Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 20, 2013

IUK professor lectures on racial inclusion

Discussion part of Black History Month celebration.

Kokomo — Professor Sarah Heath pointed to an old photo showing more than 50 black children crowded inside a small classroom with only a few textbooks to share among them.

That’s what black schools in the deep south looked like before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended segregation in schools, the Indiana University Kokomo professor said during a Black History Month lecture Tuesday.

Kids would accidentally drop pencils and watch as they fell through large cracks to the floor below.

Those schools were supposed to be “separate but equal” to the white schools. The whole idea of separating schools by race seemed preposterous to Heath anyway.

“That seems strange to me that you’re so much better that you push everyone else to one area,” she said.

And it wasn’t just black children who suffered because of it. It was Hispanic people, too.

In Texas, Hispanic children attended their own schools and were beaten if they tried to speak Spanish during the school day. They often weren’t allowed to use the bathroom during lunch, Heath said.

Counselors would steer those students away from college. They’d tell the kids to become mechanics or housekeepers.

“They would say things like, ‘Don’t get your hopes up.” And: ‘Don’t try too hard to get in to college,’” Heath said.

Then one Kansas girl ended it all.

Heath said she had the opportunity to speak to Linda Brown, whose family challenged their local school district. The black girl wanted to attend the white school that was closer to her house.

Heath said Brown had to walk down dirt paths between moving trains to get to her bus stop. Then when she boarded a bus, she listened to a driver berate her.

“She dreaded the idea of going to school every day,” Heath said.

When school officials told Brown she couldn’t attend the white school, her family fought back. They took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The court heard testimony from psychologists who said that schools could never really be “separate but equal” because of the psychological damage the separation causes.

They cited the Clark Doll Study. Psychologists showed children a white doll and black doll and told them, “Give me the doll that looks bad.”

The overwhelming majority of children chose the black doll, Heath said.

Even black children chose that doll because they had been treated like second-class citizens their whole lives, the professor said.

“Those children were crying when they picked the doll,” she said. “It was powerful testimony.”

Problems remained even after schools became integrated. It was a tough process, the professor said.

In Arkansas, the National Guard was called to escort black students to their classes because the threat of violence was so high.

The National Guard members would not follow students into bathrooms or locker rooms, Heath said. One woman ended up with scars on her knees. Some white students broke a bottle on the floor and pushed her into it.

The world faces similar inclusion battles today, Heath said.

The military is trying to figure out what to do with gay service members after it abolished “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”

Heath posed a question. Will the government extend medical benefits and housing benefits to a service member’s partner?

“People still have to worry about these issues of inclusion,” Heath said. “It’s not easy.”

Those groups are using the same arguments that were used in Brown v. Board of Education — that all people are supposed to be afforded equal protection under the law.

Thirty-one-year-old Andre Gillard listened to Heath’s lecture Tuesday, but he wasn’t really interested in seeing more images of black people suffering.

His mom grew up picking cotton in Mississippi. She told him stories about how she was treated.

He’s seen discrimination firsthand. Cops once pulled him over in Mississippi because his white girlfriend was riding with him.

They said they were looking for a woman who had gone missing in the area. They stopped him even though his car had Indiana plates, he said.

“I’d rather forget that stuff and move on,” he said. “I talked to my mom about it. I asked her, ‘Aren’t you tired of seeing how you were treated?’”

He said constantly making comments about skin color brainwashes people into categorizing themselves.

Gillard said he doesn’t see color. He went to school with kids from all races and has friends of all races.

Heath smiled and told him he made a good point.

“It would be nice if the whole world was like that,” she said.

But she’s been threatened by Neo-Nazis for talking about racial inclusion. She watched people in Idaho chase a black family out of town with bats.

This conversation needs to happen, Heath said.

“Not talking about it makes them win,” she said.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Question Time: Name a baby (or babies) today

    “Imagine you’re having a baby (or babies) today. What would you name it (or them) and why? (You can give answers for a girl, a boy or both; and any combination for twins, triplets, etc.)”

    April 20, 2014

  • 400SUnion.jpg Counties move forward with flood mitigation one year later

    One by one, properties were bulldozed from the neighborhood between Carter and Murden streets in downtown Kokomo, physically erasing evidence of residential flooding in an area long prone to it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flooded area - E Murden 01 Jaimz family seeks closure after losing everything Ashley Jaimz and her sister, Amanda Urbina, took a drive through the Cedar Crest neighborhood the other day to view how residents were faring in the wake of a Nov. 17 tornado. The drive was intended to provide some closure to Jaimz, who is still stru

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - FEMA 03 Kokomo resident whose basement collapsed during flood repairs own home

    Walter Raderstorf can still remember sitting in his living room inside his home on West Park Avenue, realizing he had escaped a brush with death. “I was in the basement carrying stuff up and I came in here and sat down,” he said. “It wasn’t 30 second

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Late Kokomo teacher dedicates estate to foundation Longtime Kokomo School Corp. teacher Holly Kirkpatrick will continue to have a positive impact on students thanks to a $38,000 donation from her estate to the Kokomo Public Schools Education Foundation. Kirkpatrick died in November 2012 after teachin

    April 20, 2014

  • flood anniversary Thomas family ready to move on after flood In the Thomas household, few things take precedent over baseball. You’d be hard-pressed to find a couple more dedicated to youth baseball in Kokomo — or anywhere else for that matter — than Michael and Lashanda Thomas, who have passed that love of th

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • EasterEgg hunt 10 'Controlled chaos' at city's Easter egg hunt With buckets and Easter baskets in hand, hundreds of kids 10 years old and younger packed Kokomo's Northwest Park Saturday to see who could grab up the most Easter eggs. Organizers split the kids up in three age groups, 0 to 3, 4 to 6 and 7 to 10, wi

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • NWS-FloodFollowDay2-15.jpg April flood brought people together to bail out community

    [Editor’s note: On April 19, 2013, a record flood hit Howard and Tipton counties. Today, we look at some of the financial aspects of the flood. In Sunday’s edition, look for stories about people who were affected, what has changed in the floodplains and how the communities are moving forward.]

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-KT041914-TwoinjuredinMiamiCocrash-CLG-pic.jpeg Two injured in Miami County crash

    PERU — Two people were injured Thursday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of U.S. 24 and Ind. 19.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farmer loses seat belt fight on appeal

    Denver-area farmer Thomas Fox doesn’t like to wear his seat belt.
    But after his lengthy fight with the Indiana courts over a seat belt violation, Fox may be rethinking his stance.

    April 19, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries