30+ quotes from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform

Quotes from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform

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“William Julius Wilson makes this point in his book, When Work Disappears. In his view, it is massive unemployment and not the lack of family values that has devastated our inner-cities and placed one-third of our young men-denied even menial jobs when they lacked education and skills-in prison or in the jaws of the criminal court system, most of them for nonviolent drug offenses.2”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Success for the black person requires effective functioning achieved with the knowledge that his or her work will not be recognized or rewarded to the same degree as a white person doing the same thing.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“The Portland school board's policy equated integration and racial
assimilation. This policy, Rist explains, is a "means of socializing nonwhite students to act, speak, and believe very much like white students." It leaves dominant group values intact, does no damage to notions of white superiority, and helps to gain the support of those whites who view it as a means of helping "nonwhite peoples to become fully human by instilling in them `white' ways of thinking and feeling."
In keeping with the assimilationist tone of the program, the principal assigned one or two black children to each classroom, and scheduled only a few special teacher-training sessions, which were poorly handled. The principal's desire was to treat the black students just like the whites. This approach was undermined by his failure to recognize and address fears and misconceptions of teachers about the black children's academic ability and behavior problems, the adequacy of their home backgrounds, and their moral turpitude.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Today, many whites oppose all social reform as "welfare programs for blacks." They ignore the fact that poor whites have employment, education, and social service needs that differ from the condition of poor blacks by a margin that, without a racial scorecard, becomes difficult to measure. In summary, the blatant involuntary sacrifice of black rights to further white interests, so obvious in early American history, remains viable and, while somewhat more subtle in its contemporary
forms, is as potentially damaging as it ever was to black rights and the interests of all but wealthy whites.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Beyond the ebb and flow of racial progress lies the still viable and widely accepted (though seldom expressed) belief that America is a white country in which blacks, particularly as a group, are not entitled to the concern, resources, or even empathy that would be extended to similarly situated whites.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“It is hopeless for the Negro to expect complete emancipation from the menial social and economic position into which the white man has
forced him merely by trusting in the moral sense of the white race.... However large the number of individual white men who do and who will identify themselves completely with the Negro cause, the white race in America will not admit the Negro to equal rights if it is not forced to do so. Upon that point one may speak with a dogmatism which all history justifies.2”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“At bottom, though, Brown helped maintain a stable society by moving it forward, far less than civil rights advocates had hoped but far more than opponents felt was needed or necessary.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Work and sacrifice, as important as they are, have never been sufficient to gain blacks more than grudging acceptance as individuals. They seldom enjoy the presumption of regularity, the sense that they belong or are competent, which whites may take for granted.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Everybody at some level believes in it. It's a deeply seductive image. The image that we all want, as oppressed people, is an image of our masters finally loving us and recognizing our humanity. It is this image that keeps prostitutes with their pimps, the colonized with their colonizers and battered women with their batterers. Everybody dreams of one day being safe.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“A few white children were friendly, but others were hostile or simply distant. Teachers unthinkingly added to both problems by physically separating black students in the classroom either for special instruction or in response to the black students' requests.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“But few black parents had any substantial contact with the school. Rist doubts their assessment would have been so positive had they been "really aware" of what was happening to their children.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Brown, in retrospect, was a serious disappointment, but if we can learn the lessons it did not intend to teach, it will not go down as a defeat.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Washington's intentions, the surrender of basic citizenship rights in the hope that hostile whites would reciprocate with schooling and better jobs, deserved the condemnation it received from black leaders,”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“To benefit from this resource in our midst,
blacks must supplement the forms and patterns of striving for racial equality with innovative forms of personal self-image, group organization, resource collection and distribution, and strategic planning, using the concept of racial fortuity as a guideline.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“In ways so closely tied to an individual's sense of self that it may not be apparent, the set of assumptions, privileges, and benefits that accompany the status of being white can become a valuable asset that whites seek to protect.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Since whites in general were not held responsible for harm to blacks, it followed that only those whites who were found liable for intentional discrimination should be penalized. As I suggested earlier, the Brown decision substituted one mantra for another: where "separate" was once equal, "separate" would be now categorically unequal.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Harry Belafonte explained:
[T]he Second World War happened, and my mother told me that the fight against Hitler was our fight, and I went off, just like that. We were fighting against tyranny, fighting for freedom. But when we-the Black soldiers-came home, we found it was business as usual. There were no changes in the segregation laws. There was no right to vote. And yet being part of that war changed something in us-we'd had a peek at freedom. I knew if I could fight for it over there, I could fight for it in America.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“I remember it was a quiet, heat-hushed evening. Walking with Mrs. McDonald up a dusty, unpaved road toward her modest home, I asked, "Where do you and the other black families find the courage to continue working for civil rights in the face of so much intimidation? Black folks active in the
civil rights movement are losing their jobs, facing all manner of pressure and intimidation, and you told me shots were fired through your windows just last week."
Mrs. McDonald looked at me and said slowly and seriously, "I can't speak for everyone, Derrick, but as for me, I am an old woman. I lives to harass white folks.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“By refusing to accept white dominance in our schools, places of work, communities, and, yes, among those whites who consider us friends, we both show a due regard for our humanity and often convey enlightenment to whites deeply immersed in the still-widespread, deeply held beliefs of a white-dominated society.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Du Bois reminds us that, to compensate their low wages, segregation gave whites a "public and psychological wage." As whites, they were admitted freely to public functions and parks, the police were drawn from their ranks, and they could elect local leaders who treated them well. David Roediger adds that status and privileges "could be used to make up for alienating and exploitative class relationships, North and South.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Regrettably, I paid far less attention to all those students less able to overcome the hostility and the sense of alienation they faced in mainly white schools. They faired poorly or dropped out of school. Truly, these were the real victims of the great school desegregation campaign.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“The goal was organized resistance to racial subjugation, and its harassing effect was probably more potent precisely because they risked so much without either economic or political power and with no certainty that they could change a system that they had known and hated all of their lives.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“time proved that the persistent educational gap between black and white students was only indirectly traceable to segregation. Instead, the root of the problem appeared to be the substantial disparities in the resources provided to black students relative to white students. Many, including myself, decided that given the difficulty of integrating black and Latino students with their swiftly fleeing white counterparts, we should concentrate on desegregating the money.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“As with most voluntary school integration programs, dispersal of the black children was the norm. In Portland, no more than forty-five black children were bused to any single elementary school, and white schools of four-hundred to five-hundred pupils received as few as four and in most instances only ten to fifteen black students. Brush Elementary, the all-white school Rist selected for daily observation, received about thirty black children.
The principal, along with most of his all-white teaching staff, had never taught a black child. He hired a black school aide because he felt that most of the white students had never spoken to a black person. His lack of racial sensitivity was illustrated in a staff discussion about the collection of milk money, when he said, "I guess we had better not call it chocolate milk any longer. It would probably now be more appropriate to refer to it as black milk.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Here is a foundation for understanding today what was clear to only a few fifty years earlier. Now we can see how the state-mandated
racial segregation that was the subject of the Brown litigation did not suddenly appear, as a former student, Nirej Sekhorn, put it, like a bad weed in an otherwise-beautiful racial garden, a weed the Court sought to eradicate with a single swing of its judicial hoe. It illustrates as well how segregation provided whites with a sense of belonging based on neither economic nor political well-being, but simply on an identification with the ruling class determined by race and a state-supported and subsidized belief that, as whites, they were superior to blacks.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“It is somewhat ironic to have us so deeply disturbed over a program where race is an element of consciousness, and yet to be aware of the fact, as we are, that institutions of higher learning, albeit more on the undergraduate than the graduate level, have given conceded preferences up to a point to those possessed of athletic skills, to the children of alumni, to the affluent who may bestow their largess on the institutions, and to those having connections with celebrities, the famous, and the powerful.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Professor Kimberle Crenshaw saw the dilemma a dozen years ago, but concluded that as long as race consciousness thrives, blacks will have to rely on rights rhetoric to protect their interests.16 There are, though, limited options to those deemed the Other in making specific demands for inclusion and equality. Doing so in the quest for racial justice, though, means that "winning and losing have been part of the same experience.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“What neither Warren nor most of the rest of us recognized was that segregation was not, as Nirej Sekhorn put it, simply a "taint" or "bias." It was the dominant interpretive framework for a social structure that organizes the American garden's very configuration. Segregation was not merely an oppressive legal regime, it consolidated the imaginative lens through which Americans would now conceive race. It also reaffirmed the binary system through which we Americans tend to think of race-i.e., "black" and "white.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“Also mostly lost in the turmoil over whether minority admissions violate traditional standards of merit is the impressive evidence that grades and test scores do not predict success in the practice of law or medicine.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


“The Court ignored his racial configuration and simply applied the "one drop" rule. If Plessy was white and ejected from a white railroad coach, the Court said he would have suffered an offense for which the law would have provided a remedy, but if he was not white, that is, possessing even one drop of black blood, he had not been denied any property because he was not entitled to the reputation of being a white man.”
― quote from Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform


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