Friday, March 2, 2012

Are Black Students Better Off with Black Teachers?

I have a new piece up at Clutch Magazine

Jada Wiiliams of Rochester N.Y., never imagined when she wrote an essay comparing the racist oppression faced by Frederick Douglas to her current lived experiences as a Black student, that it would end with her teacher claiming offense or in Jada having to leave the school. “Most White teachers that I have come into contact with over the last several years of my life, have failed to instruct us – even today,” she wrote. Her parents were forced to pull her out of school when they noticed that her grades suddenly began to drop in several of her classes.  In tears, she told ABC News, “I did feel overwhelmed because I didn’t know that it would become this huge.”

The fact that her grades declined after handing in this essay adds validity to the charges of racism that Williams bravely made in her essay.  RCSD Interim Superintendent Bolgen Vargas, who is clearly on the defensive, stated that, “Teachers, regardless of their color, are able to teach us.”  Most of the teachers in the Rochester district are white.  Although teachers are forced to take sensitivity classes, regardless of their intent, the fact remains that they have been raised in a culture steeped in white supremacy.

This incident will serve as a very harsh teaching lesson to young Jada.  Though Whiteness has attempted to claim that we are post-racial, or that we have at least reached the point where the kind of virulent racism experienced by Blacks during slavery and Jim Crow has so severely declined as to make it negligible, ongoing attacks against racial minorities continue to be pervasive in almost every social institution – the exception, of course, being inside (some) Black families. This means that charges of racism are often reduced to the minority in question being too sensitive or playing the so-called “race card” to invoke sympathy.

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research reported in 2006 that the graduation rate for the year 2003 was seventy percent.  When the numbers are divided by race and gender however, the success rate drops drastically.

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