Race and Gender in Suburban Schools by Ashleigh Bynum
I don’t usually take time to read articles posted on Facebook. I get bored with the overabundance of “Top Ten…” lists that flood my news feed. However, Aboubacar Ndiaye’s article “Black Boys Have an Easier Time Fitting In at Suburban Schools Than Black Girls,” published in The Atlantic, caught my eye this week.
Ndiaye discusses research conducted by Megan M. Holland, a professor at the University of Buffalo, concerning the “social impact of a desegregation program on the minority students who were being bused to a predominantly white high school in suburban Boston” (Ndiaye, 2013). The research found that due to structural factors in the school and racial narratives concerning minority males, the boys in the program had an easier time fitting in than the minority girls.
Another study sited by Ndiaye suggested that in the context of the suburban school, “their blackness coffered social power” (Ndiaye, 2013) due to their perceived “tough” persona.
This article spoke heavily to my experience as a minority female attending predominantly white schools and social settings. While I found myself struggling to navigate what it meant code switch between my minority and white peer groups, my male counterparts seemed to fit in more comfortably. I also noticed that dating interracially proved more difficult for my black female friends than black males. They’re interracial relationships were more frequent and seemingly more accepted.
Ndiaye brings in to question this idea of “black male privilege,” an idea that is, for obvious reasons, debated in the black male community. Some would argue that by nature black males cannot/do not experience “privilege.” If they do, it’s because of their maleness not necessarily due to their blackness. Others might, argue that in comparison to black women, black men do experience the privilege of power, especially in the context of the black church.
Personally, I could argue both points. I think that in the larger social context, black men can hardly be considered privileged. However, I also believe that in comparison to black females, black males do benefit from the advantage of power. I would also argue that the power and privilege experienced in comparison to black women has less to do with their blackness, and more to do with the fact that they are males in a patriarchal society.
In the article, Ndiaye confronts major dilemmas concerning race and gender. He suggests, in the context of the affirmative action debate, we must consider our “cultural expectations” concerning race and gender. I would also suggest that we consider the way in which we discuss the “minority experience. Are the distinctions between gender helpful or divisive? Is important to acknowledge the minority experience as different between genders?
Ndiaye, A. (2013, October 21). Black Boys Have an Easier Time Fitting In at Suburban Schools Than Black Girls. The Atlantic, Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/black-boys-have-an-easier-time-fitting-in-at-suburban-schools-than-black-girls/280657/