Brown Amicus Brief - The Effects of Segregation and the...

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The Effects of Segregation and the Consequencesof DesegregationA (September 1952) Social Science Statementin theBrown v. Board of Education of TopekaSupreme Court CaseKenneth B. Clark, Isidor Chein, and Stuart W. CookThe problem of the segregation of racial and ethnicgroups constitutes one of the major problems facingthe American people today. It seems desirable,therefore, to summarize the contributions which contem-porary social science can make toward its resolution. Thereare, of course, moral and legal issues involved with respectto which the signers of the present statement cannot speakwith any special authority and which must be taken intoaccount in the solution of the problem. There are, however,also factual issues involved with respect to which certainconclusions seem to be justified on the basis of the avail-able scientific evidence. It is with these issues only that thispaper is concerned. Some of the issues have to do with theconsequences of segregation, some with the problems ofchanging from segregated to unsegregated practices. Thesetwo groups of issues will be dealt with in separate sectionsbelow. It is necessary, first, however, to define and delimitthe problem to be discussed.DefinitionsFor purposes of the present statement,segregationrefers tothat restriction of opportunities for different types of asso-ciations between the members of one racial, religious,national or geographic origin, or linguistic group and thoseof other groups, which results from or is supported by theaction of any official body or agency representing somebranch of government. We are not here concerned withsuch segregation as arises from the free movements ofindividuals which are neither enforced nor supported byofficial bodies, nor with the segregation of criminals or ofindividuals with communicable diseases which aims atprotecting society from those who might harm it.Where the action takes place in a social milieu inwhich the groups involved do not enjoy equal social status,the group that is of lesser social status will be referred to asthesegregatedgroup.In dealing with the question of the effects of segrega-tion, it must be recognized that these effects do not takeplace in a vacuum, but in a social context. The segregationof Negroes and of other groups in the United States takesplace in a social milieu in which “race” prejudice anddiscrimination exist. It is questionable in the view of somestudents of the problem whether it is possible to havesegregation without substantial discrimination. Myrdal1states: “Segregation . . . is financially possible and, indeed,a device of economy only as it is combined with substantialdiscrimination” (p. 629). The imbededness of segregationin such a context makes it difficult to disentangle the effectsof segregation per se from the effects of the context.

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