Minority Students Are Outcasts At Elite Schools In NYC
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Tags: african american, Ayinde Alleyne, high school, interview, One African American, One Asian American, race, racism, South Bronx, Upper West Side
Although NYC’s most prestigious private schools have increased their efforts in diversifying their student bodies, the schools have failed to exert as much energy in the inclusion experience of the diversifying process. In a recent story published on The New York Times‘ website, a series of minority, financially struggling students illustrate their experience as outcasts at these schools.
Ayinde Alleyne, an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, gave a candid explanation of the financial barrier that separated he and his classmates. As Alleyne was preparing to graduate from an elite high school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, his classmates were ecstatic about a $1,300-per-student class trip to the Bahamas. He was stunned when some of his classmates, with whom he’d shared four years at the school, asked him if he planned to come on the trip. “How do I get you to understand that going to the Bahamas is unimaginable for my family?” he said in a recent interview. “My family has never taken a vacation.” His mother is a teacher and his father is an auto-body repairman in South Bronx.
Years ago, these schools may have seen only one or two minority students in any given graduating class; however, during the 2011-12 school year, 29.8% of children at the city’s private schools were minority students, including African-American, Hispanic and Asian children, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, an increase from 21.4% a decade ago. Students say the separation is formed by those with an abundance of wealth and resources and those whose families are financially strapped. The divide is often reflected by race.
Minority students at these elite schools report feeling estranged, studying among peers who often lack any awareness about their socioeconomic status and the differences it entails. They describe a racism that exudes not in insults, but more often in polite indifference, silence and segregation. One Asian-American student says: “You can do a lot of psychological damage to people by ignoring them for an extended period of time. For, like, four years.”
The same feelings of exclusion were recently discussed in an article titled “Are African Americans The “Elephant In The Room’ Of Corporate America?,” in which African American managers and executives weighed in on compromising their authenticity to conform to their company’s culture. One African American senior executive weighed in on the discussion saying, “My style is direct. In the back of your mind, you wonder and worry whether you’re perceived as being demanding and confrontational.” When employees of color feel isolated, it oftentimes leads to disengagement and a greater likelihood of them leaving the employer.