generally is taken to mean the practice of forcibly separating people based upon their
race or ethnicity.
However, under modern civil rights law force doesn't have anything to do with the legal definition of segregation.
From a legal standpoint, there are two types of segregation which affect preferred racial minorities in the U.S.: de jure segregation and de facto segregation.
De jure segregation means racial separation forced by specific laws. All such laws were eliminated in the U.S. by the mid-1960s. Therefore, today in the U.S. there is no such thing as de jure segregation.
De facto segregation means racial separation that occurs "as a matter of fact", e.g., by housing patterns (where one lives) or by school enrollment (where one goes to school).
By definition, de facto segregation refers to a homogenous racial grouping, i.e., a group of individuals dominated by one particular race. The reason or cause for the racial homogeneity of such a group is generally presumed to be "bad" and is presumed to have been caused by some form of "racism", i.e., limited opportunity, economic disadvantage, political disadvantage, social disadvantage, and/or the effects of historic discrimination.
However, it is NOT considered de facto segregation if the homogenous racial group is doing well economically, politically, socially, or academically. If this is the case, then the homogenous racial group is considered to be celebrating it's cultural heritage by voluntarily choosing to group together. This is considered to be "good" segregation, although the racial special interests are loathe to refer to it that way.
In practice and by definition, de facto segregation can only occur if both of the following conditions are met:
The modern civil rights definition of de facto segregation presents many logical paradoxes.
For example, under modern civil rights law, an historically black college is NOT considered to be an example of de facto segregation -- or any type of segregation at all -- because the black students choose to go there voluntarily and because the college's explicit purpose is to benefit black students -- a preferred racial group -- rather than white or Asian students.
Conversely, if a college or university is "majority white" (or Asian) and the proportion of preferred races (black, Hispanic, Native American) enrolled at that college is lower than their proportion in the general population, then that IS considered de facto segregation. The fact that preferred racial groups such as blacks or Hispanics didn't meet the minimum academic achievement requirements for admission to the college or university is presumed to be evidence of racism and discrimination.
De facto segregation is considered to be "bad" segregation and is considered to be actionable under current civil rights law. However, as you have seen above, there are also many examples of "good" segregation -- although the racial quota lobby won't use the term "segregation" to describe them.
For example, the following types of "voluntary segregation" (racial separatism) are NOT regarded as de facto segregation at all under modern civil rights law:
Under modern civil rights law, de facto segregation occurs when blacks, for example, live in neighborhoods with other blacks which results in the neighborhood schools being largely black. This type of de facto segregation is considered "bad segregation".
Another, similar example of de facto segregation occurs when higher income suburban whites attend their neighborhood schools. The student bodies of such schools tend to be predominantly white, and this is also considered de facto segregation since presumably disadvantaged racial groups who live elsewhere are not receiving the same quality of education.
Federal civil rights laws which prohibit segregation have a very difficult time dealing with so-called "voluntary segregation". Who is the victim when preferred minority racial groups choose to hang out together? Who is the villain?
As a practical matter, under modern civil rights law whites and other supposedly "privileged" racial groups cannot suffer from any form of segregation, de facto or otherwise.
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