Questions re Segregation from My Granddaughter…

I entered a keyword this morning to search for a misplaced email.  And down the rabbit hole I went…

In 2010, my granddaughter, then a senior in high school, sent me this request:

“Hey Grammy!

So I have this interview that we have to do for my Geo-Political Studies class. I was wondering if you could answer them, ideally as quick as possible because I guess that they were due AGES ago.  Here are the questions and thank you SO much!

1. Why was the racial segregation of the 1960’s problematic?

2. What kind of segregation still exists today and why is it problematic?

3. What kind of inequality still exists today?

4. What kind of  inequality is acceptable to you and why?

5. What kind of segregation is acceptable to you and why?

Thanks! And talk to you sooonnn!!


And here was my off-the-cuff response:

“Okay, Love.  These are quick and off the top of my head because I have an appointment in a bit.

1.  Because it was based on the choice of a race that considered itself superior.  The rights of blacks were severely curtailed.  When one group exercises power over another (especially when it is to subjugate and restrict the disempowered group), there is no justice.

2.  There is still economic segregation.  I could add more thought on that.

3.  OMG.  Where to begin.  In addition to racial inequality which is perpetrated by our attitudes and by the attitudes of those races which have been beaten down for centuries; there is inequality of pay for women; inequality in education…we do not try to educate EVERYONE.  Poverty areas have less than adequate schools.  Higher education is becoming more and more elitest.  As long as we don’t provide good health care for everyone, there are children who will not be healthy enough to compete for education and then work.

4.  Everyone is not equal in every way.  Some people are smarter, some are healthier and some are blessed in their fortunate birth.  We can’t EQUALIZE everything.  But all people are the same.  All people are born worthy and equal in their right to a place in this world.

5.  Segregation or separation?  In a perfect world, voluntary segregation should be okay.  There are all sorts of reasons that religions, races and genders might want to have separation for portions of their lives.  This wouldn’t be all bad.  It depends on the attitudes of others against those groups and whether the voluntary isolation causes attitudes of superiority, inferiority or separateness as human beings.

Hope this helps…”

I never talked with her about other answers she received in her interviews. I can’t know what different responses were elicited from different demographics (assuming she crossed the lines of ages, education, lifestyle, etc.) with her interviews. My own responses beg for editing, enhancing and some explanation, but I have resisted the impulse.

How would you answer these questions?



  1. First, I had to laugh at your granddaughter’s request that you answer fast because the assignment was due ages ago. Some things never change.
    And yet some things do change. Slowly–to steps forward, one step back, or reverse that–but change does come. I hope she learned from your answers and really read and thought about what you were sharing.


  2. Your context is the USA and your handling of the questions is brilliant. I would like to take this as a framework for a post on my blog on our own problems with caste, untouchability etc. You will get an alert when I link this post in mine.


  3. There is still discrimination wearing many faces in our country, Even if progress has been made in some major ways, there is still too much jittery acceptance, if not outright rejection, of anyone who is “different.”

    From afar, we witness the tribal strife in the Middle East, Africa and other areas where ethnic and religious differences are tearing countries apart, and feel we are pretty much beyond that and therefore somehow superior. But discrimination is not just about tribes and religions and color. It exists between the sexes (especially toward women) and between economic levels of society; or between political persuasions.

    It even exists among some animals where the strongest reject the weakest of their own species, let alone kill other creatures for food or territory. OK, now I’m drifting far afield, but here’s a question. In the bigger, historical, world-without-end picture, Is discrimination another word for survival of the fittest, cruel or unjust as it may be? What an awful concept that is.



    • Wow, Gail. I hope not. Just finished an online course on morality. Even in the animal world, killing the weaker of one’s own species doesn’t seem to be the norm. (Although, never believe me because I am a big picture girl and may have the details wrong.) So I don’t think it is natural selection in those terms. I do think, however, that we sometimes fear that which is different and so it is up to each of us to keep our eyes, minds and hearts open to differences and continue to try to appreciate those differences rather than use them for denigration and hatred.

      Okay…now I’m off…

      Perhaps it is an idealistic hope, but I do hope that we are making progress all over the world.


  4. It’s good that the school encourages the students to interview people who lived during that time. I hope she got some good stories and that they helped her understand the problem better.


  5. Wow… well done! Your answer to #4 is especially inspiring. It all is! I appreciate your answer to #5 as well (again, all of them). Bless your heart for this awesome share. hugs, Gina


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