Obama’s Executive Order Puts Blacks In the Corner At the U.S. Department of Education
This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on August 7, 2012.
By MICHAEL MEYERS.
Two months after the nation observed the 58th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that found racial segregation in public education unconstitutional because such racial classifications by school authorities are suspect and inherently unequal, America’s first African American president refuses to lead us into a post-racial society. Recently, he doubled-down on keeping us in racial boxes by establishing — by Executive Order — a black corner at the U.S. Department of Education. His Executive Order, eye-witnessed and praised by Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP’s Benjamin Jealous, purports to put African Americans on the road to equality when it actually places blacks behind the eight-ball of segregation and skin color identity politics.
The President’s action launches the “White House Initiative on educational Excellence for African Americans;” to be housed in the department of Education, establishes an inter-agency “working group” of senior officials from the US Education Department, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the department of Justice, the department of Labor, the department of health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, as well as Department of Defense to “strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages; and help ensure that African Americans receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, a satisfying career, and productive citizenship.” Segregation is always explained in purple language, surrounded by federal bureaucrats, and encased in glossy government folders. naturally, the government officials are obliged to be guided and advised by a commission of hand-picked experts on black education and culture.
Why does the Education Department need an office on African Americans when it already has a division focused on protecting minorities’ rights — OCR, the Office of Civil Rights. Indeed, that office (usually headed by a non-white Secretary for Civil Rights) in recent years already advocates for blacks and other racial minorities; it’s never seen a black or minority-centric program it’s disapproved of. For instance, my civil rights organization years ago, to no avail, insisted that OCR shut down Cornell University’s black dorm — and also shutter City University of New York’s discriminatory “Black Male Initiative” as violations of Title 6′s prohibition on the use of race to exclude or segregate. We also argued in the case of the Black Male Initiative that governmental education officials were stereotyping and treating black males differently on account of their race (a Title VI violation) and gender ( a violation of Title IX). OCR also refused to decide our Title IX (sex discrimination) complaint against the City of New York when in 1996 it opened the first single-sex public school since the 1972 Title IX regulations prohibited such schools. Instead of declaring the single-sex public all-girls school illegal OCR dodged the bullet-proof complaint we sent them by changing its regulations so as to allow gender considerations in admissions to public schools.
Now, President Obama — citing the need for race-specific strategies and his wish to help the historically black colleges and universities–advocates and imposes a separate door and office for African Americans within the federal Education Department. With prompting from and the approval of the usual race advocates, and black college supporters, Obama spun off their racial rhetoric and simultaneously declared that this latest White House Initiative — and therefore the Department of Education — will “complement and reinforce” the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative that he had he established by his previous separatist-oriented Executive Order 13532 in February 2010. In neither Executive Order did the president of the United States of America address the Brown v. Board of Education mandate of integration or the underlying policy question: Do we still need, and should the government reinforce in 21st century America (when most blacks attend non-black colleges) racially-identifiable colleges?
The truthful answer is no; we no longer need “black colleges” or “white colleges” or “Hispanic colleges” much less “Asian” colleges. The nation has turned the corner on race by dropping the historical racial barriers that black students encountered that once excluded them from deliberately white public colleges and ivy league schools. Back then, a lifetime ago now, America’s states actually maintained a dual system of colleges — one for for blacks and the other for whites. No more. That kind of intentional discrimination and purposeful segregation of higher educational institutions is old-hat now in our multiracial America. Today, most black students steer clear of the historically black colleges. Indeed, if the law of supply and demand were allowed to hold sway — and such antiquated institutions were not propped up by substantial and continuous federal financial support, and also backed by paternalism and nostalgia for a bygone era, many, many more of the remaining black colleges would be shuttered. Still, defying realities, President Obama plowed ahead anyway because he’s drunk the Kool-Aid of race ideologues who refuse to work toward a non-racial society.
With the stroke of his presidential pen Obama has ignored and denies the substantial and irreversible racial progress we as a nation have made; with great alacrity, and without any shame, he has embraced the separatists’ mission, credo and agenda that dictate blacks should be regarded as and educated differently, and treated differentially, from all other American students.
When it comes to race, President Obama just doesn’t get that racism in America ain’t what it used to be, and America, by now, should stand for and become a melting pot. Integration and assimilation should be fostered by government not ethnic identity and racial enclaving. A black section of Education? What on earth for? It’s worse than a suspect classification; it smacks of sheer paternalism, window dressing (to add a few more chosen blacks to the federal payrolls and conference circuit) and tokenism — who will document and expound on so-called racial differences. Spare us from such do-gooders; including those do-gooders who urged the previous presidential executive orders focused around Hispanics and Asians. I know, I know, in October 2010 Obama signed Executive Order 13555 renewing the White House Initiative on Hispanics, and subsequently, last December, he named Jose Rico (a Hispanic of course) to the position of executive director. On October 4, 2009 President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing a White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which also created a special, ahem, advisory commission on Asian affairs. Those were stupid, too. But, here, I am talking about blacks, and refusing to talk black. We don’t need a black corner in any federal agency. These separate black doors and racial corridors at the White House and elsewhere make no sense whatsoever in either a post-racial society or to a society trying to overcome racial and ethnic divisions. As racial and ethnic surrogates the so-called experts and advisers about blackness stand as contradictions to the goal of a single, integrated society. As such, this wrongheaded focus on groupthink and racial classification bludgeons the government’s responsibility to treat its citizens and immigrants as individuals, without regard to others’ and its own bogus racial stereotypes and classifications.
No good can or will come of this latest excursion into ethnic politics and racial identity on behalf, this latest time, of African Americans. That it is launched in the context of reducing the racial academic gap is ironic, farcical and perilous-inasmuch as the white section of Obama’s Education Department — with Obama’s blessing and prodding — has been removing the very academic achievement benchmarks set by the No Child Left Behind Act that were put into place to track disparate educational outcomes. Is there a “black” way of evaluating effective teaching and learning? No separate black section at Education will undo the harm already done by that department’s already having lowered and obliterated (through opt-outs, exceptions and waivers) federal, more rigorous outcomes standards in public schooling. A division at Education for blacks–and its adjunct President-appointed commission of experts on black schooling and the black experience are counterproductive, not forward-looking. Decades of similar commissions premised on the racial model instruct that these so-called experts on race and schooling will trade in generalizations and the like about what it means to be “black” — always ending up defined as “at risk”students with “different” learning styles, learning curves, and dialects. Ebonics anyone? This separatist approach to black-centric schooling and its rhetorical hogwash about “cultural” and “racial” differences are always bottled in paternalism and sold as a cure-all and moral repair tonic for the blacks to imbibe or inhale. In this connection, Obama repeats the mistaken racialist precedents of his predecessors, including George H. W. Bush, whose 1990 Executive Order created the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and Bill Clinton, whose Executive Order 13230 continued the Hispanic focus, and advisory commission, not to mention George W. Bush, whose Executive Order 13230 built on and staffed his predecessors’ ethnic folly.
America’s first black president ought to know better than to put a new bleeding heart label on this poison of separatism, a label, because it is applied to black students, and by the nation’s first African American president, will likely stick. Obama — who campaigned on the theme of one America — should raise his presidential bat and clobber ethnic and racial separatism as a national policy or direction. Being himself “half-white and “half-black”, his should be the voice of sanity about race. Rather than endorse black “this” and black “that” in government, he should be speaking up for abolishing so-called racial differences and boxes.
We need President Barack Hussein Obama’s leadership in streamlining government and in reorganizing society on a nonracial basis instead of doing the same thing that his predecessors have done (and what he is now doing). He can start by rescinding the executive orders that only intensify racial idiocy, and take down the racial baggage and signage in governmental offices. He must rescind the silly executive orders that are inconsistent with and make a mockery of Brown v. Board of Education and which only reinforce the outmoded racist symptoms and instincts of a bygone era.
Read the original article on the Huffington Post’s website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-meyers/obamas-hbcu-executive-order_b_1726291.html