Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brown vs. Board of Education Argument Post

 I guess my post this week is going to be an Argument/Connections/Reflection piece all in one. But I guess mainly argument and connections. I have a lot of thoughts and points I want to make in my post this week so I'm going to do my best to organize it nicely. So anyways here we go !

In about 7th or 8th grade the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education was taught to us in school. I remember the teacher concluding the lesson by saying "without this case our schools could still have been segregated today!" 
I then remember looking around the classroom at all my peers and seeing nothing but white kids surrounding me. I thought to myself, if we're so integrated then why am I still in a room filled entirely with white people over 50 years after Brown vs. Board took place? 

The article from the New York Times, "Separate and Unequal" really summed up everything that my middle school teacher neglected to mention. The reason I was still surrounded by only white people was because I was in Smithfield. If you remember in my first ever blog post from the Peggy McIntosh reading I included a pie chart of Smithfield High School's diversity....errr... or lack there of. Smithfield has a population made up of over 90% white people. In his New York Times article, Bob Hebert argues that "Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality". 

Hebert goes on to make the point that "If you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty". Which is obviously way easier said than done. 

It seems now a days that most lower class neighborhoods come complete with their own lower class schools. This is in direct agreement with the argument Hebert makes in the New York Times.  Hebert states that this is something that is highly detrimental to a students education and it's something that needs to change. 
It appears that the argument Bob Hebert is attempting to make is that even though legally we've desegregated these institutions it doesn't mean that black kids suddenly start to seamlessly blend into the high performing white schools, there's still years and years ahead of us to reach a truly equal education for all students. 

Stepping back from Hebert's article and taking a closer look at the interview with Tim Wise, author of Between Barack and a Hard Place,
it was kind of difficult for me to first decipher what Wise's main argument really was but after listening multiple times it seems to me that Wise concluded that Barack Obama's election as president, has been a really good and bad thing for black people.

 On a positive note, Obama's win has allowed black children everywhere to see someone with the same color skin as themselves lead a nation. This is something that white people have been able to do since the day they're born, which McIntosh stated in the first reading. And the fact that so many white people voted for Obama was encouraging too as a step towards ending racism. But the argument that Tim Wise makes is that white people only seem to be so accepting of Obama because of his educational status. Wise says Obama is able to transcend racial barriers because he is educated, intellectual, intelligent and eloquent when he presents himself. Obama is breaking these stereotypes that many white people had or have about black people, but the problem is, not many black people can be as educated and intelligent as Obama is, AND NEITHER CAN WHITE PEOPLE ! It's almost as if Obama has learned these rules and codes of power that Delpit was talking about but he learned them almost too well. The difference is that we accept mediocrity within whites. In the phone interview Wise says that it's almost as if society has said "In order to be a successful person of color you have to bring it the way Obama brings it." The interviewer responds to this statement by saying "You have to be truly exceptional to break that glass ceiling"

 In the end of the phone interview Tim Wise perfectly sums up what racial equality will finally mean and how we will know when we've reached it : "The proof of racial equity will be the day that people of color can be a mediocre as white people and still get hired." 

Wise connects back to Brown vs. Board of Education by reminding us that "nothing took place quickly" and that we need to keep our eyes on the prize and not be deterred by our slow progress.

Thanks for reading my blog this week ! While I was reading Hebert's article from the New York Times I couldn't help but think of my final paper that I had written for Writing 100 last year. In my paper I too discussed the affects of poverty stricken neighborhoods on children attending the schools in those neighborhoods. However, I argued that more vocational and technical schools could potentially help these schools. The paper is about 8 pages long but it has some facts in it that really relate to what Hebert is arguing in his article so check it out if you'd like ! :

writing 100 paper 4.pdf


  1. Hey Jen. I was pretty overwhelmed by all of this material. and thank you for posting a comment. We have yet to see a female president. There's another ceiling. There have been some really remarkable women in our time, and yet we elect George Bush. You endorsed the good point though. It's going to take time. Somehow we have to find hope in that at least the problem is being acknowledged. And as Kozol said in Amazing Grace, we have to identify that there is a problem before we can even begin to do something about it.

  2. Hey Jen, great post! you organized your thoughts very well and I could follow all of your connections. it's hard to make things that we so badly happen so quickly, especially when it seems like we're the only ones to recognize that we need a change. good work !

  3. Great post this week Jen. I love the pictures and I love that you did a mix of styles this week. Yay we finally did connections. haha. Anyways overall great post.

  4. How are your blogs always so good?! You always do such a good job connecting pictures, videos and even you're amazing essay! Whenever I need an example of a good blog I turn to you! :)