Integration a social construct
by Tracy Allen
The screams of hatred and the horrific stares encountered in her walk to the front door of Little Rock’s Central High is a scene that Elizabeth Eckford will never forget.To imagine that America once fought so desperately to deny African Americans the right for better education, employment or even decent living arrangements may be hard for today’s young to believe but it isn’t for those who have lived it. The marches, the threats of violence yet the pride that black America felt when it came to requesting their right to be included in America’s world also meant melting into the white man’s world. A world that for too long had been secluded only for those who sported European features and have views of white supremacy. Integration, the answer some African Americans thought would lead them to the “promise land”, has in turn led black America into a world of further separation and confusion. The very effort to be included in white America’s world was suppose to mean black America had finally arrived and would finally get their piece “of the pie” that was owed them.
But we all know, not.
Decades of fighting for inclusion in a segregated world has done some good for black America. The historic 1954 Brown v. Topeka, Kas., Board of Education decision gave black Americans and others ethnicities the chance to attend public schools and universities of their choice. The 1965 Civil Rights Act was intended to cease discrimination in voting, education and the use of public facilities. The Voting Rights Act of 1968 was geared toward communities, particularly in the deep South, that made voting a deadly affair for determined blacks. Laws governing the opportunity to own homes in neighborhoods once forbidden for black people were on the books. Affirmative action, as good as many believed, was suppose to send thousands more to the top of corporate America. Now, the clock is turning back, and affirmative action, even with the eye of conservative black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is all but becoming a dead issue for those whites who never wanted it in the first place.