SALGADO: Separate And Unequal: ‘Black Graduation Ceremonies’ Are The New Segregation


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Opinion Column | Washington’s Bayonette

“Everybody has asked the question. . .‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!” — Frederick Douglass, former slave, orator, and civil rights advocate

“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” – Booker T. Washington, former slave, orator, and educator

Figure 1 From UC Berkeley

At one time, racists in America tried to perpetuate racism while disguising it as justice with the philosophy of “separate but equal.” The idea was that black and white Americans should be separated in public, but somehow that wouldn’t harm their rights at all. Unfortunately, that pernicious racism has reappeared—and one result is that some schools are holding separate graduations for black students.

The University of California-Berkeley’s African American Studies Department is one place that just hosted a “Black Graduation” ceremony. Any American with common sense, black or white, would find this insulting. And UC Berkeley certainly isn’t alone. As of 2019, over 75 colleges were hosting black-only graduations. By 2022, the number of universities hosting segregated ceremonies was increasing.

The whole point of the Civil Rights movement was that people should not be judged by their skin color—most especially in America, which is founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” What happened to MLK’s dream that people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character?” As long as our country continues to fixate on a purely external characteristic like skin color, we will continue to be divided, and to suffer from hatred and injustices. But then again, that’s what the Democrats want—that’s what they’ve always wanted. The destructive racism of the 19th and 20th century Democrat party never changed. They simply got a lot more clever at imposing racist policies.

Segregation like this harms both white Americans and black Americans. It encourages black Americans to see white people as the enemy, as the “other,” as fundamentally and irreversibly different from them. And it attempts to teach black people that they cannot accomplish anything without special help from the institutions and government (and all the leftists, most of them white, within the institutions). It shows discrimination against white people and other minorities (Asian, etc.).  It also teaches both black and white Americans to think in terms of groups. When people see themselves not as individuals with independent thought, but only as representatives of a group, they are more easily controlled and less free. And so the dream of the Founding Fathers, and of all America’s civil rights heroes and former slaves, is destroyed.

We are still fighting the Civil War. The Democrats never really surrendered—they just shifted the battlefield. “Separate but equal” is a pernicious and racist philosophy in any form, and it needs to be stamped out once and for all.

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