Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Who Gets to Go to the Pool?

From the New York Times opinion section:

IN a 1948 speech to fellow Dixiecrats, Strom Thurmond famously declared that the entire United States Army couldn’t force white Southerners to allow black people “into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

I’m always struck by his invocation of swimming pools as a battleground for racial segregation, although perhaps I shouldn’t be. After all, some of the most potent symbols of Jim Crow involve water, from segregated drinking fountains and toilets to swimming pools and beaches.

In a YouTube video of a pool party that took place in McKinney, Tex., on Friday, a white police officer appears to shove, handcuff and pull a gun on a group of black teenagers. He grabs a black girl by her hair and drags her to the ground. He puts a knee on her back as she screams. According to the McKinney Police Department, officers responded to calls of a “disturbance” involving multiple juveniles “who do not live in the area or have permission to be there.”

More here.

"Oh my god! There are waaaay too many black people in our bourgeois pool! Call the police, get these black people out of here!"

That's what McKinney is really all about. I mean, the gun-waving cop is only the worst aspect. What's truly disgusting is how white supremacist attitudes like this persist a decade and a half into the twenty first century. The more I think about it, the angrier I become.

This harkens back to old school Jim Crow racism. Segregated pools, as observed by the linked NYT essay, were a major flashpoint during the desegregation period, and using local law enforcement to make it so was just as big of a tradition. Now I know this pool wasn't segregated in the way it might have been sixty years ago. As everybody knows, however, de facto segregation continues, but with other ostensible justifications like zoning and geography. This is why we still have black and white schools. This is why we still have black and white swimming pools.

They call Jim Crow "slavery by another name." Since those days the white power structure has responded with racial segregation by another name. The massive police response to teenagers breaking a few pool rules, some horseplay, some gate crashing, was ALL ABOUT continuing that segregation by another name. The new Jim Crow looks a lot like the old Jim Crow.

Just a bunch of white people freaking out about too many black people. I'm sick of it.