Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Separatist Road Called Dead End

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Separatist Road Called Dead End

Article excerpt

THE INCREMENTAL progress made by African-Americans has caused some blacks to throw up their hands at ever achieving the goal of a fully integrated society, as envisioned by those who led and were part of the civil rights movement of 30 and 40 years ago.

Frustrated at what at times has seemed like a snail's pace in integrating our society, some blacks have chosen, instead, to go the separatist route - all-black schools, churches, cultural institutions and so on. While there's nothing inherently wrong with any of those, the new president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League warns against the push toward a separatist society.

The president, Hugh B. Price, addressed the issue at the Urban League's national convention last month. In his address, Price said he realized the impetus for this new push among some African-Americans.

"I fully understand the instinct to separate when we are incessantly under economic siege," he said. "When we're still discriminated against some 40 years after the Brown (vs. Board of Education of Topeka) decision. And when, thanks to those recurring images on evening newscasts of black youngsters being hauled off to jail, even our honor students are trailed like common thieves when they enter stores."

Despite that, Price realizes that an increase in isolation among African-Americans, at a time when the nation is becoming more diverse than ever, could lead to economic suicide.

"America is a robustly multicultural society," he said. "So is its labor market. For example, I read recently of a small manufacturing firm in Southern California which has 200 workers representing 30 nationalities. That's the new U.S. labor market. We deny this reality at our - and our children's - peril."

Price made it clear that the difficulties blacks have faced in efforts to fully integrate our society require the formation of alliances with other groups. Many of the problems faced by African-Americans actually cut across racial lines.

"If we're ever to deal with (the problems) on a scale remotely equal to their size, we must coalesce with people of other complexions who feel the same pain, even if it isn't yet as acute," Price said. …

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