The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a
Racial integration, or simply integration, includes
Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. in his paper "Integration of the Armed Forces 1940–1969" writes concerning the words integration and desegregation:
... In recent years many historians have come to distinguish between these like-sounding words.. The movement toward desegregation, breaking down the nation's
Jim Crowsystem, became increasingly popular in the decade after World War II. Integration, on the other hand, Professor Oscar Handlinmaintains, implies several things not yet necessarily accepted in all areas of American society. In one sense it refers to the "levelling of all barriers to association other than those based on ability, taste, and personal preference"; in other words, providing equal opportunity. But in another sense integration calls for the random distribution of a minority throughout society. Here, according to Handlin, the emphasis is on racial balance in areas of occupation, education, residency, and the like.
From the beginning the military establishment rightly understood that the breakup of the all-black unit would in a closed society necessarily mean more than mere desegregation. It constantly used the terms integration and equal treatment and opportunity to describe its racial goals. Rarely, if ever, does one find the word desegregation in military files that include much correspondence.
Similarly, Keith M. Woods writing on the need for precision in
In their book By the Color of Our Skin (1999)
The problem, as I see it, is that access to the public spheres, specifically the commercial sphere, often depends on being comfortable with the norms of white society. If a significant number of black children aren't comfortable with them, it isn't by choice: It's because they were isolated from those norms. It's one thing for members of the black elite and upper middle class to choose to retire to predominantly black neighborhoods after a lucrative day's work in white America. It's quite another for people to be unable to enter that commercial sphere because they spent their formative years in a community that didn't, or couldn't, prepare them for it. Writes [
Harvard University sociologistOrlando] Patterson, "The greatest problem now facing African-Americans is their isolation from the tacit norms of the dominant culture, and this is true of all classes."
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Although widespread, this distinction between integration and desegregation is not universally accepted. For example, it is possible to find references to "court-ordered integration" from sources such as the
When the two terms are confused, it is almost always to use integration in the narrower, more legalistic sense of desegregation; one rarely, if ever, sees desegregation used in the broader cultural sense.