White Education

I’ll admit it. I went to white schools for the majority of my educational career. That’s just for all of you who think it’s lame to go to a white school (I know you’re out there). But, I have enjoyed some advantages by going to these institutions. I received a great education. I learned how to write and speak well. I learned the classics. Most important of all, I learned how to interact with people of all different backgrounds which I believe gives me a good perspective on things. However, I went to school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I don’t know if you know it, but the ‘burbs are pretty wild racially. I can imagine that Philly ‘burbs mirror other ones in the country, but while at Howard University, I was shocked one day by a professor. I was sitting at the shuttle bus stop with one of my professors. We had never had a conversation, but we were having a nice exchange. All of a sudden, I told her where I was from and went to school. To my surprise, she said that she taught in one of the neighboring districts and she said to me, “These kids from the South think they have a hard time. They have no idea.” This made me think back to my grade-school days. She really confirmed my thought and feelings that I had inside, but never really thought about since it was just my normal, daily life.

Elementary school was definitely my favorite time during my school years. Everything was fair and everybody got along for the most part. There are a few pitfalls though. In white schools, black history education is all but reduced to Black History Month, which should be called Dr. King, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson and possibly George Washington Carver Month (though you are taught that Carver was the inventor of peanut butter, sigh).  It got to the point almost that Dr. King was devalued. He’s just depicted as this lovey-dovey “dreamer” who made a great speech when he was in actuality a revolutionary that put his life on the line everyday to make life better for his people and the world as a whole. Luckily, I had a mother (who was also a teacher at the school) who taught us at home the real deal on who we were and are. It’s because of her that I developed a deep love for and interest in the struggle. She shared her perspectives and experiences and had us reading books, watching programs and visiting museums to increase our knowledge on our history. Here’s a funny side story though: One day a kid asked my brother, “You guys have Black History Month. How come there’s no White History Month.” Frustrated, my brother responded, “BECAUSE EVERY MONTH IS WHITE HISTORY MONTH!”

As young’ins, we all are curious about many things and to my fellow classmates, blacks were a mystery.  I can remember times when they would actually feel our hair because it amazed them so.  Another example of this came from a friend of mine who came to my district from Philly when she was in about 6th grade. She had her hair beaded and came to school and had so many kids touching her hair and asking questions that she just decided to stop wearing them all together. This may seem like a small thing, but my mother deaded that inkling when she told us to never let anybody just feel our hair. She compared it to slaves on the trading block when white slave traders would examine their potential buy. I never let anybody lay a pinky on my head after that.

Another unfortunate aspect of attending a predominantly white school is that you WILL hear some racial slurs and jokes. Taking a number 2 can be referred to as “dropping your kids of at the pool”. White girls who like black guys may be referred to as “mud chasers”. You may hear jokes like, “What’s the difference between a black man and a pizza? A pizza can feed a family.” Somebody may come out and say that their family used to own yours. One time in school, a white guy called a black kid a “black son of a bitch” and was body slammed on a lunch table as a result. The black guy was suspended. His mother was then ridiculed for protesting outside every morning with a sign reading “STOP THE RACIAL SLURS AT THIS SCHOOL”. Oh yeah, don’t think they’ll be afraid to throw around the N-word, an action is sure to cause a rumble.

These are just a few things that you may experience going to a white school. Now don’t get me wrong. There are advantages. As I said before, you will learn a lot of useful things that will help you in the future and you will develop a more diverse mindset that will help you when dealing with people in the outside world. But be prepared for some difficult times racially. To parents, I urge you to teach your kids as much as you can in the home about our history, where we come from and what we’ve been through and prepare them to be strong and resist the urge to whoop a white kid for saying something out of pocket no matter how justified they may be. It will just make things worse for your kid.

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One Response to “White Education”

  1. Her father was averse to his daughter taking the test, believing that if she passed and was allowed to go to the white school, there would be trouble. Her mother, Lucille, however, pressed the issue, believing that Ruby would get a better education at a white school. She was eventually able to convince Ruby’s father to let her take the test.

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