America at 242: A Nation of Self-Imposed Segregation

The editorial cartoon by artist Gary Varvel features what appears to be a bi-racial couple at the maître d’ podium at an upscale restaurant. The caption, quoting the pompous looking greeter, has stuck in my mind ever since I saw the cartoon in my local newspaper.

“Dinner for two…Liberal or Conservative Section?”

Yes. This is what we’ve come to, I suppose. So many of us purposely isolate ourselves into groups who think like we think.

Then I read about a school in the tony section of Manhattan, a school where celebrities send their children and tuition costs a bundle, that is under fire for separating students into specific classrooms based on their skin color. Apparently, the under-the-radar practice has been going on for a while.

Philip Kassen, the director of The Little Red School House explained to angry parents and inquiring reporters that, “Research points to the academic, social and emotional benefits to being in a classroom with others who share racial, ethnic, linguistic and/or cultural backgrounds.”

Today We Would Do Well To Remember Our History

Say what?  When you put black kids in one place and white kids in another that is segregation. Period. We had an ugly and prolonged fight in this country to do away with such practices. Do we really need to go back and review the angst-filled lessons from the 1954 Supreme Court decision on Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas?

On this week when we’ve just celebrated our nation’s independence it sometimes appears we’re on a 360-degree course to change what so many fought so hard to achieve.

Forefather’s struggled to win independence from the iron-fisted rule of Britain so that all citizens could express their opinions without fear of retribution. Revolutionaries like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison dedicated their lives to build a UNITED States of America. Civil rights leaders in the 50’s, 60’s and beyond stood up for unification and the rights of everyone to live life judgement-free regardless of their religion, race, sexual identity or political beliefs.

Alexander Hamilton (standing) Fought Especially Hard For Black’s Rights

And where are we now? Several government studies have concluded what most of us already know. Fallout from racial discrimination has lessened but still exists in the areas of education, housing, police practices and employment opportunities. But add to that the consciously applied political and sociological segregation citizens practice today and we have truly become a nation divided. Not so much along racial lines but ideological ones. It tears at the fabric of this country.

Americans have become uncomfortable speaking about so many topics lest they inadvertently offend someone. We are wary of speaking about current events for fear we will be ostracized by one political faction or another, labeled as a scorned “Progressive” or “Fascist.” Our national leaders – from the President to members of Congress from both political parties – hurl invectives at each other setting a horrible example for respectful discourse. This is today’s trickle down theory of outrage.

Those who think government should oversee more and those who think government should get out of the way make holiday get-together conversations painful and have thrust families into schisms than may never heal. Anonymous posters on social media write the most hateful and threatening things, comments no civil person would ever make in face-to-face conversation. Today’s gender fluidity makes it difficult to know which pronoun to use and an incorrect usage brands the speaker as a discriminating bigot. People tend to shun others now because it’s easier than having to ascertain what kind of interaction with them is appropriate.

Frankly, it has become just too hard to mingle with those who we are unsure of, too easy to harshly criticize those who say suspect things.

This is what we’ve become. A population that self-segregates.

In 1814, Francis Scott Key declared the United States to be the “Land of the free and the home of the brave.”  Later, in “America the Beautiful” patriot Katherine Lee Bates wrote we were a land that “God shed his grace” upon and had crowned “our good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” Given our internal battles today I wonder what a modern-day song writer might come up with about our prospects for the future. I shudder to think.

No legislation can be devised or debated that would make this Season of Self-Segregation we’re living through any easier. There is no action in Congress or in a statehouse that can fix this. There are no laws that can be passed to restore civility or tolerance of other’s opinions. That is up to each and every one of us.





  1. Diane Dimond on July 9, 2018 at 10:04 am

    ABQ Journal Reader Tim N. Taylor writes:

    Hi Diane!

    Your old friend, Tim Taylor again! Actually, I’m a bit of a fan, though we probably don’t intersect perfectly on every issue.

    I agree with you today – we are indeed sectioned off into many tribes. My interpretation is that we have lost our ability to think.

    The real issue is “What kind of country do we want to live in?”

    You bring up the superficial notion that the left wants more government, while the right wants less government. This kind of thinking (or really, non-thinking) is much of the problem. It’s superficial, it’s easy, it requires no real effort.

    I’m from “The Left,” no doubt. But I don’t simply want more government. Government is only a tool that we use as a society, as a country, to operate systems that we all need, or want. I want efficient government. Government that does those things that we as individuals would find difficult or impossible to do by ourselves.

    I am also a big fan of personal freedom to come and go as I wish, do what I want to do, as long as I don’t impact others. Those on the RIght also say that. I tend to believe them, but there is never a chance to explore what each of us means, because no one wants to think, to put in the effort, any more. We seem to want only to throw meaningless bumper sticker slogans at each other.

    When is there ever any effort to drill into issues and really compare and contrast? When does our population ever really look at the implications of what they say they believe?

    You folks in the media are also failing, as are we in the general public. For you, it’s easier to toss around the latest shiny object. I get it. If you don’t do that, you won’t get the attention of the knuckle-dragging non-thinkers of us. Which leads to you not getting to work at all.

    Pick almost any issue. Sincere efforts by people of good will could make remarkable progress, and likely at less cost than what we are currently expending for irrational, destructive processes. It’s really not rocket science. There are lots of methodologies available for incremental improvements in our public processes. We simply don’t have the discipline or energy or moral fortitude to apply ourselves.

    So … What kind of country do we want? I guess we have it. We are actually being led by a man who doesn’t read. Doesn’t read anything. What does that say about us? That forty-odd percent of our fellow citizens are not just okay with it, but actually celebrate a leader who doesn’t read? Can you even imagine what the implications of that are?

    I guess we get what we deserve, eh?

    Thanks for your work, Diane.

    Tim N. Taylor

  2. Diane Dimond on July 9, 2018 at 10:09 am

    ABQ Journal Reader Bruce Krohn writes:

    A very insightful column. Sometimes it is good to step back and evaluate….not advocate. Thank you.

    Bruce Krohn
    Los Lunas, New Mexico

  3. Diane Dimond on July 9, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Linked In Buddy Bob Burtis writes:
    Our father’s and grandfather’s saved Europe twice in the 20th Century
    Asia and the Korean War.
    Our generation lost 50,000 in Vietnam
    Korea and Vietnam supported by the Chinese.
    We had the racial riots and Vietnam protests in the 60’s and 70’s leaders assasinated.
    Republicans fought the Democrats
    To pass Civil Rights legislation.
    Lyndon Johnson’s great society destroyed the black family structure.
    Prior to that program 70% of black households had fathers. It is now 7 %.
    The economy is booming and the structure for prosperity is being put in place.
    The Cold War was won.
    This should be “Happy Days” just like the Fifties.

    • Diane Dimond on July 9, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Sometimes it seems as though we’ve lost the will to do anything but bicker with each other, doesn’t it?

      This trend cannot, in my opinion, end positively. ~ DD

      • Diane Dimond on July 9, 2018 at 11:41 am

        Bob Burtis replies:

        You may be right. The push toward socialism scares me. As chaotic as the 70’s were, we got great music and the hippies were all about Peace and Love.

  4. Diane Dimond on July 9, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Linked in Buddy Andy Pal writes:

    Well said. We live in an age where the abnormal has become normal, and where lessons learned seem to be ignored or forgotten.

  5. Diane Dimond on July 10, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Linked In Buddy Ken Allard writes:

    Well said, Diane! The other aspect of self-segregation: Fewer than 1% of Americans now serve in uniform because we send Other People’s Kids off to war!

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