Contrary to popular belief, getting an education is not just about books and grades- students are also learning how to respectfully and actively take part in the life of this nation. Without the freedoms offered to us through the U.S. Constitution, many students would not be able to take part in this process of free and equal education, most especially black students. As we look across the country, the ability for black students to obtain an equal education is often unsuccessful because of the breakdown of family, financial limitations, and white privilege.
If we are honest, much of the crisis in black education can be traced back to the family and its roots. Where at one time the family unit was one that helped to supports the school, we are now more often seeing it in an adversarial role. As our nation’s culture of conflict has grown, many blacks have fallen victim to a breakdown in the family, which shows in the disrespect that not only students, but parents have toward what could be on of their greatest advantages. Parents, in their ignorance, pass along warped views of education and its worth. Once the value of education has been compromised, it becomes hard to restore faith in its importance to the lives of an already untrusting race. Unfortunately, their ignorance makes them powerless to do much, leaving their access to successful education options limited.
It’s no secret that not every district in our country is being successful at exposing black students to challenging, engaging and rigorous experiences that mirror that of their counterparts. The reason for this underlying problem is often seen in the area of school funding- a result of a lack of funding, or mismanagement of funding. Black districts are often forced to recruit teachers that are willing to come to their districts hoping to make a difference, but are rarely offered the means to do so by way of professional pay, advancement opportunities and ongoing support. It’s interesting that we’re willing to pay rap artists and athletes millions of dollars for their entertainment talents, but unwilling to pay teachers a salary equal to their professional talents. Cheering on the latest NBA starts and wearing his jersey takes the place of partnering with our local school and government offices to advocate for more transparency when it comes to how our tax dollars are being spent on education for our students.
As a students in a rather balanced high school setting when it comes to diversity, I still have had an opportunity to see what many refer to as white privilege on several occasions. Most striking, I believe many black students can attest to the fact that this privilege is most often seen when we are performing alongside white students at the same level of aptitude, but are not always offered the same opportunities. There seems to be an undertone of expectation based upon our race, interactions, and in some cases, even neighborhoods, that as a black student we would not be interested or excel in certain areas, or given certain opportunities. I dare say that I doubt this is a necessary conversation in most white households, where the expectation seems already clear- you will succeed. To this, I say, me too.
It is true that we have what can be described as a crisis in the area of black education. There are many things, such as the family breakdown, financial woes, and white privilege, which contribute to this.
I refuse to be defined by these realities, and instead fight against them. How so? To be the best student I can be, to actively seek opportunities rather than wait for them to come to me, to fight inequality as it is presented to me, and to remain focused on those goals that are both attainable and unattainable. And in conquering my most attainable goal, i think I will have found a successful breakthrough in the fight against those injustices heaped upon me solely because of my race.