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Racial Inequality in Education 

By: Ally Smith 


Education is the foundation that lays out the necessary steps for us to be successful. It’s the determiner in college decisions and if you’re in trouble with your parents or not. However, this system is one of classism and elitism. Your childhood joys are muffled with algorithmic expressions and binomial distributions. You succumb to a number, a rank, a statistic.


You no longer have autonomy over the decisions of minuscule life choices. For instance, your dress code is warped to fit the uniformity of everyone else. This act is extremely detrimental to Black and Brown kids because of the affordability that comes with purchasing school uniforms or “appropriate clothing.” When you have been accustomed to one way of expressing yourself through clothing and then must be punished when you don’t want to lose the smidge of individuality you have, is heartbreaking. 


Although there are many qualms about the education system, we must acknowledge that education brings a different kind of unification to you. It molds you into who you will be and what you have the potential to do, but oftentimes people who look like me don’t get access to our untapped potential. This is why the duality of education is a never-ending cycle of rights and wrongs acknowledged by all-white administration boards or some with tokenized minorities to appear inclusive. Education has become a generational tactic of loose ends.


Racial inequality is deeply ingrained into the educational sphere due to its origin in colonialism. It was made to teach children the ways of knowing that were passed down from generations, but when that is only accessible to you because of the skin color your father’s father had then that is problematic. To further this idea, we have seen the emergence of standardized tests in modern society take a toll on dozens of inner-city kids who have never had the luxury of learning about other people’s history than that of their own. This is how school breeds unhealthy identity complexes amongst Black and Brown kids. This can also be said for teachers who are also minorities. Having to be in spaces with white peers who expect you to be exceptional, but also palatable to their comprehension of what your place is. 


We can also see the racial inequality of schools based on the placement of it. In predominantly minority neighborhoods, it is not a shock to see a school located near a prison. The message that this sends to kids who are in situations of being ridiculed by their instructors is disgusting. It becomes a justification for teachers who don’t look like them to be able to write them off and discard their futures. This causes a chain reaction in the behavior of the individual. The circumstances of youth are never taken into consideration when discipline comes into question at school. The education system has been designed in a fashion that encourages child labor for things that young people do. The aspect of learning is taken away, and they are punished for acting in a space of not knowing. The in-school suspension has exemplified this by taking predominantly Black students and placing them in a prison-esque simulation.

When pondering this idea, I find myself understanding that the school system never truly left the colonial lens. It is still operating to deter individuality and awareness. It perpetuates the notion that people are merely puppets in the grand scale of their life and places hierarchy on what should be taught and what shouldn’t. Thus, creating that same system amongst students. 

There should be no “standard” of education. There should be a symbiotic relationship between student and teacher. There should be inclusivity in the classroom. I acknowledge that no two people learn the same; however, I feel that we must be better in the approach we take for the minority because they haven’t had that investment of a diverse learning space.

1 Comment
Contributor I

Hi Ally!

I love that you chose to speak on educational inequity and inequality because I truly feel that this issue often gets a bit overshadowed. Your article was very well written and really shows the passion you have for the issue. As an individual who has attended schools in both low-income and mid to high-income communities, there are definitely visible disparities in the quality of education. There are also racial disparities in discipline that further affects the quality of education that students are able to receive. There definitely needs to be educational reform in this country. What are some methods that you feel current educators could use in their classrooms to address those disparities and inequalities?