Did Integration Negatively Affect Discipline for Black Kids?

Carol Forsloff, Digital Journal, April 8, 2009

Outcomes of integration haven’t been as positive as hoped. According to a number of African Americans equal opportunity was the goal of civil rights, not integration. Results have shown negative consequences, some say.

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Dumars [Ophelia Dumars, mother of Joe Dumars, a famous basketball player] declares that “after integration discipline broke down.” New ways of parenting from the white community were introduced that conflicted with the strict parenting set down by black parents. She said in her day there weren’t the high percentages of African Americans in jail because parents and community members made sure they were disciplined strictly and understood consequences of bad behavior. That was passed on down to the next generation until new ideas were introduced that seemed to bring consequences that didn’t end up with positive results. Corporal punishment was the means of disciplining that seemed to make children behave. These days Dumars believes parents don’t do that anymore and so many of them don’t know their limits.

Randy Stelly, native Louisianan who grew up with strict parents who had successful businesses in Opelousas in South Louisiana, believes also that integration interfered with the raising of black children. His concern was that discipline in school wasn’t even-handed and was fraught with suspicion and distrust. Black parents resented white teachers disciplining their children. Conversely white parents didn’t want black teachers disciplining theirs. The lack of understanding and preparation for adults prior to integration meant that children had unequal treatment in discipline and those for whom expectations were less, often black, ended up with discipline problems. What black folks wanted, he said, was decentralization, equal opportunity. He too is concerned that too many black children end up in prison for lack of effective, consistent discipline.

The dialogue about this has been part of African American conversation on the Internet as well as locally in Natchitoches. Attorney Roy Miller on a blog post writes that integration has been cruel to black children. {snip} He said before integration black teachers had very little problem with discipline of students, a point verified by Dumars as well, who was often at school involved with her children. She too believes that black teachers had stern control and were trusted by the children at the time. Miller reinforces this concept in his posting as well.

Miller goes on to discuss how integration broke down black values. He said that after integration black teachers were disciplining black students and white teachers were as well, and then “all hell broke loose.” He continues by saying that after integration blacks got new learning materials and books, however black moral and religious values were broken down, which brought an increase in black crime. These are some of the issues he relates:

“In majority Black school districts, White kids left and went to private schools. Public schools were segregated all over again. {snip} We need to admit it. White parents are not ever going to let Black teachers paddle White children, Black parents are not ever going to let White teachers paddle Black children and Black parents are distrustful of their children being disciplined in the public school system. ”

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