Bring back segregation!

Race & Culture

Sometimes I think Martin Luther King got assassinated before he was able to complete his thought: We shall overcome…and then chill with our own kind, in small little groups by ourselves, despite our newfound civil rights. And believe it or not, this black man is down: Bring on segregation 2.0. Holla!

In New York, races and ethnic types already separate themselves, if informally, as multiculti as we think we are. The disparate groups—blacks at the Village Underground on Sundays, whites on the Upper East Side, period—are reflective of how freedom is understood differently than it was back in the day. In King’s time, the problem with different water fountains for different colors wasn’t just the separation, but the fact that blacks often drank from the outhouse. It was humiliating. Now that we have the same plumbing, and a little respect, a water fountain for black people would be awesome! I bet Martin would rather hang out with the boys, rapping about The Wire and Common’s latest album, rather than dish on My Chemical Romance and Flight of the Conchords.

In other words, our choices have a cultural history to them, and only those who share it can truly feel connected. At the end of the day, a Michael Vick or a Barry Bonds should come home to a black community that is more likely to understand their choices than a white one (and maybe Don Imus and Michael Richards should go home to white Klansmen). To that point, if black people come off as lazy, it may be because we have a history where our work wasn’t an investment in our future. Some days I just want to get my “Kill Whitey” on and blast only underground hip-hop and hard-core Amiri Baraka. And when in that zone, my Caucasian friends hang around at their own peril.

Self-segregation reminds me of high school: In class, the teachers would make sure we shared experiences and worked together, only to see their dream of integration quashed when we got to the lunchroom. In my school, the little cluster for black people was called Little Africa.

New York is nothing but a big high-school lunchroom. So I propose we make it official: Why not same-race subway cars? Every time I see one of my people snap at some poor unsuspecting white person, or some white person clutch their handbag when a black dude’s doing nothing, I think, We could all be better off if we had some room to ourselves.

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