A Pretense That Perpetuates Segregation

You can't force people to live in diverse neighborhoods.

Nationwide, some neighborhoods are more diverse than they used to be, but there's a troubling countertrend, too.

Housing segregation used to be largely a product of income. In the Brown v. Board of Education era, most black Americans were poor, very poor. They had no choice but to live in low-income housing or ghettos. For many African-Americans and members of other minority groups, this is still the case. But it is also the case that the ranks of the black, Latino, and Asian-American middle classes are mushrooming.

As this happens, middle- and upper-income persons of color are buying expensive homes in developments that cluster families among others of the same ethnic background. I see this in the Washington, D.C., suburbs where new developments are springing up populated almost exclusively by African-Americans or Korean-Americans and so on.

We all want to live in a colorblind society. But is that possible in this era of self-imposed housing segregation? I think the two are mutually exclusive. So, apparently, does Justice Stephen Breyer, who rolled his eyes while the majority opinion was read from the bench last week.

And if the Roberts Supreme Court has more of an interest in Nirvana-like colorblindness than it does in diversifying schools, it ought to be honest about that.

Pretending to support colorblind policies that act to further segregate society is a ruse the Roberts court and conservative jurists need to drop.

By Bonnie Erbe