Every year the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education brings up reminders of how far we’ve come as a nation. And every year there’s a discussion that schools, and by extension neighborhoods, are re-segregating.
As I’ve written about before, I taught at intensely segregated (as the NYT puts it) schools in NYC.
There was beauty in it. I knew for sure that I was helping my community, I could understand many of the cultural norms, and no one ever asked me if I’d cut my hair when I’d simply washed it.
But it also got…tiring. There’s more to the world than people of my hue; but you wouldn’t know it when walking through my neighborhood, school, or place of worship. When I’m honest with myself, I became more narrow-minded and less open to people of other races when living My Segregated Life.
As a result, I will forever be an advocate of diverse (racially and economically) educational experiences. I went to the two most diverse high schools in my uber-diverse district. My informal education, that which I got from my peers, I value more than my formal education.
Even though I still have plenty of ignorant moments, I honestly believe I’m less ignorant and know “a little something, something” about various cultural norms because you simply had to when going to a school that was 30% Black, 30% Latino, 20% Asian, and 20% white. I never learned the official statistics, but it seemed as if half the school had at least one immigrant parent too.
I will be paying close attention to education policy that addresses the re-segregation of America. It’s an issue that makes the papers every year as an ironic memory to Brown v. Board, but it’s an issue that remains year after year.
What are your thoughts? Did you have a diverse educational experience? How did it (or the lack thereof) affect you? Do you think a diverse educational experience is even important? Feel free to respond in the Comments section.