Favorite

Central parent's hope 

As a parent of two Central High students, I was troubled but hardly startled by Brandon Love’s “Tale of Two Centrals,” reprinted in the Times May 10.

It was not the first time I had heard someone level this criticism at Central. But it was the first time I had heard it from an African-American student who has tried to move back and forth between the two worlds at Central. His stories of racial stereotyping and his suspicions that Central may be restricting African-American students’ access to Advanced Placement courses are stark reminders that in Arkansas and America, race is still a huge factor in our everyday lives and thinking.

The essay is troubling in part because some will undoubtedly see in the problems Love identifies confirmation of the failure of public education. For some, he has described a uniquely unpleasant place for students of all colors.

Those inferences are too harsh. Racial tension is not a Central High phenomenon. We should avoid disparaging Central’s students for not overcoming racial suspicions and divisions that the rest of us haven’t vanquished either.

Fifty-three years after the Supreme Court ordered a halt to racially separate schools in the United States, the racial stratification and self-segregation at Central are still very visible in much of our society. Churches, neighborhoods and social patterns are, for the most part, segregated in this city. Why should we expect our children at Central High to be immune from forces that appear almost everywhere else in our society?

Principal Nancy Rousseau and counselor Leslie Kearney rightly point out that Central’s racial tensions are like those at any large school outside of racially homogenous communities. They could have gone farther. The worst of Central’s realities — racial “prejudices and stereotypes,” “imaginary lines” separating blacks and whites, and a gulf between the “vast opportunities” of some students and the “limited” ambitions and opportunities of others — are the realities of much of America.

A widening chasm between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest Americans aggravates these tensions. The daily coarsening of our culture by popular media and the entertainment industry further divides us and makes it harder for all of us to understand each other. Central is sadly a reflection of a divided, coarse world our children are inheriting.

The other troubling aspect of this lies in squandered opportunities. The generation of current Central parents has been educated entirely in a post-desegregation era. If the “Tale of Two Centrals” is an indication, we have not done as much as we should have to foster more enlightened attitudes about people who are different from us. It would be naive to doubt that there are some parents who view the concentration of white students in AP courses as a means of shielding their children from those “other” kids at Central.

Ultimately I do see hope in Brandon Love’s critique of his high school and the sensitive and sensible response it evoked from his principal and counselor. All of them are confronting ancient, lamentable forces of racism that still divide us. They are addressing racially based suspicions.

We should all be trying to do likewise. For too long, too many of us have been ignoring these problems by denying that they present a cultural cancer afflicting our state and country, not just large, inner city public schools.

Nate Coulter is a Little Rock lawyer.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Nate Coulter

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • Hiding Hog money

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this week reported that a University of Arkansas response to an open records request shows UA officials regularly communicate with the Razorback Foundation, which supports UA athletics. Duh.
    • Dec 21, 2017
  • In black and white

    The men and women who patrol Little Rock in black and white vehicles tell a story in black and white.
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex crusaders

    • A good column and very much needed. And every claim of sexual harassment made now…

    • on January 20, 2018
  • Re: Sex crusaders

    • If I cannot grope, we must elope.

    • on January 19, 2018
  • Re: The Oval outhouse

    • I understand the hatred and appreciate the voice of those who recognize that it leads…

    • on January 18, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation