Category Archives: Race and race relations

Progressivism as a Cause of Racial Inequity in Schools

Source: “The Secret Shame”

by James A. Bacon

Chris Stewart has long dedicated himself to community activism and racial equity in public schools. He has served on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education and, as a nonprofit CEO, he has championed grassroots movements to spur innovation in family and education policy. Somewhere along the line, it dawned upon him that something about “progressive” educational policies weren’t working.

Chris Stewart

His home state of Minnesota considers itself a “progressive exemplar,” he writes in the introduction to a study released this month, “The Secret Shame: How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray their Commitment to Educational Opportunity for All.” “[But] educational outcomes for students of color and American Indians are among the worst in the nation.”

Progressives need to come to grips with a hard reality, Stewart says: The disparity in educational outcomes between whites on the one hand and African-Americans and Hispanics on the other is far greater in progressive cities than in conservative cities. Of particular interest to readers of Bacon’s Rebellion, the study finds that the city with the smallest disparity — a disparity so small it barely registers — is Virginia Beach. The city with the second biggest disparity is not far away — Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Loudoun’s $6 Million Equity Initiative

Eric Williams, superintendent of Loudoun County public schools, has proposed a 10.8% increase in the school system’s local funding. The sum includes a $6 million “investment effort” to address equity concerns, reports Loudoun Now.

The initiative would create a “supervisor of equity” position to report to the recently created “director of equity,” and create a team of a supervisor and three instructional facilitators to “focus on equity and culturally responsive instruction.” Two teachers will be hired to bring more diversity to gifted education programs. Five positions will  be empowered to reduce discipline proportionately (by race) and decrease use of hateful speech and racial slurs.

Here’s a prediction: That $6 million will be a total waste, as measured by educational outcomes.

Note: This chart corrects an error that appeared in the e-mailed version of this post.

The English Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates for major racial/ethnic groups in Loudoun County and for the state as a whole appear above. Continue reading

Why the Obsession with Collecting Racial Data?

by James A. Bacon

To obtain press identification cards granting regular access to the Virginia State Capitol, journalists are asked an assortment of questions such as birth date, driver’s license number — and race. Democrats now in charge of the legislature say they’ve never heard of the race requirement, and critics say it is a reminder of the state’s segregationist past, reports WAMU.

The Capitol Police say asking for the racial identifier is part of a “standard background check,” but some are drawing a link between the requirement and Virginia’s 1924 “Act to Preserve Racial Integrity” and other vestiges of the Jim Crow era.

“I think it’s another manifestation of what we need to get rid of in the state of Virginia,” said attorney Victor Glasberg, who represented three couples suing for the right to get marriage licenses without stating their race. “It’s old Jim Crow [law] that has yet to be thrown out.”

“That question is on so many things. Marriage licenses, birth certificates, driver’s license applications. It’s unnecessary, but no-one ever thought let’s change it,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond. “Why do we need to know what race a member of the press is?”

Good question. Why do we need to ask peoples’ race — not just for journalist credentials and marriage licenses, but for any purpose at all? Virginians want a color-blind society, don’t they? Well… don’t they? Continue reading

Are Gun Control Laws Racist?

by James A. Bacon

In 2018, according to the Virginia State Police Crime in Virginia report, law enforcement authorities reported 305 juveniles and 3,931 adults arrested for “weapon law violations.” If Democrats tighten gun control laws and vigorously enforce them, we can be reasonably sure that the number of arrests will increase.

That could put Dems in an awkward place. As Cam Edwards points out on National Review, the most enthusiastic enforcement of the new laws will be in Democratic-controlled localities with high crime rates — Richmond, Petersburg, Norfolk, and Roanoke. Rural counties that have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries predictably will enforce the laws with less enthusiasm. Writes Edwards:

The vast majority of charges will be for non-violent possessory offenses, the vast majority of defendants will be black and Hispanic men from Virginia’s inner cities, and the vast majority of those defendants will not have any serious criminal history, although they may be heading down that road. Instead of offering these individuals a way out, however, Ralph Northam wants to give them a crash course in criminality by putting them in prison.

Wouldn’t that be ironic? Democrats are trying to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and reform the criminal justice system to reduce the disproportionate percentage of minorities behind bars. Yet, if Edwards is right, their gun control laws could disproportionately impact minorities.

Of course, there is a lot of supposition in Edwards’ argument. Let’s look at the numbers. Continue reading

Samirah Bill Inspires Debate Over Residential Zoning

Ibrahim Samirah

by James A. Bacon

Suburban Virginians were the key swing voters who gave Democrats majorities in both houses of the General Assembly. It will be interesting to see if Democrats now manage to alienate them.

Del. Ibraheem Samirah, D-Herndon, has submitted a bill, HB 152, that would require zoning ordinances in localities across the state to allow “middle housing” — duplexes, townhouses, cottages and other structures — in neighborhoods zoned for single-family dwellings.

Samirah characterizes the mandate as an “affordable housing” initiative.  He quite accurately says that residential zoning restrictions restrict the supply of new housing construction by limiting housing units to one per lot. But rhetorically he goes off the rails. Describing suburbs as “mostly white and wealthy,” he implies that people wishing to live in safe, peaceful neighborhoods are guilty of racial discrimination.

“Because middle housing is what’s most affordable for low-income people and people of color, banning that housing in well-off neighborhoods chalks up to modern-day redlining, locking folks out of areas with better access to schools, jobs, transit, and other services and amenities,” he wrote on Facebook (as quoted by the Daily Caller, a conservative web publication). Continue reading

Is Racism a Real Problem in Loudoun Schools?

This graph shows the gap in the average percentage “pass” rate for Reading SOLs between Asians, the highest scoring racial/ethnic group, whites, blacks and Hispanics.

by James A. Bacon

What’s going on in Loudoun County public schools? Are teachers and administrators in one of Virginia’s most affluent counties making headway in bringing about “equity” (as in equal outcomes in academic performance) between Asians, whites, blacks and Hispanics? Or is the school system hopelessly mired in racism and discrimination?

One indicator comes from a recent Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) press release, highlighting the fact that the College Board, administrator of the Advanced Placement Program, placed Loudoun County Public Schools on its “honor roll” for expanding participation in the AP.

“The honor roll recognizes school divisions for expanding participation in AP courses — especially among black, Hispanic and other minority students — while maintaining or increasing the number of students earning scores of three or higher on AP tests.” Since 2016-17 the number of Loudoun County students taking at least one AP test has increased by 7 percent.

That sounds good. But it seem inconsistent with a report issued this summer by the Equity Collaborative, based on focus groups and interviews, on the state of race relations in Loudoun schools. Principals and teachers exhibit “a low level of racial consciousness and racial literacy,” the report concludes. Discipline policies disproportionately impact black students. And many minorities have experienced “the sting” of racial insults/slurs or racially motivated violent actions.”

Here’s a possibility. Perhaps both things are true. Perhaps Loudoun administrators, principals and teachers are trying harder to reduce unequal outcomes, and at the same time race/ethnic relations are getting worse. Continue reading

Video

Yes! A Statue for Virginia’s Black Union Troops

Detail from a statute to the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment, U.S.C.T. and its commander, Robert Gould Shaw.

Yes! Where can I donate? Richmond Councilwoman Kim Grey’s proposal in this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch for a statute honoring the Civil War’s black Union troops from Virginia needs to be acted on promptly.  It should replace the one statue that does need to disappear off Monument Avenue, the one to Jefferson Davis.

In particular the proposal focuses on 14 Medal of Honor winners, seven Virginians, from a September 1864 battle near New Market Heights, part of Grant’s slow strangulation by siege of the Rebel capital.

If the purpose of the existing statues to the Secesh generals is history, then the full history need be told, the victor’s history. Tens of thousands of Virginians white and black remained loyal to the Union, passively or even actively opposing the Confederate government. A good example was Elizabeth Van Lew, a Church Hill matron whose exploits are reconstructed in “Southern Lady, Yankee Spy,”  by Elizabeth Varon.   The description of postwar Richmond politics is just as interesting. Continue reading

Way Overdue: Cleanse the State Code of Racist Residue

by James A. Bacon

This 1956 law, enshrined in Chapter 59 of the Acts of the General Assembly, is a dead letter, rendered irrelevant by judicial rulings, others laws, and history, but it’s still on the books:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no child shall be required to enroll in or attend any school wherein both white and colored children are enrolled.

“The Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law,” commissioned by Governor Ralph Northam, identified this and 97 other Jim Crow-era laws still lurking in the state code. The governor has committed to repeal the racially discriminatory language. You can view the report here.

“If we are going to move forward as a Commonwealth, we must take an honest look at our past,” said Northam in a press statement. “We know that racial discrimination is rooted in many of the laws that have governed our Commonwealth—today represents an important step towards building a more equal, just, and inclusive Virginia.”

States the report: Continue reading

Bacon Bits: $$$$$ Edition

They didn’t ask this question until now? Will the wave of Amazon-inspired development in the Pentagon City area of Arlington County overwhelm the region’s transportation network? “Arlington planners, and nervous neighbors, want to know,” reports the Washington Business Journal. Some neighborhood groups are wary that the point of the planning review is to clear the way for a major up-zoning in the area. “They fear the county could determine that the neighborhood has the transportation infrastructure to handle more residents and allow for density increases — even though they believe the opposite is true.”

Meanwhile, JBG Smith Properties and other developers are pitching massive new projects around the new Amazon HQ. Not coincidentally, the WBJ reports, “JBG Smith ramped up its political giving in Virginia with control of the General Assembly on the line.” JBG Smith’s Virginia campaign contributions this electoral cycle: $34,206.

Glad to hear that “Black Enterprise” is still a thing. The Mount Olive Baptist Church in Culpeper wants to create a network of support, mentorship and information for African-American small business owners. Black business ownership is increasing, but black entrepreneurs face big challenges. The goal of the network is to help them gain knowledge about finances, start-up capital and the industrial/managerial skills it takes to grow successful enterprises, reports the Star-Exponent. As the politics of grievance and victimhood have taken hold nationally, we don’t hear much about black enterprise these days. I cannot help but note that this initiative comes from a black church, not a foundation-funded think tank staffed by white intellectuals.

Can you say “overreach”? Virginia Tech will spend $5 million to $10 million to launch a biomedical research facility in Washington, D.C. by early 2021, the university announced yesterday. On a campus of a new Children’s National Hospital campus, four or five Virginia Tech research teams will conduct research on cancers of the brain and nervous system. Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands said in a statement the partnership fits Tech’s ambition “to solve big problems and create new opportunities in Virginia and D.C. through education, technology and research.” Continue reading

Is Racism Systemic in Loudoun Schools?


by James A. Bacon

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has launched an investigation into Loudoun County public schools for failing to provide African American students equal access to advanced programs, reports the Washington Post. The announcement follows charges by the Loudoun NAACP that discrimination against African-Americans is “not just rampant, it’s systemic.”

It never ceases to amaze me how such politically progressive school districts can be so racist. Remember, Loudoun is the school system that introduced 5- and 6-year-olds to LGBT ideology by distributing “My Princess Boy.” And in August, Superintendent Eric Williams issued a statement condemning white supremacy and other forms of hate, emphasizing that the school system “rejects racist and other hateful behavior and language.”

From what I can gather from the WaPo article, the NAACP has two complaints. One is that African-American students are the victims of racist bullying and are subjected to a “hostile learning environment.” The other is that they are denied access to the challenging curriculum of gifted programs and AP classes. Continue reading

WaPo Newsroom as Cesspit of Racism and Sexism?

Who…. me?

by James A. Bacon

The Washington Post Guild has issued a report charging that the Post, the largest-circulation newspaper serving the Virginia market, pays women less than men, and whites more than minorities. The pattern applies not only to the business side of the newspaper but to the social-justice crusading newsroom. Indeed, the discrepancies are worse in the newsroom. Some highlights on newsroom compensation contained in the report:

  • Women as a group are paid less than men.
  • Collectively, employees of color are paid less than white men, even when controlling for age and job description. Women of color in the newsroom received $30,000 less than white men, a gap of 35%.
  • The Post tends to give merit raises based on performance-evaluation scores, but those who score the highest are overwhelmingly white.

Ironically, men and women are paid about the same in the commercial division, which, I would conjecture, is less “woke” than the highly politically attuned newsroom. The Guild did find a white/minority pay gap on the commercial side of the newspaper, but it was only 5%.

Gee, it’s almost as if liberal white males use their wokeness as a smokescreen to obscure favoritism toward others like themselves. Continue reading

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Dick Hall-Sizemore

As a life-long resident of Virginia for seven decades (there, I have said it), I have seen many changes.  Occasionally, reminders of these changes are especially striking. One of those stark reminders occurred about 10 years ago. I was sitting in on a General Assembly committee meeting in which the Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court gives sort of an annual report to the legislature. The Chief Justice at the time was Leroy Hassell, the first black chief justice. It suddenly hit me: Wow! The Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, an imposing black man! Virginia has really come a long way over the last 30-40 years.

I just finished a remarkable book that brought more reminders. The book is We Face the Dawn: Oliver Hill, Spotswood Robinson, and the Legal Team That Dismantled Jim Crow by Margaret Edds. The author combines the best of two worlds: thorough and detailed scholarly research and the writing of a journalist. Continue reading

Woke… But Not Woke Enough

Members of the Black Parents of Arlington tell white progressives, “Put your money where your mouth is.”

by James A. Bacon

There’s a lot of blue-on-blue happening in Virginia’s schools these days as race consciousness in the educational system reaches a fever pitch. Even well-meaning teachers and administrators desirous of promoting inclusivity and diversity are subject to criticism and/or disciplinary action. Two interesting case studies drove home that point over the weekend.

Virginia Beach. Last year a Virginia Beach teacher, Deborah Aho Smith, was fired for producing a poster for an assignment in which students wrote down negative racial and ethnic stereotypes. The moral, of course, was that such stereotypes are bad. But a photo of the poster was circulated on social media and the parent of a black student who wasn’t in the class took offense and complained. The school administration panicked, and Smith was fired.

“Man, that could have been me,” the Virginian-Pilot quotes Kelly Walker, a 28-year teaching veteran and president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, as saying. Teachers are increasingly wary about leading classes on topics such as race, discrimination and stereotypes, Walker said. Continue reading

What Does It Mean to Be “White” or “Black” These Days?

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and family. Using Census definitions, three of the four Cruz family members picture here are “people of color.”

by James A. Bacon

As President Bill Clinton famously predicted in 1998 based on Census Bureau forecasts, white Americans would lose their majority status in the United States by the 2040s. The prospect of “people of color” comprising an “emerging Democratic majority” has undergirded the Democratic Party strategy of making racial/ethnic identity politics the core of their appeal. In parallel, fear of becoming a minority has inflamed the passions of many white voters. Ironically, due to an increase in the number of Hispanics and the offspring of inter-racial marriages, the percentage of Americans identifying as white is barely declining.

It is increasingly evident that the U.S. government’s system of racial classification is archaic. Indeed, recent numbers call into question what it even means to be “white” or “black,” both of which are classifications reflecting the obsessions of a by-gone era.

“The same Census projections that predict Americans who identify as white alone will become a minority during the 2040s also predict that about 75 percent of the U.S. population is expected to mark the box next to White on their Census form, either alone or in combination with another race or ethnicity,” writes Hamilton Lombard, a University of Virginia demographer, on the StatChat blog. “The race categories we use are struggling to keep up with our changing population.” Continue reading

Richmond’s Progressive Petri Dish…. Where Black Kids Are the Science Project

by James A. Bacon

One of the more interesting questions of 2019 is whether public figures like Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras are more interested in striking poses that make them look enlightened on racial issues or in actually bettering the lives of African-Americans. In many cases, I would argue, progressive social policies are all about making educated elites feel righteous, not about the people they purport to help.

The latest example is a proposal under study by Richmond schools to “spread the cream,” so to speak — to distribute the relatively small percentage of white students among a larger number of of schools. The justification for scrapping the neighborhood-based school system, according to Kamras, is that “diverse” schools improve academic performance. The plan, he has said, “will provide academic and social benefits to all children of all backgrounds.”

But will it? Remarkably enough, that proposition can be tested with data from Richmond public schools. John Butcher, of Cranky’s Blog fame, has pulled Standards of Learning pass-rate data for white-majority Mary Munford Elementary and William Fox Elementary with that for two predominantly black elementary schools, Barack Obama Elementary and John B. Cary Elementary.(Cary would be merged with Munford under one of the proposals.) Continue reading