--Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, Director, Institute for African American Studies, University of Connecticut and author of Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity (The Johns Hopkins University Press), 2004 and Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap (University Press of Kansas), 2007.
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Blacks still show the strongest support for a racially integrated America. Whites and Hispanics are much more ambivalent about integration. Sixty-two percent of blacks would like to see more residential integration according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Fifty percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of whites felt the same.
When asked whether it is more important “to have students go to racially mixed schools even if many of the students don't live nearby, or to have students go to local community schools even if it means most students are of the same race” blacks again show the strongest commitment to racial integration. Fifty-six percent of blacks chose racially integrated schools. Forty-four percent and 23 percent of Hispanics and whites respectively felt the same.
Sixty-five percent of whites favored local schools. The choice by whites for local schools and predominantly-white schools appear to be a big factor in why America’s schools and neighborhoods remain highly segregated. Until whites develop a strong commitment to integrated schools, we will likely continue to see high rate of neighborhood segregation.
Libertarianism and Segregation
Data from the General Social Survey suggests that libertarian values could provide support for segregationist policies. Respondents were asked to choose between two laws:
- A. One law says that a homeowner can decide for himself whom to sell his house to, even if he prefers not to sell to African- Americans; and
- B. The second law says that a homeowner cannot refuse to sell to someone because of their race or color.
After pooling data from 1994, 1996 and 2004 to increase the sample size, one finds that 34.6 percent of whites felt that an owner should be able to discriminate against black homebuyers. 19.2 percent of blacks felt the same. However, only 15.5 percent of whites (1994 and 1996 data) agreed that “White people have a right to keep African-Americans out of their neighborhoods if they want to, and African-Americans should respect that right.” So, segregationist policies may receive more support when they are couched in libertarian language.
Most Americans generically support integration. For many whites this support does not appear to be very strong. Support for integration declines when it is put up against libertarian values or local schools. Black Americans continue to be more strongly committed to integration. But integration, like the tango, takes two, and only one group seems to really want to dance.
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--Algernon Austin, Ph.D.
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