When Inequity is On Display Yet Unquestioned

The other day I attended my local school district’s student showcase night at our high school. It was an exciting night for our family as my nephew’s solar system was selected for display and we all went to support him. I always find it exciting to walk back into my former place of employment, my alma mater, especially when it’s for such a great reason as celebrating the creative accomplishments of students. The problem is that my current self is much more aware and open to seeing the realities that are no longer perfectly normal but definitely worth questioning.

I walked around the school hugging my former students and enjoying the work that students had on display as their work was amazing. As I stopped to look around I noticed that of all of the families present, we were the only black family in attendance and that bothered me. Where was everyone else? I’ll be honest in saying that had we not received the call inviting us because Braeden’s work was on display, we would not have gone. Did no one else receive a call? I continued to walk around and finally counted up to maybe three other families.

When I got to the high school portion, I stopped to pay attention to the represented student organizations. There was FFA and their prize winning animals on display. There were kids representing horticulture, a huge K-Nex set completed by the engineering class, a student step team, home economics class…and not one single black child in those groups.

I wondered if maybe they were not that into breeding animals or growing plants. Maybe they didn’t want to do the step team. Maybe they didn’t like sewing. Maybe engineering wasn’t an interest. I wondered if anyone bothered asking. I wondered if any organization, beyond athletics, appealed to our black students. Did they not volunteer to “man” a table? Were they even asked?

Speaking of athletics, where exactly were the student athletes? That alone would have placed quite a few more non-white faces in the crowd. To be fair, I did count 4 kids and that bothered me even more.

As the night concluded, the school cheered on the success of that night. The “community” showed up and experienced the greatness of its students…a portion of its students.

I don’t understand how one can even put together an event like that without making sure to have multiple student populations represented. The kids that are selected for everything are the ones that are developing their leadership skills the most. The kids that are never selected…never chosen and never represented are the kids that lose the most.

If you’re asking them to be a part and they are replying with “no”, maybe the next question needs to be…”why not”

Maybe this school needs to ask itself if the clubs and organizations are reflective of the interest of its student population and if not create opportunities for more student leadership by developing platforms for them to shine.

Maybe it’s time that we worked within our community of black leadership and found ways to make sure that our families were present, our kids are represented and that no matter what we show up because contrary to that night, we are here too.

Let the movement begin… 

Comments 2

  1. I certainly respect your observations and concerns. I, myself, am in a constant state of wonderment and perplexity at the dearth of families of color at most academic and artistic events. On the other hand, they do tend to appear in force at sporting events.

    Additionally, don’t we have to place *some* degree of onus on families of color to make an appearance on some level? Why is it that families of color need an invitation? I don’t think it’s always that someone has to work, or, doesn’t have transportation, or, cannot get a sitter, albeit real and valid reasons for many families of color. But, this cannot be the reason, and all the time.

    1. Post

      I agree which is why I said that as a community we need to make sure that we hold ourselves accountable to show up. At the same token, when the event is poorly advertised and NOT reaching those families, how are they supposed to know? We found out about 2 hours before the event started. Others I guess read it in the local paper that not everyone subscribes to. Usually, we receive an automated call about school events. We did not receive a call about this one. We will definitely make efforts to change this because we most certainly should be there.

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