Thanks to their teachers, both of my kids are familiar with Martin Luther King Jr, what he worked for, and the things he said. A few days ago, BE told us that Dr. King’s dream had come true based on this part of his “I Have a Dream” speech:
“… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
BE reasoned that because she held hands with one of her friends at school, that the dream has been realized.
J and I explained this is an important step, but that we’re not there yet. J pointed out some evidence of the problem that she could relate to. It’s a fact that in her current school, there are very not many caucasians. And, in her previous school, there were even fewer African Americans. I know J and I would both like to see an end to the voluntary segregation that we’ve put upon ourselves. And, I’d love for the kids to have this same vision – and to be part of the solution.
I won’t pretend that Detroit Public Schools (DPS) are diverse, although they’re just about as diverse as most of the suburban schools. It seems to me that there is a general, unspoken agreement about which of the two is better, but that’s a complicated topic for another post (if I’m ever brave enough to tackle it).
I was recently talking to an acquaintance, and it was clear that he assumed that BE and BC are the only two of their kind (or any kind other than African American) in their school. I explained that yes, the largest population in their school is African American. But, there is also a sizable Bengali population, as well as Asians, Hispanics, and Caucasians. The DPS Web site says this about its student population: “We also serve more than 7,100 students, speaking 44 different languages in schools throughout the district, to learn the English Language and American Culture while mastering core subject areas.”
I certainly would like to see more diversity in Detroit schools, but at this point, I’m also happy that my kids are experiencing more diversity than they likely would in surrounding cities. And, I won’t automatically assume that their minority position is altogether negative. In addition, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of socioeconomic diversity, which is present in their school, and is just as important as racial diversity. I’m planning a separate post on socioeconomic diversity in the near future.
For the Caucasian readers: have you ever found yourself in a “minority” position. If so, what was your experience?
As a Caucasian raised in the suburbs, I recognize that I don’t have much authority when it comes to racial issues. When we moved to Detroit, we became the minorities for the first time in our lives. There’s been talk about how younger generations are “post racial,” but that’s not clear to me here in Detroit, where segregation is still the norm.
Here, the segregation occurs between the city and suburbs. I really want a more diverse experience for my children and I know that their experience will be undoubtedly different from mine. But, so far, my kids are living in two different worlds. In the city, we’re exposed to one culture, and when we visit our family and friends in the suburbs, we see a different monoculture. It would be great to have both come together, but when it comes to things like this, I can be a little naive.