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A New Jim Crow Era

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We are still living with Jim Crow

By: Aaron Joseph – 2021 Summer Intern

We are living in a society where the color of our skin determines who we are and what we do.

There has always been a thin line between white and Black men and women in this world. Children of color often complain they are disrespected in predominantly white schools. And those in schools with majority Black and Brown students suffer from poor curricula, as well as lack of resources when compared to their white counterparts.

It’s been over 67 years since the Brown V. Board of education and it feels like we haven’t learned our lesson. We are living in a society where children of color are not getting the education they need to prepare them for the modern world. Instead, they are getting an education they can afford. And for many children of color; that isn’t enough.

The fact is, if you live in a $15,000 home, you will get an education worth $15,000. For most Black and Brown families, poor schools make it harder and tougher for them to get a proper education. The quality of a school depends on funding, which is different if you live in the City of Harrisburg or in a suburban home worth over $200,000.

The racial wealth gap has persisted for decades. The National Center for Education Statistics says African Americans and Latinos are more likely to attend high-poverty schools than Asian Americans and Caucasians. This is detrimental because our public schools should provide equal education for all students, not just for the rich and the wealthy.

Many Black families live in poor, urban housing; but does that make it right for their children to suffer the consequences?

High school dropout rates among Latinos and African-Americans remain the highest of all racial groups, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The sad truth is that these kids could be the next Barack Obamas or Kamala Harrises, and we are losing them because our education system is weak and racist.

We care more about the rich families that fund our school’s swimming pools rather than the Black student who can’t buy his own lunch.

Often, high-achieving African American students that strive to face academic challenges often have less rigorous curricula, attend schools with fewer resources, and have teachers who expect less of them academically.

Many are unaware how our culture perpetuates systematic discrimination. We are living in a new Jim Crow era that continues to hurt the economy. And even today, we feel its effects. During quarantine, with schools closing in-person schooling, Black and Brown students were hurt worse. While some schools gave away free lunches and others gave away laptops and Ipads, some of the less funded schools were not able to help their students at all. And those were schools with primarily students of color.

Even without a pandemic, the unemployment rate is significantly higher for African Americans than for Caucasian Americans. In fact, recent statistics show African-American men working full-time earn only 72 percent of the average earnings of comparable Caucasian men and 85 percent of the earnings of Caucasian women.

Are African Americans being educated so to earn less than their white counterparts?

We need change. We need to start by advocating for equitable funding to all schools. Money is of the essence. With enough resources, schools can have proper supplies and rigorous curricula, as well as a better environment for all students and teachers. We cannot just let the overfunded schools be the top priority.

There should be quality among all students, school and social classes. We need to come together to address these issues, because it’s the only way to finally stop living with Jim Crow, once and for all.

Aaron Joseph wrote this opinion piece while interning for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and PennLive newspaper. It was published here.