The decision to formally desegregate schools was made more than 60 years ago, but it’s a problem that persists even today. John Oliver decided to tackle the subject during last night’s Last Week Tonight, explaining that the number of schools where less than one percent of the student body is white has more than doubled since 1988.
“Even as our society has grown more diverse, nearly 7,000 schools have the racial makeup of the audience of your average Tyler Perry movie,” said Oliver. “And that one white guy is Leonard Maltin, and he has to be there—it’s his job.”
The segment also pointed out that, while many may believe this problem is largely a southern one, the opposite is actually true. “Now at this point, if you are in a city like New York, you’re probably thinking, ‘Oh splendid. I know where this is going: a story vilifying the backwards and racist American South. Let me just grab a handful of kale chips that I can munch on while feeling superior,’” said Oliver.
In fact, New York is one of the more segregated systems, in large part because of New York City. “Oh, shit, liberal white New Yorkers,” Oliver said with glee. “Twist ending, you were racist the whole time.”
Oliver then dove into all the ramifications of resegregation, explaining the impacts on both education and funding, as well as the social impact of segregated schools. As one African American student explained, this system can actually create a racist social structure for children before they even graduate. “They [white children] don’t know how to act because they believe that they’re better than us. And we don’t know how to act because we believe that they’re better than us.”
Check out the full clip above.