. . . what do they say about our schools and your school?
Over the years, Black student associations at colleges across America have created accounts on Instagram. If you look back through what those groups have posted in the past, you will see that a sizable portion of it has been fairly traditional Instagram fare. Student groups have posted praise for faculty members, announced events, and occasionally reported on troubling experiences fueled by racial discrimination on campus.
Now something new and important is happening. In the weeks since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Black students and Black student groups have created many new accounts on Instagram, and they are filling up fast with highly disturbing posts about Black students’ experiences. Interestingly, a relatively small percentage of these new groups are related to colleges, while a large and growing number of them report on racism at secondary schools, many of them private schools.
To find these groups and review their postings, go to Instagram and start searching, using terms that start with blackat. You will quickly discover that groups have been established for schools that include prestigious private schools like Philips Exeter (“blackatexeter”), Deerfield Academy (“blackatdeerfield”), and others. There are also groups for Cornell and other universities and given the energetic recent growth among these groups, we expect college-based blacat groups to increase rapidly in number.
Current students, graduates, parents, and other members of these school groups are posting their experiences daily. The comments are disturbing and harrowing to read. In general, they fall into several categories or personal anecdotes of racially charged encounters with:
- Other students, usually White, and their parents
- Faculty members and administrators
- Athletic coaches
- Members of the community where the school is located
The incidents the students report fall into several categories. Some report overtly racist encounters with other students. Others show that racist policies and beliefs are deeply entrenched in teachers, administrators, and coaches. And others reveal racial prejudices that are so entrenched that the people who hold them might not even be aware that they are racists at all.
Why You Might Want to Read the Comments in these Accounts
One reason is that the comments that are posted sound an overt clarion call that racism is now out in the open. It is no longer an “open secret” on campuses, it is no longer a secret at all. Students, alumni, and parents are not going to remain silent about it anymore. They are going to blow the doors wide open on this issue, and they should.
As a practical matter, reading the posts in these accounts can serve to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of racism in our educational institutions. That awareness, over time, could serve to diminish racism and as a result, improve the educational possibilities for all students. And the comments could expose racism that needs to be confronted at your school.
We can only hope so, and we know you hope so too.
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