Photo [Boston Globe]
I am currently serving on a student diversity committee chaired by the Director of Admissions and co-chaired by the Associate Director of Admissions at Houston Christian. Our meetings have been good and full of interesting student anecdotes; I suspect matters such as race is not a huge problem at HCHS since we fail at discussing it. Our head of school assumes we live in a color blind society. That seems to be the case for white men in power.
According to our stats, HCHS student population this year is made up of 19% students of color, while next year’s entering class is at 20%. Still, highly affluent independent schools, must contend with a much smaller racial and socioeconomic group of students.
As an independent religious school with no denominational ties, religious and non-religious students engage fairly well. We have atheist students, Muslim students, and in the past a Buddhist student (a favorite of mine). With tuition being what it is at many schools, minority students often cannot afford the tuition. This creates a sense of conformity in a homogeneous environment. Often students of color feel isolated in white private schools. At times, as is the case at HC, many of our students of color are the most popular students. As for faculty of color here at HC — the community for some reason is not interested in addressing such concerns. It is hard being one of a few in a very conservative white school. Often I am exhausted.
There are complicit acts committed by some private schools that naturally promotes codes of de facto racism. Some of the nations most elite independent schools are dealing with matters of race, as they look to promote a sense of cultural vitality and intellectual curiosity among their students. My first teaching appointment put me in a private school, in which I believe I was the first black male teacher; I was not surprised when students would often challenge my intellect and knowledge of subject, regardless of academic success or degrees. Better yet, before I went on the market I was warned by an advisor that I would face this if the school was not very diverse. It did not take too long before students were more concerned about my exams than my skin color. The Boston Globe published an article addressing how independent schools were going to address this topic. Here are a few examples of what students reported:
- In September, a black female student discovered a racist comment scraped into the door of her dormitory room at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H. A week later, the faces of six black students were crossed out with a magic marker on a photograph hanging on a dormitory bulletin board at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn.
- At St. Paul’s, where 8 percent of the 524 students are black, tension over racial divisions surfaced last week after news of the hate letters surfaced. Some white students approached their black peers to offer sympathy and express shock, but some African-American students responded angrily, saying such gestures should have come before the letters arrived.eek since at least 23 black students at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., received letters in the mail that students said read, “bang bang get out of here,”