Dream and Reality: The Modern Black Struggle for Freedom and Equality

By Jeannine Swift | Go to book overview
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friends. Whites in 1964 cited all are equal and if they stay in their place as major reasons for not objecting to desegregation.

The few reasons stated in 1979 and 1984 by whites for being opposed to desegregation were: I'm very prejudiced and simply do not like the opposite race, too much difference produces a strain, and conflict results. Whites and blacks unopposed to attending school with one from a different race in 1979 and 1984 most often cited the following explanations: everyone is equal no matter the color, should have equal right to an education, good friends in opposite race, it is good to get to know different kinds of people, doesn't matter, God created us all, and we should cooperate with everyone.


CONCLUSIONS

These findings run counter to many desegregation studies cited earlier. White attitudes toward attending school with blacks in this community have definitely improved over time. Fourteen years after desegregation, over ninety-two percent of these white and black adolescents do not object to attending school with another race. In explaining their feelings, they stress equality of the races, equal opportunity, becoming better friends, cooperation, why not?, and the importance of heterogeneous relationships. The few who are opposed admit being prejudiced and feel the differences are too great, resulting in stress and conflict. In 1964 the "deemed by God" explanation supported segregation, while in 1979 and 1984, it tended to support desegregation. One student in 1984 noted, "If parents wouldn't teach their kids to be against one another, everyone would get along fine." Kowalski suggests that the success of desegregation may depend on the effort taken to educate both the parent and the student about the relatedness of desegregation to the goals of the school system. (10) For those few students still objecting to desegregation, parental influence may play a vital role.

As was true of students, the majority (seventy-nine percent) of teachers and administrators in this school system like being in a desegregated system. (11) Color of skin was not as important to many teachers as was the opportunity to teach in a "more realistic environment."

In explaining the relatively smooth desegregation process in this school system, one administrator cited the rural location. Since busing of students had occurred for years in this rural setting, most students were accustomed to being bused. With desegregation, it simply meant more of the same--possibly going to a different location. Being a small community, differences in school locations would not vary significantly. The fairly large size of the minority group (33 percent) possibly contributes to a more equal status racial situtation. Coleman notes that both whites and blacks improve most where schools are 51-75 percent white. (12)

Another administrator in this school district noted that racially integrated activities outside of school contributed to a positive environment within the school. He cited such activities as little league baseball, sandlot basketball, softball for girls, and scouting as examples of organized and unorganized programs outside of school. A good relationship outside of school should carry over into the school milieu. Yet another administrator commented that band activities seemed to be a positive force in helping desegregation work.

The author observed in 1979 and 1984 a voluntary random seating of students in the classrooms. This integrated seating arrangement was typical throughout the school system. A random arrangement of students should contribute to a positive outcome in such an integrated setting.

When this school system desegregated in 1970, the whole system from elementary through high school was involved. Rather than piecemeal de

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