As we seek our global niche, we’re integrating across all sorts of out-moded boundaries. You could also say we’re segregating along the lines of our true selves.
Perusing a Berkeley Grade School Photos group at Facebook, I marvel at the sea of white faces in the hill school districts in the ’40s to early ’60s — all those boys in their khaki Cub Scout regalia, an aggressive club requirement on picture day. Although the town’s schools were segregated simply by neighborhood, socioeconomic class lines also cut along race so Berkeley voluntarily desegregated itself, one of the first mid-sized American cities to do so. The integration program is reflected in a sudden appearance of multiracial group portraits.
Around the same time, the local government voted to rename its schools, exchanging African American civil rights leaders for the nation’s founding fathers. In a major gilding of the lily, Lincoln became Malcolm X.
At 9, I was bussed to the flatlands to an institution still bearing the name of a gentle Yankee poet. Its yard littered in glass, a burned out car lodged in a stairwell on a Monday morning. A hardcore new learning environment, and new peers!
Perhaps my parents skewed the fuller lesson in ethnic and socioeconomic diversity by signing me up for the academically competitive Asian Cluster classes, which confined me to rooms where Japanese, Filipino and Chinese students gathered. Integration has its casualties too.
What casualties of integration — or segregation — litter the path to finding your tribe?
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