Brown vs. Board 50th Anniversary



Between the war and the election almost no one noticed that 2004 was the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision which struck down separate-but-equal schooling for blacks and whites. President Eisenhower, G-d bless his soul, did not fail us. When the racist governor of Arkansas, Orville Faubus, decreed that he would not abide by the Supreme Court, Eisenhower literally sent in the Army. Bayonets are what it took to change the world so black children and white children could learn in the same classroom together. Don't ever underestimate the power of a good, sharp bayonet.

Not everyone forgot it was the 50th Anniversary, however. ACA Gallery in Chelsea held a lovely reception/fund raiser on the evening of December 1 for the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, and Westbeth was well-represented.

Hal Miller, not one to lick the hand of racism, showed up in a black leather jacket like he was ready to rumble. "It was a milestone at the time," he lamented, speaking of Brown v. Board, "however it has progressively gone down hill. Affirmative action has been chipped away and they're telling you now to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when in fact the corporate world has never pulled itself up by its bootstraps." More grimly he added, "In fact they are calculatedly working to keep certain factions down and certain factions up."

Peter Tomas, whom the landlord thinks is named Salvador Tomas, agreed. He acknowledged the milestone, but reminded that, "The cops are murdering black people when they can get away with it safely. They're still doing it." Even our ranking Security Guard, Mr. Brooks, agreed, "They haven't stopped."

The reality is that the struggle against racism has a long way to go. In fifty years they managed to eradicate statutory racism, it's officially no longer legal to be a bigot, but the reality is that discrimination is still vivid and painful, most prominently in two areas, money and police abuse.

Half a century after Brown v. Board, Black America is still much poorer than White America. Worse, racist police still mistreat people of color and get away with it.

It's good to celebrate the Golden Anniversary, but there'll be a lot more to celebrate when black people have as much money as white people, and black kids don't have to grow up fearing police cars.


*Reprinted courtesy of The Westbeth News