Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brown vs. Board of Education : Reflection

Before I even get to discuss the material for this week, I just have to say that I felt overwhelmed and sad at the same time. I always knew there was inequality in the school system, and I learned about it even more as I went through public schools myself. I always knew it was not fair, but now reading the article, and exploring the website, as well as watching the videos, just made everything more real, and more sickening. For this week I decided to do a reflection, perhaps this way I can express in a hopefully organized way all that I felt when I went through the material for this week.

I went through the steps in order, exploring the website first. When I read about the exhibition and the importance of Brown vs. Board of Education, I felt proud that after a long time of fighting the nation had to come to realize the necessity to stop the cruelty of “separate but equal”. I loved to read that “the African American freedom struggle soon spread across the country [and that] the original battle for school desegregation became part of broader campaigns for social justice”. I do think that this was a stepping stone for further improvement in the treatment that African Americans received. Yet, then I went to watch videos. Tim Wise, is great, and a true example that blacks and minorities can have allies that help them out as much as possible even if they are not from the same race. He made so many good points that it was hard to just choose a few. His central idea was the election of Barack Obama, he does acknowledge the importance that this had, but it is not enough. I agree. I feel that his election was great; I mean we have talked about the Obama Effect, and the importance that black children can finally see a president that looks like them. In my middle school, his election was a big deal. I felt proud, I am not black, but I felt proud. My art class turned into a gathering area for anyone who wanted to see the historic moment. My teachers who were black were crying. I could feel their happiness, and they explained to us the hardships their families faced because of their skin color, and now seeing a black president just helped heal those memories a bit. My black schoolmates had papers taped to their shirts that said “Obama”. It was a nice day, a day of joy, and as I think about that day I feel what I felt in that moment. I can see my classmates on the tables chanting “Obama!”, and the vivid image makes me believe more than ever the power of having a role model to up to, but as Tim Wise said, that is not enough.  

He was “cautiously optimistic” about the effect of Obama’s election, because as he said that the chances of an average black person getting to where Obama is, are not high. He made it clear when he said that for instance a “vice president wouldn’t have been accepted if he went to five schools in six years”, because we live in “an unequal opportunity society”. On his reference to Brown vs. Board of Education, he said that those important events just remind us “to keep an eye on the price and remember how much work is needed to be done” and I agree. It would have been great if the decision of the Supreme Court would have solved all the problems, but sadly that’s not the case. We still see segregation in schools till this day as Bob Herbert makes it clear. But most importantly, as Tim Wise said “racism has never been an excuse, it is a reason, it is an obstacle,[and[ it is not the only reason” why blacks and minorities cannot achieve what whites have been able to do. This idea of privilege and power reminds me of Johnson, who states the idea that the ones that have power are the ones that least acknowledge it. A clear example is when Tim Wise mentioned that in 1963, two out of three white Americans responded that blacks had equal opportunities in housing and education. We can’t oblivious, and as power and privilege existed then it also exists now and we can’t ignore it.

This education segregation sadly didn’t stop with Brown vs, Board of education as Bob Herbert makes it clear as well. Reading this article just made everything clearer. I knew about the inequality but reading about it just made it more real, and it made me reflect about my own school years. As Herbert said it is “very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty” and these are the schools that minorities attend. I can really reflect to the idea that inequalities are still taking place. I went to school in Providence, and attended public schools. My experience was great, because I got to see many things I wouldn’t have been able to see till now. Yet, it is true, the poorest cities and school districts have such low performing scores because of poverty, and the lack of help. It was amazing if we got new books, most were used and a lot in bad condition. It was rare if we had a smart board. The schools were old. We could see the cracks on the walls and computers were rarely used. I saw my classmates receive reduced or free lunch, and struggle every day, and that’s why as I read Bob Herbert’s article in all came back to my mind. It was hard to attend a public school in Providence, because as I read the article I could see that my schoolmates and I were part of education segregation. Because we lived in a poor city, we were confined to poor schools and the consequences that come with it. Perhaps if we went to others schools we could have done better, as the “long years of evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent — that is, middle class — peers”. As I mentioned, reading the website for Brown vs. Board of Education, made me proud, and believe that people wanted to end “separate but equal” all together, but Bob Herbert’s article made me realize and reflect that that’s not the reality. Currently, “schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom” inequality that shouldn’t exist still does.

This video is another prove of the inequality that still exists, as students try to have their FIRST EVER integrated prom.

The points that I would like to talk about in class, are just the reasons why racism isn't over. Our feelings about it and the actions we could take to help change this at least a little bit.


  1. I love your use of quotes in this post and how you went in order by how you saw and interpreted things. Awesome video too! Great job :)

  2. Loved your post! The quotes and your thoughts on each step of this weeks post process were great to read and I couldn't agree more with what you said! Awesome job!

  3. You did a great job on you post, and I agree with all of you points! great video as well!

  4. Great video and post!! I really enjoyed reading and watching!! :)