Seeking Allies

A Shared Experience

While the Black Parents Workshop is rooted in the struggle of Black children in the communities of South Orange and Maplewood in New Jersey, we recognize the experiences of youth here is similar to that of suburban communities across the United States. Data from the 2010 Census shows that 55% of the African-American population now resides in suburbs. Our work, therefore, cannot take place in a silo. We have to see the struggle for equity as a shared concern and we intend to find ways to collaborate with groups across the country that have made the issue of educational equity their focus.

What we have learned from our work in South Orange and Maplewood is that there is a pattern of behaviors that put Black children at-risk in suburban communities. We identify several trends. 

  • The silence of Black adults who either ignore the concerns expressed by their children or defer to school authorities when claims of mistreatment are raised by their children 
  • Greater concern among Black adults to protect their class status and not offend white neighbors than to seek justice for their children 
  • Whites who use coded language to feign support for equity but vigorously defend the status quo, often claiming their children will lose if systems that perpetuate inequality are dismantled 
  • Paternalism on the part of whites who attempt to convey empathy by suggesting their only concern is not placing too high expectations on Black children (e.g. it’s better they remain in low level courses because the work won’t be so challenging)
  • Board level politics that are driven by segments of the community that cling to long discredited notions of white intellectual superiority and who vigorously reject any effort to reconstruct education upon a more culturally relevant platform  
  • A teaching corps that does not reflect the racial composition of the student population and that falls prey to viewing Black students as less capable, and whose pedagogy is driven by implicit bias 
  • A lack of leadership and will among elected officials 
  • Larger forces external to the school system that reinforces in Black children their second-class status 

These tendencies stack the deck against Black children in suburban communities, and creates an environment that is not only not conducive to learning but exacts long-term harm upon our children. The work required to shield Black children from these abuses is the equivalent of a Black Tax that is levied upon Black families in the suburbs.  

Our Work Beyond our Community

We are looking to work collaboratively with organizations that share our focus and our passion for educational equity. In spring 2018, we intend to sponsor a national conference that will examine Black educational attainment in suburban America. If your group has an interest in working with us, please drop us a note at blackparentsworkshop@gmail.com

A National Movement for Equity

Closing the Achievement Gap featuring Vanderbilt University Professor, Dr. Donna Ford

The Black Male Achievement Gap featuring Dr. Ivory Toldson

The State of Black Boys - Portland's Black Parent Initiative