I was in Houston for the Health Disparities Conference, and heard about the ruling while literally taping (Michel Martin told us about it). And it took the wind out of my sails. Just sucked the energy out of the room.My thoughts in no particular order:

  • If there was an argument about the necessity of voting (I think columnist Bob Herbert just made this argument) this is it. But this is also an argument about the necessity of protecting voting MECHANISMS. Remember that 2000 occurs through theft, not Nader.
  • The Federalist Society represents an excellent case study of reactionaries in action. Alito and Roberts have been planning not necessarily for this moment–I don’t think that overturning Brown vs. Board specifically was a driving force as much as it was overturning what they felt were the backwards decisions of the more liberal courts in general.
  • Adolph Reed made the argument that about forty years or so ago a cease fire was declared between conservative and liberal forces. Liberals thought this meant the war was over. Conservatives recognized that the cease-fire was temporary. I think he’s right.
  • Juan Williams wrote that Brown vs. Board is and should be history. I actually think he’s right. In another post I’m going to link to an article that Lani Guinier wrote on Brown vs. Board. We’ve been substituting race for class in a way that harms those most likely to suffer because of educational disparities.
  • Oh. What to do now? I have to think about places like Seattle…but I’m thinking that a majority of blacks live in areas where the direct political officials of record are themselves black. One of the reasons why we take our arguments up two levels (bypassing both local and state for national claims) is in part because the local dynamic is driven by black politics. You want to do something about Detroit schools, and you’re dealing with black officials from the Superintendent on down. We just can’t use the same types of claims against black political officials as we can against white ones. I think we’ve got two missions–be more critical and aggressive in our evaluation of black elites, and simultaneously do more internal work to generate easily portable models of black educational excellence.