What happened to, “separate cannot ever be equal?”

What happened to, “separate cannot ever be equal?”

Jonathan Kozol explores the disparities of schools and their respectively allocated resources within the United States in his book, Savage Inequalities. But he collides with an even more intriguing condition the that we suffer here in the United States that many believe has wore away. The reality is that segregation still exists. I finished my high school years in Bellevue, WA a favorable diverse community which was boring and uneventful.

Bellevue, WA

Bellevue, WA

Above shows the racial distribution of the community which I lived in. Before I moved here I lived in a similar racially made up area, yet it had a higher income. In that neighborhood the local public high school refused to let me take anything besides remedial classes. They told me I wasn’t ready because I had taken ESL (English Spanish Learning) classes and I wasn’t academically prepared for the amount of work in these courses. I spoke to the professors the counselors, and even the principal multiple times, nothing changed. I decided to try a different school, that was when my parents agreed to make the move to Bellevue, WA where they only offer honors classes, I soon transferred over to the advanced placement program and college preparation classes.
Kozol identifies this response to minorities reaching for and being denied entry to higher education as tracking. Even though the school was not sending me to vocational classes the school was not letting me take classes which I requested because they assumed I wouldn’t do well. Whether their assumption was based on the color of my skin, english being my second language, or any other prejudices they could allocate towards me, the school’s actions were not motivated to benefit me.
But, let’s take a look at some other areas Kozol explores. Whoever said segregation was gone is wrong.

St. Louis, IL

St. Louis, IL

The above race distribution is from St. Louis, Illinois. You can clearly see the divide between the blue dots which represent blacks and the green ones which represent whites. Legal segregation is no longer sanctioned but the above racial distribution maps show that in 2010 it is still a reality in which we live in.
Now, here is the racial distribution map for Los Angeles, CA. If segregation is over, why are we still so visibly divided?

Los Angeles

Los Angeles


In part, the reason is related to economics. Different ethnic groups are considerably divided by economics, there are a few outliers but it is a sad reality that our ethnicity and race have a lot to do with how much money we have here in the united states. Other reasons revolve around certain cultures wanting to be around each other and the understanding of cultures. It is easier living with people who understand your traditions than with those who might disregard and disrespect them. It was saddening for me to see that we are so divided, I feel like if the community which I grew up in was more prominent around the US, people would acknowledge persons of different races in a different and more respectful way.
If you’d like to see how your neighborhood maps take a look at the following website:

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One Response to What happened to, “separate cannot ever be equal?”

  1. naherresp says:

    I too never realized how much we are truly segregated from one another, whether its from race or economic stand point as you mentioned. Its unfortunate that some institutions classify having taken the ESL courses as a set back instead of a educational stepping stone. I was not given permission by my parents to integrate in the ESL program because they feared that having that show on my school record could hold me back or classify me in a negative way. I could understand why my parents felt that way. They immigrated from Mexico in the early 90s and being able to obtain a higher education was a dream they had for my siblings and I. It’s unfortunate that society can’t strive to make a change to better our communities by understanding one another’s ethnicities/ cultural backgrounds. As a nation we are still fighting for unity amongst each other and until then we must continue to keep an open mind to all individuals regardless of where they stand economically, culturally or race. Your diagrams are eye opening and very informational, thank you for sharing the link.

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