Sunday, November 3, 2013

Separate is NOT Equal!

I was so happy when I learned that we would be discussing Brown v. Board of Education this week in class. I have always had a deep interest in this matter and didn’t really know where to start with researching it further. The Electronic Field Trip  found on the “Separate is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education website” was very insightful. Many aspects of this major point in history but I want to share two things that really stuck out to me. 

I think it is safe for me to say that all of us are asking the same question when we are at our Service Learning placement or reading a new article...Can I really change it? I find myself asking this same question to myself whenever I see a student hiding in the corner of the room or read an article that says that something has to change! This video has made me realize that yes I can change things! The video discussed Five Communities that helped to change the country.

In this case Harry Briggs and nineteen other parents of Clarendon County go against the school board chairman, Roderick W. Elliot. White children were able to take a bus back and forth to school; African Americans did not have that luxury and many had to walk up to nine miles to go to school. The parents petitioned for transportation for their children to go to school.

This case also was fought by parents of the county: Oliver Brown and 13 other parents from Topeka. The defendant was the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The complaint was that segregated elementary schools and the harmful psychological effects of segregation on African American children. A study was conducted among White and African American children. When showed a white doll and a black doll, a majority of African American children chose the white doll. This showed that segregation decreased the self-esteem of African American  children. 

This case involves ninth-grader Dorothy Davis, 16-year-old student Barbara Johns and 116 other students and parents of Farmville. The complaint was that segregated schools for African Americans were overcrowded and underfunded. The schools did not have gymnasiums or cafeterias or even bathrooms for the teachers. Many schools went without chalkboards and desks. 

The pictures above were taken from the Resource Section (Unit Two of Teacher’s Guide) of the Separate is Not Equal website and represent the differences in white schools and black schools. 

These cases involved Sarah Bulah, Ethel Belton and seven other parents in Wilmington County versus Francis Gebhart and the State Board of Education. The complaint of the parents was that the segregated schools were far from the homes and neighborhoods of the African American children. They also touched on the conditions of the only African American highschool in the community. 

This case also involved students: 12-year-old Spottswood Bolling, Jr. and four other students from Washington, D.C. This case addressed that black students had to attend overcrowded segregated schools and were denied admission to well-equipped white schools. 
 Hearing about how the students got involved in these cases really made an impact on me. These cases gave me hope that I, too, could possibly change things for the best.

The next thing I would like to address is President Eisenhower’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education: “I won’t say it’s right and I won’t say it’s wrong.” This really aggravated me. One of the presenters in the video said that the government reflects the people of the nation. As I was listening to this discussion I couldn't help but refer back to Johnson when he tells us to "Just say it!"  I think Johnson would tell Eisenhower to just say what he really means-stop turning it into a riddle. Say the words! If the President of the United States gave the decision half-hearted support than in return the nation would as well. The video discussed that many people violently opposed the Supreme Court’s decision. I can now understand why. Although he may not have fully supported the decision he knew that he had the job of protecting the court’s ruling. He ordered that troops protect black students as they walked to school. 

Painted by Norman Rockwell-this painting called "The Problem We All Live With" features soldiers escorting young Ruby Bridges to school.

“Between Barack and A Hard Place” by Tim Wise

As he was interviewed by Mike Papantonio, Tim Wise made some very great points about racism in America. The fact that intrigued me the most was when he referred to how many hoops a person of color has to jump through to even be considered truly exceptional. People of color are hindered by their skin color. A white male could, as Wise said, crash five airplanes, and still be considered a Presidential candidate (referring to John McCain). Yet, if a black male had crashed five planes he wouldn’t even be considered a candidate. We are missing out on an equal opportunity society. Wise discussed five common stereotypes of people of color: Whites believe people of color are less intelligent; Whites believe that people of color are more aggressive and more likely to have a criminal background; Whites believe that people of color are less patriotic; Whites believe that people of color are less hardworking; This point goes along with the 4th point: Whites believe that people of color want to live on welfare and thus do not work.

I was reminded of Johnson’s article and something I learned from the Promising Practices conference yesterday. On pages 27-33, Johnson gives us a list of “What Privilege Looks Like in Everyday Life.” The last workshop I attended had two parts to it. The first part “Trans*Action: Tools for a Transgender Ally” is the part I would like to connect to Wise’s interview. The presenter, Jaye Watts, a social work for Youth Pride, Inc., gave the class a “Privilege Checklist” which lists the struggles that people of the LGBTQQ community face. Both Johnson’s list and Jaye’s “Privilege Checklist” only add a deeper meaning to Tim’s words. 

"Separate and Unequal” by Bob Herbert

I don’t know how many of you were bothered by the Mayor’s comment yesterday, but I was really upset by it. As the Mayor said that the socioeconomic background of a parent should not affect the success of the student. Or the comment made that zip code cannot dictate the quality of education that is offered to children. I believe that Bob Herbert would disagree whole-heartedly with these two statements. We see these in different quotes from his article:

 “Educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty.”

“If you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty.”

I see this everyday at my Service Learning placement. I overhear conversations about who brought their lunch from home and who had to get a “special” lunch from school. This week’s hot conversation topic was who had a costume for Halloween and who didn’t. I see how this affects the mindset of the children.
Many circumstances affect the education a student receives. I do believe however, that Herbert would agree with one major point the panel made yesterday. The education of the student starts with the parents.

“Studies have shown that it is not the race of the students that is significant, but rather the improved all-around environment of schools, with better teachers, fewer classroom disruptions, pupils who are engaged academically, parents who are more involved, and so on.”

Everyone, especially the parents, need to get more involved in the schooling of EVERY child. 

Question for the class:

Many points of view were presented in this week’s reading/videos. I found a lot of connections to the Promising Practices Seminar yesterday. How do you feel about the Mayor’s and panel’s thoughts about zip code and socioeconomic background? 

1 comment:

  1. Dorothy,

    As always your blog looks great. Thank you for posting the pictures of the white school vs. the school for people of color. I agree that everyone including parents need to get involved in their children's education. You made great points.