Friday, February 20, 2015

Benton, Lacretia, 2.20.15, 11:45 pm, education, Blog Post #3

New York private schools are challenging white privilege from the inside. In the past, private school diversity initiatives were often focused on helping minority students adjust to the majority white culture they found themselves in, and sometimes exploring their backgrounds in annual assemblies and every once in a while at occasional festival. Now, these same schools are asking white students and faculty members to examine their own race and to dig deeply into how their presence affects life for everyone in their school communities. A special emphasis is being placed on the meaning and repercussions of what has come to be called white privilege. This was all taking place during a speaker series known as the Day of Concern. Students gathered in small groups to discuss a variety of social justice issues and participate in workshops; there were also talks about gender and the environment. But the overarching theme of the day was identity, privilege and power. For most of their history, private schools were the living embodiment of white privilege: They were almost all white and mostly moneyed. Not anymore. This year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, minority students make up a third of the population of New York City private schools, and 18.5 percent of all students receive financial aid. For years, private schools in New York avoided conversations about race and class by remaining uniformly white and wealthy. Once they  began integrating, many white parents welcomed the change, worried that their children would be ill prepared for an increasingly multicultural world if they did not have exposure to people from diverse backgrounds.  This definitely coincides with what we were discussing in class because we just talked about social class and privilege and how generations past can affect future generations. These conversations are sometimes uncomfortable, but absolutely necessary for change to occur.

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