Jim Crow’s New Face, by La Shawn Barber

Legal segregation of the races is an embarrassing part of America’s history. Called Jim Crow after a black character from an 1840s minstrel show, the laws prescribed separate facilities for blacks and whites from around 1865 until the 1960s.

“Separate but equal” proved separate and unequal for black Americans. Considered lesser humans, blacks were held to a lower standard. The object was to keep us subjugated, subordinate and “in our place.”

You don’t have to watch PBS or read books to know what Jim Crow was like. Just look around. It still exists. Even in the post-civil rights era, a subtle form of segregation has taken its place. Under the guise of “affirmative action,” white liberals have convinced many of us that, just like the victims of the old Jim Crow, we now deserve special treatment and separate standards.

Same scourge, different face.

So ingrained are these new “laws” that blacks openly and shamelessly assert their right to lower standards. In Florida, black leaders are urging a boycott of the state’s extensive theme park industry to stop the enforcement of educational standards. After a large percentage of Florida’s students failed the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) this past spring, many of them blacks, the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint while others demanded the test results be thrown out.

To avert an initial boycott of Florida citrus products and the state lottery (a boycott of the latter being not an altogether bad thing), Governor Jeb Bush endorsed a plan to allow high school seniors who failed the FCAT to graduate with low SAT or ACT college test scores. These acceptable scores come close to what you supposedly get if you fill in your name correctly. This proposal, however, was rejected by state lawmakers, who are now looking into allowing additional chances to pass and giving the teachers responsible for this mess the authority to graduate a student even if the FCAT found him seriously lacking in rudimentary skills.

Once recognizing the faulty reasoning behind the boycott scheme, Governor Bush said, “The underlying premise of this boycott seems to be flawed… if you have high expectations for every child, irrespective of race or nationality, you can achieve results that become the envy of other places in the country.” Such noble words; such pitiable actions.

Black proponents of race preferences seem blind to the irony. Our forebears fought and died to dismantle such racist practices. For whites, one could almost excuse it. Misguided guilt, wrong-headed compassion or the embarrassment of lagging minority students who’ve already been given so many advantages – take your pick. But, for blacks, it’s inexcusable. Children are being taught that appealing to white guilt can take them far in life. With Republican “enemies” like Governor Bush, who needs liberal friends?

“To suggest that we have a lower standard, a lower expectation for one group of kids… just doesn’t make sense,” Governor Bush said to State Senator Larcenia Bullard, a black Democrat and vice chair of the education committee. “It would be heartbreaking for us to have a system where we give up on kids.”

What’s heartbreaking for minority students is the apparent easy surrender to this lunacy. If 12th graders can’t pass a 10th grade-level exam after the sixth try, what does it say about their public school education? Black parents have a right to be angry, but at the right people.

Public schools must be held accountable for promoting unqualified students, but proponents of special treatment such as Senator Bullard instead turn their venom toward Governor Bush and the state of Florida. Their time would be better spent working for school vouchers. Instead of embracing school choice in light of students’ failure to pass a basic skills test, however, black liberals viciously oppose it.

Jim Crow created a caste system in America that lasted for generations. In 2003, power-driven, pandering politicians want to make sure it remains in place. As long as blacks refuse to hold themselves accountable for failure and continue to perceive themselves as victims entitled to special categories, black liberal politicians will always have a constituency keeping them in office… and we will forever remain “in our place.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.