A Deafening Silence

A Deafening Silence

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this summer on the school integration plans in Seattle and Louisville seemed to be met with a deafening silence by the nation’s civil rights groups. Weren’t they outraged? After all, this ruling appeared to be a betrayal of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case.

Some groups were and are outraged, according to Ted Shaw, director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“We are fighting tooth and nail against those like Ward Connerly who are trying to pretend that race no longer matters, and trying to declare ourselves colorblind before we have even finished the business of doing all that we can to create a society where race no longer defines not only who and what people are but the quality of their lives,” he says.

Nevertheless, the opponents of affirmative action, Connerly and others, believe they are winning the public relations and political struggle over the issue.

“It’s clear that the mainstream civil rights people are resigned to the inevitable.

If I were them, I wouldn’t spend one penny fighting what they know is coming.

Instead, they should be sitting down and negotiating with people like me,” Connerly says.

Indeed, the highest court in the land seems intent on turning back the clock on a number of issues, wrote Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson in a June column, “Standing in the Schoolhouse Door.”

“We need to realize that for the foreseeable future any progress our increasingly diverse country makes toward fairness and equality will come in spite of the nation’s highest court, not because of it,” said Robinson. “Go ahead and promote racial diversity in the classroom if you think that’s important, the court basically said. But whatever you do, you can’t take race into account.”

In the cover story, Jamal Watson reports on the gradual dismantling of race-conscious policies and the efforts of civil rights and anti-affirmative action groups to press on.

In addition, see Kendra Hamilton’s sidebar on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ interesting justification of the Court’s ruling in the school integration cases.

The issue of race indeed continues to hover over daily life for African-Americans, and two scholars — Dr. Mary Pattillo of Northwestern University and Dr. Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago — are shedding light on various aspects of the Black experience. In “Replacing Rhetoric With Research,” Susan E. Smith profiles these scholars, both of whom have ties to the University of Chicago.

In “The Secrets Behind Their Success,” longtime contributor Paul Ruffins takes a look at the world of for-profit universities. These institutions have experienced great success in relatively recent years, and are continuing to grow in popularity. Now, the schools that pioneered adult education are staying ahead of the curve by offering flexible course schedules and convenient locations. But, as Paul reports, there is some risk involved.

Lastly, we are coming upon the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and many Gulf Coast faculty members who had to evacuate still have not returned to their home universities; some probably never will. In “Moving Forward,” Diverse contributing editor Lydia Lum reconnects with a group of faculty members who she profiled more than a year ago to find out if some sense of normalcy has returned.

Hilary Hurd Anyso



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