I currently run a group on FaceBook that has inspired me to create this website. In the group, the topic of diversity and the struggles African American families face for their choice in private education has often come up. The common thing that some of us have faced as a result of our choice is the backlash from our own community.
Why does this bother so many African American families? Well, let’s address one of the most obvious reasons: integration. From Lowell High School to Ruby Bridges, we have fought tirelessly to integrate schools and to be treated as equals in the classrooms of this country. Even today, in 2018 we as a community still struggle to receive equality in our schools in various categories. One of the group members states that the reason behind this pushback is because if black families choose private school over public, it’s considered a slap in the face to those who made it possible for us to attend. I believe there’s truth to that thought in our community. I say this as someone who was once very anti-private school myself for this reasoning.
When my husband and I made this choice for our family we were questioned by several of our AA family & friends who were worried that our daughter wouldn’t have classmates that looked like her. Some told me I was sending her into a potentially dangerous setting for her confidence, mental and emotional well-being. The most interesting comment came when someone told me my daughter would grow up to be confused about who she is and wouldn’t know she was black. These are some of the things I personally experienced and I’m just one person. However, if you truly know what’s going on in our country then you know there is no place any black or biracial person can go in America and not know they’re indeed black.
It’s amazing how Black folks are so proud of Spelman and Morehouse, both private colleges. But then we oppose… https://t.co/SKPyeHbMFq
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) January 26, 2018
I had a chat with a close friend of mine whose daughter is enrolled in private school and she stated “I think some of us don’t want to get away from what we think makes us “black”. I don’t like this thinking, it’s not about being black or white. It’s about doing what we think is best for our child(ren).” I have to agree. If we continue to involve ourselves in social circles that once seemed off limits to us, we have the ability to change the biases in those circles.
I think it’s time to change the private school perception in the African American community. We need to remember we set out to integrate all schools and we can do this and still support one another. No matter what our school choice is, we are all trying to parent. Our kids will still face many of the same struggles because of their color, just at different types of schools. This doesn’t have to divide friendships and families.
Parent & Teacher Feedback
“There has always been a perception of me in my own family that I think I’m better than all of them, that I don’t want to be black (and, in fact, want to be white). Now, there is the perception that I think my daughter is “too good” to go to public school. Or that I don’t want her to be around other black kids. Which, if they knew anything about this area, there probably isn’t a school anywhere in Frisco, McKinney, or Plano where the majority is black. It’s all so absurd.”
“We’re now at a place where we no longer tell people (especially black people) our children are in private school because when I do suddenly everything is different and I hear the judgment in the questions.”
“They fail to realize that research shows that African Americans, especially males, graduate college at a higher rate than those who attend suburban public schools” “Most of us are not familiar with private schools, it carries a stigma that it’s for those who have money.”
“The dream is still for all of us to go to school together right? No matter the type of school right?”