Black Students, White Schools

by Demetria L. Lucas

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a story in The New York TimesAdmitted, but Left Out” about Black students who attend or did attend elite, mostly white private schools in New York City. Unsurprisingly, the article took on a familiar refrain, documenting the awkwardness and difficulty that students of color can encounter when they don’t match up neatly with the dominant race, and often the culture and class level, of their peers.

It’s a downside of private education that I’ve often heard discussed and worried over, mostly by Black parents who want the best education — often perceived not to be a public one or in a predominately Black environment — for their kids. Even when the kids hail from Black families that are staunchly middle-class or even affluent, those parents still wonder specifically how their Black kid will manage, it being a given that they won’t quite fit.

It’s a worthy concern, as demonstrated by the Times article. A lot of kids face adversity and culture shock that thus far there hasn’t been a way conceived to fully prepare them for. It’s important to acknowledge their stories and work on ways to help the schools and students adapt better to diversity. But there’s another side to the story too, a much less dramatic or controversial one, which is why I’m assuming it’s not so often told.

I’m one of those Black kids who went to what some might consider an elite prep school. It wasn’t in New York, but Maryland, and as far as the elite ranking of prep schools goes, mine probably fell midway on the list. My parents were lured to send me there by its proximity to our house and the promise of its 100 percent graduation and college attendance rate.

We had a campus, not a building, but no one was delivered to it via helicopter, or to my knowledge, a personal driver, which can be a non-eyebrow raising occurrence at the most elite schools. Most of my classmates didn’t have nationally notable surnames like say a few students at our rival school Sidwell Friends where Chelsea Clinton earned her diploma and the Obama girls are currently educated. My schoolmates did include the offspring of a high–ranking government officials and notable local businessmen, but mostly it was the spawn of two-parent households where both degreed parents worked hard, got paid well, and sacrificed a bit to shell out around $17k (adjusted for inflation) a year for their kid, often more than one, to attend.

I showed up at my school in 1991 as a 12-year-old eighth grader. Until then, I’d attended mostly Black private schools. I lived in a Black neighborhood, went to a Black church. At my new school, my class — around 30 kids and at the time, the largest in school history — was the first with a significantly “of color” population, about one-third of the class, the same as the students mentioned in the Times story. Both the senior and junior class that year had one Black student each. I don’t recall any other “of color” students among them to add to the diversity.

At the new school, it wasn’t so much the white that was the issue, it was the freedom. There was no asking to go to the bathroom, just get up and go. There were breaks and free periods where students could just roam anywhere we wanted to on campus and as long as we weren’t destructive, no teachers bothered us. It sounds like a free-for-all — and it seemed like one initially coming from a place where students were treated more like inmates — but it was just differently structured, not poorly structured. And I came to prefer it for the obvious reason that I liked the freedom.

In the classroom, I was encouraged to explore and express, create and challenge and critique constructively as opposed to the way of my previous schools, being told what to think and how to think it and when to regurgitate. That created a bit of a cultural clash between my parents and I. At school I was expected to question and argue. At home, my Mississippi-bred daddy didn’t appreciate the “back talk”, but eventually learned to alternately live with it or turn me over to my mother to manage. (The other big conflict was the affection I picked up for alt-rock like Jewel, Alanis Morisette, Oasis and Green Day, all of which sounded like white noise to my bred-on-Motown parents. At least hip-hop had a distinguishable beat. My father nearly stroked out when I put a poster of white boys on my wall. My mother wanted to torch my Jewel CD, which I played every morning and as loud as possible.)

Antagonizing experiences with my white classmates don’t really stand out so much. Admittedly, that could be my memory’s sentimental way of reflecting on my formative years. But even after a few days of mental probing (and a long talk with my best friend who attended middle and high school with me) we can only recall a few moments from those 5 years that were unduly troubling beyond normal teenage stuff.

There was the Middle Eastern girl who only dated Black guys, affected a stereotypically Black accent and dropped “N-bombs” freely, but honest to Hova she really didn’t mean any harm by it, and immediately stopped when she was called out. There was the time when a kid a grade below me showed up to school — we didn’t have uniforms — wearing his father’s KKK belt buckle and explained, “I don’t have a problem with Black people, only with n***ers.” Either the headmaster or Dean of Students promptly asked him to remove it.

There were many awkward conversations — as reflected in the larger world. Like the time the LAPD cops that beat the crap out of Rodney King were acquitted and some of my non-Black classmates didn’t understand why the Black kids were so upset. A history teacher gathered the entire class together for a teachable moment, which somehow descended into an argument over which was worse: the Holocaust or slavery? When the O.J. Simpson verdict came, a bunch of students were gathered around the TV. The reactions — either “WTF?” or “Hallelujah!” — were divided by race. I don’t recall any teacher — they were all white — broaching that one. Racial profiling of Black men especially was as big a subject then as it is now, and my poli-sci teacher attempted to justify it by explaining something like, “If you worked at 7-11 and if every time someone with a green hair, purple gloves and yellow pants came in, they robbed the store, isn’t it justifiable to profile people with green hair, purple gloves and yellow pants as potential criminals?” He completely missed the idea that you skin color isn’t a removable accessory. Oh, and there was the female teacher who stumbled into a bunch of Black girls playing double-dutch during our free period and remarked fondly at our “natural rhythm.” She was corrected that it was cultural, not genetic.

Most of the other stuff was harmless, like the time a bunch of us, of all colors, were sitting around talking about everything and nothing and a male classmate became shocked — shocked! — to discover that Black people don’t wash their hair daily. He wanted to know why not and I explained. Since he felt comfortable enough to pry, I asked him, “What’s up with white people and washcloths? Why just the soap, dude?” He assured me that they used them. I remember difficult conversations (read: heated arguments) about the choice of music for the school dances with the Black kids demanding more hip-hop and R&B. (And yes, we got our way.) That’s about as salacious as I can recall.

My experience wasn’t perfect. And I’m sure if you started asking around to other students who attended my school, you might find unfortunate tales of woe similar to those often told about Black kids being educated in white environments. Perspectives do matter. And from mine, being Black at a predominately white school wasn’t so bad.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of  “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

  • Pink Lipstick

    -_________________________________-

  • B

    Based on my observations of people who I know went to predom. white schools, I don’t think I would send my kids to one. Too many self esteem issues.

  • ?!?

    Lol at the Jewel CD and washcloths. I mean those commercials do make it seem like they hop in only with body wash and their hands.

    I think you had an okay experience, but I’m sure it varies. I don’t know if I would send my kid to a school where there may be no one who looks like him or where he might not fit in. It is hard on kids especially around middle school to not be accepted.

    I went to a predominately white school, but there were a lot of black kids just not the majority. I would send my kid to a school like that.

  • http://gravatar.com/ceecollegegal CeeCee

    This topic is getting old. Hello! We live in the 21st century and black folks need to get over the fact that in many social environments they maybe the sole black individual. Attending a predominately all white school with affluent white kids will prepare children for the real world. I grew up in the deep South and I attended a predominately white public school. I had a few bad experiences, mostly with teachers, but it helped me grow and learn as an individual. At the end of the day this is going to become more common, especially in the workplace. There are many young black teens who are building themselves a criminal record and eventually there are going to be fewer and fewer blacks in the corporate world, science field, and medical field.

  • Ravi

    I went to a predominately white school for 5 and a half of my formative years and I will never subject my children to that sort of environment. It’s not so much the overt forms of racism as much as the white supremacist undertones of a predominately white environment. Being called a n***** is the least of my concerns. Far more dangerous are the norms and standards that exist around whiteness. Flesh colored crayons the color of white skin, for example.

    I have had black students and athletes that ended up going to predominately white private schools and do not end up being any better prepared for the rigors of higher education than my other students. Quite often they get tracked lower than they would have if they would’ve stayed in the public black high school that they were zoned for.

  • Pink Lipstick

    I think it depends on the type of school. I went to an elite predominately white prep school. I think my experience was scarring because I actually boarded, meaning I lived on campus. Being the only black girl in my dorm left me in a constant state of “otherness.” When someone is coming of age, she should have the freedom to just be herself instead of constantly having to be under a veil of “blackness.” I know for a fact that I would never send my daughter to a predominately white boarding school. Being confronted with “otherness” 24/7 can be emotionally taxing. However, I would send my daughter to a predominately white day school, at least she would have the comfort of coming home after school.

  • http://mybigfatqlife.wordpress.com The Mighty Quinn

    I LLLOVE this piece!!! This was me growing up. I did not go to a private school though and was often the person my white friends would ask question they wanted to know about blacks and yes, one of them was hair. I wouldn’t change that experience for the world because of the diversity of my school and because most of my neighbors was Navy, it made me curious about the world outside my little Southern town.The hardest part was being ostracized by black people, to be asked as soon as you opened your mouth, where you from? My mother was very into black history and was kicked out of Spelman for marching during the Civil Rights Movement, so I had a strong sense of who I was which was lost on the black kids that would torment me. I think my mother was torn about us losing our identity but instilled the importance of thinking on our own and living our lives on our terms, which was hard for her because of “the family”. That period of my life and my school encouraged that.

  • Laura

    I’ve been following your work for some time now and you had a very privileged childhood. Sometimes privilege causes you to minimize issues, such as this one, and assume that others complicate issues more than they should. Only a small percentage of the Black community has been blessed to hold the economic status that you and your family hold. I was a Black student in an all white honors program coming from a lower middle class family. It was rough. I ended up attending an HBCU and heard similar stories. I now attend a PWI for grad school….and the stories from Black students are still there. Even now, I teach a freshman writing class on race and ethnicity and you would be amazed at how the pain comes out in my student’s writing.

    I like how you gave examples of racial incidents that did occur. However, even those small incidents can undoubtedly have an effect on the way Black children navigate an all white educational institution. Especially, if their socioeconomic status is not equivalent to the White kids. I think you really have to take into account the experiences your privilege afforded to you. At the end of the day, you did not have the interlocking issues of race and class. We all must be mindful of how those two interact and how the experience can be significantly different and much more complex than you make it out to be here.

  • Yb

    If I hated my kids and wanted to put them through mental, and physiological torment I’ll send the to all white schools. Until then multiracial schools FTW!!

  • a. chigozie

    The NYT piece definitely mentioned economic status as a significant issue. This piece totally left it out.

  • apple

    i don’t want to send my kid to white schools or black schools, but a very very diverse school with all the races..i went to a school like that for 3 years,one of the best experiences of my life.. the only part of adolescence i’m willing to repeat

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    I agree. I went to both black and white schools and they were both very negative experiences for me (though NGL, the white schools offered more in terms of education and personal development). I would put my kid in an international or multicultural school.

  • GeekMommaRants

    I attended such as school. The bad was bad, that’s true. The good allowed us to learn and understand the majority culture, which we now work and live. I had the opportunity to also attend an all black school, where bullying and violence were the standard. So, I’m standing in the middle in this issue.

  • karmell

    oh gosh. My mom still hates Alanis/Jewel/Oasis/Green Day etc, etc. Saving grace is that, well, I listened to EVERYTHING. Rap, Rock R&B. but she made clear that she wasn’t buying any of it. My schooling was different in that the school was mixed – but I was always the only or one of 2 black kids in my class. and boy oh boy did we have the same discussions (slavery/holocaust, Rodney King) they basically shut the school down for the OJ verdict. At least one of my teachers actually went home, distraught. And no, most of them do not use wash cloths. Yes, I asked. I would have preferred there be more than just ME, the lone black kid in my classes as I felt outnumbered and dismissed, But at least I had lunch and gym.

  • Rochelle

    Of course being black in a majority white school isnt bad. In fact it can be great and even a blessing. I first attended an all black school in a nj hood. It was horrible in perspective. Stupid parents and dumber over sexualized children. Most of all the kids I went to school with back in the hood are parents now and still in a dead end jobs. LOL. What else is new right? Anyway, my parents got their money up and moved up to the # 3 school district in NJ at the time. I was starting 4th grade and one of only 4 blk kids in the whole k-5 school. The community was full with jewish/ white, and asian doctors, lawyer, engineers and the like. Yes at first I felt like a fish out of water. I admitt I lost some of my confidence because I was WAYYYY behind in the academics becauseof the hood Black school I once attended. It was crushing in that aspect but much better in other aspects. For example, i did not have to worry about boys trying to molest me or play disgusting hood games like “catch a girl get a girl.” Here the kids actually CARED about learning in school and there were not the usual interuptions that ghetto kids are accustom to acting out. All the children followed directions and generally wanted to do well. Unlike my other school. I said it once and i will say it again. AVOID any school with blacks in it. The one thing I have to say is that I really did not date in high school, at least I did not date within the school because most of the jewish and asian boys liked other jewish and asian girls. So in that aspect, it might be a struggle but in hind sight, do you really want to send you child to a school were boys are harassing them and trying to date them? I mean we do that currently and look were it gets us. Skyrocketing teen pregnancies and horrible school environments. Overall, if I were a parent would look at how many blacks are in a school and if the number is above 15% or even 10%, I would avoid it like the plague. Also stay away from white trash poor areas/schools as well because those people have the same bird mentality as many black parents.

  • edub

    We have a similar experience. I went to a predominately black high school with the exception of my last two years, where I attended a predominately white school. Best experience ever. I never looked at school as being a place where I should feel loved or accepted. I viewed it as a place for academic challenge because I wanted to be and compete with the best. I never felt that at black schools.

    At my black school, very few of my would be graduating class earned a 4-year degree. At my white school, 30% were accepted to Ivy league schools. 100% were accepted to and graduated from schools. 90% have obtained masters and doctoral degrees.

    I was able to go to MIT, full ride. Would not have had that opportunity if I would have stayed at a black school. Heck, moving to a white school improved my SAT scores significantly to being in the 60th percentile to being in the 99th percentile.

    If you want success, you have to be in a successful environment. Unfortunately, that is most of the time NOT the case in black schools. There, everybody is pointing fingers as opposed to getting results.

    My advice, if you want your child to get a great education, choose a school with a majority of white students. It does not have to be 99%/1% but it needs to be OVER 70% white and asian.

  • http://gravatar.com/rastaman1967 Rastaman

    That is an important point that Demetria did not emphasize enough. It was a primary factor in the discontent expressed by many of the minority kids in the NYT piece. It would seem that Demetria and her white peers came from similar economic backgrounds and under those circumstances race tends to be their only difference. Many of the examples noted by the minority kids in the NYT article were tied to financial status and thus they felt even more isolated amongst their wealthier white peers on top of the racial differences.

  • Pink Lipstick

    I’m glad you have been able to achieve success in life but your comment reeks of ignorance. Black schools aren’t bad because black students attend them. These school are bad because the quality of the education offered is poor.

  • Ravi

    2 very real examples of why not to send your kids to an all white school. White supremacy and self-hatred is a beast. smh.

  • Smilez_920

    Thank you @pink lipstick for pointing that out.

    I’m sure these ” black schools” you attended didnt have the same amount of finicial resources that the ” white schools “.

    The finicial portfolio and faculty at a school contributes to the success of a student more than the color of the student body.

  • Smilez_920

    I meant to say ” I’m sure the white schools they attended had more access to financial resources than the black schools they attended.”

  • Sunshine

    I see people are bashing Demetria and other commenters for saying their experiences at a “white” school were positive ones. It boggles my mind that people really want to attack those that were fortunate enough to receive a higher level of education because their parents actually cared enough or more than the average black parent who is not interested in where their kid attends school. Succesful parenting includes being involved in your kid’s education. POINT. BLANK. PERIOD.

    My maternal family were high school and college-level educators so they weren’t playing around when it came to where we all went to school. You can kid yourself and be in denial all you want to, but it makes ALL the difference in how you learn to navigate this society we live in on where you get educated. It matters so much. I wish more black parents would understand that is why you must be fully committed and involved in the education process with your children. Please give them a fighting chance in this world!

    As far as predominately white schools go, I went to them for most of my school years except for a few strange years being bused to urban schools for 4 years of middle and high school in a reverse segregation process called magnets schools (also in Maryland). I appreciated that experience back then because for the first time I felt less sheltered and part of the “real” DC culture that my family shielded us from when they fled Prince George’s County to Montgomery County in the late 70′s. That’s where I learned all about go-go music and the early years of hip-hop. I will admit, we got teased by the black kids that lived in the surrounding neighborhoods for being too smart and talking “white.” However, the dozen or so of us black kids in that program grinned and beared it and were eventually accepted and even admired for being so well-rounded. I’m still in touch with many of those kids to this day. The whole school definitely benefited from us being there and raising the level of expectation.

    Do I regret any of my experiences, even being one of like 6 black kids in my junior year of high school at Calabasas High? No way! I love looking back on those memories now and love that I was exposed to so many cultures, ethnicities (yeah, remember white people are extremely diverse once you get past their whiteness lol) and social/economic classes at all 6 of the schools I went to in suburban Maryland and the San Fernando Valley in CA. I also went to a HBCU and I don’t support my kid going to one. My little cousin just started at Morgan in Baltimore and he has turned into a wanna be thug practically overnight just to fit in. Sad how we socialize these young kids. They relate more to Lil Wayne than our own President. smh

  • Rochelle

    YOU ARE WRONG and do not know what you speak of. The students around your child make all the difference as to whether or not they do well in academics. ENVIRONMENT makes a HUGE difference and you are in denial if you say other wise. It is no secret that America cares little about education. Black americans tend to care less. I cannot name one black public high school that is in the top 100 schools. Can you? I’ll wait. You are typical. Placing blame on everyone else but yourself. I take your opinion with a grain of salt because I know that you don’t know that more is spent on public hood schools than in any suburb schools. An example: in NJ and in most other states with poor citites, the state is often times forced to take over failing districts, which tend to be BLACK and HISPANIC schools. They are called ABBOTT districts. Look it up if you don’t know what it is. This means that many hood schools get funnelled money from more affuent districts through tax dollars. Therefore, most of these hood school recieve DOUBLE the amount per pupil than more affluent districts. This is FACT. Despite this, they still fail. It is not because of the teachers, it is the student and their parents. I am an educator. I own a tutoring company and I have a masters in educational admin. I know and have worked in hood schools and affluent schools. Have you? There is a big difference in the student demographic and culture. You know nothing of what you speak of.

  • Rochelle

    you are a smart woman.

  • Erin

    This is so true. I go to a prodom white school and im the only not mixed black girl out of the 4 OF US IN THE WHOLE HIGHSCHOOL!! so i didnt feel as pretty as them. and i used to have mental breakdowns becasue of my urge to conform. And on top of that im going natural. All white schools are for teh strong and brave….*sigh* it will pay off when i enter the real world i guess…..

  • edub

    LOL.

    Black people, Life ain’t fair. There will always be inequality. You have to make the system work for you and a lot of times, that means fleeing your “community” to make it.

    I’d define self-hatred as fleeing and NOT giving back. However, that’s not the case for me and a lot of black people–despite self hatred claims from people like you who, I believe, carry within them, an undercurrent of self hate that is far more dangerous than the kind you accuse me of. They want you to stay as stuck as they are.

    NEXT.

    I don’t listen to the negro bitter brigade. I have never seen a member of THIS club, succeed at anything in life. Their only motivation is to make sure people who play the game well feel bad about their successes. REGARDLESS of why black schools CONSISTENTLY turn out kids who can’t compete, you don’t continue to drink from the well that poisons you. You either change the system (which most of us don’t do) or you leave–you go out, learn better, be different, and teach all those around you to do so as well.

    That ain’t self hatred, that’s survival of the fittest. Funny, how most black people are anti-that. Then again, looking at the statistics, I should not be surprised.

    Carry on.

  • Rochelle

    This is toward Pink Lipstick:

    YOU ARE WRONG and do not know what you speak of. The students around your child make all the difference as to whether or not they do well in academics. ENVIRONMENT makes a HUGE difference and you are in denial if you say other wise. It is no secret that America cares little about education. Black americans tend to care less. I cannot name one black public high school that is in the top 100 schools. Can you? I’ll wait. You are typical. Placing blame on everyone else but yourself. I take your opinion with a grain of salt because I know that you don’t know that more is spent on public hood schools than in any suburb schools. An example: in NJ and in most other states with poor citites, the state is often times forced to take over failing districts, which tend to be BLACK and HISPANIC schools. They are called ABBOTT districts. Look it up if you don’t know what it is. This means that many hood schools get funnelled money from more affuent districts through tax dollars. Therefore, most of these hood school recieve DOUBLE the amount per pupil than more affluent districts. This is FACT. Despite this, they still fail. It is not because of the teachers, it is the student and their parents. I am an educator. I own a tutoring company and I have a masters in educational admin. I know and have worked in hood schools and affluent schools. Have you? There is a big difference in the student demographic and culture. You know nothing of what you speak of.

  • ROCHELLE

    @ pink lipstickYOU ARE WRONG and do not know what you speak of. The students around your child make all the difference as to whether or not they do well in academics. ENVIRONMENT makes a HUGE difference and you are in denial if you say other wise. It is no secret that America cares little about education. Black americans tend to care less. I cannot name one black public high school that is in the top 100 schools. Can you? I’ll wait. You are typical. Placing blame on everyone else but yourself. I take your opinion with a grain of salt because I know that you don’t know that more is spent on public hood schools than in any suburb schools. An example: in NJ and in most other states with poor citites, the state is often times forced to take over failing districts, which tend to be BLACK and HISPANIC schools. They are called ABBOTT districts. Look it up if you don’t know what it is. This means that many hood schools get funnelled money from more affuent districts through tax dollars. Therefore, most of these hood school recieve DOUBLE the amount per pupil than more affluent districts. This is FACT. Despite this, they still fail. It is not because of the teachers, it is the student and their parents. I am an educator. I own a tutoring company and I have a masters in educational admin. I know and have worked in hood schools and affluent schools. Have you? There is a big difference in the student demographic and culture. You know nothing of what you speak of.

  • Rochelle

    I am really tired of this website not posting comments. Is this website run by black people?

  • Rochelle

    Third time Im trying to post this:

    Toward pinklipstick

    YOU ARE WRONG and do not know what you speak of. The students around your child make all the difference as to whether or not they do well in academics. ENVIRONMENT makes a HUGE difference and you are in denial if you say other wise. It is no secret that America cares little about education. Black americans tend to care less. I cannot name one black public high school that is in the top 100 schools. Can you? I’ll wait. You are typical. Placing blame on everyone else but yourself. I take your opinion with a grain of salt because I know that you don’t know that more is spent on public hood schools than in any suburb schools. An example: in NJ and in most other states with poor cities, the state is often times forced to take over failing districts, which tend to be BLACK and HISPANIC schools. They are called ABBOTT districts. Look it up if you don’t know what it is.

  • edub

    @Smilez_920. Adjusting for inflation, these black schools I attended were far more endowed financially than the schools my mom and dad’s family attended. My uncle became a plastic surgeon despite going to a one room school house with two books for every 30 students. He even told me that he used to copy text books by using slabs of Silly Putty.

  • Sunshine

    Seriously? Well, I guess you’ve never experienced self-hatred imposed and indocrinated by other black people. My experience is we do inflict negative feelings and harm as much as or more to ourselves than “they” do. Don’t get me started on how much that goes on within our own families, let alone at our schools. But… that’s my experience.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Yes it is. Your comment went to moderation – and it was approved. It sometimes takes a minute to go through.

  • Smilez_920

    No one is downing you for leaving your area to receive a better education . If there’s a better school for your child to attend then the one in your neighborhood, take advantage of it.

    What most are trying to point out is that the race of your peers wasn’t the only factor that shaped your academic success.

    We’re there better resources in your “white school” like an adequate amount of updated computers and classroom technology ? Did that school provide students with SAT prep classes , tutoring , classes for kids with learning disabilities ? Where the classrooms over crowded?

    Was the faculty at the school happy to work there ? We’re they enthusiastic about teaching? Did they monitor their students progress ?

    Those are the factors that makes a school Sucessful. Yes of course race will influence the environment somewhat. But you should be looking at the race percentage of the student body at a particular school before you look at those factors I named above.

    And I understand personal responsibilty and am not pointing out these factors to negate the efforts a child’s family had to make to make sure the they progress.

  • Rochelle

    Sorry my post posted so many times. I just wanted to make sure that lipstick heard me. LOL.

    I could not agree with you more. I went to an HBCu to get my “black card” back. LOL. Worst experience. My program had black “professionals” from “established” companies (Enron anyone) come and talk to us but really could not offer any help or had any pull in the company, there were also bad teachers, a HORRIBLE disorganized administration (I mean terrible), and crime infested campus. To add to that, I was assaulted on campus and ended up suing the school for millions. I tell anyone that will listen, black or white, yellow or blue, to not even consider a black school if you love your children. It is not self hatred, it is common sense.

  • GlowBelle

    Due to my father’s job we are in the upper-middle-class, and I guess you can say I was privileged, but to an extent. I was around a lot of the “elite Blacks” in my community growing up in the South.Thankfully my parents weren’t fully engaged in that debutante/prep school environment or the whole “keeping up appearances” job, but they wanted me to experience diversity, and get a good education so I attended a pretty decent public school, and like the suburb I lived in, it was a racially diverse school district, though pre dom White. But you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being the “Lisa Turtle” every so often (there were Black kids in some of my classes throughout my academic career, but few), forced me to sort of be independent, to walk my own path and think for myself, and though I did have my fair share of racism thrown at me and I didn’t get the best education (who says what’s the best?), I still got a good one that led me to go and graduate college. I even ended up going to a racially diverse university. Also racism is just a part of being a minority in this country, it’s sad and terrible, but it’s true, and you don’t have to become a victim or act like it doesn’t exist, but don’t let it consume you from living YOUR life.

    Everyone’s experiences in suburbia and prep schools are different and no one comes out the same from them. My cousin went to a private school and I’ve heard her horror stories, and even one of my best friends went to a prep school and she is White, and even SHE had problems of hatred in that environment. So yeah, I’m glad my parents didn’t take me down that path. But see, I was lucky, I have no idea what it’s like for those Black kids who attended prep school who didn’t come from a upper to middle class environment. Plus I was also lucky that I had parents and a no-nonsense grandmother who guided me to embrace others, but not forget who I was as a woman of color. That’s what I think the “worry” is when you attend predominately White schools, is that your “Blackness” will be rubbed away somehow because you listened to a Alanis Morisette CD or brought a White friend home to do homework. I just think we need to get past that.

    I just know that the “paradise” of prep schools wasn’t for me, for someone else it may be, but not me, and I think I’ll follow my parents ideal whenever I have children as I know I will be sending them to schools that are more racially and culturally diverse. Since it’s the 21st Century, things are becoming more and more that way, and be ready you have to be.

  • Rochelle

    why was my post in limbo? do you check over long post? I don’t get it. what are you moderating post for? curse, content? serious question, not critizism.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch
  • Rochelle

    My above post was directed @SUNSHINE:)

  • BREE

    So what you will,but environment is a big part of education. I went to a public school with more blacks than whites and I can say first hand that the behavior from some of these kids was disturbing. A lot of these kids don’t know any better and they have parents who simply don’t care. These kids ruin the education experience for kids who want to do well. I finished and graduated with 4.0 but not without the crazy stuff. My first time seeing a condom…I was nine -___-. Some kid thought it would be cool to bring it to school and picked on me because I didn’t know what it was. When I went home to ask my mother she almost slapped fire out of me. Even as a a young kid these individuals I went to school with were more concerned about boyfriends/girlfriends instead of their upcoming english test. If I could do it all over again I would chose a white private school all day, every single day without a single tardy or absence. Hell, I remember begging to be home-schooled. I had/have smart, educated parents who were/are heavily involved in my education. I’m blessed. However, there are lots of children who don’t care and parents that don’t bother to care. This attitude hurts the children and it lingers with children in school who are there to actually receive education.

  • Kema

    My kids attend a school that has a great mix. I wouldn’t send my kids to a predominantly white or black school.

  • http://gravatar.com/arlette81 arlette

    Are you actually black or just some racist troll trying to start something.

  • Smilez_920

    I do agree that involved parenting and an environment that allows learning to happen play a major role. I’m not negating those facts. But to not look at race tied in with the socioeconomic make up of the school, and the educational back round of the parents who kids attend the school, tells only half of the story.

    some of the things you mentioned , happen at predominantly white schools as well. Not every white child at a white school is graduating at the top of their class. There are girls there more worried about making pep squad and boys then reading books.

    Now I’m not sure what school you went to or the socoeconomic make up of the school so Im only going off of what you wrote.

    But if this is how you feel about the kids at an all black school. Could you imagine how some of the faculties at some of the predominately all what schools think about incoming black students especially if they know what school they transferred from.

    ( trust I’m not against sending my kids anywhere that will provide them a better education/ I would prefer a multicultural school for my children. When I have them).

  • Rue

    “Most of all the kids I went to school with back in the hood are parents now and still in a dead end jobs. LOL.”
    Ahh, poverty and no opportunities! Hilarious right?

  • Rue

    After hearing the BS about “send your kid to white/Asian schools cuz we all know they are smarter and better people than the blacks” i will either send them to a great and diverse public school with tons of black people, or take my twopence (+ my husband’s) and home school/tutor my kids. As someone who grew up in the Caribbean, I can tell you first hand there are priceless benefits of not feeling like the other and not constantly thinking about race/racism. SMH

  • Telia

    The issue of not feeling like you belong is most likely more economics.

    I’ve attended white, black, and mixed schools growing up followed by HBCU undergraduate and Ivy League graduate schools. All black schools are not stereotypical violence ridden schools. My mother decided that I needed to tough up so my parents sent me to a predominately black elementary school for a few months. It was a great experience compared to being one of only three black students in the prior school. Black history month was amazing.

    I felt like I belonged in the white and the black schools. It may be because I didn’t feel like I was economically disadvantage compared to my peers although my family had less resources. I was raised with a sense of self worth. I was taught how to maneuver in different economic classes.

    The mixed school is where I was accused of acting white and the issue of race existed. I had to choose friends based on race and not shared interests. It was the school with the biggest economic variation between the students. I left my nice suburban neighborhood to catch the bus in a poor section of the school district. Its were I got a glimpse of the rougher violent side of life. I had to dress down to catch the bus there. I was embarrassed to tell people that I “lived” in the poorer neighborhood. The expectations of who I was and my worth was different saying I came from that poorer neighborhood. The experience challenged how I defined myself. I found economics made me feel more left out than race.

  • Sue

    I did not attend high school in the U.S. but I can relate to the economic divide mentioned in the NY Times article. I attended a top school in East Africa, and although most students were black, students were still divided socio-economically. I think these types of schools could take measures like enforcing similar dress e.g. school uniform. Dressing and fashion is one huge way teenagers seek to distinguish themselves. Also only have activities that all students can afford to participate in or just have a common fund that the school pays for. The NY Times article talked about a less well off black student feeling left out because his parents could not afford an expensive trip to the Bahamas that the school had organized. A good education can be had without having to be overly extravagant. Schools should also strive to be more culturally inclusive in big and small ways. Ravi’s comment above mentions crayons the “color of white skin”. Have them in all shades of brown as well and extend to it multi-culturism in the selection of books and other media that the students are exposed to.

    I’m not sure parents keeping their students out is the answer, especially if the student would be attending a mediocre school as an alternative. Even though, I sometimes felt like I didn’t fit in at my school, it was an experience that gave me a good education and broadened my world. I got to interact with people from different socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities. (Race is a big issue in the U.S., but in Africa, most people are the same color but they are still divided along ethnic/tribal lines). I believe I’m a better person for it.

  • ?!?

    While Rochelle’s comment came off as harsh, black schools are bad not just because of funding. There was a special by John Stossel one time where he talked about how funding was poured into a poor school. They had state of the art everything and the students were still behind. They have tried more funding at some of these schools. The biggest reason black kids underperform is because of adults. Teachers who don’t create an environment that encourages learning and parents who accept mediocrity and are hands off across all class lines.

    There have been studies and reports showing all of this, but black folks still point the finger at funding. Black kids watch more TV than other kids. Black boys play more hours of video games than other kids. Black parents across ALL class lines read to their kids less than other parents. Black kids still speak in Ebonics because their parents don’t try to teach them standard English. That’s a big one to me. All of these things show me that black parents need to do better before talking about funding.

    There was an article on this site a couple of months ago about black kids doing worse on a reading test than white and Asian kids. People started making excuses saying black kids do poorly because they don’t know certain terms that white kids might know.

    That guy Steve Perry in CT has kids that do well. It’s motivation. In NY at the Harlem’s Children Zone or something like that, the administrators realized you have to get the parents involved and teach them how to create a positive environment for their kids. Letting your kid come home and watch 2 Chainz videos or watch hours of Nickelodeon will set him up to fail.

    Honestly a lot of black parents need to look at there parenting style. Bill Cosby told parents this stuff and people called him a sellout. They said he was airing dirty laundry. How long will black folks continue to bring up the excuses when black kids do poorly on a test? I think the only people who even believe the excuses are black people.

  • Danielle

    It is a relief to hear that a young black person can have a less than traumatic experience at a predominantly white school. But two issues come to mind: first, parents will have to roll the dice in hopes that their child’s experience will be this pleasant and given the overwhelming counterexamples, I am not sure about those odds. Second, I think a big piece of this author’s confidence and maturity in her own racial identity can be attributed to having been raised in predominantly (if not exclusively) black environments, including church, for a significant number of years first. Time and time again, my friends who have the means are choosing to send their kids to predominantly white schools at younger and younger ages without a foundation in their own black culture. The outcomes in those situations are not as encouraging.

  • Elaine

    I went to a predominantly white public school. The non stop questions about my hair from classmates and even teachers, having everyone turn around and stare at me whenever we talked about slavery or a black person from history was very stressful. I was literally dreading black history month every year. I hope to send my future children to a racially mixed school, because I don’t want them to go through what I went through.

  • kylieky

    Forget about the actual quality of education just for argument’s sake. Regardless of what is being taught (be it challenging or subpar) , if you don’t value education what difference does it make? The bigger issue in black schools (and any school in a poor/bad/hood area with other races of kids) is not really about the actual education. It is about the mentality and attitude that black students have and for this I blame the parents. They are not taught to value education or to recognize what it can do for you. That is the real issue and until that is addressed then the quality of education is irrelevant. And again, this isn’t exclusive to black schools but any school with poor people who possess a poor frame of mind.

  • apple

    maybe because you went to a black public school instead of a black private school.. i went to a black private school and then had to go to a white catholic school.. i was shocked by the type of immoral stuff white people participate in.. drugs,drug trafficking,alcohol,sex,orgies..they were rich and powerful..the only difference is between the blacks is they didn’t get caught .

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    This! Except for my elementary school which was predominately black all my other school were diverse and that was the best of all worlds in my book not only socially but educationally.

  • Truth

    People don’t like to hear the truth. I’ve had the same experiences, black schools are an absolute mess. I transferred and there was such a difference. Some parents seriously need to step it up, and and teach these kids something besides designer labels. I see kids popping labels but they have yet to know who James Baldwin is or how to do simple algebra. It’s an embarrassment, yet we fail to properly address this issue.

  • Truth

    I’ve been to through the public school system and I know how terrible the education is. It ain’t pretty. So, therefore, I’m not going to sit here and act as if it was. Rochelle is right, ENVIRONMENT makes all the difference..I still have yet to see a black school public school place in the top 100.

    It is what it is…and until can we address these issues “honestly” things will remain the same.

    Ghetto mentality is a beast. It’s the gift that keeps on destroying.

  • Rochelle

    Im caribbean too, and though I respect your opinion I disagree. I went to an all white school and never felt “left out.” yes slavery and black history month was “different.” But as I think about it I wouldnt trade it for the world. I had great white girlfriends sleep overs, best friends all that. But I think that is the problem with some black people. They thing education is some social event. It is not. The only reason we go to school is not learn. Not make “fit in.”

  • Rochelle

    stfu. those kids had the same advantages and disadvantages i did. stop making excuses like a typical black person.

  • Pink Lipstick

    I never stated that increasing funding would improve “black schools.” I realize that my parents worked very hard to ensure that I received a great education. I went to an educational day care, which was predominantly black, that taught me African history, science, math and reading. From there, I enrolled into a predominately black “gifted” elementary school in Brooklyn where I consistently preformed at the highest level. After the age of 11, I moved to the suburbs and attended a predominantly white public middle school where I consistently outperformed my peers. As I stated earlier, I attended a predominately white college preparatory boarding school (the alma mater of Deval Patrick and the late Ted Kennedy). Now, I am finishing up an undergraduate degree from an ivy league university.

    The environment of the schools I attended did not impact my academic success because my parents instilled the importance of education in me. This is why I find your rhetoric extremely problematic.There were other black students in my elementary school who had parents that were very similar to mine and ended up at some of the top schools in the United States. When the quality of the education provided is strong, children are bound to succeed.

  • Rochelle

    im as black as they come. Im also a truth teller. Stop your nonsense and wake up.

  • Ravi

    @ Edub

    that’s a weird way to define self hate. So you thought that perpetuating foolishness about black inferiority despite the fact that you are black didn’t qualify as self-hatred because you give back? You are literally spewing white supremacist rhetoric and then deny that you are exhibiting self hate? And what part of what I have said indicates even the slightest amount of self-hatred? pray tell, what have I said that suggest an undercurrent of self hate, or were you just paraphrasing “I know you are but what am I”

    You laud your white school, arguing that the fact that the students race was the driver of their success while making no mention of much larger factors in student outcome (SES, education level of parents, extracurricular resources, etc.). You give us stats on one school as if this were the norm for white schools. You do no sort of intelligent analysis only using limited anecdotal evidence in an attempt to generalize black vs. white schools. I’m starting to doubt the quality of education of any school that could produce any alum with such poor analytical skills.

    I went to a black public high school and I’m now working on my 3rd and 4th degrees at top 10 law and business schools. I had classmates that went to MIT, Stanford, Michigan, and every Ivy League school. So much for our schools turning out kids that can’t compete. You praise the achievement of privileged white students and criticize black schools and students with little to no actual knowledge about them. This is classic self hate.

    If we look up self hating in the dictionary, you know what we would find? The definition of self hating which you clearly are.

  • Ravi

    I don’t think that’s why people are bashing. I think it might have more to do with this idea that going to school with white children somehow provides for a better education. Those that are maintaining this are only basing it on their limited experiences. To make such a huge generalization would require a bit more than “I went to a black school and a white school and the white school was better, therefore going to predominately white schools provides a better education”

    We aren’t attacking because your parents cared enough to send you to a specific school, we are attacking because of the offensive idea that putting your kid in a white school somehow equates to caring where your kids attend school. If I have children, I will care very much where they go to school and that’s why I won’t allow them to ever go to a predominately white school. I believe the educational experience, on the whole, gained from being in a school that is predominately white is inherently inferior for black children, all things being equal. This isn’t based solely on my experiences going to both white and black schools, but also on years of study on the achievement gap and drivers of student outcome. In all my years of study I have yet to come across any literature that even remotely suggests that black students are even slightly better off for having gone to school with mostly white children. Given there is no basis for this view, you have to understand that showing such preference for a school just because white kids attend, sounds a little messed up.

  • SS25

    Why come on sites geared towards black women/people and bash them? Does that make you feel better about yourselves. You can respectfully disagree with someone without being rude or offensive. I see some of you avoid mirrors(self-hatred).

  • Smilez_920

    @?!?

    I’m not saying funding is the only thing that gets kids from point A to point B. I mentioned below about the attitudes of the faculties at theses schools and the attitudes of the parents . But for some of these kids whose parents might not have the educational resources provided the kids with, but still encourage them and tell them school is important , and for the kids who know school is important , things like extra help classes , SAT prep etc … Does help and those things take money and a staff that will use the funding properly .

    Again I’m aware of the other factors that play a role. But I’m not going to make my child feel like her blackness is an issue. And I’m going to explain both sides of the story ( ppls attitudes about education , mixed with the environment of the school . ( not all them black kids at the other school ain’t ish , lazy bums , )

    Again if we as a people think every single one of the kids in PWB schools are lazy and not even one of them has talent , works hard but just isn’t in the right environment to let it shine and be utilized , then what do you think the teachers and staff at these ” PWI schools ” will assume about our kids even when they are the complete opposite of that stereotype but unfortunatly live in the environment. ( and I’m not just talking about the white staff because most of the time it’s the black staff members who work at these schools who will try to put down your child the fastest).

  • Rue

    “like a typical black person”
    I’m officially done.

  • belle/demetria

    Hi Laura:

    Thank you for your comment.

    I’d just like to clarify that my point here was not “minimize” the experiences of kids who faced race and class issues. I was very mindful to include the line that their stories are a “worthy concern” and “It’s important to acknowledge their stories and work on ways to help the schools and students adapt better to diversity.” At no point did I infer that students who had different experiences than my own were “complicat[ing] issues more than they should.”

    I also pointed out that this my personal story when I wrote, “Perspectives do matter. And from mine, being Black at a predominately white school wasn’t so bad.” To share my personal story isn’t discounting someone else’s.

    There’s a prevailing view that Black kids in predominately white schools are going to be traumatized somehow. I added that includes, “Even when the kids hail from Black families that are staunchly middle-class or even affluent, those parents still wonder specifically how their Black kid will manage, it being a given that they won’t quite fit.” My purpose here was to “add, another side to the often told story of how Black kids fare in predominately white schools. NYT covered the intersection of race and class just fine.

    Every story about growing up Black isn’t one of having it so hard, even if they are heard all the time. There are other circumstances and those who have them have stories worth sharing too.

  • edub

    So, Ravi, your counterexample follows the same lapse in logic you accuse me of?

    That’s rich.

    Yeah, get back at me when your experiences are the norm and not the exception. Wake me up when black kids, across the board are out performing white kids, asian kids, in droves. Of course there are always outliers. But let’s not EVEN pretend that BLACK school are factories of success. Across the board, black kids in black schools are failing and:

    1. YOU can’t even admit that. And I’m going to quote you…”pray tell” where in the USA is there a majority black school consistently churning out COMPETITIVE students like them there friends of yours (high SAT scores, top admissions, esteemed legacy)? Of the roughly 26,407 public secondary high schools and 10,693 private high schools in this country, how many predominately black ones are in the top percentiles? Median?

    Moving on…

    2. You’d rather admonish a person who calls it like she sees it (still waiting for some evidence from you that my parents made such a horrible decision that I should be banished from my race) and label her opinion as self-hate and/or white supremacy. I call that Black-Shaming.

    I think that YOU are the self hating one.

    Your type: Intelligent black men who turn around and “serve” the community by becoming ghetto oracles preaching a ghetto gospel aimed at further obstructing the view for those who want to find a better path. You are a smooth talking obstructionist who capitalizes on the fact that the company you keep don’t know better.

    Examples: Michael Dyson, Boyce Watkins

    Black people–especially black women–stay away from these ghetto oracles. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They do not have your best interest at heart–even though it feels like they do, until they don’t but by time you realize it, it’s too late.

    In this this day and age, the dysfunction black people have allowed to be their norm should NOT be allowed to mold the mind of your children. While white kids have their dysfunction, too. They want to rule the world. There’s a lot you can learn from being around that. You may not win a Nobel prize as a result, but you better believe that you can know to the core your competition, your enemy, and draw down deep–ancestor whips and chain deep–and find that strength to beat them at their own game. In a way, I think that’s what our fought to the death for.

  • Rochelle

    That’s great. You made it. You are the exception not the rule. More so that your parents actually cared enough about your education to make sure you did not fall through the cracks. Most black parents are not like that, and it shows in our schools.

  • Rochelle

    Oh you are also wrong to say that the environment does not impact a student’s success. That is like playing heavy metal music in a massage parlor. Would you do that? Of course not because you want the person getting the massage to have a calming enviroment so the radio will probably be tuned to smooth jazz. Just because you made it does not mean others will. You are naive if you think that. You can look at test scores and the increasing violence in black schools for all the proof that our system is not working.

  • Rochelle

    I dont see anyone bashing. I see truth tellers.

  • Chrissy

    Edub actually contradicts herself. She is saying that white people are more intelligent than black people and race is the only factor. However, she is black and she also said when she went to a white school her SAT scores improved.

    Proving that race is not the only factor. If so, there would have been no improvement in her scores.

  • belle/demetria

    @ a. chigozie/ @Rastaman

    I find it troubling in the NYT story on Black kids at white schools all the stories recounted were kids who weren’t from the same background as their peers. There’s no shame in not having similar finances as your classmates, and as the NYT points out, that can be an additional challenge. But the kids/ families that do come from similar financial backgrounds as their peers (NYT said about 30% of “of color” kids were NOT on scholarship) should not be ignored because the story isn’t “struggle-sexy” or doesn’t play into the pathology of Black= broke.

    It’s weird NYT left that out, and too, as Carol Sutton Lewis noted over at Ground Control Parenting that not one positive account was shared from students of color who attended. She wrote, “While the students quoted in [the NYT] piece are genuine in their descriptions of their discomfort, this article makes no effort to present any alternative viewpoints.”

    http://groundcontrolparenting.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/admitted-but-left-out-important-but-incomplete/

  • Chrissy

    Yea, Rue

    Rochelle is really something else. Who needs white racist when you have black people that support white racist ideologies. It would not surprise me if Rochelle was one of those people that could be seen at the KKK meetings.

    I notice Rochelle is also Caribbean. Why do people from the Caribbean that hate black people especially AAs continue to visit this website? I truly do not understand. They should register with stormfront

  • ?!?

    @Smilez – I personally don’t think black kids HAVE to go to a PWI. They simply need parents and teachers who are up to date on the best parenting techniques, a positive learning environment, and like-minded classmates.

    Access to SAT prep and advanced college classes dedinitely put you ahead of the game, but black kids are falling behind in middle school which is a bigger problem than not having acces to AP classes.

    If black parents and educators were on the same page and willing to sacrifice and teach the children certain things to ensure that black schools were as good as white schools, we wouldn’t be seeing these problems. I think too many black parents come nowhere near as close as caring about their child’s education as white people who come nowhere near as close as Asian people, and that is the reason why black kids score poorly not because Asians and whites are genetically superior. Their parents are doing a better job. I saw a video about a black boy who went to college at 12. he said that his sister would come home and teach him math. His mother then home schooled him. We need parents who recognize that learning doesn’t end at school. We need parents who are practicing for spelling bees for hours if need be so that their kid can win like the Tiger mom.

    The only thing holding black kids back is their environment. Changing the environment doesn’t require moving your kid to a PWI. It requires parents and teachers doing everything possible to foster learning and curiosity to learn.

  • victoria

    I taught in an ABBOTT district. Yes, environment does make a difference. Parents make a difference!

    People dont want to admit it, but many inner city schools are not failing because of funding or lack of good teachers, but due to poor parental involvement.

    Regarding environment, YES, many inner city schools have severe disciplinary issues. How can your child obtain a proper education when much of the focus is on discipline?

    Smilez_920, I invite you to research funding and inner city districts. Simply research the low income schools closest to where you live. Attend district meetings. Go to events at inner city schools. Speak to those who teach/work at schools in low income districts. Also, you are in favor of daycares at h.s. How is this funded? What programs were canceled in order to provide a daycare? Why do low income districts have high turnover rates? Research safety and crime reports, discipline reports, food programs, social services, school attendance, etc.

    Let’s remember that funding doesnt just involve books and teacher salaries. Social services take a large chunk of the pie in low income districts. For example, the school I worked in: 180 students, ages 3-6, 80% attendance rate, 3 social workers (1 full time, 2 pt), 1 nurse, 2 speech therapists (contracted), 2 behavioral therapists (contracted), several students attended behavioral services off campus, incl bus service- funded by the school, bus services to district sponsored after school programs, food programs (breakfast and snack -free to all student, lunch 90% free lunch). The list goes on and on. All funded by the school.

    Remember each school is allotted a certain amount of money. When much of the funds go towards social services that impacts academics.

  • SS25

    The guilty shall speak first.

  • Rochelle

    I agree with you Ravi. I spend years in the educational field and have two educational related degrees. I hate people who know nothing about education and educational practices who want to voice their narrow beliefs and experiences of the school systems Just because you flew on a plane before doesn’t not mean you can pilot it. That is why I take a lot of the stuff people say as a grain of salt. .

  • Rochelle

    Vicky: Smilez and Lipstick will not do their research. They would rather base their opinions on their narrow experiences in a classroom. That is why American education is in the toilet. People thinking they know it all. Again. Just because you flew on a plane before does not mean you can be a pilot. DO YOUR RESEARCH before you speak about education.

  • Cocochanel31

    I too went to school in Montgomery County MD. My parents left Brooklyn when I was five years old so that we could have a better quality of life. My mom is only high school educated, but a very hard worker, and my dad completed his undergraduate degree well into his 40′s, however, education was always stressed in my home growing up, and all of the grade school peers were very smart and very much into education, yes even the black ones. I was soooo fortunate to be raised in Montgomery County, Maryland where the ethnic makeup of the school district is soooo diverse. All of my friends from elementary on up were Asian, White, Indian and Black. While white people were the majority, us black kids never felt left out or in the minority. We were all very racially tolerant bc that’s what we were used to. My public school education was excellent and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    I went to a PWI undergrad, but even regret it to this day, since I was raised around white people and “knew ” that whole side of things, would have welcome some of the experiences of an HBCU that all of my friends who attended one tell me about. Allll of my friends who attended HBCU’s are highly highly successful, outside of the lack of resources at their respective schools, they have all succeeded above and beyond in the corporate world and fit in with whites just fine, so this whole notion of the only way to survice in the “Real world” is to go to a PWI is straight up nonesense!

  • Nic

    Very true…even having a different history, of which you are hopefully well aware, being from the same socioeconomic class as your peers does change a lot in the experience of being a black kid in a private school.

    I always went to private school, had parents who were very involved, had administrators who were willing to listen if anything suspect happened, and it was a positive experience. But I think it mattered that I never felt as if I didn’t belong. My parents could afford the tuition, we lived in the same neighborhoods as many of our classmates, so yeah, we were exposed to a lot and traveled, so there was not that kind of gap that I think hits you if you are going home to the projects and your classmate is going home in a limo. That is bound to be discombobulating.

    It also meant that if you are confronted with the inevitable racially charged situation, you fell very confident calling people out on it, calling them out for foolishly believing stereotypes or assuming things about you. I was able to do that from a young age, b/c yeah, if you are raised around white people you are not afraid of challenging them, which you have to do-in school, at work, in social settings. Not a fight, just a ‘do you understand why that line of thinking is ignorant?” You have to be able to point out both blatant racism, casual racism, and microagressions. I think my background is why I’m okay telling people, “sorry, you just crossed a line with me.”

    People can say what they will, but it matters when the NORM in a school is for everyone to go to college. At my school, everyone gets into a 4 year college. Almost all of those people wind up with 4 year degrees, and the exceptions tend to be people who are so well-connected/wealthy that they are just taking over some branch of a family enterprise and will never be questioned about not finishing. It was a huge status symbol to be very smart. That still remains as an adult. I got a lot of positive attention for it, and yes, it made a lot of people want to be my friend(and I can’t be too upset that some parents really wanted their kids to have at least a couple of friends who weren’t white; in kindergarten and first grade, I got invited to a LOT of playdates). I shudder to think what my experience would have been in most black schools, b/c my mom was a public school teacher, and while she was very good and made a big impact on her students, I did get to experience what happens when you don’t sound the right way or know too much about white people (so I always preferred R&B music, but since all of my friends were white, I wound up at concerts for many of the major white acts of my day; you become culturally literate in those things and it can make other black people act really funny towards you). Add in living in the suburbs and being a Lutheran and you are all kinds of alien which many black kids respond to with mockery and bullying.

    I was always exposed to black culture, always exposed to black people even though most of the ones I encountered were far less privileged, and of course my family is black. So yeah, you can be proud to be black and think very highly of yourself, your black skin, and your black hair, and I’m glad I do b/c I would not get that kind of feedback from black people as a dark-skinned black woman.

    I’m really glad I didn’t go to a majority black school b/c my experience was that my black was just black. I didn’t have to hear any garbage about my natural hair or skin. I was aware of the hierarchy, but didn’t see it play out until college, which was still majority white but was the first time I had any black classmates.

    I think it’s a fallacy to suggest that the colorism, hair obsession, and flat out hatred that a lot of black men have for black women comes only from black men who went to school with white people. There is no way you can spend time in any crowd of black people and see that is not true.

    It is important for black kids to be in these schools, it is also important that they come from a variety of backgrounds, and that people work with the ones from impoverished backgrounds so they don’t feel like such outsiders. And it’s important for white kids to know that we aren’t all poorer than them, or uneducated.

    If I had kids, they would definitely follow my path through private school, and I would not care if it didn’t have many black students (except perhaps if I had a boy, b/c black men seem fall into the mindset that black women are inferior very, very easily).

  • Nic

    Thanks for that point Demetria…my sister and I went to private school K-12 and yes, our parents could afford it too and I think it was a very different experience for us and for the other black kids at my school with the same background.

    I think we had confidence about our race and the fact that we belonged b/c there wasn’t anything going on with our classmates what we didn’t ‘understand’ or have access to, if that makes sense. Same activities, similar family trips, etc. So yeah, we got to participate in every activity or school trip b/c we could afford to. We had lots of extracurricular activities and were involved in lots of clubs (and sports in the case of my sister) b/c yes, my parents could afford the lessons and the gear and the instruments.

    So we spoke the same language while also being aware that being black was a different experience b/c our parents did a great job of keeping us educated and aware, and of also teaching us to recognize microaggressions, dog whistles, and most importantly, showing us that the best way to deal with racists is to stand up to them.

    It isn’t helpful to spread the myth that going to a top prep school is going to ruin black kids, or to spread the myth to black people or others that all black people are poor and can only attend those schools on scholarships.

    It has to be hard b/c I can see both the students and parents of those on scholarship not feeling comfortable being involved, (or having the time or money), or feeling that they have the right to challenge the teachers, administrators, or even the other students when something negative is perpetrated upon their children.

    And I would not trade the experience for anything b/c at the end of the day, you’re living and working in a white world, and I think I feel very comfortable and confident about that b/c white people aren’t some mystery to me.

  • Ravi

    You should really learn how counterexamples work. You made the statement: “black schools CONSISTENTLY turn out kids who can’t compete.” My counterexample shows that they, in fact, do produce kids that can compete. Your lapse in logic was your attempt to generalize education with white kids being better citing only your experiences at a few schools. Such a generalization is devoid of logic. I made no such generalization.

    And your experiences are the norm? Do you believe most white schools send that percentage of kids to ivy league schools? that’s an outlier for any school, regardless of the race of the kids in attendance. White schools aren’t factories of success either. Across the board black kids are failing and doing well. Every race has kids that do well and do poorly. The fact that a disproportionate number of black children do more poorly is not the point. You can’t determine the quality of a school based on the race of kids alone. Your assertion that the education for an individual receiving a better education in a predominately white school has no basis in reality. The education gap between different races of children isn’t caused by school characteristics. Black students at predominately white schools do not do any better at those schools than black students at predominately black schools.

    1. admit to what? that black schools aren’t highly ranked? I admit that freely. The point is, that doesn’t speak to the quality of education at a school. But for the record, Renaissance High School in Detroit, MI.– it consistently churns out competitive students and many of my friends attended. School ranking has nothing to do with the quality of school. School ranking is based primarily on student test scores. Test scores are not a function of the school you attend. Outside school factors drive student success. This is why schools catering to wealthy students tend to be ranked highly. Those students were afforded every advantage and opportunity to succeed. Children at these schools with these types of advantages would be successful regardless of which school they attend. Given schools are not the driver of student test scores, the number of schools in the top percentiles of ranking based on those test scores doesn’t mean a thing.

    And even if you did insist that comparing the test scores of students at given schools was significant in your child’s potential outcome at those schools, you would still need to control for other variables to know the extent to which predominately white schools are better equipped to educate a given child. What are the test scores of the black students at these highly ranked schools? How about when you control for SES, or education of parents? If test scores were a valid measure for quality of school you would need to know the test scores for comparable buckets of students. Who has the better test scores for black female students with free and reduced priced lunch, from a single parent home? You would also need some sort of pre-test/post test data. looking at single test scores doesn’t tell you anything about what contribution a school might have had (if any). You would need to know where they started and where they ended up while at that school. Ranking schools based on one-off tests doesn’t give you any such information. Ranking of schools simply doesn’t give you the ability to assess the true quality of schools. And even if it did, it still wouldn’t give you the ability to generalize all black schools as being inherently inferior. You would still have to make such an analysis on a school by school basis. Anyone that eliminates a school from contention because the students are black before even taking a look at the quality of that school specifically, is doing so out of prejudices against black people as opposed to any intelligent analysis. This is the essence of self-hatred.

    2. I’m not admonishing you for calling it as you see it. I’m just calling it like I see it, just like you are. I never said your parents made such a horrible decision. I’m just saying that the sort of prejudice you are showing against your own people is a wonderful example of why someone might want to reconsider putting their kids in a predominately white school. I’m labeling you as self-hating because I’m calling it like I see it — just like you are. The only difference is, I’m not generalizing. You are generalizing black schools while I’m just labeling you. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if you were simply labeling the few black schools that you have experience with. Your assertions are white supremacist because of the over generalizing that amounts to white is better per se. Saying “the black schools I’ve seen are poor quality” is not white supremacist; saying “I’m putting my child in a predominately white school because predominately black schools are inferior” is white supremacist.

    I’m not generalizing. I’m not looking at your behavior and extending that to anyone else. I’m saying based on your statements that amount to strong white supremacist rhetoric, you are self-hating. Not black shaming at all. Edub shaming, maybe. Or just calling it like I see it.

    So we are back to “I know you are but what am I?” Do you understand the term self-hating? Am I showing any sort of preference or bias against blacks simply because they are black? Am I saying blacks are somehow less than anyone else? Am I prejudging blacks? How exactly am I the self-hating one? Am I self-hating because I called you as much?

    Actually, I gave back by getting degrees in engineering and education and becoming an educator of black children. Are you always this bad in your analysis? I help people find a better path. We just fundamentally disagree about what is the better path. You seem to think the better path is with white people, while my studies in education show differently. It seems you have a tendency to categorize black folks off of your limited experiences. Maybe you should ask before making wild ASSumptions.

    I hardly think you speak for black women here. The way you are fleeing to white folks and shunning black scholars is hardly endemic of black people or black women. I’m thinking you are in an extreme minority. I think it’s clear who has black people’s best interest at heart between the two of us. You are literally advocating for black people to flee other black people into white schools that are supposedly better simply because they are white.

    This idea that we have more to learn being in school with predominately white children has no basis in reality. This cultural thrust to rule the world is hardly a virtue, considering how it usually ends up with white folks. Subjugating and colonizing other cultures isn’t really the type of value we should be teaching our children. No one is arguing that we allow the dysfunction of black people to continue, nor is anyone denying that such dysfunction exists. That’s not what this has been about. this is about unsubstantiated stereotyping and assertions about the quality of education being superior based on going to school with white children. We fought for our opportunity to live free of the sort of oppression that the very mentality you are spreading is emblematic of. How does it suit our purpose to believe we are inherently less than white people? that going to school with people that aren’t black will make us better? This does nothing to make us equal. the drivers of our inequality are well known to those that research the phenomenon. It has nothing to do with going to school with over-privileged white children.

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    @Rochelle, I figured you’d disagree with my above comment. Possibly I misunderstood what you were saying before, but I thought you were saying that going to school with white children provides a better education.

    I also have been in education for quite a few years. Long term I plan to get into school district turnaround.

  • Yay!

    I went to a white catholic school through sophomore year of h.s., and a public school with black kids for my last two years after moving down South. I saw/heard of all of the aforementioned at both schools. Teenagers doing crazy things has nothing to do with the color of your skin. I personally just think it’s an American thing. You don’t hear about ish like that back home (I’m Caribbean)!

  • Umm…

    I experienced both environments, and let’s just say black teenagers and white teenagers without structure do drugs, have sex, orgies, party hard etc. Lawlessness knows no color.

  • Umm…

    Co-sign 1000% I’m Haitian! I went to a catholic school in Boston, and I didn’t know that many kids of color. I never felt left out or ostracized. However, upon moving down South, and attending a public school, I started feeling left out. A black kid was the first to ever make me aware that I was “burned/way too dark” (my white friends never made comments about my skin color), and black kids always went out of their way to tell me how “white” I was because I read books and spoke proper English. If anything, I would have given anything to stay at my white Catholic school.

  • Umm…

    @ Rochelle! Co-sign

  • edub

    “I hardly think you speak for black women here. The way you are fleeing to white folks and shunning black scholars is hardly endemic of black people or black women.”

    And THIS, my friends, is the problem. You just can’t let go of the idea of what you THINK a black woman should be. You are so 0 or 1 with what blackness is.

    Who said I was shunning black scholars and running to white folks? I am a black scholar. What the heck are you doing at your “Top 10 Law School”? I’m sure it’s not a predominately black. You are tacitly or not, fleeing to white folks to give you that stamp that will open the doors in ways going to, say, Tennessee State School of Law (I just made that up, don’t know if they have a law school) won’t. That’s just what I did. So, I think we are coming from the same place there, partner.

    Or, are you telling on yourself…it’s okay for YOU to do it, because, being the ghetto oracle that you are, only YOU need to know how the world works?

    Don’t know. I’m only operating on vibes here.

    In a nutshell, I’m fleeing the CULTURE of failure that black people like to wallow in. I’m going to where I see success is actually happening and calling out the failure that is claiming the intellectual life of our children.

    I also hope that other black people will too.

  • Ravi

    White private schools are not uniformly great environments to place your children. Oftentimes, the amount of access privileged children have is something that facilitates all manner of foolishment. I was talking to a black girl that went to high school in a nearly all white, high income school. After telling me some of the stories of sex and alcohol that I won’t repeat in polite company, I asked her was this just a perpetual drunken orgy. She said with a completely serious look on her face, yes, that would be an accurate description. Everyone was apparently hooking up with everyone else. I asked her if she knew how many of the guys she hooked up with and she said she would have to think about it for a while. She said it was way more than ten.

    I’m not saying that every white school is this way (unlike some people, I try not to generalize like that), but this view that this is only a problem at black school is a fiction rooted in white supremacy. These white kids are every bit as libidinous as the black kids you may have seen and heard about.

    You really need to take it case by case and stop being guided by baseless stereotypes of black inferiority. you will find good and bad environments of every race and economic background.

  • Love Sosa

    my school hs was about 50/50. undergrad was maybe 12% black, grad school is around that.

    wouldn’t change it for the world. it helped me learn to work with the people i’ll be working with for the rest of my life. yes, i was determined to learn so i’m sure i would have thrived at an almost all black school as well. but that’s not realistic to life.

    of course i wanted to go to morehouse and rep the house like every black male who goes to college. but i chose to go to a school i felt would get me more used to working with white people on an everyday basis..

  • Ravi

    “And THIS, my friends, is the problem. You just can’t let go of the idea of what you THINK a black woman should be. You are so 0 or 1 with what blackness is.”

    Where did I give my idea of what I think a black woman should be? All I said is your stance wasn’t that of most black women. I’m talking about what black women are and that your warped ideas aren’t really representative. If the sort of reactionary rhetoric you were typing were endemic of any sort of black people, then Mitt Romney would have a little more of the black vote.

    You don’t need to say you are shunning black scholars; your statements did that for you.

    “Your type: Intelligent black men who turn around and “serve” the community by becoming ghetto oracles preaching a ghetto gospel aimed at further obstructing the view for those who want to find a better path. You are a smooth talking obstructionist who capitalizes on the fact that the company you keep don’t know better.

    Examples: Michael Dyson, Boyce Watkins”

    Both of them are black scholars, as am I. That’s what I call shunning. Your use of the word ghetto demonstrates your disdain for blackness.

    I never said there was a problem going to a predominately white college or university. I said I wouldn’t put my kids in an all white school. Where they go to college is another matter entirely. There’s a big difference between going to a good school that happens to be white and deriding all black schools simply because they are black. Fleeing to white folks = going to schools because they are white, not going to a school for whatever odd reason that just so happens to have a lot of white people enrolled.

    It’s ok for anyone to go to any university they want, including you. It’s not ok to proclaim those schools are superior because they are predominately white. My friends that attend Howard Law school learn about how the world works just fine. That’s not vibes you are operating off of; it’s poor logic and white supremacy.

    you are fleeing black culture because of your perceptions of black culture that happen to be negative and running towards whiteness because you believe it to be superior. You deride black schools simply because they have black students and have come to equate blackness with inferiority. You are a model of self hatred and your comments would make the biggest white supremacist proud.

  • cydniiwh

    I moved to a predominantly white suburb in the middle of first grade and was immediately confronted with ignorance. Maybe the difference between your experience and that of others is a contrast in socioeconomic status. I lived in a modest apartment with my mother that was surrounded by nothing but these affluent two car homes with two parents. This wasn’t a known fact until we were much older. We were 6 years old when I first moved to town, and I just remember being bullied my first week of school by this little girl. After being unmistakably harassed in the library, another little girl came up to me and said, “Don’t worry. It’s not you. She just doesn’t like black people.” And granted, incidents like that were far and few between, but they definitely happened. And they happened subtly and overtly all the way through high school, which was a private co-ed boarding school outside of the country and completely separate from my previous community. When I was 16, some older white boy, who I thought was my friend and constantly flirted with me, in a failed and flawed “innocent jab” told me I looked like “one of those African kids with the flies all over their face.” Which is why currently attending Spelman College is a welcomed change.

    I’m not saying that everybody’s ignorant and no black kid can grow up well adjusted surrounded by white people. I’m just saying that there’s a reason why the Times article was written.

  • Sunshine

    “I don’t think that’s why people are bashing. I think it might have more to do with this idea that going to school with white children somehow provides for a better education. Those that are maintaining this are only basing it on their limited experiences. To make such a huge generalization would require a bit more than “I went to a black school and a white school and the white school was better, therefore going to predominately white schools provides a better education”

    We aren’t attacking because your parents cared enough to send you to a specific school, we are attacking because of the offensive idea that putting your kid in a white school somehow equates to caring where your kids attend school. If I have children, I will care very much where they go to school and that’s why I won’t allow them to ever go to a predominately white school. I believe the educational experience, on the whole, gained from being in a school that is predominately white is inherently inferior for black children, all things being equal.”

    Please do’t skew my words, Ravi or Rochelle. Nowhere did I say my parents, which I did indicate were very informed by the several educators and academics in my family, enrolled me in a predominately white school BECAUSE it was all white. Not the case. They moved to the county that had the best test scores and academic success in their public schools, which happened to also be predominately white. So the purpose of my reply was in defense of Demetria’s assertion that going to a predominately white school was not necessarily a negative experience. I agree with her because my own personal experiences in varied multi-cultural school environments were also undeniably positive and shaped me into what Trey Ellis describes as a “cultural mulatto” (Google the term). I can honestly say we, as a black community, need to be free to be those cultural mulattoes who can code-switch and are able to navigate in mainstream society. We do not control this country, despite our biracial President, or the wealth and we are doing our youth a HUGE disservice to think that alienating and segregating ourselves will uplift our community in any way. Look around you. We live in a multi-cultural society and we need to teach our children to be comfortable in that world. Really the best thing we can do for them, as I’ve done for my own two very successful children, is to not to keep pointing out the differences but allow them to focus on the similarities within their diverse school environment.

  • Fuchsia

    Articles like the one mentioned are needed. I was the only Black girl in my class from 2nd grade to 8th grade. As a child I was privy to the sometimes quiet sometimes not so quiet prejudices and ill feelings of white people towards black people. I now believe that America is completely and utterly racist, and by default, no matter how much a white person fights against it, all white people exposed to the media are prejudiced if not racist, especially the kids. You can call it privileged or not knowing any better if you want to. That being said, feeling left out and uncomfortable happens to a lot of kids that are quiet and reserved no matter what race they are, and bully’s prey on the weak. After being called a nigger for the first time in Elementary school I learned to align myself with the smartest, prettiest, most popular kids I could find every school year after that. Eventually I became worse than the racist kids on the playground. I became a mean girl. I truly believed that this was the American way. I learned that life is a game, and if people are ignorant enough to try and make you feel small because you are different then at some point you gotta start playing to win or you will be miserable. Again, there is a need for articles like the one written. Parents and teachers need to know that these things affect children in different ways and how well they cope follows them for the rest of their lives.

  • http://www.be-quoted.com bequoted

    This post is confirmation that I need to continue to seek out diversity and great education at the private schools I expect to send my child to. Unlike me, my daughter will not grow up in racially diverse California where I would have a much easier time enrolling her in a school where she isn’t 1 of a hand full of children of “color.” I’m actually scheduled for two school tours tomorrow. Wish me luck! Great post, btw!

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