Relationship Between Racial Segregation and Catholic Schools

RelationshipBetween Racial Segregation and Catholic Schools

RelationshipBetween Racial Segregation and Catholic Schools

Thechallenges that minority groups (i.e., African Americans and otherminority groups) face in the United States public schools can belinked to dynamics of race that is promoted through the ideology ofWhite Supremacy. Winant (1994, p.2) acknowledges that race remainsfused with the order, power, and every system in the Americansociety. Montagu (1997) asserts that the fusing of race and order andpower in the American society race has led to a common belief thatrace and visible differences are linked to innate differences betweenWhites and minority groups (Montagu, 1997). Wynne (2005) contendsthat the U.S. political tenor is inclined toward the “Nazi-likeparanoia” in which minority groups are treated differently fromthose believed to belong to the mainstream White Euro-Centric.According to Wynne (2005) the structure and nature of U.S.educational system upheld such a climate. Wynne (2005) believes thatthis “Nazi-like paranoia” characterizes the White supremacistideology that prevail the American society. This white supremacyideology influences the U.S. government’s effort to achieveeducation equality. This ideology influences the education thatminority ethnic groups such as African American receive. It issupported and promoted by the wealthy and professional-managerial-class white. This paper argues that Catholic schools areone of the mechanisms by which wealthy and professional-managerial-class white Christians make sure that they and theirchildren are the ones who maintain power, wealth, and status in U.S.society.


Whitesupremacy is an ideology that allows one race to dominate other racesthat are seen as inferior. One of these privileges enjoyed by thosein the dominant race is to acting and being without thought of howtheir race influences their life. Wise (2012) indicates that whitesupremacy is an institutional and social force. Wise (2012) believesthat social categories are created with a view to enshrining raciallydivided policy. “In Dear White America” Wise (2012) employs anassertion proposed by Critical Whiteness Studies and Critical RaceTheory to examine social ramifications the concept of whiteness hasfor people of color and white people. Bonilla-Silva (2010) emphasizeswhiteness by proposing that many white individual do not ignoreprivileges attached to their race or think about their race. Drawingon the analysis of interview data, Bonilla-Silva (2010) outlines manywhite individual’s view on racism and race in the U.S He use aWhite woman named Sue to exemplify the difference demonstrated by thewhite people towards racism and racial discrimination in the U.S.Like most whites, Sue ignores the effect of contemporary and pastdiscrimination of the economic, social and education status ofminority groups. Her whiteness enables her to appear apathetic aboutexisting inequalities that uphold contemporary privilege and status.As such, Sue’s whiteness makes gives her privileges making itdifficult for her to see inequalities against others because she doesnot experience implicit or explicit racism. Furthermore, toacknowledge the structure of white supremacy is to challenge theprivileges she enjoys. Contrary to white supremacy, people of colorare socio-culturally invisible. They are hyper visible, suffer socialand legal consequences due to their racial visibility (Bonilla-Silva(2010). Bonilla-Silva (2010) uses U.S. criminal Justice system andeducation to clarify that people of color are only visibility throughsegregation. People of color are reported to be disproportionallyrepresented in these two systems and others because they are morenegatively stereotyped and more visible than white people. Accordingto Brunsma et al. (2012) Latino, Asian and black people are viewed as“raced”. On the other hand, white people are seen as race-less orcolorless. White privilege is powerful since it is rooted in allowingpower structures to be untouched and the understandings of racializedinvisibility and visibility.

Educationand White Supremacy

Schoolsare social sites of where social reproduction occurs with studentsexpected to learn and acquire skills that are deemed necessary tohelp contributed towards the state. For this reason, they form animportant case study for questioning how the state and other othersregulate and define good citizenship and work to maintain a certainstatus quo or white supremacy through schooling practices. For thecase of America, the racial boundaries of “American-ness” areclosely guarded through the performing white supremacy in highschools and other state institutions. As stated by Bannerji (2000) itis in schools where “Europeanness” translates into whitesupremacy. It is the place where the ability to American becomesdependent of how an individual conforms to white, middle-class norms.Whiteness is the central identifies of “American-ness” and allbodies that do not read and confirm to this reality are excluded frommembership. Cannon (2011) recounts a story from African Americans andAfrican-Caribbean Canadians of case in which they were questionedover their belonging through inquires designed as “innocent”:“which island do you come from?” Or “where are you from”.According to Carl (2009) this line of questioning is aimed atre-establishing through white bodies, who is unquestionably Americanand who is characterized as “foreigner” or “outsider” (James,2009). The delineation of being a member holds material penalties andrewards for white individuals, including the ease to access servicesin schools and in the society conferred as privileged citizens andsustains the understanding and conceptualization of “American” asa white body. Carter (2005) identifies schools as white bodies andasserts that white supremacy functions through these white bodies.The U.S. education system was created from the position of culturalsuperiority and racial superiority. Over years, individuals whoserace, religion and culture fell outside such hegemony have continuedto experience domination of the dominant authority (Takaki, 1993Spring, 2005 Loewen, 2007).

CatholicSchools and White Supremacy

Inall societies, education systems are designed to function as keyinstitutions that reproduce dominant economic and social orders,beliefs systems and customs. However, the U.S. education publiceducation intrinsically imposes restrains of social equality anddemocracy making schooling a function of white supremacy andcapitalism. Any efforts to reform secondary and primary publiceducation are aligned with the brutality of white supremacy andneoliberalism. The Eurocentric education policymakers maintainCatholic elite schools designed for white children. These schools aredesigned differently from those of other ethnic groups. This lead tothe sorting out of American students based on the neoliberalworldview and white supremacy ideologies. Those believed to be ofless “value” are deemed disposable.

Racistviews by the White Clergy and hierarchy in the U.S. resulted inseparate Catholic schools designed for African-Americans (AmericanLatino, Asian Americans and American Indian). These racism views andbeliefs promote white supremacy by influencing the development ofeducational and spiritual praxis. Catholic-school education isdesigned to benefit only children of the elite (white students).These schools provide environment that support the preparation of theelites’ children to achieve their full potential at the expense ofother minority groups. Many education scholars (e.g., Kozon, 2005Rothstein, 2013 Mullins, 2013 Strauss, 2014) have acknowledged thatthe gap between under-resourced schools and resourced white catholicschools has been widening. Kozol (2005) indicates that the travestyis not with the segregation of schools and the combination ofinequality and segregation. According to Kozol (2005) if equalopportunities were given to separate White Catholic schools and BlackCatholic schools then Americas could be living up to the Ferguson VS.Plessy. The Supreme Court Ferguson VS Plessy case upheld segregationlaws for states but demanded that the government should ensure thesegregated public space are equal but separate. However, as noted byKozol (2005) the U.S. schools are unequal and decidedly separate.Kozol (2005) refers to these segregated schools as the state of“apartheid education”.

Supportingthis view, Thobani (2007) asserts that despite the 1954 Board ofEducation V. Brown case, education in the U.S. is till different formany Brown and Black children than it is for the White children.Students of different races are not integrated. Das (1996) suggeststhat desegregation should integrate students from the White race andother races and also address the White supremacist and raciststructures institutionalized within the Catholic schools and theoverall U.S. education practices and policy. Commissiong (2009)suggests that desegregation cleansed other minority community ofinfesting white supremacy and American racism.In view ofCommissiong (2009) racial segregation has been intensifying in theU.S. schools half-century after Brown.Commissiong (2009) adds that current desegregation practices requirechildren for African Americans and other minority communities tomodel behavior, appearance and values of middle-class White America.Commissiong (2009) asserts that the equality of outcome, the equalityof opportunity and threat to structural racism persists.

Childrenfrom other minority communities are living and learning in a vastlysegregated schools and space. This is shaping how both Black andWhite students view their worlds and themselves. In a talk in NewYork City regarding education, Jones described the way the 6th gradelearners understood their school learning environment via the lens ofsegregation. Jones also showed how current rhetoric and policiesfavor white supremacy again other communities.

Jones’sstories capture the theme of repeated contradiction. Jones pointedout that schools named after leaders of Black civil rights are themost segregated schools. He asserted that in most Catholic schoolsdominated by whites, the education policy is largely driven bynotions of ensuring excellence rather than equity for all students.This way, it ignores the issues that should address segregatedschools. Despite the conspicuous segregation in these schools, policymakers have not included it in their discourse. The standpoint ofignoring struggles related to equity and poverty and ignoring race inpublic education may lead to greater economic and social equity forcommunities and students of color. These standpoints should beexplored within the wider context of neoliberal system and whitesupremacy. According to Simpson (2006) about one third ofscholarships are given to students in catholic schools. However, thetrajectory of these scholarships are designed to uncover and examinestrategies to improve and promote the academic performance of AfricanAmerican students in the U.S. according to Srivastava (2005) these isshaped by White supremacist ideologies. According to Srivastava(2005) instead of putting in check measures that


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