Segregation masquerading as free speech means the end of American Dream

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Voice of the People by James J. Devine

Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark United States Supreme Court case handed down on May 17, 1954, unanimously reversing a previous decision that allowed state-sponsored segregation in public education.

The 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson held that segregation masquerading as separate but equal treatment of Americans did not perpetuate inferior accommodations, services, and treatment for black people.

It took 60 years for the Supreme Court to declare that segregated public schools for black and white students are unconstitutional because “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” but today, we still have a vastly unfair system of justice for many Americans.

There may be less segregation in our schools, but segregation lives on in our society.

More and more, it is not the races that are segregated but economic classes. America is divided between the rich and poor.

We once had a middle class, but Ronald Reagan and the Republicans reversed Democratic policies that brought us out of the Great Depression. Some of us were not surprised by the Great Recession, but I am shocked that so many Americans are not demanding a course correction.

Brown v. Board of Education was a milestone in making the American Dream a reality for all Americans.

Americans must rebuild the American Dream, starting with the abolition of separate but equal justice.

Rahway has had five murders in the last five years and three of those cases remain unsolved. Last year, 77 percent of crimes reported in Rahway were not solved by police.

The overwhemling majority of those crimes involved victims who looked like Oliver Brown and his daughter, Linda, who was not allowed in the school closest to her house in Topeka, Kansas.

The segregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation remains a fact in America today.

Segregation “in fact” without sanction of law, persists in varying degrees shaped by public policies, mortgage discrimination, and redlining, and many other factors.

Contemporary segregation in the United States is less likely to be racial in nature but black and Hispanic people have been impacted more than some others.

Rich and poor neighborhoods are almost certain to have different rates of crime, varying investigative resources, obscenely distinct rates of police effectiveness.

“American Apartheid” today often means segregation on the basis of class or economic status, but it is just a cruel and brutal as racial discrimination and it is equally wrong.

Societies where polarization between the rich and poor has become pronounced is finally being identified as a public policy problem that needs to be overcome.

As people dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, Americans must labor to eliminate any attitude or institutional practice that subordinates some people due to income, occupation, or other economic condition.

Abraham Lincoln rallied Americans to be dedicated to the great task remaining, when he implored us to highly resolve that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation can endure the test of time.

There is nothing better or more just about economic inequality than there is about racial segregation.

Citizens United and the McCutcheon case that struck down the limits on political contributions and spending, as well as disclosure laws, are the new Plessy v. Ferguson.

These are outrageous and unfair interpretations of law that mean wealthy donors, political insiders and super PACs can have far greater influence when it comes to candidates and elections.

It means your vote is worth less than it once was. It means City Hall is for sale to the highest bidder, along with the State House, Congress and the White House.

It means the American Dream can turn into a nightmare. It means segregation may engulf more victims and fewer opportunities will present themselves for Americans to rise up to their full potential.

It means that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall perish from the earth if you do nothing about it.


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