Friday, June 22, 2007

Yeah, yeah, yeah I go a swingin' school

How far from institutionalized racism have we come in America? Well, you'd think a 4th of July parade in Huntington Beach would be miles away from any controversy:
Organizers of Surf City's Fourth of July parade said Wednesday they would let the producer of the documentary chronicling the 1947 Mendez v. Westminster school-desegregation case take part this year.

Parade officials reversed a decision to deny Sandra Robbie's application for her Magical History Tour bus on grounds that it lacked entertainment value.
I suppose the American Revolution, which is what the holiday is about, was chocked full of entertainment value, too. What with people dying for . . . you know, freedom.

Who is Sandra Robbie?
This site is dedicated to helping those preparing research projects on the landmark Mendez et al. v. Westminster et al, Mexican American Desegregation Case from Orange County California in 1946. The case was decided 7 years before Brown v. The Board of Education, and argued on Appeal by Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP, among many others. The Mendez case is a civil rights study about how one family stood up to a segregated society and with the support of their friends, relatives, community and hosts of lawyers and civil rights groups, convinced the Courts that segregation had no place in our schools or in our society.

What is Mendez v. Westminster? A pretty special time in Orange County's past:

On March 2, 1945, five Mexican-American fathers (Gonzalo Mendez, Thomas Estrada, William Guzman, Frank Palomino, and Lorenzo Ramirez) challenged the practice of school segregation in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. They claimed that their children, along with 5,000 other children of "Mexican and Latin descent", were victims of unconstitutional discrimination by being forced to attend separate "Mexican" schools in the Westminster, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and El Modena school districts of Orange County.

Commemortaive postage stamp issues by the United States Postal Service in 2007
Commemorative postage stamp issues by the United States Postal Service in 2007

Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of Mendez and his co-plaintiffs on February 18, 1946. However, the district appealed. Several organizations joined the appellate case as amicus curiae, including the NAACP, represented by Thurgood Marshall. More than a year later, on April 14, 1947, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the district court's ruling.

7 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, put a stop to "separate but equal" forever:
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954),[1] is a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court overturning its earlier ruling, declaring the establishment of separate public schools for black and white students inherently unequal. This victory paved the way for integration and the Civil Rights Movement.

Or did it? Here's what Clarence Thomas, the "best" candidate, said:
Notably, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, himself an African-American, wrote in Missouri v. Jenkins (1995) that at the very least, Brown I has been misunderstood by the courts.
Brown I did not say that "racially isolated" schools were inherently inferior; the harm that it identified was tied purely to de jure segregation, not de facto segregation. Indeed, Brown I itself did not need to rely upon any psychological or social-science research in order to announce the simple, yet fundamental truth that the Government cannot discriminate among its citizens on the basis of race....

Yeah. Until the same amount of money is spent on a kid in Westminster, CA, or Watts, as is spent on kids in Beverly Hills 90210, then not only is institutionalized racism alive and well, but Affirmative Action still mandatory.