White girl

In “A is for Afro” in Mother Jones, Sara Catania recounts her years as a white student at a Catholic school on Chicago’s South Side that was all black, except for the Catania sisters.

This was the era of consciousness-raising and the politicization of racial pride, and at St. James race mattered more than anything else. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in 1968, eight years before, the year we’d all been born, and our lives were marked and defined by his death. At school assemblies, we joined hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.” No one wished for this more than I, though the verse in our version declaring “black and white together, someday,” with its resolution fixed on some eternally future date, was cold comfort to a child compelled to confront it now.

The showing of “Roots” inspired harassment from classmates who thought they should take revenge on the oppressor in their midst.

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  1. Good post. I remember those days as well… our catholic school in NY was more racially mixed. I just rememeber how hard roots was to believe.

  2. I read it, mentally replacing every occurrence of the word “white” with “jew” and “black” with “German” to get the proper effect.

  3. That was shocking. How is this for the shock effect:
    My only questions would be, why couldn’t these children be taught the first time around? Why were the techniques implemented the second time around not used the first year? And let’s face it, when we are speaking about the second-time around, we are almost exclusively talking about minority students. Please take a look at the following article:

    In John Grisham’s novel “A Time to Kill,” a jury of eight white women and two white men are asked to imagine their daughter, a young white girl being raped, beaten and left for dead by two drunken and remorseless black men. The jury is tasked with delivering a verdict for a black man, Carl Lee Hailey, who burst out of the courthouse basement and killed his daughter’s accused attackers with an assault rifle.

    Certainly, this lends itself to lively argument with regard to Carl Lee’s being guilty of murder, execution, revenge, or justice. But there is no argument, amongst sane and humane people, that this was a horrendous act that would cripple this child forever.

    It is baffling to me how some can look at a violent rape such as the one of little Tonya Hailey described in “A Time to Kill,” and clearly see it as the horror that it is, yet not be able to fathom that failing or refusing to educate capable children and rendering them emotionally, socially, and economically crippled for the rest of their lives as at best an equal horror.

    Education may be the only thing—beyond faith—from which African Americans and other minorities have been able to see tangible economic progress. Without an adequate and fair education system the fate of a large segment of African Americans and others minorities trapped in its grips seems hopeless. Without an adequate education how does one improve their economic situation in today’s workforce? The answer is only by chance itself, for the majority will stay poor—an economic condition that some will use as an excuse for not educating their children. How do we tackle the many problems facing our young people today and in the future if we cannot count on our school systems to provide an adequate education? Recent court decisions have made it easier to resegregate schools and seemingly accept the provision of a less than adequate education as lawful. Regrettably, in many cases parents and students may not possess the knowledge to identify a less than adequate education until the young person’s self-esteem is permanently damaged along with her dreams when he or she discovers she cannot pass a high school graduation test or a college entrance exam.
    The urgency of dealing with such issues became unmistakably apparent in 2003 when the U.S. Supreme Court rendered decisions limiting how much a factor race can play in the selection of students and struck down a point system giving minority preference in college admissions. Those rulings were expected to affect admissions practices at public colleges nationwide, as well as scholarship, tutoring, internships and fellowship programs reserved for blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. The court’s rationale was also expected to influence private colleges and universities, other government decision-making and the business world. Therefore, it is imperative that all children be fully prepared to compete on a fair playing field in the future, for the Supreme Court clearly expressed that the days of affirmative action are numbered.
    In an ideal world, we could all come from the same level and competitive playing field in our home environment but we know that it is not feasible—mostly due to the history and economic culture of these United States. But it is foreseeable that with laws insisting upon an adequate education system that includes proper funding, and training for school system personnel, there could be a level playing field for the resources and expectations we should have for each child when they step into a classroom.

    A.R. Linder is the editor of SisterPlay.com. The site features discussion forums and blogs on multicultural issues. A cornerstone of the website is a wonderful area called YouthPlay.org –a compilation of many of the websites she has used in educating herself and her child. Ms. Linder is also the editor of the popular Sisterly Advice and Best Educational Websites blogs. Ms. Linder is a graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says: