Saturday, June 4, 2016

Separate & Unequal in Baton Rouge & Violence in Baltimore by Cassie Kinney

Separate & Unequal in Baton Rouge & Violence in Baltimore  
For the last couple of years, parents within the Baton Rouge school district are trying to break away to form a new school district, known as "St. George." For those in support of this separation of school districts believe Baton Rouge is not teaching their children sufficiently, and want them to go to an improved school district. Opponents say that the separation of Baton Rouge to form St. George, is a form of black and white segregation, or segregation of poor and middle class. Some of the opponents include Belinda Davis and Melvin Holden which advocated that one school district  can work together to progress instead of segregate. They fear that when forming a new school district of affluent families, then the revenue that funds schools, will all go to St. George and there will become a lack of funds for Baton Rouge. 
Subsequently, the new city of St. George would predictably be 70% white, while Woodlawn High school of Baton Rouge is, and would remain, predominantly African American. And because the white families are middle class in comparison to working poor black families, it is obvious that St. George would take the funding for a good education with them, and the students at Woodlawn High will lack the same funding for educational opportunities. But, another interesting reason the middle class families want to form St. George, is because they have described Woodlawn High as a "zoo" because of some reported fighting amongst students. In other words, the white families view black students as animals and Woodlawn as the zoo, and because they're afraid of the bullying within the school system, the families are leaving for a upper class or middle class, predominantly white, school district that furthers the segregation, a phenomenon termed as "white flight." This can refer to many scenarios, but in the case of the separation of school districts, "white flight" is happening because the families do not want to help support change or help fix the Baton Rouge school district and instead want to form a separate school district that perpetuates segregation, and further provide opportunities to the most affluent.          This phenomenon creates structural obstacles that promotes the middle class agenda. That is, to keep the affluent away from the poor. A segregation of the poor and middle to upper class is one that reflects old ideologies of segregation of whites and blacks, and becomes part of the systematic racism. Consequently, the systematic racism of education where blacks are separate from the whites (or poor separate from the middle class) perpetuates the cycle of advantages and disadvantages. In other words, the cycle of disadvantage for black students is one that keeps them poor and less educated compared to the advantages of white students. Because education gives people the potential for success, skills, knowledge, and security (stability), therefore the lack of education potentially leads to a life of disadvantages, and struggle. Not to mention, young black males are targeted by the police, no matter their affluence, and the stereotypes of young black kids becomes one that is perpetuated through education, criminal justice, or job security because of systemic racism.  
Mentioned on the film Separate and Unequal, it is a presumption we live in a post-racial society because "we have a black president", in the same breadth, those people would say they are color blind which is in part of the systemic racism that they are perpetuating. Which leads to a further discussion on systematic racism in the second film Baltimore: Anatomy of an American City. Michael Wood, an ex-police officer of Baltimore exposed the racism within law enforcement and police brutality that he witnessed. Much of what Wood witnessed, and much of what the research reveals in the Inequality in America text, is that the mass incarceration of black males are involved in nonviolent offenses (i.e. drug charges.) Although rich whites use and sell drugs at a higher rate than poor black people, whites are not persecuted at a higher rate than poor black males.  
With that being said, at a time when crime was on a decline, Ronald Regan declared a War on Drugs, and to perpetuate his beliefs, he evidenced this phenomenon was real by militarizing the police. Cocaine and crack are basically the same drug but one is cheap and predominantly used within poor communities/groups while cocaine is often used by upper class groups because it is an expensive drug. Of course, the police are not witnessing cocaine deals because the rich are protected from law enforcement. And the black folks dealing crack are thus sentenced more harshly. Although Obama has made some effort to sentence crack and cocaine equally, it is not, and in fact it is still similar to the sentencing under the Bush administration. In the Inequality in America text, says that there are more black people in prison (enslaved) than there were in 1890. Now, there exists a new form of slavery, a new Jim Crow, known as the "school to prison pipeline."  
Because of drug control policy, kids become trapped in a cycle of violence, and some make a living through alternative methods (I.e. selling drugs.) There becomes an element of "survival by any means necessary" according. And much of this stems from the lack of education these kids receive because they have been segregated from opportunities, success, help, jobs, assistance, etc. It is the continuous propagation of controlling and redlining the poor that maintains white supremacy. There is a history of segregating the poor from the rich, but in disguise, this means the segregation of white middle class to the black poor class. But, anyone that has a "look" or "behavior" that is associated with whiteness can 'become white'—including Arab, Puerto Rican, or Asian Americans through a process of racialization.  

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