Was the North just as bad?

The civil rights struggles in New York CIty and Boston’s schools challenge the view that racial discrimination was only a problem in the South by demonstrating racial inequalities existed throughout the North. Typically the North liked to mask racism and racial discrimination as a Southern problem, when in reality it existed in both. New York City and Boston schools exemplified this by showing how segregated these cities and their schools were. In both cities schools existed based on where kids lived. Kids were not bussed into schools to keep ratios of minorities and white people level, but black kids went to school with all black kids and white kids went to school with all white kids. While this technically was not “segregation” because there was no law enforcing this, it was practically impossible for a group of black children to go to a white school. When black parents fought for more integrated schools and more equal treatment of all children, many white people still fought back and claimed it would be unfair and wrong. Despite being in the North, white parents still felt just as uneasy about their children going to desegregated schools as white parents in the South. 

White liberals in the North used the coded language of “de facto segregation” to avoid accusations of racism. Instead of the “de jure segregation” that the South was known for, the North used “de facto segregation” which was that segregation existed as a “fact” but not by law. Technically there were no laws for segregated schools or neighborhoods, but they just existed on their own by fact. This could not go against the Supreme Court decision of 1954 because it was not in law that segregation was enforced. Neighborhoods were segregated because people were going to naturally live with people who look like/ or are similar to them. Schools were segregated because white parents wanted neighborhood schools and opposed busing (38). Schools were able to exclude black parents from participating in PTAs, not funding certain schools based on income of neighborhoods the children came from, and white schools did not hire teachers of color. All of this could technically be done legally, and until large groups of African American parents started protesting and threatening to take things to court, nothing changed. 

Hearing this history was not super surprising because racism exists everywhere in America today and that had to stem from something. However, it was surprising to hear the legal language and attempts to create legal loopholes to get out of desegregation. Reading about the “de facto” language that was created and used to support segregated school was shocking that they used legal ways to support segregation, when they shamed the South so much for doing the same thing. The hypocrisy in what the North was doing and getting away with on a national scale was incredible. There was so much Civil Rights struggle and fight in the North with significant accomplishments that aren’t given a second thought of today. Northern states have been able to bury all of the achievements of Civil Rights fighters in order to maintain the image that racial problems did not exist there. 

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