Will you consider me a racist if I say I support segregation?
Well, consider away.
I understand that many of my ancestors fought against segregation and I appreciate it. But I wonder what they would think if they saw the end result of integration.
No longer do we have our own banks. No longer do we have our own theaters. No longer do we have our own insurance companies. And we can’t blame it on the white man!
So many black people were so happy to be able to patronize white businesses — from which that they had been barred for so long — that they abandoned their black establishments. We rushed to patronize white establishments, but whites did not rush to patronize ours.
Integration, as far as I can see it, only goes one way.
With few exceptions, when I ask my white friends to name the last book they’ve read that was written by black authors and deals with the black experience, they can only name books they read in school. When I ask them to name the last movie they’ve seen that deals with the black experience and stars black actors, they usually struggle to name one, unless it was a movie that won Oscars — and seldom can even then.
Since whites outnumber blacks in this country, if we support their endeavors but they don’t support ours, the end result is that their endeavors are more successful than ours.
Why? Because they outnumber us. And while we cross over to help the group that outnumbers us, that group doesn’t cross back over to support our endeavors.
And guess what?
White banks are less likely to give our businesses loans than black banks. And if black people are not supporting black banks, black banks go out of business. And if black businesses go out of business, black employment goes down — because black businesses are more likely to hire black people then white businesses.
Of course, if white people patronized our black banks and our black businesses, none of this would happen. But they don’t. We patronize theirs, but they don’t patronize ours.
God bless our ancestors for the fight they fought, but integration has only gone one way.
Remember Lawnside, New Jersey?
About 10 miles outside of Philadelphia and some 25 miles from Atlantic City, it used to be the jumping place for black folks to go on summer weekends during the ’40s and ’50s. All of the top black stars stopped there: Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, Billie Holiday. If they were going to be in Atlantic City to play in the white night clubs, they drove the 25 miles down the highway to also make it to Lawnside to entertain their black fans.
Because there was no integration, that was the only way the black fans were able to see them. And black fans flocked to do so. Back in those days, because of segregation, the black dollar stayed in the black community because there was really no other place blacks were allowed to spend it. The end result was that Lawnside was a thriving black community with black banks, black nightclubs, black insurance companies … and the coldest beer that God made!
But then the ’60s came, and all of a sudden blacks were allowed to go into the white hotels and clubs to see the black stars — and also great white entertainers like Frank Sinatra. So they went. And they were so excited about being able to go, they kept going. And soon they stopped going to Lawnside.
While the white folks who had always been going to Atlantic City could care less about traveling to Lawnside.
I won’t bother to tell you what happened to that once-thriving black community.
You can guess.
So, yes, I do support segregation of our economic power. But I really don’t think you can call me a racist.
After all, I do have white friends.
Karen E. Quinones Miller is an African-American journalist, historian, and nationally best-selling author, and community activist. You can reach her on Twitter at @KarenEQmiller.
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