Not Every Black Girl Survives Private School Reaction
*This is our reaction to Arah Iloabugichukwu's article. These are our opinions only. You can read the article here
This article by Arah Iloabugichukwu starts off with 2 bright-eyed black girls, herself and Sidney, going into a new environment, an all-white private school, with innocence and blissful ignorance. This introduction threw me off a bit as the title talks about one of them not surviving but I read further. As I did that, The story got dark and grim. These young black women were faced with extreme adversity when they walked into their new elite private school from being ostracized socially by their peers to straight up being racially profiled as thieves and/or ‘black bitches”. The author even talked about having to create a role for herself and her friend to help cope. These weren’t the most healthy coping mechanisms but that is what they felt like was the best route to take as no resources were available to them. It is pretty sad to see them get reduced to drugs, self-harm, bullying others and ultimately death for one of them to deal with the ordeals of private schools. Private school for black kids is a tougher experience than some think, I would know.
As a product of private school, I have had my fair share of experiences from being asked questions about what certain slang terms mean to a student assuming I was good at basketball without watching and seeing for himself. I would go to school at 7 am the as the ‘blackest” kid everyone knew then by 5:00 I would come home as the sell out or “the oreo” of the neighborhood. My identity was in the gray and enigmatic area where I would wonder where I fit in socially.
I think every black kid that went to a private school can attest to this quote by Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino:
“White kids get to wear whatever hat they want, When it comes to black kids one size fits all.” - “Hold you down” from the album Camp
This quote means a lot in the sense that we are pressured to follow a specific mold at all times while our white counterparts can spend their whole private school experience trying different molds. This can fit some black students where they might go home to a completely black neighborhood. When they go home, they don’t fit the mold of what their neighborhood looks like so the ostracizing effect plays in both worlds.
Maybe that is how Sidney and Arah felt and it made her angry in this article. I am not sure of their home environment. It is probably safe to assume they are in a predominantly African community. So this lyric should fit them perfectly.
Private schools can sometimes ignore the maintenance that comes with creating an environment that makes the transition to their schools easier. They feel as if the mere fact of them bringing these students to their schools they have done their job when in fact it is the opposite. They ignore the cultural, social, and even mental/emotional differences of students who help them meet their diversity quotas. They don’t understand that these students are facing the social ills in school at the same time as they are on the outside of school walls. They only feel included when there is a half-assed diversity event or board members or other big-time contributors come to the school then they get tossed aside again. They are not creating a place these kids can feel safe and wanted. The author mentions that several times in the articles about being used for PR. It is constant maintenance day to day, minute to minute.
Lastly, The author also said that certain places aren’t best for our community’s children socially and mentally. The author seems to challenge both our community parents and the school systems, specifically private. My main questions are, how much should this challenge be shared? How involved should parents be in the decision process? Should parents put all or just a part of the responsibility on their child to pick the right school earlier in their educational path? Should schools have a diversity board/team to review and conduct diversity training amongst students? Should there be mentors at these school for these young black children to work with? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!