Despite cries to the contrary, and for more ‘equality,’ a middle school in Pennsylvania recently showcased what this looks like to their middle school students. If you were part of the white majority of these classes, you possibly were thrilled to hear these announcements. There was grant money for students to learn how to fly drones, and they had enough funding for 24 kids to take the course.
There was, however, a catch for the Upper Merion Area Middle School students for the class (held this past Saturday); you had to be black. As announced in the school’s video announcements, this unidentified educator proclaimed “Here’s the thing, it is a Black Student Union-sponsored event, so, in order to participate, 1: You must have a signed permission slip to claim your seat. Secondly, you must be black, African-American, a person of color in order to participate.”
This raises tons of questions, first off is it ‘you must be black/African-American’ or is it ‘you must be a person of color’? The two are vastly different and have different connotations. Ask anyone who does not claim to be white, and they will most certainly be considered to be a person of color. Asian, Latino, black, mulatto, etc., it does not matter. It’s either white or POC these days.
Yet the Upper Marion Area School District Superintendent John Toleno doesn’t quite see the issue with this classification. Going on to claim “ongoing efforts over the past 8 years to give opportunities to groups who are underrepresented in STEM fields with a primary focus on Students of Color and students who identify as female. This has been a national focus in the STEM community.” Well Toleno, I feel for you. You now have to capitalize ‘Color’ at every turn for fear of offending someone, and must make the distinction of ‘identify as female.’ Well, this second part opens a whole new can of worms for you, but you aren’t quite ready to talk about that yet, are ya?
What you were ready to cover was your backside with the follow-up statement of “Please be further advised that if we didn’t get to our 24 student limit with African American students as stipulated in the grant we wrote and were awarded, we would have absolutely opened this up to our entire middle school student population to fill the 24 student seats”. Well isn’t that lovely of ya Toleno? Leaving the scraps for those who aren’t part of your racially segregated mission. Kinda sounds like the 1940s and 50s all over again….just in reverse.
Let’s not forget that per the U.S. Census Bureau, you are in a district that is 72% white, about 19% Asian, and 6% black. So by your numbers, you are either a sizeable middle school, or you just didn’t want white people there; given the estimated 33k total population, it’s kind of a toss-up here when running the numbers for black only; add in the remainder of the non-white people and it seems more like a certainty of exclusion.
Toleno, you should be ashamed of yourself, and so should your district. To put out a program like this, and to tell kids they cannot join a program based upon their skin color (or in the after notes, gender identity) is discriminatory as hell. It was wrong when whites were doing it, and it’s just as wrong now. Hell, perhaps even worse these days as now we are publicly acknowledging how horrible those moves were all these years later.
There is a big lesson to be learned here, and it’s time America woke up and understood it. You cannot bring the poor into prosperity by overtaxing the wealthy, and you cannot make up for decades of discrimination by discriminating against the original discriminators. It’s just that simple.