By Anonymous (not verified) on October 03, 2012

Four years ago, with the election of Barack Obama, it was reasonable, even fashionable, to believe America had entered a post-racial era. The new president won the support of a majority of voting citizens based on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin.

But two recent trends call this advance into question.

First, there is the increasing enrollment in white nationalists groups, which should be disconcerting not just to minorities but to anyone who believes that civility and humanity should trump hostility and the politics of pigmentation. A little more than a decade ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center was tracking 602 hate groups in the United States. Last year, 1,018 were operating in the United States, the center said.

“The long-running rise seemed for most of that time to be a product of hate groups’ very successful exploitation of the issue of nonwhite immigration,” the organization stated. “Obama’s election and the crashing economy have played a key role in the last three years.”

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, told ABC News last spring that white supremacist groups have increased their efforts to recruit by using the changing makeup of the country as a lightning rod. They “are talking a lot about the fact that whites will soon be a minority in this country, that their goal at all costs is to preserve the white race,” Mayo said.

The second disturbing trend is the resegregation of our public schools.

In a survey released last month titled “E Pluribus … Separation: Deepening Double Segregation for More Students,” the Civil Rights Project at the University of California Los Angeles reported that black and Latino students “are attending more intensely segregated and impoverished schools than they have for generations.”

Using data from the National Center on Education Statistics, the Civil Rights Project shows that public schools are increasingly unequal — particularly in the West and South. In the 1990s, the average black or Latino student attended a school where roughly a third of students were low income; today it’s two-thirds. Black and Latino students attend schools with almost double the share of low-income students than their white and Asian peers.

Here is a stark figure from the study: “Fully 15 percent of black students and 14 percent of Latino students attend ‘apartheid schools’ across the nation, where whites make up 0 to 1 percent of the enrollment.”

So it’s too early to be trumpeting the arrival of post-racial America. But we need to get there.

Our future together, as Americans, is linked like the leaves of a tree. We will either flourish or wilt together.

Fred McKissack Jr. is a former Progressive magazine editor and editorial writer who lives in Fort Wayne, Ind. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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