6 Ways Race Plays Into The Rural Boundary

In 2004 while Seminole County was still under a consent decree with the federal government over segregation in the schools.

By Jacob Engels

 

Much has happened in America since Alabama Governor George Wallace proudly declared “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his 1963 inaugural address.  That sort of brazen attitude has come and gone in America giving way to a more subtle, code driven racism.

With the evidence the Central Florida Post presented two weeks ago, the charter rural boundary passed in 2004 while Seminole County was still under a consent decree with the federal government in 2004 over segregation in the schools, so this isn’t exactly a new thing for the folks in Florida’s 13th largest county.
 
I have spent hours reviewing the history of race in Seminole County and pouring over the social media offerings from:
 
*Save Rural Seminole
*Save Rural Seminole County
*Chuluota Community Association
*Black Hammock Neighborhood Association
*Geneva Community Association
 
And others, but this will be the great bulk of what we discuss.  I also spoke with several insiders, all of whom are very bright and very well connected.  Due to the ferocity of the neighborhood opposition, I have agreed to protect their identities.
 
Several things caught my eye.  I invite you, the reader, to review and decide if upon conclusion of the list you think maybe, just maybe, race may play a role.
 
I will role this article out in 2 parts: 6, 5 and 4 today and then 3, 2 and 1 down the road in a few days.  The first three will attempt to understand racial context of the boundary and the second three will analyze the rhetoric of those who seek to protect the boundary.
 
6) Does ‘Save the “Rural” Way of Life’ Mean ‘Save the White Way of Life?”  Yes.  Yes it does.
 
To understand this subtle maybe-racism, let’s go to what the cultural meaning of the word urban is.  For this, we’ll use two resources, one an honest intellectual look at the meaning and one that manages to usually finds a way to tell an uncomfortable cultural truth in a way that manages to get a laugh: Urbandictionary.com.
 
First, for the seemingly reasonable: 
 
 

Notice that some of these reader submissions imply that “urban” is an invention of ad agencies or “corporate America.” But my research indicates that “urban” to signify “African-American” in fact comes from within the African-American community.

The first official use of “urban” that was explicitly connected with African-Americans may have been the National Urban League (originally called the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes), which was founded in 1910 by a white woman and an African-American man to address issues facing blacks who had moved from the rural South into northern cities. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s brought other, more radical organizations to the fore, but the equation of “urban” with African-Americans persisted.

And then there is the more blunt cultural tool.  I abhor racism in all forms and find the word odious and repulsive, but to have an honest intellectual debate you must repost comments that include the insidious n-word. 

UrbanDictionary.com varies from the straightforward to the racially explicit. Below are some of the more disturbing entries. 

Urban Dictionary: Urban http://urban.urbanup.com/7284924#.W0ttKD9VT5M.twitter

The top 25 results vary in subject matter from eight popes to urban legends to the head football coach at Ohio State University.  But of the top 25, 12 are of, relating or pertaining to race, a sampling of which is listed above.

I think it is safe to say that there is a prominent cultural meaning of the word urban that has a direct cultural meaning of black culture and the African-American community.  In fact, you’re hard pressed to find any serious argument from anyone that this isn’t attempting to take being pedantic to a whole new level that the word urban really has two practical meanings: of the city or pertaining to a city, city life, etc or a direct reference to being black or modern black culture, often with a hip hop focus.

So ask yourself, what is the opposite of urban?  Rural.

I don’t think it would be fair to say that there is an equal and opposite cultural meaning to the word rural.  Not surprisingly, the website urbandictionary.com has substantially less interest in this subject.  There are five references to rural, and none pertain to caucasian or “white” culture.  But elsewhere on the liberal internet, there is much dismay.

I can think of no better way to prove this than to go to the most liberal of publications, who dedicate an article to telling you why the widespread perception of “rural” meaning “white” is not accurate.  Not only do they agree with us that this is the perception, they think it’s so obvious that the jump right in to why it isn’t true.  Vox.com has been on a steady crusade to dispel the point.

https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/4/24/15286624/race-rural-america-trump-politics-media

“The media often conflates rurality and whiteness in this country.”

How “rural America” became a euphemism for “white America”

So, to start, the motto of the organizations opposed to us quite literally means “Save the White Way of Life”.  Those county commission candidates who took an oath to support the rural boundary quite literally took an oath to support a “white” boundary.  What could possibly go wrong…

5) Seminole County’s All-White Current Composition of Leadership

All five Seminole County Commissioners are caucasian.  No African American or Hispanic Commissioners.

Drop down to the Planning & Zoning Commission and its the same.  

So there are no minority voices at the advisory or full commission level.  It’s just groups of caucasian residents calling up to complain about how there is no need for diversity.

Not much more needs to be said other than this: often times races can reasonably disagree on what is racist or offensive.  What is indisputable is that there are no voices of people of color on the Planning & Zoning or County Commission to offer their input or guidance on what could be a very touchy subject.  Like a racist uncle who tells horrible jokes and insists he’s not racist, the county’s credibility is very much in question here.

Help IS NOT on the way here.  There are two candidates for Carlton Henley’s seat and both are white.  There are three candidates for John Horan’s seat and all of them are white.

4) Did Seminole County’s Segregationist History lead to the Creation of the Rural Boundary?

This would not be the first time someone has successfully argued that Seminole County is segregationist.  In fact, the US Government did in 1970.

Amazingly, Seminole County was under five different consent decrees from the federal government and didn’t receive unitary status (meaning things are as the federal government thinks they should be) until 2006, a full two years after the residents of Seminole County voted into law what many now consider a segregationist line.  The county went under a consent decree because they admitted they had done wrong and there was a problem.

https://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/usccr/documents/022007_FloridaDesegreport.pdf

Page 26 has the interesting stuff about Seminole County.

The county toiled for 36 years to get it right, and in the meantime, they voted in a line that many say now discourages African-Americans and Hispanics from living in one-third of the county.

A jaded cynic might suggest that all Seminole County did was get smart.  By passing a rural boundary and refusing to move it, they remove issues of integration for the whitest of white schools because there aren’t any residents of color to send their kids to the schools, and the cities of Oviedo and Winter Springs are prohibited from integrating the areas.

Here’s the abstract discussing the lawsuit:

https://openjurist.org/553/f2d/992/united-states-v-seminole-county-school-district-g

One thing that caught my eye that I will wrap this article with was the percentages of African-American students mentioned from the 1977 court case.  At the time, schools were identified as white or black because they were overwhelmingly of one race.

 

3

The 1975-76 black population in the ten virtually all white elementary schools ranged from 0.14% (one student of 732) to 1.77%

4
The black population in the three white middle schools ranged from 1.85% to 2.10%

5
The black populations in the two white high schools were 0.68% and 1.34%”

Why do these numbers matter?  Because of how close they are to the percentage of African-American voters currently living in the rural boundary.  As I reported here:

http://www.centralfloridapost.com/2018/07/14/race-rural-boundary-seminole-county/

The rural area has, to the best of my calculations, about 2.05%, down from the 10.16% of the self-identified voters in the urban boundary who described themselves as black.  It’s an 80% drop off in likelihood that you will be black.

% of Voters Identified as African-American 2.05% Rural vs 10.16% Urban

So, to summarize, the percentages of African-American voters in the rural area is virtually statistically identical to the breakdown of our segregationist schools… in 1977… when it was conclusively determined that segregation was alive and well.

Stay tuned for 3, 2 and 1…

 

Jacob Engels is an Orlando based journalist whose work has been featured and republished in news outlets around the globe including Politico, InfoWars, MSNBC, Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Associated Press, People Magazine, ABC, Fox News, and Australia’s New Dawn Magazine. Mr. Engels focuses on stories that other news outlets neglect or willingly hide to curry favor among the political and business special interests in the state of Florida.