It shouldn’t have been so difficult to feel welcomed in my own school. Something is wrong when students feel alienated in the space where they spend the majority of their time. My experience is part of a bigger problem. Black students remain vastly underrepresented at New York’s elite specialized high schools.
“I started to slowly realize that a lot of these kids had kind of been sheltered from other races of people to the point where they didn’t really know how to be racially sensitive,” said Yarde, 17, who graduated Monday. “It seemed like kids were either automatically intimidated by me, or they immediately undermined me.”
Wint attended Stuyvesant when she was a student in the late 2000s but left the school her junior year, a decision she attributes to the overt racism she experienced there.
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.”
“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.