Freedom Folks

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ah, The Realities Of Race And Culture...

Source: seattletimes

Does it not seem that "diversity" is a bit of a one way street sometimes?
A large photo of smiling children hangs at the entrance of Madrona K-8. Superimposed across their faces is the caption: "This is who we are."

Most of the children in the photograph are African American.

A block away, a different portrait emerges — that of a gentrified neighborhood where residents meet to chat at the corner bakery and young mothers push strollers along a main street of small shops and restaurants.

On any given day, most of them are white. *snip*

The newer parents helped revive the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), started after-school programs and volunteered in classrooms. But in the end, some gave up, saying they didn't feel welcome, and last fall, several withdrew their children. *snip*

Some white parents talked of wanting to feel that a school only blocks from their homes could be a place where their children could get a well-rounded education and where they could feel welcome donating their time.

Some black parents pointed out that their ethnicity is appreciated at a school like Madrona and expressed concerns over white families changing the school in the same way they've changed the neighborhood. *snip*

Orser, who is white, has lived in the neighborhood 12 years. He had gone to school in Baltimore with children of all races and income levels, knew the racial mix at Madrona and wanted that for his kids, too.

He became active in the school three years before his eldest was enrolled. He was among those who helped revive the PTSA, serving as its treasurer for four years and volunteering in classrooms.

But in the end, he said, he never felt welcomed. Orser said the principal seemed to dismiss suggestions for reducing class sizes or incorporating art and music programs into the curriculum — something he felt would benefit all children.

"We had financial resources and people with all kinds of skills willing to help," Orser said. "It was clear she didn't want our money and was reluctant to give us direction."

Disillusioned, Orser transferred his son at the start of this school year to Lowell Elementary School, where he tested into the gifted program. *snip*

But several of the white parents expressed less-tangible unease — that the administration seemed intent on keeping the school predominantly black. A few have all but accused the school's white principal of being racist against them.

The sense of rejection some were feeling was confirmed by an e-mail sent to a parent that appeared to come from vice principal Brad Brown. It admitted that the school intentionally misassessed a white student's reading skills to rid the school of his family and others critical of the administration, then bade them a "wonderful educational experience aboard the Mayflower." *snip*

Andrews, the principal, has called academic achievement the most important civil-rights issue today and speaks of building confidence through learning.

Too often, she said, schools have failed the poor and disenfranchised.

"And we often don't admit those have anything to do with race, but they are so intertwined."
Here in Chicago you have the somewhat more honest/dishonest liberals who decry the failing inner city schools while keeping their kids as far away from them as humanly possible.

Now before I say anything else let me acknowledge that plenty of folks at that school feel things are getting better and perhaps the folks who left didn't give it enough time. Fair enough. But I always find it instructive to reverse the situation, a black family accuses a school of making them feel unwelcome because they are black.

Headline of the NYT? For several weeks?

There are racial and cultural differences, to pretend there aren't is as great an injustice as giving them too much weight. For what it's worth I tend to think culture plays a bigger role than race does, I don't think race matters all that much. Being a big city boy I have had the pleasure of knowing folks from literally all over the world, and have had the opportunity to observe folks of every race and culture and what I've learned is this...

Culture matters, race matters, to pretend otherwise is begging reality to smack you upside the head. I don't have a larger point here,other than to say that I think this article tells us something important, we aren't all the same, and that's neither good nor bad, it's just so.


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