The absurdity of race continues to rear its ugly head and once again, the succubus appears in Mississippi. The folks in the magnolia state can’t seem to get it right on race even when they use the liberal racialist playbook.
A few weeks ago the Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Miss., came under fire when it was discovered that the school was dividing offices on its student council by race. The offices open only to Black or White students rotated each year. In addition, the school maintained separate racial titles for its prom and homecoming kings and queens.
The unfortunate information came to light when a young sixth grade girl decided she wanted to run for class reporter. She was told that the office of reporter was only open to Black students, but that she could run for class president, as that office was open to White students. The student in question is of Italian and Native-American parentage, so you can imagine her confusion. In an attempt to gain clarity, the girl’s mother wrote a letter to the school board. According to the mother, she was told that for the purposes of classification, the school goes by the mother’s race because “with minorities the father isn’t generally in the home.”
When the story hit the Internet, the consternation was palpable! The school’s principal, (who, by the way, is Black, as is the vice principal), and the school board office were inundated with phone calls. Within a day, Nettleton superintendent of schools, Russell Taylor, had issued a statement, which read in part, “beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity. It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office.”
This was, as the old saying goes, “much too little, much too late.” The damage was already done.
For many, this was simply the people of Mississippi allowing the red on their necks to show. Here, for the world to see was the true state of race in America! Dumb racists in Mississippi were just the tip of the iceberg! Or so the blogosphere declared.
Of course, what is most distressing about this episode is that the racialists on the left are too busy preening in their righteous indignation to see their own reflection in the Nettleton policy.
As Taylor explains in his statement: “These procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body…” And so they were.
The student enrollment in the Nettleton schools is about 70 percent White. Thirty years ago, the school’s administrators reasoned that Black students would never be elected to serve on the student council and would never serve as homecoming or prom royalty because White students would never vote for them, at least not every year. To ensure that Blacks would have the opportunity to fully participate in the school’s student government and social life, they instituted a policy of rotating student council offices and separate prom and homecoming kings and queens based on race. The policy implemented by the school was not a segregationist policy; it was an affirmative action policy meant to insure diversity!
And here is the absurdity racialism has wrought: Racialists point the finger at rednecks in Mississippi for separating student council seats and homecoming royalty by race, while at the same time demanding seats on corporate boards be divvied up by gender and race; screaming bloody murder if state assembly and congressional seats are not divvied up by race (because, of course, they hold it as a matter of fact that White people will never vote for Black candidates); and insisting that acceptances to a college or university be divvied up by race and gender. It remains unclear why folks who demand separate dormitories for Black students, hold separate college graduation ceremonies for Black students, and who become apoplectic at the very mention of rolling back racial preferences, feel they are qualified to lecture the people of Mississippi (or anyone else) on race relations.
Did the school administrators abandon the policy because they now believe White students will vote for Black students and vice versa and that the racial makeup of the student council does not matter? Let us hope. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that they were motivated primarily by a bit of bad publicity. I further suspect that they will find another means to the same end.
This past June, Judge Stephen Robinson, along with the Obama justice department, decided that the people of Port Chester, N.Y., were racists because they had not yet elected a Hispanic member to its board of trustees. Justice Robinson therefore ordered the city to institute a system of cumulative voting, wherein each voter is allowed to vote six times. Perhaps the Nettleton school district will borrow a page from the book of Justice Robinson.
Sadly, the people of Mississippi will continue to get it wrong on race because they have not learned that when the racial wildcard is played, the fix is in. John Edger Wideman wrote that the inventor of race always “holds the winning cards because he can choose when he plays them and names their value.” None of us will move beyond race until we realize that the racialists are simply making up the rules as they go along.
(Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like a White Boy.”)