Being Black Means More Punishment

by rumibarua on October 28, 2014 - 11:29am

The article “At School, It Matters If You’re Black Or White” is an article written by Brent Staples, printed in The New York Times on March 28th, 2014. The article discusses evidence that keeps turning up to prove that school districts invoke harsher punishment against minority students in comparison to non-minority students. In fact, in an earlier case in the Christina School District in Delaware, an investigation identified examples in which African American students engaged in identical punishable behavior to white students. Moreover, the white students had the same or worse disciplinary history. However, the African American students were punished more severely. Statistics show that they were over three times more likely than white students to have a suspension when it was their first referral. On the other hand, for students whom received a referral regarding Inappropriate Behavior, the African American students were almost seven times more likely to receive a suspension compared to the white students. As such, the article shows that each year disparities amongst African American students and white students were statistically significant although most school officials did not inflict these acts of racism on purpose.

In my opinion, the article by Brent Staples demonstrates how racism is inflicted by many even without them noticing. Evidently, I agree that we should not treat people differently based on their race. Whether a student is white, African American or even Asian, they should all receive the same degree of punishment when they do something wrong. Although, typically in many schools, it is statistically proven that the minority groups were treated more harshly in comparison to the non-minority groups, the school officials might not be doing it on purpose in most cases. We learned in class that as humans, we tend to be with people whom we have more in common with. Perhaps the school officials unintentionally act less severe towards the white kids in the same way. Personally, I know that everyone should we treated equally but it could be that I tend to treat people from my country differently than people from other races. In the Youtube video we watched in class, "White kids are far more negative about racial interactions than Black kids are", the African American girl stated that she could date a black guy. However, her brother could not date a white girl. Even though it is the same thing in most people’s eyes, to her it was something completely different. Regardless, it is important to view everyone equally. Different races do not mean that in school, children should be treated differently. If anything, they need to be taught that everyone is the same and should be treated with the same amount of respect.

That is to say, I enjoyed reading the article written by Brent Staples. I knew that racism in schools was still there but it was refreshing to be reminded of its presence. I enjoyed this article in particular because of the length. It was not too long or too short, and it was very easy to read. It had a vocabulary that was incredibly easy to understand for everyone. Also, it showed many examples that accurately proved the main argument of the article. In addition, the title of the article was very captivating. Hence, why I picked it. Although there were many examples to show the clear evidence of racism, the article mostly focused on the African Americans versus the white students. I know that the title itself says the focus will be about black and white students but while reading the article, they talked about minority groups in general versus non-minority groups. As such, it would be more interesting if we knew if the statistics applied to other minority groups as well, such as Asians or Hispanics. In sum, the article had many strong points but it would be better if some of the examples included other minority groups besides the African Americans. 

Staples, B. (2014). At school, it matters if you’re black or white. The New York Times. Retrieved from


Hi there, I decided to comment on your post because your title was something I believed was going to an interesting read and it did not fail. I agree with you 100% when you say that everyone should be treated the same no matter what race or ethnicity they are. I do believe as well that it may not be intentional because again we tend to associate with people who are like us but by being a teacher or member of administration they should have to be less selective and more equal. As I was reading through your post all I could keep thinking is how injustice this really is. The education system is supposed to be a safe, happy and fair place to learn but how can people feel encouraged to go to school when they feel like they are targets everyday because of their skin color?

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