Brown v. Board in the Modern Society

After reading and discussing the thoughts of Brown v. Board in Guinier’s article it really makes me think that these same types of separations of the schools is still apparent in todays society. As the reading explains in Little Rock, Arkansas they built a new high school in the middle of white suburbia for the white students to attend so that they did not have to go back to Central High School, which was the integrated school in the city. I have seen this same type of thing occurring still today in a particular area. I was living this past summer in a very rural area of North Carolina. The town had two separate high schools on either side of the town, one was called North High School and the other West High School. At North High School there was approximately a 3-5% black population, while at the West High School there was a 35-40% black population. This past summer the county school district decided that it was time to draw new school zones in the town. When they did so the new lines places students from West High School into the zone for North High School and visa versa. This caused an uproar with the upper white class families who did not want their children to be either going to the other school or allowing the students from West High School to attend their high school. The parents made up every excuse imaginable about the economics and social status of the students, but always kept race out of the picture. However, as the article of Guinier shows us, these different areas of race, wealth and social status can all be combined. Which was exactly what the families in this town were doing. In order to fix the problem a group of families who’s children would have been going to attend West High School got together and hired a contractor to build a housing development adjacent to North High School so that no matter what the new re-zoning lines would look like they would inevitably attend North High School. The response according to Guinier of the whites in the town is because they feel as if they are not being racist and are just trying to seek out the best opportunities for their children. However, when looking at the larger picture Guinier points out that there are hierarchical benefits to being racially divided as long as you are of the white class because you will then gain more in social and economic order in the world. This just goes to show that there is still a significant amount of relevance for such an important decision that occurred not all that long ago and still has ramifications on our society today. It was very interesting to see this entire occurrence take place over the course of three months seeing how I was just a visitor to the town and could look at it from both sides.

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9 thoughts on “Brown v. Board in the Modern Society

  1. I definitely think this is a huge issue and have experienced the same thing. The high school that I attended had a very small percentage of black people in attendance, which was very out of place in the city environment in which it was located. Even the school half a mile away was filled with the diversity that mine lacked. My school was a private school that had a very rigorous entrance exam, interview process, and other qualifications for admissions. Do you think then that somehow it was the admissions process that kept diversity out? It seems that most schools see diversity as a value, but when private schools are allowed to weed out the students in which they allow into their school, diversity isn’t a priority. There seems to be something about diversity that makes certain schools see it as a value and other schools see it as unimportant. What are your thoughts on this?

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  2. Jacquie, you bring up a very good question when you ask if the admissions process of your high school is keeping diversity out. If it is, then it seems that segregation still exists because access is not equal to everyone. Yet, it seems that affirmative action would seem to be the solution, would it not? However, as we read in Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, affirmative action–like Brown v. Board–creates a new set of problems that still reflect segregation. Thus, it seems that perhaps it may not be the admission process that is the problem but a deeper problem of access.

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  3. Jacquie, I think the question that you have asked could take months to accurately seek the proper information to answer. I personally agree with you on the point that when there is so many qualifications for admissions into a private school, then yes the admissions office can have the largest say as to who can get in on just race alone if they wanted to make that call. However, I think that it has a larger picture as well. This being that for some private schools sports take precedent over academics which is sad yet true. When you start to discuss sports in these private schools it comes down to recruiting and who can get the best players in the county or region to attend their high school seeing how there are no zones for these private schools. When this occurs you then have race in play because of the stereotypes generated over generations, blacks are supposed to be fast, big and strong and be very athletic. With this we then see particular black individuals getting into a private school while others do not just based upon their athletic abilities and disregarding the entire reasoning for the education at a private school.

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  4. Great discussion! Here is my question, the big question I think we all should ask ourselves. Obviously these lines are drawn around race and economics, and privatization plays a large role in sucking funding, good teachers, resources, and brains from the public school system. So what are we going to do when (if) we have children? Being Denison graduates, who will most likely live a life of economic and social stability as we develop families and households and whatnot…when push comes to shove, are we going to put all of what we’ve learned about educational injustice into practice? Would we, as “privileged” (in regards to the fact that our life circumstances, whatever they may have been, have allowed us to attain a degree from a prestigious liberal arts college) let our knowledge of how brown v board structures segregation within schools today inform our decisions about what school our child attends? For the sake of getting our kids the “best” education which usually leaves out the poor, disproportionately minority students, will we accept or reject the covert racial segregation of public v private/charter schooling and the obvious way it excludes the marginalized? Where’s the line that we draw between this is MY kid’s future and this is the future of our WORLD.

    I read an interesting article that doesn’t deal particularly with race, but it does discuss a wealthy father’s devotion to the public school system because of its diversity (and cost efficiency). Though he doesn’t specifically talk about race, he does talk about how the privatization of schools leaves kids to associate with other rich kids just like them (probably white), and actually tends to hurt them in a diversified work space. (this is the article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2014/09/25/confessions-of-a-six-figure-father-why-id-never-send-my-kids-to-private-school/3/). He suggests that families can get out just as much, if not more, from public schooling than private school, noting that they, as parents, “believe that it’s the parents’ responsibility—not a teacher’s—to keep tabs on a child’s academic performance.”

    That’s an example of parents who kept their kids in private school for mostly their own interest, but also for the sake of the community and neighboring of public schools. What if this desire for our own children was partnered with a racially conscious approach to keeping our kids in public school. We could keep our own tabs on their academic performance, allowing them to help attract that funding and resources which kids, who’s parent’s don’t value education (for various reasons), really NEED to be offered a fair chance at life? After all, are we only called by God to care for our kids, or are we also called to care for each other.

    Just some thoughts.

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  5. You all raise some really great points here, and I’m particularly struck by Candace’s question, which is real and very important to consider. It leads me to think about the challenge of diversity v. equity that Alexander and Bell raise. In fact, we probably SHOULD act regarding our own and our kids education in terms of equity. Think of the resources you all will have when it comes to advocating for better public schools for your children than a poor person of color with only a high school degree. When that person might complain about the quality of education or the resources in a school, they’re often brushed off. But as a college graduate with a decent job, when you complain, you might be taken more seriously. Not that your SES should matter, I suspect we all know it does. One might argue that being a person with some level of privilege and sending your kid to public school is a form of demanding equity – you will advocate for your child and in doing so, the hope is that you will be advocating for those less well off at the same time. So there’s a way to make a conscientious decision to send your child to a decent public school because it is a collective good that everyone should support. I was surprised by the fact that the article you referenced includes not only a diversity (yay for different experiences!) approach by this father, but also an implicit reference to the justice of doing so. In fact, it seems like his approach to sending his kids to public school is more about equity and less about diversity.

    So how are they different? The diversity approach focuses on the benefit of experiencing diversity as a kind of training for democracy. In learning with others who we might not encounter in a world stratified by class and race and religion, PUBLIC spaces are critically important to experience and learn how to negotiate difference. (Side note: there’s a great chapter in Iris Marion Young’s _Justice and the Politics of Difference_ about city life and how it enables a much broader experience of the world that gives rise to less exclusive ways of seeing. In fact, that whole book is amazing and related to exactly this discussion.) This a strongly compelling argument. But it also may require sacrifices by those who have had access to private spaces of privilege.

    All in all, boy is it complicated: how to balance doing right by your kids without doing damage to someone else’s. I know I’ve said it before, but Clarissa Hayward’s _How Americans Make Race_ is just chockfull of insights into this question, and raises some powerful ways to think about the decision we make regarding where we live, where we send our kids to school, and what kinds of communities we build. I highly recommend it.

    And Nick and Jacquie raise good points, too, about sports and private schools. I’m all for kids getting an education any way they can, but only if they really get an education rather than being semi-professional athletes and taking crappy classes. There have been a series of scandals recently where large college sports programs have basically made arrangements to let their students take completely bogus classes so that they can continue to play ball. That’s a whole other kettle of fish, and really messy, too, when it comes to race. (This is why I’m so pleased that Denison is a D3 school – it takes a bit of that awful calculus out of the school/sport mix.)

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  6. I really love the question that Candise raised because it drives the point home on a personal level, as Dr. Pool also mentioned. What if it were my kid? I am obviously biased because I was raised in public school, so that is the only experience I have ever known. When I was in school I used to think that I would do anything to go to a private school. My own mother used to say time and time again that if we made more money, I would not have attended public school to begin with. However, it wasn’t until I came to Denison that I truly appreciated what I was given by public school. Grant it, I recognized that my education was not nearly on the same level as some of my peers who were fortunate enough to attend boarding or private schools. However, upon overhearing a fellow class mate explain that their high school was called “The White Castle” due to the overwhelming amount of white students, I began to realize what a public education afforded me in place of the higher quality education. I was exposed to more racial diversity just by going to school every day than some of my Denison peers have experienced in total. I find this to be a very sad notion, and it has made me cherish my public education more than ever before.

    On another note, Dr. Pool mentions that sending your child to public school is “a form of demanding equity – you will advocate for your child and in doing so, the hope is that you will be advocating for those less well off at the same time”. I am going to play devil’s advocate and say that while this is ideal I don’t think that it is that simple. Again, my biases come into account. However, my public school was a mixture of middle-class white families and lower income white and black families. The middle-class white families could have sent their children to private or charter schools. However, many of them were raised together and it did not appear that they wanted to separate them. So while they advocated for their children, they did not advocate for all of the children in the school. There was a history between the families and the teachers and administration in the school that made it so that their children were afforded better opportunities while that was not necessarily the case for all of the other students in the school. I find it important, even in public schools, to take a look at the underlying institution and history behind how people and circumstances came to be the way that they are today.

    In general, I think that it is very important to send one’s child to public school and advocate for the redistribution of resources. However, I think that it is equally important that the parents are aware of their own agency and are deliberately trying to empower other students at the same time instead of empowerment potentially happening out of sheer luck due to their advocating for their own student.

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  7. having visited the baekweraate household, I think they are perhaps a touch too liberal with their staff. J you know your staff are just plain rude especially your stream of drivers. you guys give them too much liberties (thats why they don’t last). try the naija way with them and see what happens.

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  8. &gaGiutp;zimo: Tak, og vejret forsætter skønt med sol C: Mange tak Chiara TheMinette: Thank you, I think they are gonna be one of my favorites too WHATLIESAHEAD: Takker.Malsen: Tak for det Chau: Tak, ja et super fund til 1€ kun

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