blackat(school name here)

While I know that anecdote does not equal data, I don’t think racism quite works like that. Although I’m a POC (not BI), I would urge POC (or anyone who sees themselves outside the mainstream) who are considering these schools to follow these accounts to see if this is a place that you would truly feel welcomed at, even if you aren’t BI. This isn’t a question per se, just an observation since it hasn’t yet been raised.

thank you @confusedaboutFA as I just saw that you already raised this.

There is systemic racism in our country so no doubt it exists at boarding/prep schools as well. Minorities are definitely in the minority at BS. I would, however, say there is less racism present than in my mostly white home community (which isn’t meant to discount/excuse racism) but many POC at BSs come from communities where they aren’t in the minority. And staff/faculty and the towns where many schools are located are not diverse.

There is a good documentary that came out some years back called The Prep School Negro that addresses many important issues on the subject.

One thing that’s always irked me is how institutions round up POC for photo ops so they look more diverse in brochures, videos, etc.

This subject is a bit difficult to discuss without crossing the CC line and discussing politics.

The question is, do these sites truly represent the schools? If you distill down to comments and experiences that are posted without verification or other viewpoints and opinions as to what really occurred, is that what the school is all about?

Last I checked, teenagers do and say a whole lot of stupid things. And they commonly hurt each others feelings along the way in their journey through the teen years. Lack of good judgement and its impact on their comments and actions is a defining characteristic. Furthermore, they are human - and being human means that they have evolved over eons to recognize differences. Right or wrong, its how early humans survived. But fast forward to now, and its our responsibility to teach them (and show through our own actions that we appreciate) the beauty in our differences, rather than pretend those differences do not exist. But they will make mistakes along the way and say hurtful and inappropriate things about differences (race, gender, sexuality, religion, body habitus, etc.). And let’s be clear that it comes from all directions, not just the so-called privileged white kids.

So we could no doubt be appalled at the many awful things that a group of teenagers would say over the course of many years, and it would make for terrible reading on an account called “stupidstuffteenssaidat[school]”. But it is currently mainstream for people to just filter out things said to minority students, post it on an account called “blackat[school]” and then declare the school racist.

While all that is true @altras, the posts that catch my attention are the ones involving adults either tolerating or participating in disturbing events.

Take everything with a grain of salt. These are just data points, some more valuable than others. Some of the posts concern events from 20 years ago. One would hope things have improved. At the same time, systemic racism does exist everywhere, no doubt in my mind it exists in these traditional institutions- no matter how hard they try to eradicate it. So I think what can be gleaned from the posts is not a definitive “this will happen to you if you go to this school” so much as a “people have more concerns at school x over school y - who can I talk to about this to find out more since I like school x”. One more thing to add to the list of things to research.

Ironically, I have always bragged to my friends who don’t “get” boarding school, that it was a really great way for me to have a broader outlook on the world. We had students from so many different racial, ethnic, religious and socio economic backgrounds and yet when we were at school, it felt like we were all on an even playing field. For me, coming from a very small, white, private elementary school, in a very small white town, I loved being in class and learning from classmates who came from different cultures. Stereotypes were cast aside, and we saw each other as classmates and housemates before anything else. I really hope the majority of students are still open minded and that the blackat movement allows schools to really look into the root of these issues and make sure there is a system in place that addresses those students and faculty members who are problematic. Boarding school is supposed to be about community, and if that community is breaking down, it need to be fixed.

I think that is true for a lot of students. Definitely more diversity than my children were exposed to in their home community.Same was true for me in the 80s. I do think it can be exhausting and frustrating for a minority student, someone only in their teens, to serve as the example, token, educator about their culture and race in a 24/7 environment.

For sure, it can be a huge burden to bear. Especially at a time when most adolescents are trying their hardest to “fit in” (a theme I have seen repeated in the blackat posts). I don’t know what the solution is, but I do think bringing light to this issue is a step in the right direction.

It’s made more challenging by the fact that many students have not had much exposure to students who are not like them. It’s easier to offend when you don’t know what someone else might find offensive or why. (No passes, though, for the stuff that’s clearly racist or meant to be offensive.)

I think schools really need to take the lead in fostering the conversations but few have particularly diverse staffs - which puts the staff in the minority in an exhausting role - the exact same one students representing a minority occupy. Hard as it is, it’s got to happen.

I mean, while without a doubt these institutions have a large amount of racism on a great many levels, I don’t believe new applicants should totally discount them on that basis. A great many of my friends and I thoroughly enjoy our school, despite the racism we face. It’s a feature of PWIs, a feature that the Black community in my school is galvanizing to correct, but you cannot escape it currently. Its a sort of tension between knowing that you don’t quite belong/ are not welcomed in the same way as white students are and knowing that this is a great place, great experiences, great friends, and there ARE safe spaces when you need them and a community to fall back on.

I also concur with @gardenstategal 's statement above - students generally come from fairly sheltered backgrounds, where they learned specifically how to socialize and engage with racial topics coming from the perspective of their race. I know I did, and I struggled to adjust to understand what was acceptable as I had never hung out with so many students of different race before. People were hurt as we figured out how the other socialized together, but we’re still bridging that gap.

However, its also important not to dismiss it as an “oh they’re learning thing” @Altras , because frankly, it isn’t. Its the same people, repeatedly, being ignorant and refusing to acknowledge what they did, and then BI-/POC students getting hurt and talking to the administration. The administration fails them and ignores the incident as well because, surprise-no-surprise, some of the teachers/coaches/whatever are racist too. Plus there’s no one there to back them up because you can count the amount of Black faculty on both hands and the average amount of time they stay at the school on one.

Above all, I would take these accounts as a factor to keep in mind. Not all of these things happen to all BI-/POC students. But they do happen, and the schools are failing their Black communities. You cannot escape racism if you want to go to a BS. Just keep in mind - in light of that, is this worth it?

And some happen to people who aren’t BIPOC, too. I’ve been reading through some of the postings on several of the blackat instagram pages. I would say some posts (a few here and there) fall into the camp of classist and sexist and on the behalf of staff/faculty, just pure incompetence/ignorance because some statements I read rang true as happening to other students regardless of race. Like racism, our society has many other systemic -isms, too, unfortunately.

“without a doubt these institutions have a large amount of racism on a great many levels”

Actually, I DO doubt the degree of that statement.

I am not suggesting that racism does not exist. That is one extreme that is untrue. But the other extreme is also untrue, that racism exists at these institutions in “large amount” or “on a great many levels.”

As above, these institutions, like all institutions and society in general, suffer from many -isms. But there is a difference between supported inequalities that define institutional -isms, and unsupported occurrences of poor behavior (either isolated or a repeat offender).

When you have the opportunity to lead an organization, you will know the difficult task of working hard to not be defined by the few bad apples. FWIW, I believe we are far to quick in this day in age to attribute systematic problems to cases a few bad apples. If a car is sputtering, you start by looking under the hood, not taking it straight to the scrap yard.

The demographics and recruiting practices of boarding schools (and colleges) clearly reflect a lack of conventional racism. Representation among students and staff is not the result of institutional barriers, but is the result of choices (ethnic, gender, sexuality, etc.). Fewer black students and many fewer hispanic students choose to attend or work at these schools, despite often disproportionately favorable ability to do so. True or perceived differences in representation in the absence of barriers is not an -ism, it’s a choice.

@Altras , you make an excellent point. Most schools would like to be more diverse and they work really hard at it. Really hard…

But most schools are also not doing the work to be more inclusive. It’s like wanting to have everyone at the party but only one group of people decides what kind of party it’ll be. And the only way to enjoy that party is to love the music, love the food, love the decor – even if a different kind of party would make you happier. In other words. “My party, my rules.” That’s not really inclusive.

The reality is that being truly inclusive will change the culture of the school in some ways which means asking the people who are there and part of that to change to make room for newcomers. Not so easy.

I think a thread dedicated to unverified anecdotes that tie a school and student group to the worst behavior imaginable is not appropriate for CC.

To discuss generic issues that students face at a BS is really useful.
This approach is not the right way to go about a discussion. Unless profiles and the accusations of this magnitude has some way to be verified by the host.

@privatebanker, it depends on the discussion being had.

As a launching point for a discussion about racism and the extent to which it exists in bs generally, fine. A discussion about what schools are doing about it, great.

An attack on a particular school for being racist based on anonymous posts elsewhere, not so much. But that’s not happening.

I agree it is hard not to get political. But to NOT talk about racism right now or not to acknowledge the fact that the @blackat____ is a thing, is a bigger problem than talking about it. I think the issue of racism and privilege go hand in hand. Bs is the poster child of privilege in some people’s minds. It has to be talked about.

That’s not what the op suggests or the the actual title of the discussion. Am I missing something?

I’m only going by the request of the op. That is not the right thing to do.

This is not a politic thing at all. Just be careful imho of any McCarthy like name the names and tarnish -perhaps irreparably -in some minds- here the reputations and alumni, without any substantive background.

I agree with you as to the the dialogue. As I said previously if you saw my last post in its entirety.

The conversation is super important.

Calling out and naming schools as the op post suggests without proof is a problem.

But that’s all. I registered my complaint about the general concept of the thread not the topic or importance of dialogue. I shared my thoughts about things relative to this site and it’s purpose as a school resource.

I let everyone carry on.

@privatebanker, I misunderstood what you were saying then. For the most part the humble little prep school corner of cc self-polices pretty well.

I think if you read the subsequent posts, your mind would be put at ease.

One thing about your last post - what do you mean by you “let everyone carry on”? That seems pretty loaded, like you are policing us and have some sway over what gets to be said. Probably not your intention. You are a thoughtful guy and I respect your posts elsewhere. These are just sensitive times, is all. Figured better to point out the confusing statement rather than people getting the wrong idea.

Omg. I meant I will stop commenting and let everyone “carry on” with the dialogue.

But if you are a self policing little corner doesn’t it require people to post things to try and help keep it on track. How’s it different than my comment. Just a thought

And just because people may not post here often, like myself, do have a vested interest in the topics and issues covered here.

@doschicos definitely! they get mixed up and tangled in with each other, and it can be hard to separate out the, say Black female, experience from discrimination from being a woman.

I hesitate to get political, and if I am doing so please let me know, as such is clearly unsolicited on CC.

However, I must register my disagreement. The behaviors described on these pages (aside from the ones that name specific faculty members/environments, which I may or may not be able to speak to) are by and large consistent with the general Black experience in these schools (from my own and from the experiences of the BIPOC I have talked to, which is to say). While you are correct that there is a difference between supported inequalities and occurrences of poor behavior, I do believe racism in prep schools is of the former category, generally, and not the latter. In my own personal experience with my school, I can confirm that faculty repeatedly fail to step in for Black students. Black faculty in and of themselves are asked to do the tremendous work of making BIPOC students comfortable in a predominantly white environment where their white peers are unwilling. Alumni have communicated such experiences, and they have persisted over the years. While representation is definitely in a much better place, it is exactly as @gardenstategal says above - a party we are invited to, yes, but under the understanding that we are facing this kind of harassment when we come.

I do not pretend to be able to measure the degree. Perhaps we (the BIPOC community and I) have just been particularly unlucky. But my understanding is that the degree is indeed fairly significant.

A couple posters here have commented about getting “political”. I see nothing political, personally, in discussing racial equality/inequality. It transcends party politics.