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The Complex Price of Integration
The effects of local racist policy, redlining, and segregation and the lasting impact on Rochester City School District for me is deeply as an alum of the Urban Suburban Program. The Urban Suburban is “The first and oldest voluntary desegregation program in the United States” According to the Urban Suburban website the program was founded:
“To voluntarily decrease racial isolation,concentrate poverty and enhance opportunities for students in the Rochester City School District and in the suburban districts of the Greater Rochester Area”
I was a student of Virgil I. Grissom School #7 from 1-5 grade and the summer going into my 6th grade year my parents surprised me with the news that they made the decision to enroll me in Brockport Central Schools. This news shattered me. For them, it was the only feasible option for me to receive a quality middle and high school education.
This move from a culturally diverse school with peers that I knew, that talked like me, and I had developed bonds with for years to a mostly white school in a town that I knew nothing about was a culture shock to say the least. I eventually made new friends and “thrived” in my new mostly white environment. However the enormous sacrifice emotionally, mentally, and physically that it took- waking up at 4:45 AM, spending long bus rides commuting to and from the town, never being able to participate fully and wholly in my school because “it was just too far” is not lost on me. The physical and mental toll that racist policy has had and continues to have on black people and other people of color truly hit me in a way last night that it never has before.
Isn’t it ironic
Returning to my past, speaking about the same inequity that changed the course of my life. Speaking to a town and college that is reeling in continued segregation and inequity while the Rochester City School Districted continues to struggle and be more segregated now than it has ever been.
*This essay was originally published on Facebook
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