The Seattle Public School District has done the public a service to define racism, as only a big city school district could. Full disclosure, my son, Andrew, goes to school in the Seattle Public School district. Andrew's mother teaches in a Seattle area public school district. A few Highlights.
Definitions of Racism
The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.
Now lets stop here for a minute to discuss. Now I always thought that racism was treating someone different because of their race but the way I read this definition, only whitey can be a racist. I also find it odd that Asians are included in the "racial groups who have relatively little social power" category. The Seattle School District seems to pick and choose when to group Asians with traditional minorities, such as here, and when to not include them in minority groups, such as when they want statistics to show the need for race based quotas because minorities are lagging behind academically. Lets continue:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as "other", different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.
You know what I think racism is? Racism is when a school district knowingly allows a segregated school to continue to exist that are not properly educating its students. Lets take a look at 3 of Seattle Public Schools. These are all K-8 schools, one of them does not seem to be doing as good a job as the others.
Pathfinders, an alternative K-8 school located in West Seattle.
59% white, 10% African American, 6% Asian, 11% Hispanic and 14% Native American.
7th and 8th grade WASL scores math 33%, reading 57%, writing 50% and science 25%.
School Motto "Pathfinder K-8 educates students to become passionate, lifelong learners, respecting themselves, others and the environment."
Salmon Bay, a K-8 school located in Ballard.
70% white, 6% African American, 10% Asian, 10% Hispanic and 5% Native American.
7th and 8th grade WASL scores math 76%, reading 83%, writing 73% and science 71%.
Mission Statement "Building small learning communities--connecting every child."
African American Academy, a K-8 school located in the Beacon Hill area.
4% white, 92% African American, 1% Asian, 2% Hispanic and 1% Native American.
7th and 8th grade WASL scores math 17%, reading 47%, writing 19% and science 4%.
Mission Statement "The mission of the African American Academy is to meet the needs of African American and all children, providing them with an academic and African-centered education: nurturing them, in order to meet their emotional needs, while helping them to develop positive social and cultural skills which will enable them to become leaders of tomorrow."
Now which of these schools will give its student the highest chance for success in the city of Seattle, a city that is 70% white, 8% African American, 1% Native American, 13% Asian and 5% Hispanic. I will give you 3 guesses.
I usually do not reply to comments but I can not let playin' possum's comments go unchallenged.
I am assuming the “cherry pick” comment was related to the schools I selected as examples. First of all, the 3 examples were not cherry picked. The purpose was to point out how the Seattle Public School District is doing a disservice to an entire school full of overwhelmingly African American students. I went to the Seattle Public Schools web page and randomly picked 2 schools, from the K-8 schools, so that I could as best possible compare apples to apples with the performance of the African American Academy. It would have been hard to compare 7th and 8th grade WASL scores from a non K-8 elementary school. I have no connection to any of the schools, I do not know anyone who goes to any of the schools. I do not even know where any of the schools are located outside the general description I used from the web pages.
Now if the “cherry pick” comment was about me selecting parts of the racism definition, the commentator Erik was correct when he stated that “I think that he was just pointing out the two most absurd definitions“. In addition, it was late in the evening and I try not to post really, really long rambling posts. I know I tend not to read long posts and I figure others do the same.
As far as the definition of racism being widely accepted as only whites oppressing non whites, I would strongly disagree. If a white child is beaten up by a group of non white children, solely because the child is white and if derogatory language was used in the attack, I would think most reasonable people would say that was a racist act.
In fact Wikipedia, the online community encyclopedia, does not think racism is limited to whites oppressing non whites.
Racism refers to a belief system that humans can be separated into various groups based on physical attributes and that these groupings determine cultural or individual achievement. This can lead to prejudice against individuals based on a perceived or ascribed "race". This racist outlook in assuming that the human species can be meaningfully divided into races, often breeds ignorance, fear and hostility towards people. Racism often includes the belief that people of different races differ in aptitudes and characteristics. Some individuals who use this concept of racial categories, believe that different races can be placed on a ranked, hierarchical, scale. The term race plus the suffix ism added refers to a "meme" that the human species can be divided into various groups based on physical characteristics such as skin color and hair color, as well as cultural differences. By definition one who practices racism is known as a racist.
Traditional dictionary definitions also do not specify specific races.
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
Finally, I need to make sure I am clear about what my issue really is because I really did not address it in the original post. The Seattle Public School District created the African American Academy to lessen the achievement gap between white students and African American students.
In January of 1990, the African American Academy was officially "born" as one of ten school programs, approved by the Seattle Public School Board, to eliminate disproportionality and increase academic achievement. In the fall of 1991, after several months of intense planning by an Oversight Committee of parents, teachers, and community people, the African American Academy opened as a Kindergarten through Grade 5 elementary school with an enrollment of 234 students. It has since grown to some 400 scholars in grades K-8.
The achievement gap does not appear to have been bridged based on the test scores from the school. It would be interesting to compare what the gap is between African American students who are not in the African American Academy compared to those who are in the African American Academy. I know the district posts test scores on the internet. I do not know if scores are broken down by race by school. If they are, I have not been able to find them as of yet. The real issue though is regardless of the gap, is a segregated school teaching an Afro Centric curriculum to students who live in Seattle, a city that is 10% African American appropriate? To me, the existence of the African American Academy seems to be saying that black kids can not learn unless surrounded by black kids and learning about African history and culture. To me, that is racist. I think all kids are capable of learning despite the amount of pigment in their skin. Now if you ask teachers what is the number one factor in predicting a kids success, they will probably say parental involvement and make no mistake about it, two parents involved is better than one. If you take a look at the eight K-8 schools and see the percentages of students not living with both parents, African American Academy leads the list with 76%. Madrona is 2nd with 63%, all other schools are under 47%. Single parent families, kids born out of wedlock, that to me is the number one issue that is negatively affecting the African American community today and until a solution is found for that, do not expect the achievement gap to close.