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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Can we be honest, Jacksonville really hates black folks

Now some of you are probably saying, whoa, whoa, son, I don't see color. I am an ally. I am woke. The truth is only you know what is in your heart, but I am talking about Jacksonville, which has systematically disenfranchised the African American community, and it continues to do so to this day with the white mayor and the overwhelmingly white city council, fighting against a sales tax referendum that would be used to repair, upgrade, and replace schools in primarily  African America communities where they have been neglected for decades. Now you might think you might be woke, but if you are silent on this issue, you are definitely complicit.

Jacksonville was so racist that the powers that be thought it was better for the school system to loose their accreditation than do anything to help its schools that had African American students. Though just know the powers that be at that time used a different word to describe the students. This wasn't a close vote either. There weren't a few members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; it was unanimous.

According to the JaxDailyRecord, they listed several reasons, “major problems related to inadequate financial support” that led to the recommendation: Inadequate maintenance procedures, inadequate custodial care of buildings and grounds, inadequate textbooks and other instructional materials, insufficient number of teachers, particularly in elementary and feeder junior high schools, inadequate laboratory equipment, libraries, and collections, schools resorting to fund-raising activities that were educationally unsound to supplement limited budgets, and a “fee system” in all schools which “violated basic principles of publicly supported education”.

Does any of that sound familiar, like it might be going on today?

Without a doubt, generations of African Americans were robbed of their rights and a chance of a decent education here in Jacksonville, and that’s not hyperbole. That’s just how it was. Exacerbating matters, our city’s leaders were resistant to change even as the writing appeared on the wall, during the civil rights movement of the sixties. It was kicking and screaming that they agreed to busing in 1971, when the best solution would have been to provide the proper resources to all the schools regardless of what side of town they were in. Though I can imagine any trepidation the leaders of the black community may have had if that promise would have come through. After all, they were the recipients of the systematic abuse and discrimination. Unfortunately busing didn’t work as well as some would have hoped.

I remember, growing up, black kids being bused to my west side school in elementary school, then I was bused to the Northside for sixth and seventh grades, and things kind of went along for a number of  years.

Children were forced to travel many miles from their homes to unfamiliar parts of town when there was often a neighborhood school close by. African American opponents believed it created problems with discipline and eroded away the cohesiveness of neighborhoods. White opponents claimed their children were being sent to dangerous neighborhoods. Both groups thought it hurt parental involvement and extra-curricular activities, and some people think it worsened the problems of economic and racial segregation by encouraging white flight (white families moving to suburbs). It would be disingenuous of me to blame all these problems on the school district because busing was the nation’s plan, and like the rest of the nation, Duval County gave it the old college try, but at the same time up until then, Jacksonville had shown zero interest in doing the right thing.

The powers that be didn't like the federal government telling us what to do and say. They thought they could get out of this court order, which meant they had to get more white families to willingly send their children to school on the Northside, but not necessarily with "those" students. What could they do to make white families get on board, and then it hit somebody, they would create magnet schools.

I bet most of you thought Stanton was created to give academically talented children more opportunities, but no, it was created to take away the opportunities of black children, but now with the percentage of white students up in neighborhoods of color, they could say look we're woke. We're doing the right things, and it didn't matter that even though the schools may  have been next door to each other, one was mostly white an the other mostly black. 

Then in 2001 with Douglas Anderson and Stanton created to help the numbers appear even better, Duval County was declared desegregated, and we were let out from underneath the watchful eye of the federal government. You probably guessed it; things gradually went back to the way they were before. Schools re-segregated themselves, and resources, more and more scarce resources, after 2006, went to the prominently white areas of town. Schools in the inner core and in neighborhoods where large numbers of African Americans live were allowed to deteriorate. 

Throw in No Child left Behind, Race to the Top, and Tallahassee's accountability on steroids, and sadly a lot of African American Children were robbed of the education they should have had.

Fast forward to today. Mayor Curry and the city Council are exacerbating the problems of the last sixty years by fighting against Duval County Public School's desire to have a sales tax referendum to fix it's ailing and crumbling schools, as they hold out for a larger piece of the pie for charter schools.

Now you might be thinking, aren't charter schools supposed to help poor and mostly minority children? Their supporters are always saying zip codes shouldn't determine destinies, and you would be thinking wrong.

Today's charter schools, for the most part, don’t open in poor and minority neighborhoods. No friends, they open at the Beach, in Baymeadows, or Mandarin, which as 8, count them 8 charter schools with more probably coming. Mandarin, by the way, has not just some of the best schools in Jacksonville but in the state as well, and it’s because of this demographic that charters seeing dollar signs want to open there.  No friends, the zip code assertion is just a canard meant to distract.

So DCPS wants to start addressing the inequities. DCPS wants to start putting significant resources into our schools that serve mostly poor and minority children, and what does Curry and the Council say? No, you can't do it. They say to a community that has waited for sixty years to do the right thing to keep waiting. They propagate the racism and neglect what has plagued this city for decades, and they do so with a smile.

Jacksonville hates black folks, it really does.

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