One of the solutions that is often touted to “cure” marginalization is education, even though education has proven to mean less as time continues. In the city of Austin, there are very few integrated public schools, but the ones that are least integrated often have the best reputations. In fact, even when the schools are located in East Austin, the supposedly “worst” section of Austin, schools that remain predominantly White maintain the best reputation.
In 2017, there was a bond so controversial that people organized PACs against it. Google sponsored a live debate during which the former chair of Austin Independent School District demonstrated how against East Austin the school board really was. Among the bond was the relocation of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), currently housed at LBJ High School which is located in the heart of East Austin. The interview was meant to be aired to potentially stop the bond, but because schools of color are not important to most Austinites, it was not aired.
Even though the school had been there for years, the perception of many students who attended LASA was that anyone not in LASA was not possibly intellectually equal. It almost goes without saying that the majority of LASA is White, while the majority of the regular attendees of LBJ were students of color. For over 20 years, LASA has been held up as a paragon of education, but the few students of color involved with the school have had a rough road to navigate. This interview basically describes how some Black people choose to deal with a school that demonstrates to students of color that they have no worth unless they receive it from White “saviors.”
Decipher City is also posting this interview because the experience of black people in white spaces–from harassment and dislocation to social exclusion–is something that people in the dominant narrative rarely experience, understand, or hear about. This experience is painful and toxic and may also be painful to listen to. As Americans, we need to ask if we are some making our most important institutions environments where black people will be treated poorly, even if they perform well and follow all the rules.