Is integration racist?

Amadi Ajamu | 2/27/2014, 5:01 p.m.

Equality for African people in the United States remains illusive. The post-slavery century of “separate but equal” Jim Crow laws never delivered the “equal” part of the equation.

The Civil Rights Movement was a struggle for equality. We paid our taxes and we demanded political and economic equality. Equal access to vital resources for our children’s education was the spark that lit the fire.

“When Mr. Oliver Brown’s lawsuit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., [occurred in 1954], his complaint rested on the inequality of resources provided to Black schools compared to white schools. He demanded the same quantity of funding for books, desks, building maintenance and the like,” explained Viola Plummer at the opening of a Black History Month series of forums held at Sistas’ Place in Bedford-Stuyvesant, themed “Integration is Racist.

“Somehow, Brown’s very fundamental and basic demand for equality was calculatedly translated in a U.S. Supreme Court hoodwink as ‘integration,’ after which we witnessed our children escorted to school by heavily armed national guards and terrorized by mobs of rabid, racist and ignorant whites.,” said Plummer.

“We witnessed our children bused to white neighborhoods, isolated and alone in hostile and dangerous territories.” Schools in our community deteriorated. More and more conscious Black teachers were replaced by whites who had no respect for our history, culture or community. These conditions persist today in every aspect of our social, political and economic conditions under the guise of integration.”

Case in point, recent news reports have focused on Calderon, a technology teacher at P.S. 201 in Flushing, Queens, who gave her fourth-grade class a Black History Month assignment. She told the children to write about a Black leader of their choice. Nine-year-old Eliakim Brown decided to write about Malcolm X. Calderon told him he could not, declaring Malcolm X “did it the bad way,” and told him to write about Martin Luther King Jr. instead. Calderon told another child in the class who wanted to write on Malcolm X, “No, Malcolm X was violent.”

Both children told their parents, who immediately complained to the school administrators about the “banning” of Malcolm X, and since then, a series of intense meetings with the school and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) have ensued. Parents Frank and Cleatress Brown and Angela Minor are mobilizing other parents, demanding an immediate change to the DOE curriculum to include a comprehensive African history component, including the works of renowned historian Molefi Kete Asante.

On the issue of Black businesses, political activist and radio personality Bob Law led a forum focusing on communal economics. “Integration, like multiculturalism and diversity, is presented as a good idea. But those ideas in a political context, in a cultural context, are anti-Black and lead to a decline in so many other conditions in the community. The way integration works is that Black people give up everything that is Black in order to be reinvented to become acceptable to whites. At the same time, the kinds of things that we are capable of doing on our own terms with our own strength are discouraged because it’s not leading to integration,” he explained.

Law cited the dearth of small business loans that were available to business owners in Brooklyn before gentrification and the influx of whites to the area. “Now that whites are demanding loans to open businesses, banks are advertising their availability. We have enormous power. Black people outspend every other ethnic group in the country, but we don’t challenge them. We think that doing for self is inappropriate. We are pursuing integration.”

The “Integration is Racist” series also included forums on the entertainment industry, health care disparities and the Affordable Care Act, reparations and self-determination.