Being black at Stuyvesant: Two students on what it’s like for African Americans at the specialized high school

Just because students are intelligent enough to pass a test doesn’t mean they understand people who might be ethnically, racially or culturally different.


That’s what happened to Gordon in his freshman biology class when his lab partner blamed him for the AIDS virus. Or when he was told to “go back to Africa” because he disagreed with some of his peers on the merits of the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT).


And both of us have repeatedly heard something along the lines of, “Black people don’t care about education.”


While these stories may seem shocking or anachronistic, they are not unique among Stuy’s black and Latino students.

Stuyvesant Alumni President: Calling NYC Schools ‘Segregated’ Makes Me ‘Feel Like I’m a Bad Person’

“How is this possible, that people are saying we’re segregated, we’re Jim Crow,” Kim told the Times. “These words are too harsh. It makes me feel like I’m a bad person.”

This is a striking and revelatory assessment of what’s happening. New York City officials admitted long ago to having a segregated public school system, and committed to integration. A 1955 study — conducted the year after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education — found that 42 city elementary schools were more than 90 percent black and Puerto Rican, and nine middle schools were more than 85 percent.