American society likes to believe that race relations in our country are no longer strained. We do not want to hear about the need for affirmative action or about the growing numbers of white supremacist groups. In order to appease our collective conscious, we put aside the disturbing fact that racism is alive and well in the great U.S.A. It hides in the workplace, it subtly shows its ugly face in the media, and it affects the education of minority students nationwide. In the following excerpts from an interview with a middle class African American male, the reader will find strong evidence that race plays a major role in determining the type and quality of education a student receives.
The subject of the interview is a twenty year old African American male who identifies himself as middle to lower upper class. Both of his parents graduated from high school and his father received a business degree from Bowling Green State University in northern Ohio. He attended a large high school whose student body consisted of mostly the white upper class and very few minorities. Although his educational story is not an earth shattering one, it does effectively illustrate the presence of racism in American education today.
“I want you to understand that the racism I encountered
during school was not blatant,” he explained. “No one burned crosses in my yard or yelled out racial slurs as I walked down the hall. No, what I encountered was so subtle it wouldn’t hold up in court.” This subtle racism began with quiet comments made by the high school counselor who was helping him to register for classes. Without asking him about his family and home situation the counselor assumed certain things about his life. “...
... middle of paper ...
...an academic scholarship. He was never denied anything from the school or ridiculed by his teachers. However, the racial overtones were present ...and they were real enough to be noticed by a teenager.
Racism in education is not just an issue. It is a national crisis. Teachers and administrators need to realize that these problems do exist and therefore appropriate actions need to be taken. Curriculums need to be revamped in order to incorporate a multicultural look at history. Students of other ethnic groups, especially African Americans, need to be encouraged to excel in academics, not just athletics. Above all, teachers at all different types of schools need to be sensitive to how and how often they teach about other cultures. Racism is not an innate human characteristic. Racism is a learned response. It is a response which our schools need to stop perpetuating.
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