White Privilege And Systemic Racism In Suburban America

White Privilege And Systemic Racism In Suburban America
New Trier High School, Winnetka, Illinois Source: Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

As organizers at New Trier High School defend a day-long diversity seminar, planned for February 28th, parents and alumnae like Francesca Gazzolo, Gracee Wallach, Mia Neumann and Cookie Belknap Fernandez openly address the school's lack of diversity.

Here's a comparison of New Trier versus its longtime rival and neighbor to the south, Evanston Township High School, followed by just one example of white privilege's impact on systemic racism (and, be sure to check out this post featuring New Trier's advocating alumnae):

DIVERSITY
Geographically, New Trier High School and Evanston Township High School are only four miles apart, but these stats illustrate a much wider divide:

NEW TRIER HIGH SCHOOL
Racial/Ethnic Diversity

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EVANSTON TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL
Racial/Ethnic Diversity

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

 

 

Source: Source: point2homes.com

Source: Source: point2homes.com

 

 

 

U.S. News & World Report 2016 Rankings (Data based on the 2013-2014 school year)

U.S. News & World Report 2016 Rankings
(Data based on the 2013-2014 school year)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW TRIER HIGH SCHOOL
College Readiness

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EVANSTON TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL
College Readiness

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

Illinois Report Card 2015-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As as ugly as the rivalry and name calling get, the facts speak for themselves: Between the two institutions, the school with more white students (New Trier) has higher funding (at the district, operational and instructional levels), a lower student/teacher ratio, higher test scores, a higher percentage of college readiness, and higher state rankings.

In other words, the whiter school enjoys more privileges.

White. Privilege.

There. I said it.

Now let's go even deeper, shall we?

WHITE PRIVILEGE AND SYSTEMIC RACISM

Oh boy. I can already hear the questions.

Really? First "white privilege"? Now, "systemic racism"? Isn't that a bit dramatic? How is this more than just an "affluent" high school? How is this a "bigger issue"? What do White Privilege and Systemic Racism even look like?

Here's just one example.

As New Trier's diversity day drama blew up on social media, I received this unsolicited letter from someone working for a local theatrical supply company:

We sell paint and lighting and makeup to just about every school in the area, including CPS [Chicago Public Schools] and suburban schools like New Trier.

We sell personal makeup kits, meant for one person to use for one run. The numbers 0 - 3 are Caucasian Shades, and 4 - 6 go progressively darker. In the course of ten years of selling makeup to New Trier, I have sold maybe ten makeup kits in the 4 -6 darker shades. New Trier spends thousands of dollars with us, all to its Theatre Program alone. Stevenson, Glenbard, the various Glenbrook High Schools, and Morton Grove also spend hundreds of thousands.

In contrast, I spent over an hour on the phone with a CPS school trying to help them find a way to stage a decent show with a total budget of $300, and with failing equipment they could not afford to replace.

Let me be clear: Performing in a rundown space is dangerous. Curtains don't get flameproofing. Rigging systems go unused because they are unsafe to move. Old lighting equipment can seriously hurt someone if not careful.

Hearing comments from New Trier Parents that say, "There isn't a racial problem here" makes me livid. Arts are for everyone, not just the super wealthy in an upperclass tax bracket. Racism isn't a question of "I don't like Black kids," it is an institutionalized system of keeping the black kids out of things Rich Kids get by default.

--Name Withheld
I can only imagine the comments flying now:
1. New Trier's not responsible for the budgets of other schools!
2. Just because New Trier has money and the other schools don't doesn't make them racist!
3. These other schools should work harder like New Trier to earn and save and provide a better environment for their students!
My responses would be:
1. That's called "avoiding the issue".
2. That's called "denial of what's happening".
3. That's called "blaming victims, protecting your own interests and perpetuating the problem".

Like Christine Wolf, Writer on Facebook, follow me on Twitter.

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    I tend to cover life's ups and downs. I don't shy away from the tougher, more emotional stories. While I'm always willing to voice an opinion, it sometimes contradicts my innate desire to please everyone at all times. Such is this crazy life, I suppose. Ultimately, I search for meaning in the human experience, and openly share how I (try to) keep my head above water. Thanks so much for dropping by. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

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