Stereotypical Standards

By: A’Breya Young  

The elements and ideas surrounding racism have been prevalent throughout history, destroying the way people acknowledge and interact with one another. During the era of colonization, Europeans stripped the culture off the backs of Africans and threw them into a life of bondage for centuries. As African-Americans picked the cotton worn by the friends of their enslavers, the rate of illiteracy among minorities increased. However, by the power and strength of African-American trailblazers, the black race stood up and rebelled against the standards of white men. Despite their efforts in attaining equality, minuscule things such as braided hair, swayed people to take discriminatory acts against black people, killing their stride in the fight for racial salvation. Sadly, this historic reality can also be found lingering over a place of learning.

My Experience 

When low expectations are placed upon students of color, it’s apparent that such an abominable period in history strengthens modern stereotypes. Being a black student at a predominantly white school came with many challenges. When receiving A’s on my test, my teachers questioned my academic legitimacy. It later became my new norm as teachers stood over my shoulder, making sure my eyes didn’t move an inch from my paper. At an early age, I never understood what discrimination was or why people do it. I am reminded of a time in elementary school when the teachers claimed that the beads my hair was adorned with were a distraction to others in the class. Although the teachers were trying to keep their true motives in the dark, I became self-conscious about how I wore my hair to school and what I looked like. Subsequently and unfortunately, my grades were negatively impacted. My parents always gave me lectures on why I should be proud of my heritage; however, instead of encouraging thoughts of myself, I became increasingly negative. During February, there is little to no mention of black history in schools throughout the nation. Sure there may be a few MLK quotes here and there, but does that summarize all accomplishments of members of the black race? Not even the books teachers read before nap time showed images of beautiful, black girls with kinky hair. The lessons that were given to me as a child shattered my identity, as my teacher’s standards didn’t match my character. As I sat in my thoughts, I’d picture a life where my peers weren’t uncultured, however, my experience made my dreams a fantasy. If by some miracle a whole lesson plan is dedicated to black history, teachers tend to start on the topic of slavery. 

The Dark History

Early African tribal groups were prosperous for centuries, as they had access to valuable resources such as salt and gold. For hundreds of years, Africans were on top of the social hierarchical pyramid, but, teachers only give lessons on when African Americans were at their lowest. In comparison, with the study of Europeans, teachers begin where “Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” but what about the period of Reconstruction? It’s appalling how students are given every brick of information about white history rather than black history. But aren’t African-Americans a part of this nation? If all students associate Black history to slavery, negative levels of racial pity stereotypes worsen. 

Change

The lack of Black History lessons contributes to racial discrimination in the world. In black history, African-Americans styled their hair in many different ways to break the trend of oppression. One common adversity African-Americans face is policies regarding hairstyles, which might hinder some students’ academic success. In one substantial case, DeAndre Arnold was suspended from school and told he couldn’t walk for graduation for having long dreads. The ways that African-Americans found creative ways to revolt against European standards should be taught in schools which may positively impact how minorities are treated. As an African-American student, I’m challenged with going to a place of learning, while being given special treatment from a teacher as I’m seen as being incapable of intellectuality. If there were just a few more black historical elements added to our school textbooks, maybe color wouldn’t be a factor when gauging a student’s academic integrity.

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