The Ideal Institution: Pursuing Racial Equity in Schools
January 12th, 2021
Today we are constantly battling for racial equity in our states, cities, and schools. These battles are made apparent in our schools, where many students of ethnic minorities are exposed to prejudice. Other students, teachers, and the curriculum at schools target and oppress many underrepresented students.
The problem stems mainly from how schools are educating students and the lack of understanding of race in history. How is race being defined and used in our education system to show white supremacy in the 21st century? What is whiteness and how has it influenced perspectives of race relations in history?
There is no scientific evidence that humans have different races because there is no subspecies of human. Race was constructed during the European colonial era to divide and conquer indigenous people; Race is a system of classification to illustrate white supremacy. This ideology of race exists in curricula to instill race as an universal truth among the youth.
In an article for TIME, Charles King discusses the different ways schools teach students fabricated distinctions between white and non-white individuals, turning race into a deeply internalized belief that continues to influence a student’s thoughts and actions far long after they graduate. As early as kindergarten, youth learn the differentiations of ethnicity from dolls. A black doll and a white doll are available during this time. The black doll is characterized as less pretty than the white doll: torn clothes, no hair, missing eye. The white doll is characterized as very attractive: long hair, shiny eyes, smooth skin, glowing dress. These small distinctions are ingrained in the minds of the youth and continue to be reinforced as time goes on.
Another example of these differences is present in the way history is taught. In many schools, history is mainly focused on events that center around white dominance through a eurocentric perspective. On the other hand, other perspectives and events are briefly mentioned or removed completely. In his book “The education of Black people” W.E.B. Du Bois, a well renowned social activist and Pan-Africanist, discusses how the exclusion of black history will lead to it becoming forgotten and the overtaking of white culture.
Each grade continues to repeat the same information that works to empower white students of a sense of pride and superiority, while non-white students are oppressed with a sense of inferiority and shame. This fabricated sense of superiority feeds white students’ learned prejudicial ideas and enables them to begin practicing acts of racism. On the other hand, students of minority ethnic groups see their differences as flaws compared to their white counterparts and are consumed by a growing feeling of self-hatred.
This self-hatred leads to the desire of becoming “more white.” Embracing this fabricated ideology of whiteness is a change in body, mind, and soul: wearing clothes white students wear, changing your hair to look like other white students, favoring lighter color skin complexions, disliking darker color skin complexions, speaking differently, thinking differently, etc.
This problem then leaves the school and spreads throughout the community. Said influenced white students return as teachers and teach in the same inequitable ways, create policies that advantage white students, brutalize non-white people as police, and continue the social injustices targeting ethnic minorities.
This is one of the main reasons why we face the same racial injustices and inequities that we do today. In order to permanently halt this systematically racist cycle, schools must stop reinforcing the false idea of race to the young. Schools must educate students from the earliest stage of their education about how to love their differences and create equal inclusion of ethnicity and culture in all subjects. Schools should not force students to learn from books with whitewashed history and prejudicial ideals but teach students the full history of every ethnicity and how to love their cultural differences. Overall an ideal school teaches students the value of pluralism through acceptance and the importance of an equitable, diverse, and just education that includes everyone regardless of their ethnicity.