The Huffington Post:
I came of age in a Jersey Shore community with high racial tension. A major road divided the town, and separated black homes from white homes. But we all met in the integrated schools, and that’s where I witnessed racial discrimination firsthand.
I vividly remember this one incident from eighth grade. Word spread one morning through the corridors that there would be a fight in the boys’ lavatory in the afternoon, between a black boy and a white boy. This was not uncommon, and we all crowded around to witness the event, but in the end hardly a punch got thrown. Our eighth grade English teacher had gotten wind of the coming fight, and immediately broke it up. He marched both boys to the principal’s office.
So the fight was not memorable, but the consequences were. By the end of the school day, the white boy was back in class, doing his lessons, with just a verbal reprimand. The black boy was suspended and sent home for two weeks.
I knew both these boys equally well, and I recall feeling embarrassed by the unfairness of the principal’s discipline. There was no aggressor or victim here, yet they were treated unequally. What I didn’t know at the time was how common such disparities were in the nation’s schools — and in fact still are. According to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, black students are more than three times as likely as white students to be suspended or expelled from school. These racial disparities in discipline can have a cascading effect, contributing to the racial achievement gap and increasing the likelihood that black students will drop out of school — and later end up in prison.
Read the whole story: The Huffington PostMore of our Members in the Media >