College of Liberal Arts

Black Policy & Tea: (Anti)blackness & School: Segregation’s Afterlife

Wednesday Apr 5, 2017 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM | GWB 2.206

Join the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis for our second Black Policy & Tea event, (Anti)blackness & School: Segregation’s Afterlife. The abstract below will be presented by Dr. kihana ross and tea and cookies will be available for attendees. Black Policy & Tea events will be held on the first Wednesday of each month during the regular school year, focusing on varying topics.



Abstract for discussion:

Oftentimes when people contemplate racially exclusive spaces in education, they envision a time period of de jure segregation, where Black students were relegated to a materially inferior education. Likewise, many people celebrate the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision as an important step toward educational equality and racial integration more broadly. Yet, beginning in the antebellum period and continuing into the present, Black folks have struggled to maintain exclusively Black spaces in education. In fact, even after the historic 2008 election of this nation’s first Black president, some Black spaces in education have taken a new and arguably more bold form than their predecessors. While the necessity of exclusively Black educational spaces is perhaps more intuitive prior to desegregation mandates, how do we understand the continued push for these spaces today? How might we theorize their significance? Building on Saidiya Hartman’s notion of the Afterlife of Slavery, a theory that recognizes the ways “the entanglements of slavery and freedom trouble facile notions of progress that endeavor to erect absolute distinctions between bondage and liberty” (Hartman, 1997, pg. 172), I consider what it means for Black students to exist in what I am calling the Afterlife of Segregation. Similar to the “grand narrative of emancipation” Hartman references, the grand narrative of integration (or even desegregation) remains a central force in the educational trajectory of Black students. Without diminishing the significance of Brown and the end of a legal mandate that very explicitly caste Black students as inferior and forbade their access to the material resources white students received, here I consider what the end of formal segregation has meant for Black students who remain (as Black folks did after emancipation), a subjugated group. Further, how does this theoretical framework inform the way we understand a continued desire (and perceived necessity) for Black exclusivity? Finally, what does this mean for the ways we think about notions of education reform geared toward Black students? For the development of policy initiatives aimed at improving the educational experiences of Black children in U.S. public schools? 

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