Science in Christian Perspective
James 0. Buswell, III, M.A.
From: JASA 7 (December
Often the racial problems of the Union of South Africa are compared with those of our own South. There really is no basis for comparison since the historical backgrounds of the two are so vastly different, and also because the problems of a racial minority which is in power can hardly compare with those of a racial minority which is not in power.
More important, however, are the differences in basic ideology and direction of change which characterize the present administrations of each. While the Union of South Africa is using its legislative machinery to further intrench the concept and implement the practices of racial segregation and inequality, the United States is using its legislative and judicial powers to do away with racial segregation and inequality. Look at the record of some of the present administration's accomplishments toward that end:
First in importance was the Supreme Court's ruling that henceforth segregation in the classrooms would be illegal.
Among other items of interest reported by Val J. Washington, director of minorities of the Republican National Committee, in a pamphlet entitled "The Republican Party and the Negro", are the following:
1. There have been 250 appointments of Negroes to Federal policy-making positions.
2. In 1952 "nearly half of the Negro units were still intact in the army; today there are none."
3. Over three-fourths of the navy's Negroes were "in mess halls as servants," but "they are now serving in all branches of the Navy on an integrated basis."
4. All segregated schools on military posts are ended. This was accomplished before the Supreme Court decision.
5. Segregation is ended in all Veteran Administration Hospitals.6. Washington, D. C. is now officially non-segregated.
This all serves to show the direction in which we are going. However, these items do not necessarily mean that discrimination is wiped out. It is all too recent a custom in Washington, as well as in many other cities, that a Negro, whether he is tidy and clean or not, whether he is in company with whites or not,whether a member of the legislature or not, is refused the privilege of trying on a hat or pair of shoes before buying. Nevertheless the concept of racial equality and the implementation of it in all walks of life is embodied in the ideologies of the large proportion of the people, and enjoys a large measure of security in governmental administration. Classroom De-segregation
Of particular interest now are the varied extremes with which the ruling of the Supreme Court on desegregation of schools has been received in the South. In a number of cases the acceptance has been very favorable and in keeping with the trends of our national racial equality emphasis. Witness the case of Hoxie, Arkansas reported in Life, July 25, 1955; also the case of the State of Texas whose educators and legislators alike are taking pains to implement classroom integration right away, and resolve the legal conflict between such practice and the existing State segregation laws later. Other states are taking just this kind of opportunity to delay de-segregation until all the legal red tape that can possibly be put in the way is cut through, while the existing segregation remains unmoved.
Another noteworthy example is the large Negro community in the South which has a high school superior to the "white" high school in town. The Negroes are actively engaged in urging the school boards of city and state to de-segregate. Here, at least, the Negroes cannot be charged with merely desiring the advantages of superior white facilities.
There is a group of states, however, which is actively opposing the Supreme Court ruling, in some instances merely in keeping with injured feelings at having to set about accomplishing a disagreeable task; in others, however, there is revealed a startling exhibition of defiant obstinacy and racialist doctrines of a century ago, even among state leaders. Four examples will suffice to indicate the pulse of the situation.
M ississippi 's last legislative session made it a penal offense for white students to attend any state-supported school that enrolls Negroes.
In their 1955 legislative session, South Carolina repealed the compulsory school attendance law, making it no longer illegal for a child to be kept out of school.
It was in South Carolina also that the recent deplorable incident involving Little League baseball took place, showing the popular lag behind the equality measures taken by certain leaders. The Cannon Street YMCA of Charleston entered a team of Negro boys in the Little League competition which was to involve regional, state, and finally national playoffs in what has come to be the Little League World Series held in Williamsport, Pa.
I When the League's national headquarters ruled the Negro team eligible, the fifty-five white teams in South Carolina boycotted the Negro team and withdrew from competition, leaving the Negroes technic ally champions by default. They were not permitted to represent their state in the inter-state competition, however, because the League headquarters feared too great an imbalance at the playoffs if one team was passed directly from city to finals competition. Thus South Carolina was not represented in the Little League competition this year because the white teams, or at least their managers, could not accept the principles of racial equality that the Big Leagues have adopted long ago.
As reported in the New York Times on July 23rd, the State Legislature of Alabama moved on July 22nd "to preserve classroom segregation." The substance of the report is as follows:
City and county school boards are given police power to "assure social order, goodwill and public welfare" in assigning pupils to grade schools and high schools. Now, although nothing is said about race or color in what follows, "its admitted purpose is to keep Negroes out of white schools." The report continues with the following important elements:
"Each school child would be given his assignment on an individual basis. . ."
"School boards are directed to consider the following factors in assignment of pupils:"
1. Available room and teaching capacity in the various schools;2. the availability of transportation facilties,
3. the effect of admission of new pupils upon estahlished or proposed academic programs;
4. suitability of established curricula for particular pupils;
5. the adequacy of the pupil's academic preparation for admission to a particular school and curriculum;
6. the scholastic aptitude and relative intelligence or mental energy or ability of the pupil;
7. the psychological qualification of the pupil for the type of teaching and association involved;
8. the effect of the admission of the pupil on the academic progress of other students;
9. the effect of admission on prevailing academic standards ;
10. the psychological effect on the pupil of attendance in a particular school;
11. the possibility or threat of friction or disorder among pupils or others;
12. the possibility of breaches of the peace or ill will or economic retaliation within the community;13. home environment of the pupil;
14. the maintenance or severance of established social and psychological relationships with other pupils and with teachers;15. the choice and interests of the pupil; and
16. the morals, conduct, health and personal standards of the pupil.Remember that all of these items are to be determin ed for "each school child . . . on an individual basis" in assigning them to the proper school. It would seem that a vastly more elaborate testing and social sampling procedure will have to be employed here than any school board was ever equipped with before. Otherwise, assignment of students will have to proceed upon the basis of some much more simplified criteria which, in the minds of the members of the boards, will stand for "social order, goodwill and the public welfare" and will be able at the same time, if challenged, to have certain items from the above listed considerations substituted in its place. It would not be very difficult to guess what that criterion would be in this case.
The worst and most infamous measures to keep racial segregation in the schools in the face of the United States Supreme Court ruling are being taken by the State of Georgia.
In their last legislative session they prohibited the use of public funds for integrated schools. The Attorney General, Eugene Cook, has appointed twentyfive "special deputies" to assist his office to preserve racial segregation in the public schools.
Finally, the Georgia State Board of Education has passed the following resolution:
Any teacher in Georgia who supports, encourages, condones, or agrees to teach a mixed grade, or any teacher who is a member of the N.A.A.C.P. (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), any allied organization, or any subversive organization, shall have his or her license revoked and forfeited for life."
Members of the N.A.A.C.P. have until September l5th to swear that they have dropped membership.
This is the kind of thing the South Africans point to when we criticize the Apartheid policies. This is also the kind of thing which causes a smile when some say, "Oh, racial discrimination in the South is a thing of the past." This reflects an astounding revision to tactics based upon thinking that is years out of date. Can it really be happening in the U. S. A. in 1955? Part of the surprise at such a resolution is canceled when we realize the outdated racial philosophy from which it stems. As recently as 1953 Georgia State Representative David C. Jones and State Senator John D. Shepard were quoted by the New York Times of March Ist as saying "Inter-marriage produces halfbreeds, and halfbreeds are not conducive to the higher type of society. We in the South are a proud and progessive people. Halfbreeds cannot be proud. In the South we have pure blood lines and we intend to keep it that way."
Although our government and a large portion of the people are actively moving toward racial tolerance and integrated society, we evidently still have a long way to go in some quarters.
Wheaton, Illinois August 15, 1955