River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 07 2012

The Wrong Race

It makes me so sick.

To think no matter how quick.

This race, we won’t win.


It Still Exists

In my rest and relaxation following one of the last Monday’s of the school year, I sought to read some uplifting local news. I saw on Twitter a link to a track meet in Mississippi. As a former track athlete, I was excited to see the photo gallery of some hard-working young people enjoying themselves in an athletic pursuit. As I clicked through the gallery, I became dismayed; out of 36 photos with multiple children in each photo, I saw two African-American females and no black males. If this were Maine, I’d understand, but Mississippi is over 35% Black, so what’s going on? Where are the black people? Where is the diversity?

Then it hit me: this was the MAIS Track meet. I didn’t recall initially that MAIS stands for Mississippi Association of Independent Schools. In other words, as you can infer from their “Hall of Fame,” these are the white private schools. Some say “to each his own” but in this case it’s more like “separate but ‘equal.’” Living in Mississippi for nearly two years has truly opened my eyes to 21st Century segregation, but it’s still incredibly ridiculous. I’m pretty proficient at math and I’ve long been aware of the socioeconomic and racial forces at play, so I get that my school being 99% African-American in a town that is mixed doesn’t add up; I know the history, but I still don’t fully understand it. Warren Buffet once claimed that the quickest way to solve the “education crisis” is to force everyone to attend school together- and I don’t believe he’s too far off.

Honestly, I don’t care much for standardized tests, but I want my kids to be successfully so they can stick it to the man, but also prove to themselves that they are capable if they work hard. Nothing infuriates me as much as seeing talent wasted, and when I go off on my kids, they know it’s because they are being lazy, not because I think they are dumb or slow. Unfortunately, the world isn’t going to afford them that same benefit of the doubt and they need to realized that.

***How things play out:

Young black male: “excuse me, Sir, can I participate in the Track meet? The 100-m dash is my best event and I can’t wait to run in this race!”

Official: “No can do, boy, you’ve got the wrong race.”

What are we teaching our young people- on both sides of the tracks?

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    Remove Barriers, Raise the Bar

    Mississippi Delta
    Middle School

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