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

By Jeannine Swift | Go to book overview
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8 The Ills of Integration: A Black Perspective

Gerald Anthony Foster


More than twenty-five years after the historic March on Washington there is little disagreement regarding the widespread progress blacks have made in this country in terms of narrowing the gap between themselves and their white counterparts in social, economic, and political arenas. Yet we hasten to make two points: (1) a clear distinction must be made between progress and parity; there has in fact been much forward movement that suggests an improvement of a previous condition; however, if we speak of parity between blacks and whites which is more akin to the civil rights goal of equality of resources and results, then one is compelled to be far less optimistic; (2) one of the most important questions that must be asked by black people of black people is "at what price has this progress been achieved?"

When the landmark 1954 Brown Supreme Court decision was handed down, it indeed ushered in a new era of race relations in America. Many people, black and white, at that time naively thought that widespread social and systemic change would occur because of the revolutionary nature of the decision rendered by the pinnacle of American jurisprudence, the U.S. Supreme Court.

The position advanced in this essay is that the cost of desegregation and integration was much too high in that it has drained the black community's vitality that historically sustained its black families in the worst of times. Central to that vitality was a sense of black pride and black patronage, both of which seen absent today. In the great push for integration and assimilation blacks have all but lost that which was so important to the race for hundreds of years, a positive sense of self in relationship to the external environment

Instead of strengthening the black community, racial desegregation and integration have caused blacks to venture into a hostile white world that from the outset had no intention of truly pursuing and supporting racial integration.

Therefore instead of becoming a means of achieving more equal treatment in education, employment, housing, and the like, integration has tended to build false hopes of open acceptance of blacks by whites when in reality the racism that existed in 1954 still exists in large part today, and blacks as a people are less prepared to cope with it because the community and intraracial supports that existed 25-30 years ago do not exist today. Integration in large part has proven to be the bane of black life in America today.


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