In 2014, the Press Office of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights reported that Black students make up 18% of all American preschoolers, but 42% of those who get suspended from preschool.
New York Times columnist Brent Staples (March 28, 2014) noted that after this story was published, his paper received a number of letters to the editor suggesting that the problem must be due to higher levels of misbehavior among African American four-year-olds. Staples noted, however, a 2012 case in the Christina School District in Delaware that found that Black students were more than twice as likely as White students to receive suspensions for violations of similar severity, and three times as likely to receive out-of-school (vs. in-school) suspensions.
Sociologist David Ramey (2015) found that, across the nation, discipline in Black schools has been “criminalized” while discipline in White schools has been “medicalized.” As Colorlines said, “Black students see cops, White students see docs.”
One kid pushes another. Is he violent? Or just horsing around? Does he need a talking-to from the teacher, or should the principal send him home? Our answers to these questions depend, in part, on race.
Stereotypes matter. They have consequences. And we don’t always see them at work. But how? There are three major ways this happens.
Stereotypes influence how we think about other people.
Stereotypes perpetuate inequality and place a significant burden on those affected.
Stereotypes influence how we behave toward other people.
Racial disparities still exist in every aspect of contemporary life. There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that people of color often are treated by others as stereotypes, not individual people. That puts them at a significant disadvantage in innumerable ways including access and equality in our institutions.
This was a wonderful experience which I felt really brought home the concepts of institutional racism and white privilege. Our group was soon comfortable with each other and able to have an open dialogue on these tough concepts via the guidance of our two wonderful moderators. I strongly recommend this to anyone who wants to understand how racism is having an impact on people of color in the modern world.
- Heather M.
The Dialogue on Race series has been one of the most significant learning experiences I've ever had the pleasure to be a part of. I highly recommend it to anyone who's seriously interested in having an open and honest dialogue (not debate) on race and who also wants to play their role in dismantling racism in our community.
- Eric D.