November 2, 2010


Anderson, Elizabeth, The Imperative of Integration (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2010) ("But is racial integration just a pipe dream? While implementation of . . . mostly state-centered policies would have important effects, at foreseeable scales their impact would be modest compared to the vast scale of de facto segregation. Truly large-scale state-centered attempts to racially integrate K-12 schools, as took place in the busing era, consistently encounter massive white resistance and are not politically feasible. Hence the project of integration inevitably rests with the spontaneous actions of citizens in civil society. Here there are a few promising, if small signs--for example, of churches seeking integrated congregations and promoting programs of racial reconciliation. Yet the overall picture is gloomy. Spontaneous residential racial integration of blacks proceeds at a glacial pace. Voter initiatives and state legislatures are rolling back affirmative action by public universities, while the Supreme Court is restricting voluntary integration by K-12 schools. Federal enforcement of key civil rights initiatives--Brown v. Board of Education and its successors cases, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act--is little more than perfunctory. Opinion research suggests that this state of affairs is just how whites want it--except that they think they are not getting it since they believe government is doing too much." Id. at 189. "This raises the question of what sort of realism is demanded in political philosophy. Throughout this book, I have stressed the centrality of nonideal theorizing in a sound political philosophy. Political philosophy should start with a diagnosis of what ails us, and construct remedies that are attentive to empirical constraints, including the limitations of human psychology. We are not nearly as rational, self-aware, and self-controlled as we imagine ourselves to be. Normative recommendations must take these limitations into account, lest they prescribe standards that are impossible for people to meet." Id. at 189-190. How many of us can say, "I am not a de facto segregationist", and say it honestly? Very few of us are truly good on racial issues. It it America's major weakness. We talk a good game about social justice, fairness, equality, etc. Then we head on home to our everyone-is-the-same-as-me neighborhoods. Social prisons keeping the others out . . . and keeping us in. More of us need to be active integrationists.).