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Snippet from Nice White Parents: 'I Still Believe In It' [2 of 2]

Last Played: February 16, 2021
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Like the previous snippet in this playlist, this segment features audio from another parent, but this time on the opposite end of the spectrum. Listen in as Chana interviews a woman who fought for integration, but neglected to send her children to an integrated school and why. These choices are difficult to unpack and call on old memories, but the host sees herself reflected in the interview.
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Then I spoke to Elaine Hanky off all the people I spoke with. Everything about Elaine indicated someone who did believe in integration. Someone who would send her kids to to 93. And yet she didn't. Elaine was a public school teacher. She taught in an integrated elementary school until she had her own kids. She was looking forward to sending them to an integrated to 93. When her daughter was old enough for junior high school, Elaine visited the school. She was the Onley letter writer I spoke with who actually went into the building. If this was gonna work with anyone, it was gonna be a lane. I didn't I didn't know quite what to make of it, because the school had a nice plant. Physically, it was a nice school. Um, but it just seemed chaotic and noisy, and, um, kids were disruptive. And kids kids were doing the wrong things, you know, And kids, kids do. I mean, it wasn't that they were nasty kids or, you know, doing anything. It we're not drugs. It was not drugs. It was just It just seemed too chaotic to me. It's time Elaine and I talked for a long time I pushed her not to make her feel bad, but to get to what felt like a more riel answer. At the time that you were visiting, was it majority black and Hispanic kids? Yes, I'm sure it Waas. And did that have anything to do with the way that you saw the classroom as disruptive and chaotic? I would hope not. Um, I'm not. I'm not sure you know how well educated they were. Or, you know, I don't know. I don't know why I'm going into this. I mean, did you have reason to think that they weren't well educated before? Before 2 93 reeling levels will weigh down? You know, I'm just one. I mean, when you say chaos and disruptive, I'm trusting what you saw was chaotic and disruptive. But I also know that those air words, you know, way people use We used to express our racial fears to express riel racial fears. Like, do you think that's what was happening with you? I don't think I would admit to that. I don't think that was true, But what I may have thought was that these kids are not expected to do so well in school all the way from the beginning of school. And here they are really unprepared in some way for junior high school or, I mean, the reading levels were low, Elaine told me when she wrote that letter to the Board of Education. She pictured her Children becoming friends with black kids, learning side by side, learning that all Children are equal. That's what motivated her to write that letter. She wanted the picture of integration. The board of Ed was promoting the picture of harmonious integration, but when she visited ice to 93 that didn't seem possible. The reading levels were low. The kids were not entering the school on equal grounds. Her white Children had received years of high quality teaching at well resourced schools. The kids coming from segregated elementary schools had not had that experience. I mean, one of the one of the problems is that many of the white kids had had hires, sort of academic skills, skills they could read better. They I think. I mean, if the white kids knew how to read in first grade and and I guess there were black kids who also could But it just seemed as if most of the black kids, you know didn't really learn learn to read. But but part of I mean, part of the vocal complaints of black parents at this period of time was that their kids were not learning how to read because schools were segregated and their kids were kept in schools that were inferior. And that was part of the argument for integration. Yes, yes, that their kids were not going to get the resources and quality teaching and good facilities unless they were in the same buildings with kids like yours, right? I don't know what to say to that. I just I guess I just yeah, began to feel that friend. So it's really difficult for these kids. Schools were not made for them. If the schools were made for them with their background, what would they be like? I think there was. That's another whole thing. I don't know about it. I think there was sort of anger in the black community at the white community. A lot of the teachers were Wyatt. There were more white teachers. I suppose people said that that was racism and of course, it was racism. But maybe the kids were a little angry at the school. I wouldn't I couldn't fault him for that. But on the other hand, then they don't get us much from the school. I don't know. E thought the problems were kind of enormous. And and I guess I just at one point I decided that my kids should go into Brooklyn friends and I mean, we could afford to pay for it. It wasn't easy. I mean, you know, but did your feelings about integration change? Like, did you believe in it? Less maybe, Um e think I would have said no, Theoretically, but maybe they did that. I guess I saw it as a more difficult project. Then e sort of. I did back off from it. I didn't. Yeah, it felt when you guys wrote these letters like, this is integration Is this exciting ideal And we could be part of it. And it's gonna be a meaningful project that's also going to be kind of easy. I certainly didn't think it would be so difficult, but I But I was I was innocent, you know? E don't know. I still believe in it. I do e think what Elaine actually meant was not that she was innocent, but that she was naive. She was naive about the reality of segregation, the harm of it, and naive about what it would take to undo it. She did not know. And I think she didn't want to know. When Elaine said the word innocent, I felt a jolt of recognition. I felt like Elaine had walked me right up to the truth about her and about me, E.
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