Tiffany B. Brown

White flight, Hungarian style

Segregation in Hungary doesn’t happen as a result of racist laws. It’s de facto segregation. For different reasons in different locations, all of the Roma children, or at least large majorities of them together with financially disadvantaged non-Roma, wind up in the same classrooms or schools.

So says Lilla Farkas, a lawyer with the NGO Chance for Children. Farkas was quoted in the GlobalPost.com article In Hungary, segregation begins at school. “White flight” seems like an odd term to use here since Romas would be considered white by United States standards. But it’s essentially the same phenomenon: an ethnic/racial/linguistic majority systematically discriminates against a minority group and uses its material means to segregate. In Hungary, it seems to be expressed as flat-out disdain and hostility. In the United States, we classy-up our discrimination saying that we want our kids to attend schools where the kids “have the same values.” But really? Where in the world do kids and parents actively disdain education?*

* I am not talking about people who express cynicism about the efficacy of education in achieving upward mobility. I am not talking about people who choose food money now over more food money later. I am not talking about people who question the ROI of a college degree. I am not talking about people who don’t like the snooty tendencies of y’all, edumacated, smarty art Negroes. I mean where in the world do people actively say that education, knowledge and learning are not worthwhile pursuits?

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