MLKing Jr once wrote:
“Black and white, we will all be harmed unless something grand and imaginative is done. The unemployed, poverty-stricken white man must be made to realize that he is in the very same boat with the Negro. Together, they could exert massive pressure on the government to get jobs for all. Together they could form a grand alliance. Together, they could merge all people for the good of all.”
I grew up in rural Montgomery County, MD, where I went to school with white kids who lived in shacks and slums. Despite Brown v Board, decided the year before I began kindergarten, we still had segregated schools there in Clarksburg. Whoever planned the school bus routes, made it so that our bus picked up the (fairly rough) white kids from ‘Hammond Drive’, a little white slum to the northwest of our town center, and didn’t pick up any of the black kids who lived in the slum at the other end of town, the name of which I never learned. So we had busing to achieve racial segregation.
A bit later, when my family sold the farm and moved back to Northwest DC over the summer that I entered junior high school in 1961, my DCPS JHS was likewise all-white for my entire tenure. Meanwhile, in other parts of DC, there was massive white flight as schools and entire neighborhoods changed from all-white to integrated to all-black in a very short time period: white families were so terrified of the prospect of having African-American neighbors that they sold their houses in a panic and moved out to the suburbs.
This racist ideology often trumps working class solidarity, unfortunately, and gets white working-class and middle-class people to support policies that don’t benefit anybody but the very wealthiest 0.1% –the ruling class.
I suggest reading the entire column from which I lifted the quote I started this blog entry: