Students who recently wrote for a Washington Post essay contest submitted their entries to Silver Chips Online.
"Separate but equal" was never equal at all. In the highly controversial decision made in the Brown vs. Board case, this fact was brought forth. However this case also set a precedence which supposedly ended all of the formal forms of segregation. This groundbreaking case was very influential but did it accomplish its goal? What was its goal anyway?
The Brown vs. Board case answered many questions like "Were we all created equally?" but it also gave root to dozens more. The question, "Is integration really needed in schools?" has a simple answer, and that is yes. Children spend the majority of their days in school, therefore making school the centerpiece of nearly everyone's' adolescent years. So it is essential that young people be exposed to different kinds of people so they can function well in society after leaving school.
The need for integration then spurs on questions such as "Do we really have integrated schools in the US?" The answer to this question is also sadly no. There are still some schools (colleges mainly) that are not interested in integration. Sure there are always one or two token minority students, but such schools are not truly integrated. There are school programs and clubs that contain solely members of one ethnicity. The school itself may claim to be integrated but there are still cliques within the school who view segregation as the "right" way to live.
Because the Brown vs. Board case was so monumental, it begs for the question "what did it really do?" to be answered. If the goal of the case was to end segregation as a whole in America, it failed. But segregation will always remain if people allow their flawed perceptions of different people to be passed along from generation to generation. If the goal of the case was to start the wheels of social equality it was highly successful. After the decision was made not only black students but also other minorities were given similar opportunities for success as white children. For the first time in many of their lives they didn't have to feel like they were inferior or that they were incapable of success. Today children all over America can sit in a classroom and rub elbows with kids from all over the world.
Fifty years after the landmark Brown vs Board Supreme Court ruling decreeing mandatory integration of schools, our society has spit me out as a product of that program. As a senior in one of the most diverse schools in the county, Blair, I've had the opportunity to see and experience much of Brown vs Board in action.
I'm a second generation Chinese. My parents immigrated before I was born and thus I was raised here. Since there weren't a significant number of Chinese during the time of Brown, I couldn't say whether or northe case affected my placement in classes. Even though I've been a part of specialized programs for the past 9 years, seven of those years were spent at Takoma and Blair, both extremely diverse schools. I've had the opportunity to interact with all sorts of different people, a chance I would not have received at similar programs in other schools or even just my home high school. Spending time with different people taught me the ability to talk and interact with everyone. Making friends different from myself and each other allowed me the chance to learn about different cultures and peoples. My experiences in an integrated school have definitely helped me grow as a person and a member of society.
The sacrifices the Little Rock Nine made to fight the system were well worth their accomplishments. They set the precedence for integration in schools everywhere. Although integration may be extremely limited in some schools, the local population demographics determine the school demographic rather than an active selection process. Any school dominated by a single ethnic majority will not produce socially conscientious people. I greatly appreciate the tenacity of the Little Rock Nine and the opportunities they gave us.
As I enter Montgomery Blair High, go into my class room, chat with my friends in the colorful hallways or at lunch, I realized we all have a different task to accomplish. When different views and different ideas are put together unexpected things happen. Diversity is an important element of our society, especially in ours schools. It is very important that schools are integrated. We all can be grateful for the Brown versus Board of Education that permitted schools to integrate.
If it were not for that court case my knowledge of other cultures would be really different. I would only rely on what I read on books or what other people tell me. There are things that I have learned through my interactions with other races that has been of great help to me. I learned that every one does not have the same point of view on things and we each have to respect what the other one has to say. My friends are all of different background and ethnicity, when I have a problem and I come to them, they each have something different to say. I love the fact that I have different people with different views to go to. Thanks to Brown versus Board of Education I can say things are different for me than they were for my ancestors fifty years ago. I go to a school where people appreciate other people for what they have in their minds not the color of their skin. It is imperative that we learn to come together as one nation, learn to appreciate other people's talents and what they have to bring to the table. Most of all we need to respect and appreciate other people's cultures, just like I'm learning to do now.
Dear Thurgood Marshall
I look at my friends while we eat lunch or walk in the hallways and I notice that we are all different colors. I make friends not because of the color of their skin but for their personality and compatibility, if it wasn't for your case Brown vs. Board I would never have gotten the chance to from such great friendships. I can personally say that you winning that case and having the schools integrated was one of the great moments in history.
If It wasn't for this case I would have never meet my best friend who happens to be Hispanic and I would have never meet the two Caucasian women who have inspired me to go after a career in writing and I might not have ever learned I had such a love for reading and writing poetry. If I had gone to an all black school I am positive that I would not have become as open minded as I am or as laid back and carefree. I am not saying that all of my personality comes from other races beside my black one, what I am saying is that two people who happen to be Asian and Caucasian have had a great impact on me. My Asian forth grade teacher thought me that violence and yelling gets you no where and being level headed and letting the little thing slide will make you a more friendly person and my elderly Caucasian neighbor thought me at a early age that it is good to be proud of your race and it's accomplishment but you most remember that we are all equally under the eye of God.
There are two of my friend who are African American and they are the ones who tell me not to give up on my school work and that I should study and get all my work done. They motivate me to do better because these two women are very smart and are in honor and advance placement classes, they show me that you should always try your hardest no matter what race you are. But the thing about these two girls are that they are still" black" but are very smart, they are in no way what some people would call a "Oreo", black on the outside white on the inside. When I came out of middle school I had not seen any black people who where excelling in academics, but when I went to Blair for ninth grade I saw so many new things and I release how shelter I had been. It was also at Blair that I release that I was perpetuating a stereotype, that black people are suppose to be in only regular classes and that we shouldn't care about are grades and only care about making are selves popular, but being smart at Blair makes you popular.
Every race should have an opportunity to become some thing great in this country or any other, and when we integrated the school that's what we were going for, to give blacks a chance to have the same chances as the whites. But now it has become so much more, integrated schools have given every race a chance to learn of a culture that they might not have every had a chance to know, given every race of peoples a opportunity to form great relationships. At Blair every race has given me some thing, whites have broaden my horizon, blacks have encourage me, Asians have shaped my emotion, Indians have shared a beautiful culture, Latinos have given me an ear to share my secretes. Every race that I have come into contact with has left me with some thing wonderful. I as an African American thank you for taking up this case and giving me friendships I will never forget.
When I walk down the hall called Blair Boulevard in Montgomery Blair High School, I see many different people-boys and girls, whites and blacks, Asians and Hispanics. I have a lot of friends who go to Blair, and my friends are very diverse in both race and religion. Throughout my life, I have respected the diversity that has existed in all of the schools that I have attended, especially the diverse community of students at Blair. I feel that it is important that schools are integrated with students who come from many different backgrounds and who practice different religions.
As a result of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, I am able to receive a good education while being a member of an extremely diverse student body. Most people of my generation take the fact that their school is integrated for granted. I would like to now take the opportunity to be thankful for the positive outcome that has developed since the Brown vs. Board case was decided. Because of this decision I spend my days with people of many races and religions. I feel that it is very important to have friends of different backgrounds because you can have the opportunity to learn about their cultures and practices while sharing your background in return.
One of my friends is a very devoted Orthodox Jew. She attends her synagogue every weekend, on both Friday and Saturday, and she follows many Orthodox traditions. Since meeting her earlier this year, I have learned how difficult her life must be, considering that there are many rules that she has to follow. During the Sabbath (Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown), she isn't allowed to do anything that requires "work." For example, during this time she isn't allowed to cook, clean, drive or ride in a car. Also, she must keep kosher every day-she can only eat certain foods and she often has to check food wrappers or containers for kosher symbols. Over the course of our friendship, I have thought a lot about my family's form of Judaism, which is much less observant. Although I am sure that there are many positive benefits from being a very observant Jew, I have come to learn how thankful I am that my parents aren't Orthodox because I would have to follow many of the same rules that my friend does.
The Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education has affected my years of education in many ways. I have had classmates of all different races, cultures and religions and I have become friends with a variety of people who are all different from each other. I am grateful to be able to receive an education in a diverse environment where I have the opportunity to share viewpoints with classmates of all different backgrounds. I think that people should appreciate the diversity that we have in our schools today rather than simply just take it for granted.
Kedamai Fisseha. Kedamai Fisseha sorely misses the computer lab where Silver Chips was born and is daily reborn. He is currently living and writing from London, England where he is glad for the chance to continue his participation in the organization. More »