In our most recent class periods, we have discussed the unceasing reemergence of racism in education even today. As we learned, Brown v. Board was an instrumental case that aimed to deconstruct segregation within educational realm. However, according to authors like Guiner in “From Racial Liberalism to Racial Literacy”, the case is now being interpreted as ambiguous and complicated. This is due to the lawyers on the case solely attacking segregation in school systems and attempting to break down barriers that separated the races. Now, though it appears on paper as if the state is evenly distributing goods to all races, this distribution becomes a matter of class and geography. That is, those who live in a better neighborhood or are wealthier are able to create better school systems than those who are lower class and minorities. This leads to a gap between minorities and lower class white people who cannot afford to have a better school system and the upper class white community who can. Desegregation may be occurring, but class and geography allows the persistence of whiteness as a property through new and subtler forms.
In an effort to learn a little more about how racism in education still resides, I took to Google. Literally, within the first Google search, I could see how racism is still present. One of the most astonishing, yet believable, articles I read was found in the Huffington Post. The article discussed Western Union Elementary School and the trouble it had recently (written in 2012) got itself into. In an effort to “celebrate” African culture, the school sent a note home to families asking students to wear “African American attire or animal print”. Additionally, the letter suggests students wear shirts with “animals native to Africa” on them such as zebras. The article then cites several blog post comments that individuals decided to share in regards to this situation. One states:
“What’s the point of celebrating -– or hell, even learning about -– diversity if school administrators are unable to ascertain the difference between Black, African American, and African? Or for that matter, the difference between black people and African animals?”
This article really struck me as important. People tend to look at big picture arguments against racism, but racism continues in smaller and more subtle ways as well. Little actions like this are ever present in our education system due to accepted societal norms such as phrases and taglines. Like this blog post implies, often times, people just do not understand the implications of their statements. Calling a woman of international descent “exotic”, or calling a black friend that is “practically white” an “Oreo” defines the that person and their race. It places them in a box, creates barriers and is a means of asserting dominance over them. Categorizing a person based off a stereotype confines them to a certain image, thus disabling their social mobility and freedom of identity. Acting a certain way should not categorize a person by their race; acting a certain way should be seen as that person just being themself. The elementary school obviously did not mean to equate the African American culture to that of animals, but situations like this exemplify the people not truly understanding what their actions and words can do to a person. Like Guiner explains, cases such as Brown v. Board focused on the idea of desegregating the community; however, the hurdle between whiteness and blackness is still subtlety impeding in places like our education system through accepted societal norms. Essentially, I am arguing subtle forms of racism still exist today and are prominent in school systems through phrases, slogans and tags. I am wondering how you all feel about this. Do you feel as if your school promoted these subtle forms as well? How does one counteract these forms? What other ways does racism exist in our school system? Should these statements actually be considered, in fact, subtle at all?