Some of My Best Friends Are Black
The Strange Story of Integration in AmericaBook - 2012
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"Trying to corral the suburban stampede with a bunch of school buses was like herding cats. Actually, it was worse than herding cats. It was herding white people, earth's only species with a greater sense of entitlement than a cat.” - p. 125
“True integration, as Martin Luther King said, will be achieved by true neighbors who are willingly obedient to unenforceable obligations.” - p. 140
"This civil rights issue wasn't really a black and white problem [a Jewish community leader said]. It was a Christian problem.” - p. 232
“…the Promised Land isn't the place where our problems are solved. It's the place where we find the courage to solve them. And that's all it ever has been.” - p. 285
In the 20th century, Kansas City produced two uniquely American geniuses who would both forever alter the physical and cultural landscape of the country. One of these men built a magic kingdom, a fantasy world that offered nonstop, wholesome family fun and a complete escape from reality. The other one moved to Hollywood and opened a theme park. ...
In the South, Jim Crow was just the law. In KC, J.C. Nichols turned it into a product. Then he packaged it, commodified it, and sold it. Whiteness was no longer just an inflated social status. Now it was worth cash money. ...
Between 1908 and 1948, racial covenants were used to exclude [blacks] from 62 percent of all new housing developments in Jackson County, MO. During that same period, racial covenants had excluded them from 96 percent of all new housing developments in Johnson County, KS. And between 1934 and 1962, the FHA backed mortgages for more than 77,000 homes in the KC area; less than 1 percent of those loans went to blacks.
When you're white in America, life is a restricted country club by default, engineered in such a way that the problems of race rarely intrude on you personally. During the time of Jim Crow, it took a great deal of terrorism, fear, and deliberate, purposeful discrimination to keep the color line in place. What's curious about America today is that you can be white and enjoy much of the same isolation and exclusivity without having to do anything. As long as you're not the guy dumb enough to get caught emailing racist jokes around the office, all you have to do is read about black people in the newspaper. And, really, you don't even have to do that. Where you need a deliberate, purposeful sense of action is to go the other way, to leave the country club and see what's going on out in the world.
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