The student enrollment in the Nettleton schools is about 70 percent white. Thirty years ago, the school’s administrators reasoned that black students would never be elected to serve on the student council and would never serve as homecoming or prom royalty because white students would never vote for them, at least not every year. To ensure that blacks would have the opportunity to fully participate in the school’s student government and social life, they instituted a policy of rotating student council offices and separate prom and homecoming kings and queens based on race. The policy implemented by the school was not a segregationist policy; it was an affirmative action policy meant to insure diversity!
And here is the absurdity racialism has wrought: Racialists point the finger at red-necks in Mississippi for separating student council seats and homecoming royalty by race, while at the same time demanding seats on corporate boards be divvied up by gender and race; screaming bloody murder if state assembly and congressional seats are not divvied up by race (because, of course, they hold it as a matter of fact that white people will never vote for black candidates); and insisting that acceptances to a college or university be divvied up by race and gender. It remains unclear why folks that demand separate dormitories for black students, hold separate college graduation ceremonies for black students, and who become apoplectic at the very mention of rolling back racial preferences feel they are qualified to lecture the people of Mississippi (or anyone else) on race relations.
Did the school administrators abandon the policy because they now believe white students will vote for black students and visa-versa and that the racial make-up of the student council does not matter? Let us hope. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that they were motivated primarily by a bit of bad publicity. I further suspect that they will find another means to the same end.
This past June, Judge Stephen Robinson, along with the Obama justice department, decided that the people of Port Chester, New York were racists because they had not yet elected a Hispanic member to its board of trustees. Justice Robinson therefore ordered the city to institute a system of cumulative voting, wherein each voter is allowed to vote six times. Perhaps the Nettleton school district will borrow a page from the book of Justice Robinson.
Sadly, the people of Mississippi will continue to get it wrong on race because they have not learned that when the racial wildcard is played, the fix is in. As the writer John Edger Wideman wrote, the inventor of race always “holds the winning cards because he can choose when he plays them and names their value.” None of us will move beyond race until we realize that the racialists are simply making up the rules as they go along.