the evidence doesn't suggest that was a systemic issue because a majority of the black students at some point were in an honors course). Most of them were the children of doctors or, oddly for a town with little military presence, 3 of the 11 had spent at least part of their childhood in Germany.

I don't claim to have any solutions to the achievement gap besides creative and broad-based full reparations, but getting rid of honors classes is a fking copout and is more racist than any of the assholes I grew up with that had their Confederate flags displayed so proudly on their trucks in the school parking lot. No matter how many Black Lives Matter signs are in the schoolyard.

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"Every single piece of data we have suggests that racial integration is not happening in the United States"

In case anyone ever comes back to this old article, I want to highlight this statement because I don't think it's true. I'm sure measures of integration and segregation vary and one can find data supporting whatever they claim, but most evidence points to slowly and steadily increasing integration.

At the neighborhood level, here's Black-White integration within metros, showing a steady decrease since the 1980s:


At the household level, here's interracial marriage showing a drastic increase since the 80's and close to 20% of Black people, and people overall, of being married to a non-Black person https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2017/05/18/1-trends-and-patterns-in-intermarriage/

Similar trends on integrated households are born out in birth data collected by the CDC and adoption data.

But none of these data points even fully account for the effects of integration which is significant in non-white populations. 1st generation immigrants assimilate and integrate much less than their children and often arrive married and / or with children. They often live in immigrant neighborhood where they "segregate" for support from people of the same culture.

Over 20% of new Black mothers in the US are immigrants, and that number is much higher for other Hispanics and Asians. If the above data was filtered to only native-born Americans, all of the integration metrics would rise substantially. Among new Black parents, for example, among non-immigrants almost 30% have a non-Black partner. That's intergration!

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