Tag: K12

Redistributing Whiteness in Maryland


Is whiteness a commodity that can be allocated like money or social services? Maryland’s wealthiest suburban counties are embarked on race-based school policies that will not end well. Busing is back in a big way in suburban Maryland.

In the 1960s, my father worked on desegregation plans in Tennessee and Mississippi as a civil rights attorney with the USDOJ Civil Rights Division. He said there was an implicit understanding among those who worked on these plans about a psychological “critical mass” in white communities. That meant that when a formerly all-white school reached or exceeded a certain percentage (“critical mass”) of black students, “white flight” would ensue and the schools would rapidly re-segregate. As a matter of law, these plans had to be implemented no matter what because the segregation was de jure and there was no way to simultaneously mandate entire communities to exchange residences to achieve residential integration so the schools were always a principal focus. So “white flight” was widespread.

He also said that when the dust settled and the politics had worked their way, it was invariably only the poorer southern whites who got bused. The children of doctors and lawyers prepping for admission to Duke or Vanderbilt were never bused. The benefit to minority children from mingling with the least advantaged whites was always likely rather limited even if there was a big benefit from removing the stigma of forced segregation.