Why our young black children shouldn’t even be at school
Every afternoon during the school year, Nina Igbrude walks into the black room at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. She wears camouflage pants, a heavy belt adorned with 13 hundred sprinkles, no makeup, hoop earrings and a gold rooster pendant dangling in her lower case. “I wanted to be like Gabby Giffords,” she said to a young man just back from the taping of an “All-Star Showcase” with Carson Daly, “so I went out and bought that brace on my wrist and have that on every day.” “All-Star Showcase” is a weekly pageant for middle school girls designed to boost attendance and grades. Igbrude is the vice-president of student affairs at the school, where the under-baked hallways are overflowing with young, black girls who, whether they have parents or not, are profoundly uncomfortable around Caucasians.
“I don’t think most people understand what happened,” Igbrude said, about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, “It does not do justice to the nightmare we all felt in response to that.” Igbrude’s son, Chane’s younger brother, has also attended Bethune-Cookman University, and after the shootings, many of his friends at other schools had slashed their wrists and tried to kill themselves. Chane sometimes goes to Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and staff were killed in February. “It’s so different over there,” she said. “You go to a school and they are dressed in a different way, they are smiling, and you can see the smiles on their faces. They are comfortable there, and it does not feel right.” More On This… Black Women Have High Black Parenting Demands
Igbrude is African-American, and Bethune-Cookman is predominantly black. Yet, having one black teacher seems to mean more than having one white teacher—or even having three. A study published recently in the Journal of Educational Research found that black elementary school students who had a single black teacher were more likely to attend school for an hour longer each day, and not attend other activities or programs during the week. The study also found that their peer group were more racially tolerant, with black students expressing more patience and understanding toward one another’s problems.
Of course, black teachers at Bethune-Cookman like Igbrude are not in the classroom to make friends. They are in there, and they are in there because they are critical. Igbrude brings a white woman to college with her. And she has a young woman who worked as a nurse who was dropped by the Mississippi State Legislature when she was 22 years old. “She went to Mississippi to feed a feral cat. They give you $25 and you’re on your own,” Igbrude said. “She came from the only black family she ever knew, and when you come from nothing, you have nothing. It taught her to use what she had. And she kept doing it. She was very hard on them. She was not one to thank you for anything.”
Read the full story at WashingtonPost.com.