Benjamin Greaves

“Apartheid, for all its power, had fatal flaws baked in, starting with the fact that it never made any sense. Racism is not logical” (Noah 75). When thinking about racism, many prominent examples stand out: apartheid in South Africa, slavery in the United States, and genocide against native peoples. Each of these has gradually come to an end, yet racism persists, despite its illogical nature. As Trevor Noah describes in his autobiography, Born a Crime, when racism stems from the foundational structures of society, it continually permeates throughout all aspects of life. With that comes violence, inequality, and a waste of human potential. Although the racial history of the United States differs from that of South Africa, there are still more similarities than differences. Non-white minorities faced, and continue to face, discrimination and prejudice from various sources; from institutions to popular culture, racism constantly presents itself in America – even in majority-minority states like Texas. As a result, there is a wealth and opportunity divide between people of color and whites that has neither been fully addressed nor adequately discussed. Seriously addressing racism requires a complex and multifaceted policy approach that should start with education. While in school, students are socialized on how to treat others, and racist views can either be cultivated or reversed in such a setting. In order to counteract the effect of white privilege – and other racial psychological constructs – on the education of minority students, school systems must diversify their staffs and improve training across all levels.
Review of Literature
Causes of Racism
As one of society’s most pervasive issues, racism can only be understood by examining its origins in history and contributory factors. People categorize each person they come across, and, most often, these categorizations begin with skin color. Subsequent interactions tend to give deference to skin color in positive or negative ways and can change the way society views a person. In America, from its initial colonization to the present, skin colors other than white have almost always been treated negatively. As James Boggs writes in his article about racism in the United States, black people were originally viewed as “savage” and as beneficiaries of the “submissiveness of slavery” (Boggs 4). This view was widely held by the white slave owners of the time, who dominated most of the culture of early America. Furthermore, they enforced this perspective through laws that legalized the subjugation of non-whites, a trend continuing from slavery, to segregation, to much of the de facto segregation that exists in present housing, criminal justice, and education.
Even as laws have eased in their severity, racial views negatively portraying black people and other minorities still remain in figments of popular culture and opinion. Barbara J. Fields, in her writing on labor history, states that these racial views and policies continue because of the concept of whiteness. As a racial identity, whiteness “entails material benefits” that are the rewards for being white (Fields 53). With such rewards resulting from just the color of their skin, whites have historically tried to keep power skewed in favor of themselves, not people of color. The motivation for an imbalance of power is rooted in the capitalist system of America, and the competition it creates. In his article, Boggs notes the correlation between “the rise of capitalism and the rise of racism,” as well as how it has influenced the type of work performed by African Americans (Boggs 3). Black workers tended to do more menial work relative to white coworkers in similar industries, maintaining racist views that they were lesser (Boggs 7). Beyond those living in the United States, immigrants would also be racially classified, which often limited work opportunities. Fields describes how not only African, but also Afro-Caribbean, immigrants “became black” and how Europeans were treated as white (Fields 51). These classifications directed new citizens and workers into jobs that were unofficially designated for the black and white races, helping to maintain the status quo. Through the evolution of race and racism in the United States, it becomes clear that its causes are rooted in both history and economic competition.

Structural Racism
Stemming from the history and economic system of the United States, racism has extended into other structural components of society and culture. Some of the most prevalent examples of this arise from capitalism. All capitalist economies share a common trait: income inequality. Though it tends to vary in degree from country to country, income inequality can present challenges and take different forms. In America, disparities are highest between gender and race, with men and whites earning more. American society has traditionally been dominated by white men for the majority of its existence, so income inequality is far more extreme among women of color. For example, in Ruqaiijah Yearby’s work on the economic impacts on women’s health, she points out that minority women “are disproportionately employed in low-paying occupations” with little variation in job-type (Yearby). This discrepancy indicates that structural racism is not mutually exclusive to other inequalities and that many elements of racism are intersectional; however, minority races share a common theme of being disadvantaged relative to whites. Beyond income inequality, African Americans and minorities have struggled to form and maintain unions – a difficult task in capitalist society. Many African Americans still live in the south, where “unions barely exist” and many “right-to-work laws […] took root” (“Black”). A lack of unions not only results from structural resistance to them but also from efforts to disadvantage workers that are a majority-minority. Structural racism has extended from the history and the economics of the past to create widespread inequalities and disadvantages among people of color, especially those that are women.

White Privilege and Implicit Bias
Despite the progress made on identifying racism across society – as well as its structural causes – it persists, largely because of white privilege. On a basic level, white privilege entails “being in the majority racial group” and receiving advantages simply for being in that group; the ‘privilege’ is not something earned but rather a status associated with a person from birth (Understanding). The advantages and status do not apply to people of color, causing them to have to work harder to achieve the same ends as white people. More often than not, white people are unaware of their privilege. This can lead to unintentional racial bias in “personal interactions and judgements” that lead to the preference of whites instead of minorities (Understanding). Furthermore, white privilege can also cause problems by perpetuating “systemic barriers” that disadvantage people of color (Understanding). To better understand how people with white privilege sustain this divide, the concept of implicit bias needs to be analyzed. Defined as “the bias in judgement” resulting “from subtle cognitive processes,” implicit bias is what drives people to make a racist association without actively thinking about it (Implicit). Although this naturally lends itself to white privilege, it should be noted that African Americans and other minorities experience implicit bias as well. People “unwittingly exhibit racist attitudes and beliefs,” even if they favor racial equality, with the innate associations that they make (De Castillo 263). It is because of this that white privilege, and the racism associated with it, still continues in spite of the best intentions of white people.

Unaware Racism
In recent years, the overt and openly systematic forms of racism have begun to decline, particularly as policy efforts have shifted towards more integration and racial healing. However, given the structural nature of racism in American society, it persists through individuals and the institutions that they compose. People – especially those who are white or of European descent – are susceptible to unaware racism, even if they do not actively exercise racist tendencies against others. Although unaware racism lends itself closely to implicit bias, it is based more in negative racial views. While discussing the validity and awareness of race-based researchers, Jonathan Michael Kaplan describes unaware racism through the lens of racial ignorance among whites. Kaplan relates white ignorance to unawareness of “the prevalence and the significance of racism” throughout the country (Kaplan 160). With this unawareness comes a lack of motivation to learn more about racism and how someone can inadvertently perpetuate “racial myth[s],” as well as the absence of willpower to try and limit racism in daily life (Kaplan 167). The factors that cause white ignorance and unaware racism vary, but one of the most prevalent is white fragility. Lori Gallegos De Castillo discusses white fragility in her work on unconscious racial prejudice and resistance, calling it “defensive moves” and “behaviors of withdrawal” made in response to racial stress or discussion (De Castillo 268). These actions turn people away from addressing their own racial ignorance or subconscious prejudice and prevent them from learning how to become more tolerant, something that could otherwise be accomplished relatively quickly.

Institutional Racism and Environmental Racism
As individuals continue to act with unaware racism, the institutions that they are a part of reflect that racism and recreate it in accordance with those actions. Institutional racism extends across many fields and affects almost every aspect of daily life. The most important and influential institutions in the United States are typically controlled by white people, and thus have their role skewed away from equally addressing the needs of all demographics. As Camara Phyllis Jones notes in her research, institutional racism is marked by “differential access to the goods, services, and opportunities” in a society (Jones 16). This differential exists in health care, the justice system, the education system, and others. Confronting institutional racism entails “naming racism” and the “mechanisms and impacts” by which it is enabled to affect people of color (Jones 19). However, this alone is not enough to truly limit the impact of institutional racism. Extended efforts to name and address the structurally racist factors behind institutions are needed to curtail their damaging impact.
Environmental racism has moved to the forefront of problems resulting from institutional racism. Institutions, such as businesses, often dispose of waste and pollutants in low-income, minority-based communities. As these communities tend to have less political capital, the institutions of government, including the justice system, are less likely to support their complaints. Luke W. Cole writes that the result is a “disproportionate burden of […] pollution” and “garbage dumps” falling on communities of color (Cole 1992). Almost paradoxically, environmental racism has developed into an increasingly serious problem, just as environmental conservationism and activism have increased as well. The discrepancy between the two can be explained by the racial composition of both groups. While those that suffer from environmental racism tend to be people of color, D.R. Keller has observed that environmentalism “has its roots in affluent white citizens” (Keller 382). The goals of said citizens favor preserving wilderness and the elements of nature that tend to be enjoyed recreationally, a facet of the environment that is vastly different from the parts of society affected by environmental racism. Given that environmental advocacy groups so often overlook the struggles of minorities in this regard, it is unsurprising that this form of racism has been – and will continue to
be – inadequately addressed.

Internalized Racism and Cultural Racism
Most of the widespread effects of racism have clear, observable outcomes, and their negative impacts can usually be identified. However, one of the subtler – and perhaps more dangerous – effects of racism comes from how it influences the psyche of African Americans and other minorities. This influence is defined and explained through internalized racism, or how people begin to believe and accept the racist narratives and actions taken against them. Succumbing to internalized racism leads to feelings of inferiority and can cause people to misdirect their feelings against other members of their community. Tony N. Brown discussed the consequences of this form of racism in his work on racial stratification and mental health. According to Brown, “nihilistic tendencies, […] suppressed anger expression, […and] delusional denial tendencies” are “prevalent and impairing” mental health indicators associated with internalized racism (Brown 295). These illnesses lead to problems ranging from self-destructive tendencies, to emotional repression, to being out of touch with reality, respectively (Brown 296-97). Each of the aforementioned outcomes makes it more difficult for people of color to resist internalizing racism, and they contribute to a cycle of doubt that continues to repress minorities.
Beyond hindering the advancement of racial minorities, internalized racism enables the success of cultural racism. Already, institutions – like the education system – gloss over the value and importance of cultures from non-white groups, such as Native Americans. In doing so, the history and culture of whites has become the dominant culture in society. The effect of this dominance is exhibited through its impact on people of color who are either entering America or are already citizens. As Juan Chen and David T. Takeuchi describe in their work on intermarriage and ethnic identity, many Asian women seek “interracial and transnational marriages” in the United States to find a higher quality of life (Chen 877). However, these marriages come at the cost of “identificational assimilation” to the dominant white culture, whereby ethnic identity and culture are lost (Chen 885). Although just one method of assimilation, marriage represents how culture may be lost upon entering the country. For those who are already citizens, internalized racism aids cultural racism. Brown also attributed anti-self issues to racial stratification, stating that it causes individuals to seek “white approval” and assimilate “to white norms and behaviors” as a means of escaping being black or a minority (Brown 296). This implicates internalized racism as a driving force behind adopting and supporting the dominant culture over one’s own, thereby sustaining cultural racism.

Consequences of Racism
As racism continues to permeate in society, its consequences will limit the advancement of both minorities and the United States as a whole. On various levels, not only has racism overtly detracted from the lives of people of color, but it has also had detrimental ramifications for society. The extent and continuity of racism in America has led to mental health problems and internalized destructive tendencies, as well as feelings of self-doubt and inferiority compared to white people. With the dominance of one narrowly configured culture in society, immigrants and citizens alike have had to sacrifice ethnic identities and their cultural past to integrate. These sacrifices strain the diversity that helps America innovate and advance; moreover, the need to assimilate creates conflicts between ethnic groups. As a result of these race-based problems, the United States is at risk of exacerbating its difference between being “technologically most advanced” and “politically most backward” (Boggs 8). This is a dangerous contradiction, and one that challenges the American white narrative of meritocracy, liberty, and equality, contradictions that stand to become more pronounced as America shifts from a white-majority populace.

Contributing Factors to Racism in Education
Even as the demographics of Texas change faster than the rest of the country, people and institutions resist those changes. Nowhere is that more evident than in housing markets and neighborhoods, both of which have a direct effect on education and school funding. The state of Texas divides funding for school districts between local property taxes and state funds, with additional funds coming from the federal government; however, local taxes play a more important monetary role, as the taxation of housing provides more money to meet the base funding goals for schools (Swaby). In recent years, this discrepancy has widened to “55.5 percent” of school budgets being covered locally and only “35 percent” is provided by the state – the remaining percentage is federally funded (Ramsey). The reliance on property taxes has strained the budgets of ever-growing schools, particularly in low-income communities, where taxation rates are often maximized. Given that, as of 2017, African Americans and Hispanics had a median income of “$40,258” and “$50,486,” respectively, compared to the income of “$68,145” among non-Hispanic whites, high property taxes have further racial and ethnic consequences (Fontenot). Funding differences in low- and high-income communities reflect not only economic disparities in Texas schools, but also the underlying racial makeup of those communities.

Race and Housing
Following the end of segregation, efforts to integrate were hindered by both mortgages and ‘white flight,’ two obstacles that persist to this day. Originally, African Americans who wanted to buy homes in traditionally white neighborhoods would be “denied mortgage financing” (Lang 36). Although successful at limiting integration, the refusal to provide these necessary loans came under public and regulatory scrutiny, morphing the practice into its current form: offering more subprime, high-rate mortgages instead (figure 1). These are “systematically

Among households in 2015 with at least one regular mortgage, % of each group paying these rates

Note: Hispanics may be of any race. “Not reported” categories not shown. Data on whites, blacks and Asians refer to single-race groups.

Figure 1. Mortgage Rates Per Household by Race, Pew Research Center

[…] higher-rate loans” than those offered to whites, typically making homeownership riskier and more expensive for people of color (Lang 36). As a result of these financing options, African Americans face difficult choices that often favor cheaper housing options over homes in better developed – typically white – neighborhoods. Even though this can alleviate the pressures of meeting otherwise more expensive mortgage payments, in states like Texas, it comes at the cost of the property values that support local schools.
For those that do pursue homes in predominately white neighborhoods, where property values support better school districts, African American and minority homeowners face the risk of white flight. Coined after the end of segregation, the phrase refers to the ‘flight’ of whites away from newly integrated areas and neighborhoods. Even now, decades later, “white flight has […] endured as a response” to the efforts of minorities to further integrate into white communities (Lang 33). This continues to not only hinder complete desegregation, but also perpetuate racist attitudes. Without peaceful exposure to other races in normal living situations, unfounded prejudices subsist and cause racial inequalities in education and society. In school districts, for instance, “desegregation significantly accelerates white flight” out of public schools, with white students either leaving the district or transferring from “public to private schools within the district” (Rossell 210-211). On a surface level, this simply represents changes in a district’s demographics. However, given the resources that are often made more available to whites, their absence leads to notable effects on schools. While leaving a school district entirely can remove citizens – and thus their tax revenue – from the district’s funding base, whites leaving for private schools creates a different impact. With the switch to private schools, money and resources are directed towards “supplementing […] private options,” taking away the extra support that citizens can offer to help bolster public schools (Trounstine 380). With the income of minorities often falling far below that of whites, it is difficult for them to continue to sustain a school’s former standards or quality. As white flight continues, communities will lose the ability to integrate and face greater risks of damage to their schools.

School Funding and Racial Inequality
When funding for a minority-majority school decreases, the students and their families face deteriorating circumstances that often compound each other’s effects. The low property values in “primarily urban and migrant areas” leads to less funding for the schools in those areas, making it difficult for students “to become productive members of society” (Ostrander 272). With fifty-six percent of the composition of urban counties as non-white, this has serious implications for students of color (figure 2). These circumstances often inhibit students from attaining the necessary economic success to move into a new neighborhood or to seek a better life. As a result, the future generations of that student’s family are affected in a debilitating cycle. Students that remain in the same poor communities subsequently “send their children” to the same “underfunded schools” that they themselves attended (Ostrander 273). Given that “67 percent of African American families” from the poorest neighborhoods continue to live there over a generation later, members of multiple generations of families can fall subject to racial inequality; many of whom end up facing similar difficulties and challenges as their parents and grandparents (Rothstein). This situation is worsened by the fact that inadequate school funding reduces student access to technology. When considering access to technology across urban, suburban, and rural areas, “white […] suburban students” have the biggest advantage, which plays a significant role in competing for “increasingly more technical” jobs (Hendrix 64-66). Beyond completing homework or studying for tests, the ability to utilize technology and the internet greatly effects a student’s preparation for future careers. With poorer schools struggling to provide

Figure 3. Distribution of Public Elementary and Secondary Students by Race and Ethnicity, National Center for Education Statistics
updated or sufficient numbers of computers and laptops, this issue becomes vital to students of color who may lack these devices at home. As the majority of students attend either primarily non-white or non-suburban schools that tend to lack adequate funding, their shortcomings will continue to reflect upon both racial and geographic inequality (figure 3).
The School-to-Prison Pipeline (SPP)
In the United States, the incarceration of minorities occurs at an alarmingly higher rate than that of whites; a rate evidenced by the fact that in 2015, African Americans and Hispanics “comprised 56% of all incarcerated people,” despite only making up “32% of the US population” (“Criminal”). The concept of a ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ (SPP) has developed to explain the origins of this trend. The SPP identifies the role of education as a key factor that influences the future likelihood of people of color becoming incarcerated. In school districts, elected school boards listen and respond “to strongly held community sentiments,” such as racist beliefs and attitudes (Stein 2009-2010). This can lead to support for policies like school disturbance laws – which lead to disproportionate consequences for otherwise normal teenage behavior – or the passage of strict disciplinary procedures. These laws and disciplinary practices have been adopted by Texas and many other states in recent years, causing African American students to nationally become “2.2 times as likely” as whites to face discipline from law enforcement (“2013-14”). Though Texas has removed “criminal citations” as an “option for dealing with chronic misbehavers,” school discipline remains an important factor behind the SPP (“Class” 7).
The reasoning behind current school disciplinary procedures is often shortsighted, as the consequences for rule-violations focuses mainly on a singular punishment, not on a constructive effort to try and help the student become more productive. As a result, these procedures often harm more than help a student’s academic well-being, particularly if the student has a mental illness or disability. Nationwide, preschool students that are black are “3.6 times more likely to be suspended” than white students, a statistic that later increases to “3.8 times more likely” in kindergarten through 12th grade (Delale-O’Connor 179). From a young age, African Americans and other minorities are at a greater risk of facing disciplinary action. Given that they consistently face higher rates of suspension throughout their education, the methodology behind suspensions is flawed and dangerous to minority students’ academic success. For example, students who receive suspensions are “three times more likely” to later drop out of school and after returning from a suspension, they are then “stigma[tized]” (Kocon 17). While suspended, students fall behind, making it difficult to keep pace with their peers. The stigma with which they return amplifies this difficulty, worsening an already burdensome situation and increasing the likelihood of dropping out. Furthermore, students of color are disproportionately affected legally, as “[50%] of school-based arrests” are of African Americans, despite the fact that they only compose “15% of all students” (Kocon 16). Though in Texas white students are arrested more often, black students are referred to court and labeled delinquent at a higher rate (figure 4). The fact that African Americans are more likely to be arrested and punished in school leads to an inequality that reflects upon the incarceration rate discrepancies among young adults, setting the groundwork for a school-to-prison pipeline.

Figure 4. Texas Rates of Juvenile Justice Involvement by Race and Ethnicity in 2013, Hogg Foundation – The University of Texas at Austin

White Privilege in Education
As one of the most influential agents of socialization, education shapes the attitudes and beliefs of children and young adults. This can either positively contradict racist beliefs, or negatively reaffirm them in children – often leading to internalized racism among students of color. Unfortunately, the latter is currently more prominent in schools, as white privilege influences the way teachers and other staff interact with minority students. Nationally – as of the 2011-2012 school year – “82 percent of public school teachers were white” along with “80 percent” of public school principals (“The State” 6-7). That same year, Texas schools, though more diverse than the national percentages, shared a white majority of teachers and principals: “63.53 [percent]” and “64.87 [percent],” respectively (“Employed Teacher” 1; “Employed Principal” 1). This trend in school staff demographics has continued to the present, remaining incongruous to the racial makeup of students in Texas; in 2017-18, only “27.9 [percent]” of total publicly enrolled school students were white (“Enrollment” ix). As whites disproportionately hold teaching and administrative positions in schools, white privilege is far more likely to permeate the education of minority students.
The widespread control of whites in schools extends back to the end of segregation. When schools were segregated, black teachers taught black students, and there was a larger percentage of African American teachers. However, once schools began to integrate, African Americans were “dismissed or demoted” from teaching and administrative roles (Nelson Jr. 453). These roles were then filled by white teachers, leading to the demographic differential seen today. Furthermore, as these African American teachers were displaced, black students became more susceptible to the white privilege and unaware racism of whites. Since the onset of desegregation, this situation has become self-sustaining. According to the national data as of 2012, “73 percent” of bachelor’s students majoring in education were white, along with “71 percent” of those pursuing a masters (“The State” 11). These data indicate that whites are likely to be more competitive in the educational job market, helping to maintain the white majority in schools. With this majority, white privilege is sustained to the benefit of white students and maintains the status quo that routinely disfavors students of color. Beyond the role of teachers and staff, white privilege and its effect on students is exacerbated by curriculums and textbooks. Modern textbooks often present “racism as a tragedy of the past” and as divergent from present-day controversies, influencing students to ignore or trivialize current racial issues (Hughes 203). By failing to adequately address the history of race and its new role in the US, textbooks fail to help students analyze the causes of racism. This makes students less capable of working against the structural components of society that perpetuate racism and white privilege.

White Privilege and School Staff
With a majority of white teachers comes unequal treatment among students, as personal and implicit biases shape their interactions. In many cases, this allows for white students to learn in a more privileged environment that exists at the expense of their minority counterparts. For many white teachers, “racist stereotypes and attitudes” can be “ingrained in them,” making it difficult to treat students equally, regardless of intentions (Mazama 727). These attitudes direct the focuses and efforts of teachers towards white students, neglecting the needs of students of color. As a result, they are more likely to struggle academically and face disciplinary problems. However, a more alarming consequence is that of special education classes. African American students are “overrepresented across […] disability categories” in schools, with “80 percent” of these students being referred by teachers (Jordan 128-130). Teacher referrals, which are often influenced by stereotypes, cause students to be placed in separate classes to address supposed learning disabilities. For students incorrectly assigned to disability classes, the implications for their education are severe. These classes follow different curriculums, so for students who belong in normal classes, they are set behind and are less prepared after graduation. Furthermore, the removal of African Americans from classes extends the privilege afforded to whites, as classes become less diverse and offer greater attention to white students. Given that black teachers tend to enable greater “self-esteem and confidence” in black students, addressing the lack of diversity among teaching staffs is very important (Nelson Jr. 453). Employing a higher proportion of black and minority teachers would not only help limit the extent of white privilege in schools, but also help to end the disproportionate number of African American students in special education classes. Additionally, this would allow white educators to see firsthand how to more effectively teach and connect with students of color, curbing the benefits of white students’ privilege.
Like teachers, counselors play a very important role in a student’s education, yet they also struggle to adequately overcome the extent of white privilege in schools. Given that “the majority of counselors [are…] White,” this privilege is just as prevalent among them as teachers, reducing the likelihood of it being addressed and countered internally (Hays 134; figure 5).
Students rely on counselors to provide advice and help for personal problems, making the relationship between counselor and student an essential part of being academically successful. Counselors that favor whites often struggle to connect with students of color, tilting that relationship away from being equitably applied. For many counselors, white privilege can be a difficult concept to acknowledge. When informed about it, responses ranged from feeling a “need for advocacy” to “resistance [toward] learning about racism” (Hays et al. 243). Resisting the ideas of racism and white privilege only serve to perpetuate them, as well as increase the chances of racial favoritism. Moreover, the lack of a consistent recognition indicates that students of color face a real danger of being denied sufficient help and resources. When compounded with the effect that teachers can have, counselors who disregard white privilege further exacerbate the divide between minority and white students.

Consequences of White Privilege in Schools
Though the response to white privilege from school staffs has been lacking, minority parents – especially African Americans – have made efforts to limit its effects on their children. Stemming from the fact that much of the “influence” of African Americans to try and change education “has been lost,” a growing number of parents have decided to avoid public schools altogether (Nelson Jr. 455). This allows parents to have more control over their child’s education, as well as the racism that they may face. Rather than risk placement in special education classes or the school-to-prison pipeline, some black parents have chosen to homeschool their children. Homeschooling is one of “the fastest-growing form[s] of education” that also has a “noticeable increase in […] involvement” from African Americans, encompassing over “10 [percent] of all homeschooled children” (Mazama 724). By choosing to homeschool their children, parents are able to provide an educational environment free of white privilege and its accompanying risks. Homeschooling can also educate about racism through a different narrative than that taught in schools, making the issue more likely to be appropriately addressed by minority children with a stronger personal agency. Although individuals are free to choose the means of education for their families, the fact that homeschooling can be a better alternative to public education is very telling of the state of racism and privilege in the United States.
For minority students that do graduate from school, race-related issues continue into college. As of the fall of 2016, “9.1 million” students of the “16.9 million” enrolled in degree-granting undergraduate institutions were white (“Undergraduate”). With this overwhelming majority of white students, it can be difficult for minority students to socialize. This can affect academic performance and often relates back to their time in public schools. White privilege, and the staff who exhibit it, negatively “influence […] academic self-concept and motivation” among students of color (Reynolds 144). Students struggling with these negative influences carry them into postsecondary education, retaining feelings of self-doubt in yet another environment that is dominated by the presence of whites. When combined with the difficulty of socializing into the majority racial group, past experiences in school can severely derail the college educations of minorities.

Racism is one of the most complex issues in the United States and is deeply ingrained in the structural institutions of America. Although resolving racism will require societal changes over time, education provides the means to begin the process of healing and tolerance. However, given the homogenous state of schools across the country and in Texas, a multi-faceted approach is needed to limit white privilege and racial inequalities. Legislatively, stronger housing and mortgage rate regulations need to be implemented. By increasing the oversight and regulatory standards on mortgage lenders, the disproportionately higher interest rates offered to people of color could be limited, shifting the focus away from race and solely on credit. This would allow minority families to avoid choosing between finances and quality schools. In states like Texas, school financing needs to be reformed to reduce the burden on local households; low-income communities should not face maxed-out property tax rates to fund low quality schools. Regarding the school-to-prison pipeline, states must change the goal of school discipline policies to focus more on learning from mistakes, rather than just on punishments. School districts can reflect this through changes in student codes of conduct. Implementing these improvements will help limit the systemic factors that contribute to the broad racial inequalities in schools.
In order to reduce the extent of white privilege, as well as its impact on students of color, both long- and short-term changes need to take place. Ultimately, school staffing needs to shift demographically to exhibit greater diversity. As they diversify, the ability of white privilege to permeate education will diminish, enabling students to be taught by staffs that bear a greater resemblance to their own racial makeup. Achieving this diversity can be accomplished in a number of ways. By raising the salaries of teachers, students studying in college may be more likely to consider pursuing a major in education. For minority students – who tend to risk more financially to attend college – this would provide additional motivation to pursue teaching as a profession. Furthermore, providing government scholarships for education majors could help bridge the gap between whites and minorities who pursue a future in education. Until greater diversity is actually achieved, actions can be taken in the short-term to better equip white teachers and counselors to deal with privilege and other race-related issues. Offering seminars and training about white privilege can help staff recognize the consequences of their actions, helping to check the extra attention that is afforded to white students. Additionally, generating an emphasis on the multicultural nature of students makes teachers more prepared to address the needs of individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity. With better training and education, white teachers can develop the self-efficacy and confidence needed to best help minority students, reducing the impact of white privilege until greater diversity exists.
Providing equity in education requires enacting many expansive reforms across legislative, district, and individual levels. However, by initiating these changes, the influence of white privilege will decrease in schools, reducing the barriers that limit the academic success of students of color. With fewer barriers, minority students can prepare for the future at a level more equal to that of whites. This sets the groundwork to reduce other racial inequalities and gradually remove racism from the foundations of American society.

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