**Note: I’m defining diversity in terms of ethnic diversity unless otherwise stated.**
I am the product of a predominately white private school in Atlanta, The Westminster Schools. I was one of two Black girls, maybe three for a few years, in our grade from sixth until graduation.
In middle school, I remember sitting in a religious studies class when the teacher referenced the South side of town, the Black side of town, as a horrible area full of violence. I lived on the South side and I knew well-educated people living in nice neighborhoods. They were teachers, doctors, business owners, and lawyers and had homes with tennis courts and swimming pools; even the mayor lived down the street. Despite this, I felt shame and singled out as I was the only one that lived in that part of town in the class.
I remember stressing about a big, annual, Sadie Hawkins school dance that was always held at the Whites-only private member club. It meant having to ask a (White) boy to the dance and going to a historically racist facility where the only faces that looked like mine would be in service positions, probably looking at me like I was crazy. I was conflicted, trying to fit in and wanting to go to the dance, but also hating that it was even being held at this club in the first place. I was alone in having that concern.
I recall a lot from those days but unfortunately, I don’t often think about a favorite teacher or experience. I remember counting down the days until graduation. I remember the many instances of feeling bad or angry because I was in the minority and most of my peers were clueless about what that meant and how it impacted me each day.
Yet, now as a parent, my kids attend a private school where they are often one of two or three in a grade. I know, I know. What am I thinking? I evaluate this decision often but for a host of reasons that I’ll save for another post, I am back in a private school community repeating experiences from over 25 years ago.
It’s no wonder that not much has changed, really. The very foundation of private school as an institution is rooted in racism. These institutions were created after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling because White families did not want to send their children to school with minorities. That’s a heavy historical fact that most families in private school don’t know but it is the subtext to what Black students in private school experience each day.