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What Stories Can Teach Us about Racism Dissertation

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The purpose of this study is to examine the roles played by educators, teachers and students in the issue of social and academic culture of Emmett Scott High in South Carolina between 1965 and 1970. The reason for focusing on social and academic culture in the school is because it played great towards the academic environment that existed during that period. As it is noted later by scholars there were issues of racism and discrimination that were evident during this period of time and the major reason is to examine whether social and academic culture played any significant role in this. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

From the interviews that were carried out from the administrators and students it is clear that they did not contribute to this. Even though there were many challenges the administrators went through they were proud to be associated with the school from principles point of view as well as the students who were proud of the school and said that it was a place where they were trained to be leaders. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

As we know issues of racism and discrimination in the society are highly practiced especially in places where there are both whites and people of color. The racism is basically based on the skin color, sociological issues as well as cultural issues and values. These are issues that are highly mentioned and experience in western culture where by people of color are not viewed to be equal with the other people in the society. Because of this issues and view of the minority groups most of the people tend to suffer in the society due to lack of essential necessities like education and other valuable services. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

Racism and discrimination is one of the things the Emmett Scott high school experienced in its growth. The school was basically for the Negro children and because of this there were essential requirements that were not provided for these children. The children because of their race and social status they could not afford to pay for tuition fee hence most of them could not have an equal opportunity to learn just like the other children. However much they tried to raise their voice for help they were not heard since there was nothing that was done to save their situation. On top of this before the establishment of the school there was no public education for the Negro children and this made it more difficult for the children to access education just like the other children of whites. (Witherspoon, 2008)

Topic and purpose

The major purpose of carrying out this study is to analyze and understand the role that educators and students played in the academic and social culture of Emmett Scott School. Though the school underwent a lot of challenges today is said to be a symbol of pride for the African American community and academic fraternity in Rock Hill South Carolina. Although the school later underwent challenges and desegregation and it was later closed and today it acts like community center for the people in the area. (Witherspoon, 2008)

Background of the study

The history of the Emmett Scott School is what has led to the study since there is evidence of racism in the school. This is what has encouraged a study to be carried out to establish the reason as to why the children and negro society generally was subjected to such treatment, also to come up with a conclusion on whether the same thing is usually practiced today in a society where there are American African together with the whites. (Witherspoon, 2008)

Education took roots in 1888 in Rock Hill whereby public education was stated, before this time public education was not recognized around this area. Prior to this and something that contributed much to the start of education during this period was the first school charter which was issued in 1887. This was seventeen years after the city got its charter. Before this period of time there were no public education which took place instead education was carried out in private schools which were more or less under the care of patrons. In 1888 the first public school was opened up in South Carolina that was led by professor banks. (Witherspoon, 2008)

The Rock Hill public schools continued to grow and by the time the school had its third superintendent between 1898 and 1911, there were no any graded schools for Negro children. However these children got their education from four main parochial schools which were under certain churches. This showed that the different children did not get equal educational opportunities in the schools and that’s the reason as to why they were taught in different places. However though the children were taught in different places the schools were under management of board of trustees of the Rock Hill schools. (Witherspoon, 2008)

The Negro citizens were never satisfied by the education their children were getting and for that reason they placed a petition requesting the board to establish central graded school for Negro children. This was aimed at improving their children’s level since they believed that their children had potential of improving their education if only subjected to better educational environment. Together with that they also believed that if the children were provided with free tuition it would be possible for more of the children to attend school since many of them did not attend school as a result of lack of enough resources ad finance to pay for the tuition fee. (Witherspoon, 2008)

This petition was considered but the board did not take major action hence the children were not helped in any way. Later on in 1915 there were also another group of students that made another petition for a free public school where they would not be needed to pay fees. This petition was considered later and in 1916 they were offered with free tuition that went to the fifth grade. This was made but there was no any major action that was taken in regards to the school. (Witherspoon, 2008)

Later in 1919 board took part in the education of Negro students whereby they issued $75,000 bonds that were aimed at paying for the buildings that were currently used by the students for their education. The amounts were aimed at benefiting both children of whites as well as those of Negro students. This is because they would be used to provide sites and buildings for a grammar school for white children which were to be combined with grammar and high school for the Negro children. The school that was build is what was later referred to as Emmett Scott high school. (Witherspoon, 2008)

The naming of the school took time and it was finally named after Emmett Scott hence the name of the public school being Emmett Scott high school which had students of white’s as well Negro students. After the naming of the school it was granted an opportunity of offering grant state high school diplomas which began with the class of 1934. (Witherspoon, 2008)

Statement of the problem

Based on the history of the school the problem to be addressed and analyzed is that African American school which was represented by the black students was viewed as of poor quality in academically, socially and culturally and this is what contributed to lack of support for the Negro students. The major problem to be addressed is the reason as to why the African American school was viewed as of low quality academically, socially and culturally. (Walker, 1996)

The interviews that were carried out with the teachers, students and the last principal of the school showed that despite the view that the school was seen as of low quality academically the people who were involved utilized that opportunity and they were proud of the school. They viewed the school as an important thing towards their development; secondly they believed that they got good education despite the fact that they had fewer resources and the teachers in the school they got much less money as compared to other schools. (Walker, 1996)

Research questions

Research questions they play a very important role in any research work, this is because they guide or give direction that is followed while carrying out research work and coming up with the dissertation of the information collected. In this case research questions will be based on the statement of the problem as well as the history of the school. The research questions to direct the study include the following;

  1. What was the academic culture of Emmett Scott High school?
  2. What was the social culture of Emmett Scott high school?
  3. What were the teachers and administrators views on their role in the education of their students at Emmett Scott high school?
  4. What were student’s views and perception about their teachers and administrators at Emmett Scott high school?
  5. What are the narratives and stories associated with the desegregation period and the closing of Emmett Scott high school?

The first question is basically focused on the academic culture that was practiced in the school during this period. Understanding of the academic culture will help to know whether education was highly valued among the Negro people or not. The weight which they gave education is what will be the basics of the study in regards to the way the Negro students were discriminated by the whites. If they never valued education it means that they were not highly discriminated if anything they were the ones who did not value education. Answering this question will provide some of the basic information that is needed in order to come to conclusion concerning the study. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

The second question tries to answer the question of type of social culture that was practiced at the Emmett Scott high school. Understanding of the culture that was practiced will give insight to the kind of lifestyle that the Negro students and their people lived amidst the whites. Through this it will be possible to understand how they related and how the issues of racism and discrimination were handled and how they might have contributed to the issue of racism and discrimination in the society during that period. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

Views of the teachers and administrators of the school concerning the study are essential to this study; this is because through this it is possible to know exactly what happened in the school. This is because it is through the views that we will be able to understand the feelings they had towards racism that was practiced in the school. Some of the difficulties and challenges they underwent as a result of racism will be revealed through hearing the views of the teachers and the students. This is what will show clearly the extent to which the cases of racism and discrimination were in the school. Also it will be possible to understand the reason as to why some of the things were happening to the minority group of students in the school. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

Also theories and narratives that help explain the case of Emmett Scott School are important. This is because it is based on these theories that we get to understand the issues behind the incident clearly. They help us to understand what brought about the incident and how such issues can be dealt with in the society. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

Research framework

The focus of the study is on the academic and social culture of Emmett Scott high school. Though the history can be traced back to 1888 the major focus will cover the period between 1965 and 1970. The study covered the views of the administrators, students and teachers of the school during the same period. (Walker, 1996)

The research work will have a structure that will guide the kind of work that will be done. The first thing that will be looked at is the literature review that is all the information and relevant research work that is found regarding the issue under discussion. Through the literature review more information will be collected that is related to the issues at hand hence a clear understanding will be gained through this. (Walker, 1996)

Design and methodology

Methodology is essential and the major methods that used include oral history, interviews and document review. Primary as well as secondary data was collected; primary data was derived from getting the views of the teachers, administrators and students in the school through interviews and oral history. Secondary data was collected from earlier written work concerning the area of study. (Walker, 1996)

The method of data collection that will be applied in this case is snowballing or chaining method. This enabled data collection from different people and secondary data from different sources. Data gathering through snowball method is efficient since it involves information from more respondents and diversified information. Snow ball method best fitted this kind of research because of the easy availability of the respondents from students, teachers and administrators of the school. (Walker, 1996)

There are advantages that are associated with this method that include the findings that are arrived at enable precipitate from the case narrative methodology. There was also a possibility of getting additional data that may be helpful since the researcher can attend reunion of former students, teachers and administrators in October this year. This enabled the researcher to get more information concerning the study that was essential.

After collection of the necessary information then analysis of the data collected was done, all the collected data from primary sources as well as secondary sources was analyzed keenly. The analysis phase was very important since it determined the academic and social culture that was practiced in Emmett Scott high school between the period 1965 and 1970. After through analysis of the data the findings were used to develop conclusions of the study. (Walker, 1996)

Theoretical framework

Theoretical traditions

An efficient educational research work starts with the direction of the research but not what the researcher knows or understands concerning the topic. If the researcher is not careful it is very easy to divert from the question of discussion to other things that are not part of the research and for this reason it is important to focus on the question at hand and to search information that is relevant to the topic. The major purpose of the research to come out with many more educational researches where primary and secondary data are gathered in order to balance each other in the circle, this is to allow acquisition of data that is not biased at all. (Walker, 1996)

Related theories and research

Different similar researches have been done on the past in regards to the question under discussion. In the study we will look at one of researchers who have done important work on the area of study. Vanessa Siddle-Walker carried out great work on black schooling and he describes some of the challenges and tribulations that black students or students from the minority groups underwent in their education and social living. Students were not only the ones who underwent challenges and problems but also the people who had opened up learning institutions to cater for the educational needs of minority groups in the society. (Walker, 1996)

In her work she described the efforts that are made by community and social organizations in order to provide for the intellectual needs for their communities. Though they really try it is only possible to improve the situation if the people involved are ready and wiling to accept education. In the case study there were so many cries and moans of the students and community because of the substandard education that was being provided in the segregated school that belonged to African American. This clearly shows that need and the desire the people in that community had for high quality education that was not provided. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

She admits that the school for blacks had lacked some of the important resources like buildings and laboratories for their practical work. On the other hand whites had all the resources they needed and better buildings. Though there were no sufficient resources the teachers and administrators who run the schools were very much committed and they had interest of their students at heart. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

Theories to be addressed

  • Critical race theory
  • Counter narrative

Critical race theory

This is one of the theories that were viewed to answer the research questions that have been raised in the study. Critical race theory is one of the branches of critical legal studies; it is basically concerned with issues of racism and racial subordination and discrimination. The reason for choosing critical race theory is because it touches on major issues that faced the Emmett school during its establishment and foundation. There were issues of racism that are realized in the school since it was for the negro students while children’s of whites had better schools with better facilities than those in the school. Through this theory it will be possible to understand some of these issues and help in answering the major research questions that have been raised to guide the research work. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

Key theoretical elements

The critical race theory focuses mainly on the “socially constructed nature of race, considers judicial conclusions to be the result of the workings of power, and opposes the continuation of all forms of subordination.” There are many people who have contributed much to the development of the race and discrimination theory. The theory discusses mainly on the issues of race and discrimination that is based on race and social cultural issues. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

According to Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic there are certain major elements that are discussed about the critical race theory. The first one is the critique of liberalism, story telling, revisionist interpretations of American civil rights law and progress, application of insights from social science writing on race and racism to legal problems, structural determinism, intersections of race, sex and class, essentialism and anti-essentialism, cultural nationalism and the encouragement of black nationalism, criticism and self-criticism. These are among some of the issues that will be discussed throughout the study in order to identify some of the elements of the critical race theory that are evidence in the case study of the school. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

The theory argument is on the preservation of interests of power instead of the demands of the principle and precedent. It is taken as the power behind the legal judgments. Based on the arguments that are raised in the theory it will be possible to understand clearly the situation in the school ands what might have contributed much to the situation that was faced in the school basically in regards to racism and discrimination that existed in the school. (Delgado, & Stefancic, 1999)

Critical race theory has basic insights that are believed and that reveal its power in the society. The first insight is that racism is seen as normal not unusual in the American society. This insight is what contributed much to the actions of racisms that are evidenced in the case of Emmett Scott School. This is because racism being seen as normal it meant that it was not a major issue in the school and the people that practiced it against the negro children they did not see anything wrong with that. This view is what has resulted to the notion that any one who is not white is minor and does not deserve same treatment as the whites even today. All the people whether white, black or any color are equal and this should be the view in the society though it has been influenced by people believes and misconceptions. (Ladson-Billings, 1998)

Racism in American society is an ingrained feature of the normal life; to many people it is taken like a normal thing that is natural to many people in their cultural believes. Racism does not provide for formal equal opportunities in the society, there are laws and rules which exist amidst people in the society that claim on treating blacks and whites different. When equal opportunity is practiced it gives both the opportunity to be treated equally regardless of the status, skin color or cultural believes. Equal opportunity for all people in the society and especially for African American people should be highly encouraged in order to avoid instances of racism and discrimination against some of the groups in the society. (Ladson-Billings, 1998)

Because of the kind of treatment people of color get in the society there are many challenges that they face. For instance there are essential things that they need in the society but they can not get. In the case of Emmett Scott high school the Negro students were discriminated based on race and because of they were not in a position of accessing better education like the children of whites. These are some of the things that emerge in the society against the people of color and the minority that should be looked at and equal opportunity for all people applied. (Ladson-Billings, 1998)

The critical racial theory tries to address some of these issues and tries to challenge the actions like racial oppression and status quo by providing reasons for them and how they can be dealt with. This takes different forms like storytelling where myths that are related to these issues are discussed and analyzed in depth. (Ladson-Billings, 2005)

The second insight of the theory is that a culture promotes its own social reality in a way that promotes its own self interest. Based on this it is clear that there is certain social reality that is practiced by the whites and because of this the Negro people or people of color have their own social belief. Because of this they tend to belief what the whites perceive them to be hence this having more and strong roots in the society. (Ladson-Billings, 2005)

The third insight concerning the theory and what continues to give clarity on the issue is the issue of interest convergence. Different interests of people in the society are a major contributor to the issue of racism and discrimination. It is clear that through the case of the school that the issue of interest convergence is clear in this case since whites were after achieving their own interests. (Ladson-Billings, 2005)

Applications of the theory

The theory is applied in different situation that in one way or another reveal the existence of racism and cultural discrimination among others. There are other contexts where it is applied especially where socialized and institutionalized oppression of racial minorities is evidenced in courts. As it is clearly noticed application of the theory touches mostly on the legal issues that are associated with cases of racism, discrimination of the minority and other forms of discrimination in the society that are associated with minority or less powerful. (Lynn, & Adams, 2002)

One of the major applications of the theory in the situation that relates to elements that are mentioned in the theory is to hate crime or speech legislation. As evidenced in the case study hate was there in one way or another for the Negro students because they were discriminated based on their status and culture. The theory discourages such kind of hate in the society and institutions and tries to view all people as same despite many misconceptions by people in the society. (Lynn, & Adams, 2002)

Counter narrative

These are narratives that have been developed in order to explain some of the issues that rise in the society like the issue of Emmett Scott school concerning the racism. These narratives will bring in clarity in some issues that might not very much clear from other theories that explain the same thing. (Bell, 2003)

According to theorists for a narrative to have better meaning and understanding, it must be told from views or perspective of members from racially oppressed groups. Counter narrative theory is very essential in this study since through it we will get to know different views from different people regarding the study. (Bell, 2003)

Significance of the study

The study has great significance in the society; this is because through the study it has been possible to understand some of the major issues that are related to racism and discrimination in the society and its impacts or effects in the society especially to the people who it is being practiced on. The study of Emmett Scott high school is what brings out clearly the issues of racism in the academic institutions among other institutions. Through this we get to learn how racism takes place in the society and how it denies some of the people in the society equal opportunities. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

Also through the study we get to learn that all people in the society whether white or black are all equal and they all deserve equal opportunities in the society. The case of this school should not be practiced in the society and it should be avoided under al situations since people being discriminated they tend to suffer a lot in silence since no one who can hear them. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

The significance or the importance of the study is that it gives voice to cadre of students, teachers and one administrator to tell a story that has been missing. Future educators can learn from these stories about community, social justice and the respect. The absence of the voices of educators of color signals a significant gap that not only in the research literature, but in both academic and localized discourses on race and education. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

Consequently, it is imperative that we solicit the views and perspectives of these educators if we wish to effectively tackle the educational inequities to which students of color continue to be subjected. Since these actions are practiced by people it is important that any information regarding such situations be provided so that action can be taken against the perpetrators since the students of color continue to suffer intimidation in the learning institutions. (Walker, & Thompkins, 2004)

List of references

Bell, L. A. (2003). Telling tales: What stories can teach us about racism. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 6(1), 3-28.

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (Ed.) (1999) Critical race theory: The cutting edge. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1998). Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(1), 7-24.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2005). The evolving role of critical race theory in educational scholarship, Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 115-119.

Witherspoon W.H, (2008), History of Emmett Scott high school (1920-1970). Web.

Walker, V. S. (1996). Their Highest Potential: An African American School Community in the Segregated South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

Walker, V. S., & Thompkins, R. H. (2004) caring in the past: The case of a southern segregated African American school. In V.S. Walker & J. R. Snarey (Eds.) Race-ing moral formation: African American perspective.

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