Separate but equal: a discredited idea re-emerges at Reed College

reedcollege

“We envision a vibrant, safe, and inclusive living environment…,” says Portland’s Reed College.

So much for that.

Like many other colleges and universities in the United States moving away from true diversity, Reed has approved an exclusive residential living space, Students of Color (SOC) Community, in the school’s Canyon House.

According to Reed, The SOCis an intentional living community for returning students of color to heal together from systemic white supremacy, recover the parts of ourselves and our cultures that have been stolen through colonization, and dream new visions as we build vibrant, loving community together.”

With schools blasting out their commitment to diversity, why are so many heading down the path of separateness? Why such sophistry by week-kneed administrators in their efforts to justify “separate but equal” facilities?

Controversy has already erupted over other “themed” residential housing programs, with schools establishing separate living quarters for groups such as Native Americans, LGBTQ, non gender-binary, Asian/Pacific American,  and so on.

Two members of the United States Commission on Civil Rights —Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow, recently sent letters to the University of Connecticut and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, lambasting UConn’s establishment of ScHOLA2RS House, a “Learning Community designed to support the scholastic efforts of students who identify as African-American/Black through academic and social support, access to research opportunities, and professional development.”

“We are deeply concerned that ScHOLA2RS House was established for the purpose, and will have the effect, of racial separation of African-American male students from others living in University of Connecticut dormitories,” Heriot and Kirsanow wrote. “… It is hard to avoid the conclusion that ScHOLA2RS House was intended to promote racial isolation on campus.  Moreover, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that it will in fact promote racial isolation on campus.”

“…we cannot understand how race-separate “learning communities” help achieve its ideals of “meaningful diversity” or prepare students to work in a racially diverse marketplace. Rather, by limiting students’ exposure to persons of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, they are more likely to do the opposite,” their letter to UConn said.

Cal State Los Angeles is embroiled in the same issue.

In November 2015, Cal State Los Angeles’ Black Student Union sent a list of demands to William A. Covino , the school’s (president). One of the demands was for “…the creation and financial support of a CSLA housing space delegated for Black students and a full time Resident Director who can cater to the needs of Black students. “

 

In response, this year the school debuted the Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community.

The Black Student Union posted on its Instagram account,…we have finally launched our Black student housing that we demanded from President Covino back in November. The Halisi Scholars Black Living Learning Community is intended for the students on our campus that identify as Black/African American. “

Cal State LA says it is not sponsoring a segregated housing community because “This community is open to all students”, but students who identify as African-American are prioritized in selection.

 After Americans have struggled for decades to bring us all together, universities across the country are acquiescing in, even heartily endorsing, racial and ethnic separateness.

When the University of Oregon recruited Bobbie Robinson and Charles Williams as its first black athletes in 1926, they weren’t allowed to live in university dormitories. All students of color were required to rent housing off campus.

It was a long struggle, but universities across the country eventually opened their dormitories to residents of all colors and cultures. How ironic that many universities have now turned back the clock by establishing separate housing by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and more.

It’s all being done under the guise of building cultural bonds, uniting people with shared values and strengthening identities.

At Brown University in Rhode Island there’s Hispanic House and Harambee House, which is “…focused on perpetuating a sense of community, academic excellence, and leadership for all people of African descent.”

Harambee is Swahili for ” pulling or working together.” But self-segregation isn’t pulling people together; it’s pushing them apart, capitulating to pressure and reinforcing separatism.

Some academics, perhaps eager for student approval, argue that faculty support for self-segregation is a good thing because it stimulates bonding. “We teachers have an opportunity to stand in solidarity with our students who call for programmed houses on the basis of politicized racial identities,” wrote Amie A. Macdonald, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY.

“…anyone concerned with the long-range goal of securing broad-based freedom and autonomy should be committed to the continued existence of racially defined communities on the grounds that different racial identities provide people with different experiences of the world,” Macdonald said. “The preservation of racially defined communities of meaning secures the continued diversity of interpretations of the social world, thereby providing a richer array of know/edges from which to construct social, political, aesthetic, spiritual, and scientific accounts of our experience.”

Except for the fact this is very professorial, it sounds suspiciously like something Alabama Governor George C. Wallace would have said in less flowery language to affirm “segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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City Club of Portland: wrong on Measure 97

tax-increaseAppalling! What else can you say?

Members of the City Club of Portland voted Tuesday to support Measure 97, which proposes imposing burdensome gross receipts taxes on Oregon businesses that could total $6.1 billion in the 2017-19 biennium.

It’s hard to believe that such a distinguished civic group could support such a flawed scheme.

Oregon’s General Fund expenses are expected to grow by about 14 percent, or $2.7 billion, in the 2017-2019 biennium. The budget anticipates only about half that will be covered by new revenue, translating to a projected $1.35 billion shortfall.

Given such things as public employee pay increases, higher Medicaid expenses, and pension rate increases for state government and school district employees covered by PERS, some additional revenue may be justified. But not $6.1 billion. That’s highway robbery.

And collecting the additional revenue through an odious gross receipts tax, which ignores a business’s profitability, or lack thereof, is irresponsible. How well-educated City Club members, many of whom presumably work in the private sector, could endorse such a tax is inexplicable.

Also damning is the uneven applicability of Measure 97’s proposed taxes. Taxation of just C Corporations would create a vastly uneven playing field for Oregon businesses.

As the minority noted in the City Club’s committee report, “Many large businesses are LLCs and S corps, and they often compete with C corps in similar sectors. For example, Fred Meyer (Kroger) and Safeway grocery store chains are C corps and would pay the tax. New Seasons Market, a B corporation,47 and Albertson’s, a limited liability corporation (LLC),48 would not pay it. “

The flaws in the City Club’s arguments in favor of Measure 97 are evident right off the bat.

The City Club committee charged with determining the merit of Measure 97 said it “…presents a long-awaited opportunity to assure adequate investment in the health, education and the well-being of Oregonians.”

Nonsense!

The fact is there is absolutely no guarantee the legislature will apply Measure 97 revenue to early childhood through grade 12 public education, healthcare and services for senior citizens, in the coming years as the measure states.

If Measure 97 is approved by voters, the Legislature can appropriate its revenues “in any way it chooses,” Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson said in an Aug. 1 letter to Rep. John Davis, R-Wilsonville, a member of the House Committee on Revenue. Not only are Legislators “not bound by the spending requirements” of Measure 97, they can “simply ignore” them,” Johnson added.

What is most likely is that over time Measure 97 revenue would be spread around like honey in response to pressure from self-serving special interests with access to, and influence on, decision-makers.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) said when endorsing the measure, “If that passes, we’ll have a lot of money to pay for stuff.” The hundreds of groups that spend millions annually lobbying the legislature will have plenty of ideas on what “stuff” to spend the money on.

There’s also a high likelihood that some of those lobbyists will seek exemptions from all or part of the tax, just as Nike cut a deal with former Gov. John Kitzhaber and the legislature in 2012 to protect it from changes in the way the state calculates the company’s state income taxes.

Gov. Brown has already said she’d favor some “technical adjustments” if Measure 97 passes, including:

  • Allowing businesses to subtract a portion of their Oregon payroll from their corporate tax bill.
  • Prohibiting businesses from changing their corporate status “for the primary purpose” of evading the new gross receipts tax. (As written, the measure would exempt “benefit corporations” from the new tax)
  • Helping out software companies in Oregon by classifying sales of their services based on the location of the purchaser, rather than the location of the company selling the service.

The majority of the City Club committee that recommended a “yes” vote on Measure 97 also argued that “… the potential benefit of adequately funded state services outweighed any of the tax’s potential detrimental effects and that the consequences of prolonging the state’s revenue shortage where (sic) too great.”

Outweighed “any of the potential detrimental effects”? In other words, satisfying the state’s greed with $6.1 billion in additional revenue per biennium is more important that an expected dampening of income, job and population growth. Give me a break.

Finally, in endorsing Measure 97, the City Club is giving an easy out to liberal Democrats who want to avoid tackling difficult spending issues.

For example, as the minority pointed out, the unfunded PERS liability is $21-$22 billion. If nothing is done to deal with the creeping cost of PERS, even the Measure 97 windfall won’t be enough to avoid a funding crisis.

It’s not as though Oregon’s budget problems snuck up on the Democrat-controlled Legislature, leaving it no choice but to abdicate its responsibilities and leave it to a poorly crafted union-inspired ballot measure to fix things.

It’s been abundantly clear for a long time that trouble was coming. Where was the grit to fix things right?