We know American public schools are long troubled by racial discrimination. Almost daily we find new research to tell us (again) how the institution and its staff treat children of color differently than white children.
Now a group of United Nations experts have released a report addressing racism in the U.S. and the impact on black education. Their team, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, visited several U.S. cities to assess the condition of American Americans.
Early on they say:
The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism, and racial inequality in the US remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today. The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population. Lynching was a form of racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the US must address. Thousands of people of African descent were killed in violent public acts of racial control and domination and the perpetrators were never held accountable.
Huffington Post’s education editor Rebecca Klein writes about the findings of the Working Group’s report:
The overall findings — which touch on topics of police brutality, school curriculum and mass incarceration — are bleak. African-Americans tend to have lower levels of income, education and food security than other Americans. This reflects “the level of structural discrimination that creates de facto barriers for people of African descent to fully exercise their human rights,” says the group’s statement.
Such gaps start early in life, the U.N. notes. Students of color are more likely than white children to face harsh punishments, such as suspension, expulsion and even school-based arrests. These disciplinary actions can lead to a phenomenon called the “school-to-prison pipeline,” by which children get pushed out of the education system and into the criminal justice system.
The U.N. experts also expressed concern about mass school closures, which typically target predominantly black neighborhoods, as has been the case in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia. Experts note high levels of school segregation, which “appears to be nurtured by a culture of insufficient acknowledgement of the history of enslavement and the Jim Crow Law.”
Finally, the statement highlights inadequate and inconsistent school curricula that insufficiently cover slavery and colonization.
The curriculum in some states “fails to adequately address the root causes of racial inequality and injustice,” according to the group. “Consequently, this contributes to the structural invisibility of African-Americans.”
To help address these issues, the U.N. panel recommends abolishing on-campus policing and making sure curricula “reflect appropriately the history of the slave trade.”
Read the full story at Huffington Post.