The worst places for poor white children are almost all better than the best places for poor black children.... Poor white children struggle in parts of the Southeast and Appalachia. But they still fare better there than poor black children do in most of America. In effect, the worst places for whites produce outcomes that are about as good as the best places for blacks.... Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys.....Monday was a beautiful sunny day out here in Rockaway and I managed to spend 3 hours sitting in the backyard reading the NY Times and getting some much needed sun - and a jolt of vitamin D. That it took me so long to read the paper was due to some intriguing articles, three of which connected some dots.
......NY Times, March 19
The major article was the front page one I quoted above with some important data about the impact of racism. I would bet that many people feel that if a black boy grows up in a high income family there would not be much difference in long time outcomes from white boys. But that seems so not true.
White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households. Most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.The numbers are very different for black girls. And from my own experience with black kids I could see the different gender trajectories in elementary school.
Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.
I often issue a challenge to people who say race is not a factor. "A black guy dressed in a suit and carrying a brief case and a white guy dressed in fatigues and carrying an AK-47 walk down a street. Which one is more likely to get stopped by cops?" I've never had one white male answer that it would be the white guy. Reminds me of the great 1970 film, Where's Poppa, where a well dressed black couple have cab after cab pass them by but George Segal dressed in a gorilla suit is picked up immediately.
I remember a story told to me by a white high school teacher who had a deep understanding of racial issues - she took in kids to live with her family over the years, including one of my former 6th graders who grew up poor. A few of his relatives had apparently escaped the pull of gravity of poverty and had middle class jobs. The teacher pointed out that the escapees never quite escape the pull of poverty gravity because the rest of the poor family was always pulling on them for help.
At any rate, the article is a must read, especially for educators though some of the charts gave me a headache. Read it here - and I have a bunch of excepts below the break - but no charts.
Article 2 is this one about discipline. It is a complex article addressing issues that come up often here in NYC about punishing kids, suspensions, etc. I won't print any of it but leave those interested to read it at the link
Why Are Black Students Punished So Often? Minnesota Confronts a National Quandary
As I often say I learned a lot from my students, especially about racism. Here are a few stories that sort of fit into the framework of the article above.
I once had my class(roughly 65% Hispanic and 35% black) lined up ready to go back up after lunch and told them we weren't moving until everyone was quiet and in line. Some kids were still rambunctious and pulled one after another off the line into a separate line. Then I noticed that every single one of the kids I pulled was black. It made me stop and think about whether I was being objective or exhibiting some prejudice. I thought I was objective but it was a wake-up call for me to be sensitive.
Another story about race has to do with a black boy in my 6th grade class who gave me a hell of a lot of trouble the first month of school -- I had moved up with my 5th grade class and they were attuned to my teaching and happy to be in my class again - but he was an addition - his also problem brother had been in the 5th grade and was not in this class - than goodness. It was a known problem family with all the kids having been problems. Did this prejudice me? Well, I got pretty exasperated with him and finally said I was coming to his house after school to talk to his mother. He didn't seem to care -- so I decided to go. The projects were pretty rough at that time so I had some butterflies. When I knocked on the door he answered. His eyes were disbelieving. I sat down in the living room waiting for his mom to appear. He sat there looking scared when she came in. I can't explain why I did what I did - I had no plan - but the first words out of my mouth was how funny he was (he was) - but I think at that moment it was the first time I thought of him that way --he looked so relieved. I did lodge some complaints about his behavior but said with her help we could work things out.
From them on he and I were pals and had the most fun in class. My attitude towards him totally changed. I began to laugh at his antics instead of punishing him and we often entertained the rest of the class. He did have some very rough years - or decades - ahead but now I see him on facebook and am delighted at the way his life seems to have turned out. What was my lesson here? That sometimes we as teachers can change our views of certain kids.
In retrospect, I found that I often connected with most of the black boys I had in my class and later on when I began to hang out with one of my former students and his friends when he was on the high school basketball team years later I learned a lot about black teenage boys - a view I wish everyone had a chance to be part of. They were poor urban kids - but so interesting and delightful - I at times took a bunch to my house after school to play video games. A few slept over once or twice. It was my honor to be invited into their world.
The final article ties is about Testilying by police - part 1 -- Tuesday was part 2.
A Stubborn Problem:
Police lying persists, even amid an explosion of video
evidence that has allowed the public to test officers’ credibility.
How does this tie in? Well think of the disciplining and arrests of so many black boys and men. Do all cops lie? Obviously not. But if a cop is even subconsciously racist - or views black teen boys very differently than the view I had of them -- always a menace -- and certainly some are -- then they are more likely to overreact. And shade the truth to match their point of view.
All of the above, a complex problem with mo easy solutions.