Reading this article on school vouchers, "Vouchers: The Right's Final Answer to Brown" I admit that sometimes it's very easy to see issues through a partisan lens. Sometimes, I read stuff and I'm think of what the Wino told the Junkie in Richard Pryor's piece, "Better lay off that narcotic nigga, that shit done made you null and void." But then I have to step back and give it a better reading and see if there's anything valid I can take from it. In this case, there's not much, but I'll see what I can do. What it does, however, is typify what I think is the main problem of the Black Left, they hug white racism so hard that it's almost like they're addicted to it. I'm not one of those pollyanaish negroes who thinks that racism is nonexistent. A couple weeks ago, I told my mother that I don't think racism will ever cease to exist in America. It's ingrained too deeply and too many people have stakes in its existence for it to go away. That said, there comes a point at which we have to realize that fact and move on. In the Laff-a-lympics, Yogi's team didn't stop trying because Dick Dastardly's team was cheating. They had to adjust their strategy because of the cheating, but they didn't stop racing and complain about how unfair it was. Granted, that was a cartoon and it was scripted so that the Dastardlys would eventually lose, even if they won an event or two, but the principle still applies. I don't even think racism is necessarily all that pervasive, but for the people who do, racism can't be the cause of all Black folks' problems. If it is, then the racists are right, we're just as dumb and stupid and incapable as they say we are. We know better than that. I have two main problems with this article: one, it seems to go along with the general idea that segregation, or perhaps to be more specific, separation, is necessarily a bad thing. That idea is not explicitly addressed, but the general tone of the article seems to fall in with the integrationist model, where having different "races" at the same school a de facto better situation for the Black students. I don't deny that nowadays it tends to work out that way, but it was not always the case, and it does not have to be, in any case. My second problem with the article is in its attempt to argue against vouchers without having some alternative. I'll be the first one to tell you that I have serious reservations about vouchers. I'm not comfortable with the notion of creating a permanent underclass by sending poor students (both financially and academically) to "schools" that are little more than holding pens for prisons. It can be argued that many public schools are already just that, but if the few real students who do attend those schools were to leave, then what would happen to the rest of them? Should we replace the teachers with correctional officers and leave it at that? That problem becomes compounded when we realize that even with vouchers, there are some families that couldn't afford to put their children into private schools. One of the times I was writing about Good Times, I started to go on a whole tangent about how if the Evans family existed now, with Michael and Thelma being as smart as they are, James and Florida still wouldn't be able to put them in any private schools because they were just too poor. So what, then, should Michael and Thelma have to go to prison schools because they're too poor. Then there's the fact that private schools don't have to take anybody. Voucher or no, they can turn a child down for any number of reasons. In short, then, I don't see vouchers/private school "competition" as the panacea that some others do. At the same time, I don't see how any self-respecting pro-Black person can sit there and act like the only problem with public schools is that they're underfunded. Please. Public schools, particularly urban and rural, have some serious problems. In the urban schools, the students most dramatically affected are Black and Latino. While I don't know that vouchers represent the solution to the problems public schools face (in fact, I know that they don't), given the state of public education, if my allegiance is to the kids, I would be willing to try anything. It can't be worse than what's there now. In this article, none of the issues I listed above are even addressed. Instead, vouchers are presented as a continuation of white flight from public schools after Brown. The valid nugget I believe this article holds is its presentation of history. While I don't think it's necessary to dwell on the past, it is instructive to have a clear view of what has happened. The problem here is that in the desire to make white people culpable for something, the authors ignore the fact that in cities like Detroit and Cleveland, some of the most vocal supporters of vouchers were grassroots Black folks who were tired of their children graduating high school unable to read. These people are glossed over as "African-American front groups." Like it's impossible to hold a viewpoint different from the Black hegemony and still be pro-Black. But we already know that's what they think. Better lay off that narcotic.