My Big Gay Playlist 

Author: Elizabeth Gatten

I came out as bisexual in 2018 after many years of confusion, frustration, and self-hate. There are a lot of damaging notions out there about bisexuality — that it isn’t real, but just a pitstop to “gay town”; that bisexual people are promiscuous; that being bi makes you less part of the LGBTQ+ community than others. I bought into some of those stereotypes when I was younger, which delayed my acceptance of myself. Now, however, I am an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community! In honor of my queer brothers and sisters (and friends beyond the gender binary), I have created this Super Gay™ playlist. It features artists who identify in some way as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the songs speak to the artist’s experiences as a queer person, while others are just bops that happen to be written by queer folks!  

1. Tegan & Sara — “Closer”  

I wanted to start off with one of my old standbys — it is honestly amazing that I didn’t realize I was queer sooner considering how long I have been obsessed with Tegan and Sara. The Canadian musical duo are identical twins; both of the sisters are openly gay. Their genre is “indie-pop.”

I love “Closer” because it reminds me of the feeling you get when you have a crush and you start to realize they might also have a crush on you too. It perfectly captures that butterflies-in-your-stomach sensation:  

“All I want to get is a little bit closer Couple

All I want to know is 

Can you come a little closer? 

Here comes the breath before we get 

A little bit closer 

Here comes the rush before we touch 

Come a little closer.” 

The music video captures this nostalgic feeling by featuring high schoolers at a party playing spin the bottle, dancing, hiding out in blanket forts, and kissing on top of cars. Plus, the song has an incredible beat to jump up and down to while singing into your hairbrush.  

 

2. Hayley Kiyoko — “Girls Like Girls”   

When I first discovered Hayley Kiyoko, I knew she looked familiar. After some digging, I realized I recognized her from a brief stint she had on the Disney channel show, Wizards of Waverly Place. Kiyoko has definitely come a long way from her Disney Channel days — she is now known as “Lesbian Jesus” amongst her fans. Her music is aimed at normalizing homosexual relationships in our heteronormative society. For example, “Girls Like GIrls” features the lyrics: 

“Saw your face, heard your name, gotta get with you.  

Girls like girls like boys do,  

Nothing new.”  

Kiyoko also seeks to control the narrative of what it means to be a lesbian in a world that often fetishizes women loving women.

I encourage you to check out more of Hayley Kiyoko’s music, which discusses not only her own experiences but also various issues faced by LGBTQ+ individuals.  

 3. iLoveMakonnen — “Tuesday” 

This song takes me back to my college party days. “Tuesday”, released in 2014, was a staple on any party playlist. In 2017, the singer announced he is gay via Twitter: “As a fashion icon, I can’t tell u about everybody else’s closet, I can only tell u about mine, and it’s time I’ve come out.”

 

4. Le1f — “Wut”  

Le1f (pronounced “leaf”) is perhaps the most successful openly gay rapper out there. Raised in New York City, the artist began exploring the world of underground dance-music as a teen and spent years after working on his craft. In 2012, Le1f released “Wut” on the website, WorldStarHipHop. Rocking booty shorts and perching on an oiled-up man, Leif showed the world in “Wut” that he has no intentions of being anything other than unapologetically himself. I personally can’t get enough of it!  

 

5. St. Vincent — “Los Ageless”  

I’ll admit, I first heard of St. Vincent when she was dating supermodel, Cara Delevigne. However, after looking into her music, I discovered St. Vincent is iconic…plain and simple. She has shapeshifted through multiple genres with ease — rock, pop art, indie rock. As a queer woman in a field dominated by men, she has no qualms about disrupting the system. And why should she? She is one of the most talented lyricists and musicians out there.  

“Los Ageless” is a perfect example of just how otherworldly St. Vincent is. The lyrics and video, first set to a new wave disco beat, poke fun at the fear of growing old in Los Angeles. As the song progresses, it somehow seamlessly ramps up to a raw, emotional climax with the repeated lament of “How can anybody have you? How can anybody have you and lose you? How can anybody have you and lose you and not lose their minds, too?”  

 

6. Tom Goss — “Son of a Preacher Man”  

Two time winner of The Washington Blade’s award for Best Gay Musician, Tom Goss isn’t afraid to flip traditional masculine concepts on their heads. For example, his song “Lover” explores the experience of partners of gay servicemembers. Another touching piece from Goss is his cover of the Dusty Springfield song, “Son of a Preacher Man.” In Goss’s version, the implications are much different than the original — the video opens with a preacher condemning homosexuality. This spin gives the original lyrics “bein’ good isn’t always easy, no matter how hard I try” a much deeper meaning. Goss’s take on this classic song is equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking. However, be warned that the video features violence and suicidality. 

 

7. Tyler Glenn — “Shameless”  

You might know Tyler Glenn from his former days as the frontman for Neon Trees. In 2014, the singer finally came out after nearly a lifetime of suffering in the closet. Glenn comes from Utah and was raised Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints condemns same-sex relationships. In turn, Glenn (who at first tried to continue as a practicing Mormon after coming out) has now condemned the Church’s views. In “Shameless”, Glenn demonstrates radical self-acceptance, with lyrics such as:  

“Why not take me now as I am? 

Why not take me now like a man? 

You hate what you don’t understand 

I live a life so shameless 

Oh no, I don’t give a damn.”  

The pop-rock song features Glenn wearing a mesh top, shiny silver pants, and eyeliner. He sings to a tied up, masked figure that is meant to represent the founder of Mormonism. He dances around with “[full-bodied], hairy dudes.” The song is not only a message to the Mormon church but to everyone, including the gay community, that Glenn intends to “do it in [his] own way.” Denouncing the Grindr culture of “no fars, no femmes”, Glenn told an interviewer for Billboard: “I wanted the video to represent me authentically. I’ve never felt like I fit into any group and know there are other people that feel the same way. There isn’t just a stereotypical one-way, even in the gay community.”  

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8. Orville Peck — “Dead of Night”  

Described in the comments to his “Dead of Night” music video as “like Quentin Tarantino kissed Roy Orbison with a mouthful of whiskey,” Orville Peck isn’t afraid to push the envelope of country music. Orville dresses like the Lone Ranger with one fun twist– his mask is totally decked out in fringe! The singer, who identifies as gay, is a New Yorker in his early 30s.  

 

9. Lil Nas X — “Old Town Road”  

If I’m going to talk about new-age cowboys, I would be remiss to leave out Lil Nas X. The singer became a viral sensation at just 19 years old with his country rap single, “Old Town Road.” At first thwarted by the gatekeepers of the country music industry, Lil Nas X was vindicated when country legend Billy Ray Cyrus stepped in to collaborate with him.  

Raised in a small conservative community outside of Atlanta, Georgia, the singer witnessed a lot of homophobia and believed he would never come out of the closet. Now, however, the singer is out and not afraid to show it! He has had some iconic looks that demonstrate his multifaceted nature. For example, his daring outfit for the 2020 Grammys: a studded, pink leather suit worn overtop a mesh shirt and harness, and accompanied by a matching cowboy hat.  

 

10.  Kehlani — “Honey” 

Like Hayley Kiyoko, Kehlani’s music is doing the good work of bringing same-sex relationships, particularly between women, into mainstream music. Kehlani opens the song, “I like my girls just like I like my honey: sweet.” It’s a matter-of-fact introduction of her sexuality that I appreciate — she’s not making the fact that she likes women into a big deal, because it shouldn’t be one.  

Kehlani had been on the music scene for awhile, and has also been openly queer. However, in releasing “Honey”, Kehlani chose to live her truth not just in her personal life but in her music. I’m thankful to artists like Kehlani and Hayley Kiyoko who recognize that representation matters and  who generate music that young, queer people can relate to. (For an added bonus, check out their collaboration, “What I Need.”

 

11. Hollie Col — “Unholy”  

Traditionally offering up indie-folk songs, Hollie Col traded her usual sound for a more electric one in “Unholy.” Hollie Col is a Sydney, Australia, native and her talents seem boundless — not only is she a talented singer/songwriter, but she also wrote, directed, produced, and starred in all of her music videos. As eloquently stated in an article spotlighting the artist, “Hollie has a knack of getting to the nitty gritty centre of love, life, and heartache….” I couldn’t agree more. In less than five minutes, “Unholy” tells the story of a girl in a strange love triangle with another girl who is in a relationship with a boy. Col described the song as an “upbeat guitar pop anthem for the hopeless romantics that loved too hard and were left on the sidelines.” 

 

12.  GRLwood — “Vaccines Made Me Gay”  

As a Kentucky native, I had to include these “Kentucky Fried Queerdos.” If you were a baby punk rocker who loved to go to clubs and slam dance, then GRLwood would definitely be your jam. The punk duo has “a knack for wielding masculine braggadocio like the blunt, absurd thing that it is” and they aren’t afraid to be subversive, aggressive, or even flat out bizarre. The generous helping of personality being served by the GRLwood pair is matched by their talent. That personality and talent can both be found in “Vaccines Made Me Gay,” a tongue-in-cheek social commentary on the anti-vaxx movement that features smooth guitar riffs and wide-ranging vocals.  

While I would be remiss as a Kentuckian to leave out these two, I would also be remiss as a bisexual woman to not comment on the negative implications of the duo’s song, “Bisexual”, which contributes to the erasure of bisexuality (particularly for bi folks who happen to be in a heterosexual relationship) by other members of the LGBTQ+ community. For more information on this song and why it is troubling, check out this article from the queer news and culture site Into.   

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13.  Cakes Da Killa — “Gon Blo” (feat. Rye Rye)  

Cakes Da Killa, when asked to describe his music in one word, replied, “energetic.” That is certainly true of “Gon Blo” which opens with a refrain of “just pump the beat” that makes you instantly start dancing. In the middle of the song, Cakes demonstrates his skills at spitting rhymes and, let me tell you, it is seriously impressive!  

Like Le1f (who Cakes describes as one of his musical influences), Cakes had been on the scene for a while before his official musical debut of Hedonism in 2016. Cakes chooses not to center his sexuality in his music, and in fact resents the label of being a “gay rapper.” In an interview for the gay news site them., Cakes stated, “It just shows that even in 2019, people still have these little weird hangups with gay people, and also confident gay people. But that’s been my life’s work to just be like, ‘Hey, I’m gay. Shut the fuck up.’” I certainly appreciate him making the point that a person’s sexuality is not the most interesting thing about them, and his goal of normalizing out-and-proud queerness in the music industry without it having to be someone’s schtick.  

 

14. Rina Sawayama — “XS” 

I could’ve sworn I was listening to vintage Britney Spears when I first heard Rina Sawayama’s music. Her songs transport me to my childhood, but they have an added layer that most of those early 2000s hits didn’t have: social commentary. Sawayama explained her inspiration for “XS” (excess): 

“‘XS’ is a song that mocks capitalism in a sinking world. Given that we all know global climate change is accelerating and human extinction is a very real possibility within our lifetime it seemed hilarious to me that brands were still coming out with new makeup palettes every month and public figures were doing a gigantic house tour of their gated property in Calabasas in the same week as doing a ‘sad about Australian wild fires’ Instagram post. I mean I’m guilty of turning a blind eye too, because otherwise it makes me depressed. We’re all hypocrites because we are all capitalists, and it’s a trap that I don’t see us getting out of. I wanted to reflect the chaos of this post-truth climate change denying world in the metal guitar stabs that flare up like an underlying zit between the 2000s R&B beat that reminds you of a time when everything was alright.” 

It’s this type of frankness that makes Sawayama so relatable to her millennial fans. On a personal level, I identify with Sawayama’s struggles with self-acceptance as a bisexual/pansexual person, which she addresses in her song, “Cherry.”

Finally, Sawayama has provided important representation for queer Asians. One YouTube commenter noted on the “Cherry” video, “I think this means an incredible amount to me because [she’s a] Japanese queer icon?? My mum is insanely bigoted and […] Japanese media and society in general is v[ery] unaccepting and I hate it so I needed this.”  

 

15. Mary Lambert — “Secrets” 

Mary Lambert is an angel! At the very least, you are probably familiar with her from “Same Love”, the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis track that featured vocals from her song, “She Keeps Me Warm.” She has been representing queer women so proudly for so long that my repressed teenage self used to change her music because I didn’t like the part of me that identified with it.  

Lambert bares her soul to the world in a way that not a lot of artists do — she “has long been open about trauma, depression, and coping with being bipolar in her spoken word anthems and her songs.” For example, in another of her more popular songs, “Secrets,” Lambert opens with, “I’ve got bipolar disorder, my shit’s not in order, I’m overweight, I’m always late, I’ve got too many things to say.” Her candor is refreshing, as well as her presentation as a feminine lesbian woman in a world that often separates femininity from identifying as a lesbian.  

Returning to her music after coming out, I realized I identify with Lambert’s lyrics even more than I previously realized. In the hook for “Secrets,” Lambert sings: 

“They tell us from the time we’re young 

To hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves 

Inside ourselves 

I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else 

Well I’m over it.”  

Rehearing those lyrics from one of the artists who helped me begin the process of coming to terms with my sexuality made me emotional. It is true, I spent a long time attempting to be someone else. And, when the time came that I was ready to come out, I felt the same way as Lambert when she breezily sings, “I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are.”  

ElizabethGatten

Elizabeth Gatten is a rising 3L dedicated to public interest work. She currently serves as the EJW Rural Summer Legal Fellow at Cincinnati Legal Aid. As a bisexual woman, Elizabeth is passionate about championing the LGBTQIA+ community. In her free time, Elizabeth loves baking, and spoiling her pug, cat, and bearded dragon.

Segregation

Author: Matthew Doktor 

There is a not-so-subtle irony involved in teaching the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. When I had the privilege of teaching modern American history, the days preceding Brown examined the oppression of Jim Crow. The class would read the Brown that famously concluded “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Then would I ask the students to look around and reflect. The inherent inequality that Chief Justice Warren spoke of in Brown was on display in the racial and ethnic makeup of my students. But that was not separate but equal. Inequity in the facilities and administrative practices compounded the racial segregation. Derrick Bell, a lawyer who personally worked to desegregate schools in the deep South concluded in a 1993 article, “the Brown decision, while never overturned, has become irrelevant.” Looking around the classroom, the permanence of racism and segregation in this country could not be clearer. According to Bell, there is good reason to celebrate Brown, but the continued racial segregation in schools combined with inferior resources in predominant Black and Latinx schools tell the real story.  

Despite the judicial and legislative initiatives to combat discrimination, non-compliance is more the rule to the exception. In place of lawful discrimination arose a racially tiered society with underpinnings of poverty. As Bell noted, while the lawful racial barriers of America’s slave society and later Jim Crow were replaced with more subtle forms of discrimination, America was hardly less discriminatory.  

Yes, Chief Justice Warren was correct in his assessment of education in Brown, calling it “the most important function of state and local governments.” That fundamental role of education accentuates the tragedy of American racial segregation. And that racial inequality is compounded by economic inequality, as poor students of color are concentrated in schools and neighborhoods.

I. Poverty & Race 

         Poverty is an amorphous concept. For most Americans and most Cincinnatians, we are only confronted with the realities of poverty when we see the vestiges of life on the streets or are asked to help ease the financial burden of our neighbors. While poverty is typically defined by income, leading scholars consider it a more dynamic experience that includes issues related to social and cultural exclusion.   

Throughout America’s history, race privilege has consistently translated into class privilege. According to current census data, people of color disproportionately experience poverty compared to their white counterparts.  In terms of real dollars, the median net worth of a white household in 2016 was $143,000 compared to the $12,920 for Black households, $21,420 for Latinx households, and $5,700 for indigenous households. Across the United States and particularly in the Rust Belt, individuals experiencing poverty have been concentrated into economically declining neighborhoods. As the white residents who fled to the suburbs are now fleeing those suburbs, suburban neighborhoods are increasingly becoming areas of poverty concentration.  

As Ta-Nehisi Coates observed in The Case For Reparations, systemic plunder of the Black community continued well into the 20th Century. Private and public sectors working in tandem destroyed the possibility of investment in Black neighborhoods and plundered Black residents. Coates pointed to the Chicago suburb of North Lawndale as a case study of white-imposed Black disadvantage where developers price-gouged housing  and sold homes on contract to Black buyers. Contract sales of homes, unlike traditional mortgages, limited the equity accrued in the home and risked complete forfeiture of the home and dollar paid with one missed payment. That system of plunder generated profit for white contract sellers, plundered Black home buyers, and destroyed neighborhoods.   

People of color are disproportionately more likely to live in economically declining areas, with 35 percent of all Black residents living in declining economic areas. These shifts correspond to gentrification in major metropolitan cities that cause displacement of existing residents. In the 50 largest U.S. cities, approximately 464,000 low-income residents have left gentrified neighborhoods. That gentrification is disproportionately white, with only 9 percent of Black residents living in gentrified areas.    

Families of color not only face segregated neighborhoods and schools, but segregated financial, health, and food systems. In the U.S., Black individuals are at higher risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. That is due in part to food insecurity and barriers in communities of color across the U.S. In 2013, a U.N. report acknowledged the role of systemic and structural barriers that limit communities of color from better socio-economic communities.  

Those barriers, built on white supremacy, deny essential services like fresh and healthy food to segregated and isolated communities. Black children have a 500 percent higher death rate from asthma compared to white children. And disproportionately lower quality healthcare for Black patients due to implicit biases and structural barriers that limit access to healthcare creates a two-tiered healthcare system. This is all compounded by racism-induced stress that increases mortality rates in Black infants and Black mothers. Individuals living in segregated neighborhoods of color are more likely to be isolated from good jobs or the transportation necessary to reach those jobs.  

 According to a recent Census Bureau Report, despite a slow decline in overall poverty, the elderly increasingly experience poverty. While the number of white Americans experiencing poverty has decreased, the poverty rates for Asian, Black, and Latinx Americans have not moved. One out of every five Black Americans, or 8.9 million people, are currently experiencing poverty. Two out of every five children living with single mothers experience poverty in America. Research by HUD shows that poor neighborhoods are isolated from money, goods, jobs, and resources. Individuals who experience that isolated poverty in turn face problems related to crime, education, and health.  

Research by the New York Academy of Sciences reveals that children who experience poverty risk long-lasting consequences related to cognitive development and academic performance. Interventions beyond simple economic aid help offset those effects, like science-driven intervention programs that provide enrichment to children and their families. 

As a whole, media portrayals of the realities of poverty are limited to “bootstrap human interest stor[ies]” that ultimately amount to shaming the poor and equating success into a moral indicator. And when class and race intersect, individual Black ascent into higher tiers of socioeconomic status are cited to dismiss claims of racism and racial injustice.   

Not only are poor people of color disparaged with success stories, poor people of color experience poverty that is different in kind. Poor people of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. In Chicago, poor people of color are ten times more likely than poor whites to live in high-poverty census tracts (neighborhoods with a 40 percent  poverty rate).  

Even worse, systemic inequalities at the intersection of race and poverty are often deployed to pathologize people of color. After the passing of the Civil Rights Act 1964, then advisor to President Nixon Daniel Moynihan authored a report on the Black family commonly known as the Moynihan Report. Its assessment of the Black community as a burdened community rested on an indictment of Black women. According to Moynihan, the matriarchal structure of the Black family disadvantaged poor Black males in education.  

Moynihan and his modern counterparts ignore what are the innate and inherent state and institutional barriers that exacerbate the effects of poverty among people of color. Problematically, the law fails to see intrinsic barriers. In 1896, Justice Harlan dissented to the maligned Plessy v. Ferguson, but declared the Constitution to be race-neutral, declaring the Constitution “color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” According to Harlan, the Court “takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.”

II. Poverty in Cincinnati 

           In the aftermath of significant inner-city unrest in major cities across the United States, then President Lyndon B. Johnson formed the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to examine the violence. As one of the Kerner Commission’s “profiles of disorder“, Cincinnati’s history of racial inequality was evidence of the need for civil rights legislation like the Fair Housing Act. The commission singled out Cincinnati’s high rate of poverty, limited access to housing, and limited access to jobs in the Black community in the 1960s. Things have not changed. 

         According to most indicators, Cincinnati is on the wrong end of racial and income equality. Despite the promise of housing legislation, integration is a myth and historically poor communities still have less opportunity. Cincinnati remains one of the most segregated cities in the country. Across the city, streets like Section Avenue, McMicken Avenue, and Vine Street define stark racial dividing lines.  Cincinnati is one of the five poorest cities with at least 250,000 residents with nearly 28 percent experiencing poverty. Despite the general recovery from the 2008 Recession, more people in Cincinnati and across the country feel the effects of poverty now than they did in 2007. 

III. School Segregation 

While the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education struck down segregation in America’s public schools, the question remained: how to fix the problem. In Green v. County School Board of New Kent, the Supreme Court explained that a school board opening the doors to students of color begins, not ends, the abolition of segregation. Instead, the Court charged school boards with a duty to implement changes to eliminate racial discrimination “root and branch.”  

Then, in 1974 the Supreme Court retreated from that notion of broad restructuring with its decision in Milliken v. Bradley. In Milliken, Detroit parents and the NAACP challenged segregation within the Detroit Public School System. The Supreme Court rejected a broad multi-district remedy to segregate Detroit schools; instead it required proof that “racially discriminatory acts of the state or local school districts” substantially caused inter-district segregation. The Court distinguished between de jure segregation, segregation caused by intentional acts of the state, and de facto segregation, segregation caused by forces other than the state. The Court ultimately limited the ability of any federal court to create an area-wide school redistricting plan that would include surrounding neighborhoods in any restructuring. The Court also embraced colorblindness and indifference towards the history of racial discrimination in America and the public and private policies causing segregated neighborhoods.  

But colorblindness turns a blind eye to systemic racism and historic oppression. Both legal conservatives and liberals embrace colorblindness. For white liberals, colorblindness is a convenient default mode of perspective “without any apparent perceived need for justification.”   

Instead, Barbara Flagg argues against the Court’s colorblind Equal Protection doctrine. According to Flagg, Equal Protection disparate impact jurisprudence fails due to the requisite finding of racially discriminatory intent in “facially neutral” decisions. Instead, she argues that neutral imposition of white norms is active maintenance and participation in white supremacy. Equal Protection jurisprudence falls short when it ignores facially white neutral decision-making and unconscious discrimination, and then permeates historic racial oppression.  

As recently as 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Seattle and Louisville’s integration program designed to create district-wide racial proportionality in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. According to the Court, the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection requires governments to treat citizens as individuals rather than members of a race, religion, or gender. The Court embraced a race-neutral analysis, that “[t]he way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” In the Court’s eyes, racial proportionality would ensure race would always be relevant in American life and ultimately derail the goal of eliminating race from government decision-making.  

IV. Ohio School Segregation

In 1842, a white school teacher challenged integration in Ohio classrooms in Chalmers v. Stewart. According to the Supreme Court of Ohio, in Chalmers, white children only had the privilege of common schools.  After the Civil War, Black parents challenged Ohio’s segregated schools after the ratification of the 14th Amendment based on the Equal Protection Clause – that no state shall “deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws”, and the Privileges or Immunities Clause — that “[n]o state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States.” Yet, in cases like State ex rel. Garnes v. McCann, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that segregated schools and the laws that govern them “do[] not deprive” Black children of their rights. According to legal scholar Davidson Douglass, enforcing Ohio’s anti-segregation legislation was complicated by legitimate fears of the Black community surrounding integration. Those same fears resurfaced after the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Brown, when Black parents feared sending their children to white areas where their children would be in physical danger. 

After Brown, Cincinnati schools faced its own federal school segregation challenges. In 1963, Black parents brought a class action lawsuit against the Cincinnati Board of Education in Deal v. Cincinnati Board of Education that challenged racial imbalances in the schools. Specifically, the parents challenged the Board of Education’s refusal to accept the concept of de facto segregation and refusal to bus students to attempt to create a racial balance in the schools.  Because the court did not find a discriminatory intent in the design of the school, the court declared that the parents “failed to establish a deprivation of rights under the law or under the Constitution of the United States.”  

Then, in 1975 Black parents again challenged the Cincinnati school system in Bronson v. Board of Education. After ten years of litigation, the Board of Education agreed to a settlement with the parents that gave the Board of Education flexibility in the methods for desegregating. According to the settlement, $35 million would be spent on development and expansion of alternative schools and remedial programs. The agreement produced a 1991 deadline to reduce district-wide segregation.   

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Today, most children in Cincinnati attend segregated schools. Schools are not only segregated by race, but by income as well. The result is a system of separate and unequal schools.  

Cincinnati’s public high schools are predominantly attended by students of color. What’s more, all but two schools are concentrations of poverty. In eleven of the thirteen public high schools listed above, over 95 percent of the student population experience poverty.  The public high schools without concentrations of poverty are more integrated. In contrast, Cincinnati’s private high schools are predominantly white. In four of Cincinnati’s private high schools, over 90 percent of the student population is white. The immediate question is: why? While some private schools provide scholarships to their students, none of the schools surveyed claimed to provide a full scholarship covering the entire tuition. Moreover, most of Cincinnati’s private schools were founded in the Jim Crow era. Referral systems and admissions criteria that include legacy status perpetuate racial disparities in Cincinnati’s private schools. 

Cincinnati Public Schools 
School  Percent of White students  Percent of students-of color  Percent of economically disadvantaged students 
Aiken High School  5.4%  94.7%  96.2% 
Clark Montessori High School  38.3%  60.6%  36.2% 
Dater High School  18.8%  80.3%  97.2% 
Hughes Stem High School  6.6%  93.2%  96.2% 
Gamble Montessori High School  17.8%  81%  97% 
Oyler School  43%  55.2%  98% 
Riverview East Academy  38%  60.2%  97.1% 
Taft High School  3.1%  96%  97.1% 
Shroder Paideia High School  3.8%  94.3%  97.5% 
Walnut Hills High School  59.1%  40.8%  17.5% 
Western Hills High School  13.5%  85.6%  96.1% 
Withrow University High School  4.1%  95.8%  96.5% 
Woodward High School  2.2%  97.3%  96.6% 

 

Cincinnati Private Schools 
School  Percent of White students  Percent of students of color  Price 
Summit Country Day School  70%  26.7%  $21,800 
St. Xavier High School  82%  18%  $14,995 
Ursuline Academy  85.6%  14.4%  $13,695 
Elder High School  92.6%  7.4%  $10,800 
Mount Notre Dame High School  90.4%  9.5%  $11,995 
Roger Bacon High School  60%  39.7%  $8,850 
La Salle High School  85.7%  14.4%  $11,575 
Seven Hills  64%  34.7%  $26,570 
Cincinnati County Day  68.9%  22.5%  $25,380 
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy  78.6%  21.5%  $15,675 
Archbishop Moeller High School  86%  13.7%  $14,350 
Miami Valley Christian Academy  82.7%  15.6%  $9,500 
Archbishop McNicholas High School  94.2%  5.8%  $10,950 
Mercy McAuley High School  94%  3%  $10,950 
Seton High School  92.3%  7.8%  $10,400 

 

The problem is not just enrollment demographics. The unconscious discrimination and history of racial oppression permeates American education. As Gloria-Ladsen Billings and William Tate argue in Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education, America developed an education system that exists without authentic voices of people of color, that confers whiteness as a positive behavior trait, that provides inadequate facilities and curricula, and ultimately one that segregates students both inside and outside of the school through student tracking and “gifted” programs.  

In 2018, the Legal Defense Fund released a report titled Our Girls, Our Future,on the disproportionate punishment that  students of color across the country face. It explained the degree to which Black girls face exclusionary and punitive measures that push Black girls out of school for dress code violations and subjective offenses like “disruption”, “defiance”, and “speaking out”. Black students were the only students arrested in Baltimore City school. Black girls were five times more likely to be referred to Maryland’s juvenile justice agency and faced longer periods of detainment. This disparate treatment of Black girls in schools is also the focus of Dr. Monique Morris’s book, Pushout, which describes the cultural disconnect between Black girls and educators that creates a hostile environment at school, rather than a nurturing space for growth.  

The disparate treatment of Black students is not unique to Baltimore schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, in 2015, Black students were disproportionately suspended and were the only students expelled in Cincinnati public schools.  

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Source: United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, Cincinnati District Discipline Report, 2015 (https://ocrdata.ed.gov/Page?t=d&eid=27210&syk=8&pid=2539 

Despite the pronouncements of Brown v. Board of Education and later school desegregation cases, Cincinnati remains at the mercy of its old foe, segregation. Throughout the city, color lines etched into neighborhood borders restrict access for people of color. City structures grown out of an era of racial subordination perpetuate white supremacy through colorblind policy measures or pernicious administration. Despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court pronouncements, the way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to first acknowledge discrimination on the basis of race. Then, we can talk.  

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Matthew Doktor is a 2L at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He is currently a fellow at the Ohio Innocence Project and an associate member of UC’s Law Review. Matthew’s previous work includes education and research.

Playing the “Race Card”: A Contradiction in America’s Colorblind Society.

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

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Image from HuffPost.

“You can’t play your race card when discussing this issue. Bringing race into this matter will not get us anywhere. I am telling you now, it won’t be a constructive conversation.” John Doe said this to a woman of color while we were discussing the socio-economic effects of government programs in one of my undergraduate classes. He angrily slammed his hands on the table and began chugging his water. I imagined that he grabbed his water to cool himself down as if there was a fire inside of him that he needed to put out. Another classmate stated that our country was founded on racism and I stated, “these policies are supposedly ‘race-neutral,’ but are not. By not considering race, we are disregarding more than half the people in this country.” (I thought to myself: race is a part of everything in this country, ignoring it only makes it worse.) As silence ensued, my professor quickly turned to another portion of our assigned reading. However, I could not focus on anything else. I called my mother after the class and recalled the event to her. She said, “With each generation, things get better, but then you hear someone say something like that. It makes you think: are we better now?”

Continue reading “Playing the “Race Card”: A Contradiction in America’s Colorblind Society.”

Books, Books, and Books: A Social Justice Reading List

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

Throughout my time working with the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice, I’ve been exposed to amazing concepts that reflect on issues affecting our society.

I personally love researching for fun, but not everyone shares that love … or the same views I do. If you want to engage your mind, then I recommend the following books:

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Dean Verna Williams and Michelle Obama (image from Cincinnati.com)

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In her memoir, the former First Lady takes us on a journey to the White House. Mrs. Obama debunks many false rumors by sharing her life story. She elegantly describes every hurdle, obstacle, failure, mistake, and success she has encountered thus far. And, while describing her White House years, Mrs. Obama gives special thanks to our very own Interim Dean, Verna L. Williams. Check it out!

Continue reading “Books, Books, and Books: A Social Justice Reading List”

OJ Simpson Revisited

OJ Simpson’s parole hearing provides another opportunity to consider race in the criminal justice system.

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

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OJ Simpson

Former football player and Hollywood star, OJ Simpson will have a parole hearing on Thursday, July 20th, 2017. In December 2008, Simpson was convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison with the possibility of parole in 6 years. This, of course, was not Simpson’s first encounter with the law. In 1994, a jury acquitted Simpson of the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman. His high profile case sparked a division on race relations in this nation.

Simpson’s parole hearing will occur when race remains a highly contested and hotly debated topic in this nation. As a result, it’s fitting to examine Joe’s Feagin concept of the white racial frame (WRF) helps us understand why Simpson and his legal issues embody issues of race. And, to watch the Oscar-winning documentary, OJ: Made in America, which brings these complicated issues to life. Continue reading “OJ Simpson Revisited”

A Second Look

Here are some items that caught our eye:

2370_regUniversity of Dayton Sociology Professor Dr. Jamie Longazel recently published  Undocumented Fears, which examines immigration and the racialization that occurs in small towns. Berkeley Law Prof. Ian Haney Lopez says

Jamie Longazel brings into sharp focus the anti-Latino racism at the heart of national politics today. Even as we as a society struggle to build solidarity across racial divisions, powerful forces seek advantage in tearing us farther apart. The concentrated focus of Undocumented Fears helps us understand not only why this occurs but also how we might help replace fear with friendship, social division with a sense of shared humanity.


Looking for the next binge-worthy program?  Netflix’s Dear White People is absolutely dearwhitepeoplerelevant and important. And, it’s being renewed for second season!

Speaking of television, BBC just announced that 13 is the charm–the next Dr. Who will be a woman.

 


Does it ever appear that racial vigilantes — for example, George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin–are presumed innocent?  Race and the Law Prof Blog takes on that topic.


And, in the “can’t wait!” category:  

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Director Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters March 9, 2018!  Can’t come soon enough. maxresdefault

Supreme Court: Offensive Speech May be Trademarked

Congress’s 70-year-old ban on registering disparaging terms struck down on free-speech grounds

tim armstrongGuest Contributor: Cincinnati Law Professor Tim Armstrong

An important new Supreme Court decision gives private parties the right to receive federal trademark registration of a term that disparages racial or ethnic minority groups. In Matal v. Tam, the Supreme Court ruled that part of the federal trademark statute is unconstitutional to the extent that it forbids federal trademark registration for terms “which may disparage … persons, living or dead … or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” To forbid registration of disparaging terms as trademarks, the Court unanimously agreed, violates registrants’ First Amendment rights to free expression even of “ideas that offend.”

At the heart of this case is bass player Simon Tam, a member of a quartet of Asian-American musicians who describe their style as “Chinatown dance rock.” The band chose to name itself “The Slants,” in what the Court described as an attempt to “reclaim … a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent …. and drain its denigrating force.” Continue reading “Supreme Court: Offensive Speech May be Trademarked”

I speak Hindi, I am Hindu, and I’m an American: Fighting “Little Things”

Cultural ignorance slows the progress of social justice.

nikkis-photo.jpgGuest Contributor:  Nikita Srivastava, (’19)

As a minority woman in the United States, I am often defined by the color of skin. Although I take pride in my heritage, it is not the only thing that defines who I am. I find myself explaining who I am (or what defines me) more often than my white peers. Not only is this common in social settings, but professional settings as well. What makes matters worse is that my concerns about cultural ignorance are dismissed as “little things.”  Continue reading “I speak Hindi, I am Hindu, and I’m an American: Fighting “Little Things””

The Long Shadow of Race and the Legal Challenges to the Muslim Ban

The revised immigration Executive Order remains a ban on Muslims.

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By Guest Contributor, Nicholas Espiritu

By issuing a new travel ban reportedly framed to address constitutional concerns and avoid protests, the Trump Administration seeks to hit the “reset” button.  But, this executive order’s new language can’t hide the fact that it’s targeting Muslims, not terrorism. Continue reading “The Long Shadow of Race and the Legal Challenges to the Muslim Ban”