Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Picture Says 1000 Words

Thus far, I have analyzed many statistics about the trends of school segregation and read many examples of schools that are still very segregated today; however, I have not yet analyzed photographs, which I think can sometimes say even more than a statistic, a story, or a report.


I came across the photo above during my research. It was taken in 1953, which was during the time of Jim Crow laws and prior to the Supreme Court case, Brown v. the Board of Education. Schools during this time were completely segregated, as demonstrated by this photo. All the students in the photo are African American. Some have lighter skin than others, but nevertheless, they are still enrolled in this school because they have traces of the African American race in them. Even the teacher in the room is African American, which shows a lack of diversity in the teaching staff as well. The teacher has a book in her hand, but none of the students except for one have supplies on their desks. Perhaps this is because of the lack of resources African American schools were provided with due to the Jim Crow laws. Isabelle Tashima, a classmate who researched the acheivement gap between African Americans and whites, said that at the time of Jim Crow laws, "Black children were required to attend schools in deteriorated buildings and use out of date books, taught by teachers who are paid significantly less than their white peers and had no educational opportunities." The teacher, who is not white, is most likely paid only a fraction of the salaray of a white teacher. Additionally, only one student in the class out of everyone has a book, so resouces are scarce. The photo is a clear representation of America during the time period in which it was taken - segregated and unequal.


However, this photo was taken 54 years later and looks almost identical to the first photo taken in 1953. If the 1953 photo so clearly representated that time period, does this photo represent 2007 and modern America?

Similar to the first photo, every single student in this classroom is African American. Unlike the first picture, these students all have books and supplies, which could possibily be as a result of the shift in emphasis from integrating schools to equal funding. However, if you look in the back of the classroom, all the computers look extremely out of date. In my school at the time this photo was taken, we had multiple computer labs full of the newest, Apple computers. Unlike this school, my school was majority white. We were given superior resources compared to this school, which is almost identical to the 1950s.


Unlike the previous two photos, this photo illustrates an all-white classroom. Another major difference is that this classroom is from a private school, while the other two pictures were from public schools. In order to get this photo, I simply searched "private school classroom" into Google Images. I did not need to write "white private school classroom", for every image that came up mirrored this image. All of the pictures were of white students who appeared to look extremely wealthy. From this, one could make the connection that private schools today are for the "white" and the "wealthy" and exhibit little to no diversity.

These students are wearing uniforms that are fairly formal and consist of multiple items - shirts, ties, sweaters, and pants. The all-black classroom's students wore uniforms too, but they were simply a red shirt. The white private school clearly places more emphasis on this and the uniforms represent the quality of education students receive. The students in this photo all look engaged, for many hands are raised. While we cannot see the teacher in this photo, one can infer the teacher is highly experienced for the students are very engaged in their learning and seem to prioritize their academics.

In what ways do you see segregation in your lives today? To what extent is it still apparent in our society?

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