Black Militancy, White Backlash
The cities became increasingly black and brown; white flight to the suburbs and suburban sprawl accentuated the racial divide between urban and suburban America. Policing policies and practices in minority neighborhoods became a flashpoint for civilian-police conflicts, and public schools became heavily minority (black and Hispanic) because of neighborhood segregation caused by housing discrimination, “redlining,” disinvestments of certain areas, “blockbusting,” and whites’ mobility and flight to suburbia and exurbia. Increasingly, public policy reinforced notions of self-segregation, emphasizing racial pride and identity instead of integration and assimilation. College campuses in particular embraced the ethnic pride movement, establishing race dorms and ethnic/affinity campus residences, and separate wings and floors of dorms for minority students.
Blacks and their white allies splintered, over “affirmative action”/”reverse discrimination,” and other remedies for past discrimination, including “quotas” in employment and college admissions, and over “voluntary” versus “forced” school integration, as well as over tuition tax credits, vouchers and governmental aid to institutions that were alleged to be racially-exclusionary, or “opting-out” of the desegregation mandate. Eventually, groups like the NAACP that once pushed for busing and integration, and for the merging of the historically black public colleges with previously all-white public colleges, changed emphases, endorsing instead black identifiable institutions of higher education, moving away from a busing agenda, even as the courts were making it next to impossible to effectively implement metropolitan-wide school desegregation plans. The High Court upheld busing as a possible remedy in the 1970s, but by the 1980s had made proof of intent to segregate more difficult, thereby impeding system-wide desegregation (Milliken vs. Bradley decision).
By the 1980s, 1990s, most of the integrationist giants of the Civil Rights Movement were either dead or retired or dispirited. A younger generation of “pragmatists” and race ideologues, cut in the militancy of race-men like Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey, emerged onto the scene. Racial tensions and fears and outright ignorance led to ethnic polarization, misunderstandings, moral conflicts, accusations and counter-charges, and physical clashes between whites and blacks. A phenomenon emerged in the form of a whole new genre of “hate crimes.”
These racially-motivated crimes of violence were predominantly directed at individuals because of their race, but also because of people’s perceived ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. During 1996 alone, the New York City Police Department’s Bias Incident Investigating Unit recorded 555 confirmed bias crimes, up from 437 in 1995. These included 212 anti-Semitic incidents, 130 incidents against blacks, 40 against whites, 32 against Latinos, 31 against Asians (including East Indians), and 64 against gays. Many states have responded to this social crisis through their criminal justice system, with the passage of special laws enhancing penalties for persons convicted of hate crimes. However, it is clear that in order to effectively address the issue, we must attack the problem at its origin and examine the underlying causes of hatred and bigotry in our society. For the most part, hate crimes occur among young people.