How Well Do Schools Handle Conversations About Race?

Do the discussions taking place bring people together or tear them apart?

Race has been an inflammatory subject in local schools over the past few months.

On Friday, about 150 Hopkins High School students walked out to protest what called the school’s unfair treatment of minority students.

The protest followed news the week before that prosecutors had charged two Hopkins students with misdemeanors after a confrontation in the assistant principal's office over the school’s handling of an incident in which they say several white students mocked black culture.

The two students accused Hopkins ski team members of organizing a "ghetto spirit day." The ski team members say it was actually called “rapper day.”

Hopkins is not the only school facing such controversies. In March, about 300 South High School students from the All Nations Program, which offers American Indian-specific programming at the school, walked out to protest the lack of visibility of the program. Students weren’t allowed back in school until community activists convinced the school to let them get their jackets and keys.

Race is not an easy issue to talk about. On the one hand, prejudice remains a real issue that causes real harm. On the other hand, misunderstandings can and do arise from simple miscommunication.

Patch wants to know how well you think your schools and the students in them handle this touchy subject. Do discussions about race at your school lead to greater harmony and understanding? Or are they full of insensitivity on one side or oversensitivity on the other?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mike B. April 29, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Obviously, there is oversensitivity by minority groups over perceived slights. This is very little, if any discrimination or prejudice in schools. People treat others as equal, except when certain individuals think that their so-called disadvantaged status allows them to misbehave and then label others as "racists."
Jesse Lykken April 29, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Where, oh where to start ... Ok, students staging a non-violent protest isn't exactly "misbehaving". Of course there is discrimination and prejudice in schools, as humans are not perfect and even the best intentioned of us all too often favor other folks who happen to look like we do. What did bother me about the article was the mention of "community activists". It has been my experience that these folks too often stir a pot that needs no further stirring, anything to get themselves on the news. Racism is all about fear, and our society is still sadly quite fearful (exhibit folks who post but are too afraid to leave their name), and until we all master our fears, the people we fear will sense it, and will react accordingly. Those reactions are rarely positive. Conversations about (so-called) race are usually awkward, but there is nothing wrong with that. The danger is having a closed mind, and being so very sure that problems which have plagued humanity for tens of thousands of years somehow got solved in the last five.
Mike B. April 29, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Jesse, you are correct about the community activists. That's the way they get their funding... create a problem where none exists! They follow the scare tactics of hatemongers such as Al Sharpton,Jesse Jackson and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee to spread false propaganda.
Oscar Falls April 30, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Obviously there is oversensitivity, but I think that it comes from the majority population as well as the minority groups. To say schools are absent of discrimination shows little understanding of schools, or our society in general. Yes, we have come a long way, but we have miles to walk. A fair share of racism has moved into the classism phase. Our minority population tends to be less affluent, the schools in their neighborhoods are not the same quality, and options are fewer. Yes, they can overcome, but it's difficult. Mike B. is a white guy that doesn't like to hear minorities complain about seemingly small issues because it reminds him that he is in a position of power, that his life may have benefitted from the color of his skin rather than the merits of his person. That sucks man. I feel for the weight you bear, but you better learn to deal quick because minority will take on a new meaning for you in the next 20 years.
Mike B. April 30, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Very little if any racism in schools anymore... Blacks and whites now attend integrated schools all across the country, even in the Deep South. Schools in the neighborhoods differ primarily because of government intrusion and teachers' unions. Charter schools that have a significant black population do very well, as students are required to adhere to high standards. Most liberals assume that blacks need special help. Conservatives are much more color-blind, and know that each person is capable of greatness...look at Clarence Thomas, J.C. Watts, and Allan West, for example.
G Wright May 01, 2013 at 03:46 AM
Greatness and Clarence Thomas, JC Watts and Alan West do not belong in the same sentence. Mike B, where do you get your so-called information?
joe May 01, 2013 at 08:22 PM
The worst & most dangerous black leaders- Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton. The best Black leader would be-Bill Cosby & Rev Jesse Lee.
Mike B. May 01, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Joe, you are of course 100% correct. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are a disgrace to the word "reverend." Those two are charlatans who are rightly ridiculed by every thinking American, black or white.
Robyn May 02, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Wow, I'm so shock of all the hate coming from these comments. The question was for opinions on race relations in schools. My opinion is the two boys were angry of the perpetuation of unfavorable stereotypes. There must have been a culture at that school in which the ski team knew there would not be any consequence for showing up in modern “Black Face”. Similar to the incident as Washburn High School, when a few boys hung a black baby from a noose in the stairwell which took 6 days for the administration to remove. The two boys went to their administrator several times seeking support and were turned away. Whether or not the two boys were acting overly sensitive, we as a community must stand up against passive aggressive racism. What could be the reason why white people continue to agitate people of color around the history of hate and systemic oppression?
Heyitsme May 02, 2013 at 05:06 PM
What hate Robyn? Racism is not exclusively a white and black issue. Hispanic, Asian, Native Americans, and racism happens on both sides of the issue. My husband attended a predominately black and Hispanic high school inner city school in Chicago. He was chased home by people different from him. He was harassed and threatened with violence. He missed entire sememsters of school. Nothing was done. Why? He is white.
Robyn May 02, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Just to be clear, racism should never be tolerated by anyone. People should have spoke up and stood up for your husband! But, that doesn't change the hurt you husband felt nor the hurt these to boys felt. Noone wants to be made fun of, and thats exactly what the other boy were doing when they decided to make of a stereotype about Black Americans. The point is, not only did they know there actions were hurtful (just like the boys that chased your husband home) but they also knew there wouldn't be any push back from other like students and staff. That is a problem. The staff should have corrected them before it became a problem. Btw, calling out historic leaders of color, should not be okay either. We should all speak to the question and try to come up with ways in where these types of intolerance towards childern cease to exist
Mike B. May 02, 2013 at 11:23 PM
As you state, the very minor inconveniences some minorities claim they experience pale in comparison to your husband's life-threatening experience , simply because he is white. But of course, that's doesn't make the liberal media's headlines. Same thing with George Zimmerman.... for every George Zimmerman, there are hundreds of whites brutally attacked and murdered by brown and black people.. It's an unfortunate fact. All races need to live peacefully, but for the liberal media to cover up black-on-white crime because of political correctness is the height of hypocrisy.
Michael Hindin May 23, 2013 at 01:39 PM
"Mike B" is a nameless faceless entity that stalks Patch for any civil right issues and posts manufactured facts and exaggerations. Its posts often contain religious bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, and malice toward all. It does not live in our area. It does not add to any meaningful dialog.
Michael Hindin May 23, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Simple answer G Wright is that "Mike B" manufactures it. IT has PATCH history of compulsive dishonesty.
Michael Hindin May 23, 2013 at 02:02 PM
People in general have a very difficult time discussing race. I nave gone to interesting presentations sponsored by the St Paul Foundation. (https://www.facingrace.org/) Good people who are trying to understand are often afraid of saying the wrong thing. It takes a lot of patience and tolerance to engage in this conversation. It is often difficult to realize that even though many of our generation did not set up the situation, there are still many advantages built into being in the racial majority and change is painful.
Dan Johnson June 04, 2013 at 11:23 AM
The divide of race has been America's constant curse. Each new wave of immigrants gives new targets to old prejudices. Prejudice and contempt, cloaked in the pretense of religious or political conviction, are no different. They have nearly destroyed us in the past. They plague us still. They fuel the fanaticism of terror. They torment the lives of millions in fractured nations around the world. These obsessions cripple both those who are hated and, of course, those who hate, robbing both of what they might become.” Bill Clinton


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