Monday, March 05, 2012

To Be Black at Stuyvesant High

An important and troubling article about the decline of Hispanic and black students at NYC's most competitive public high school, Stuyvesant, which is now 72.5% Asian, 24% white, 2.4% Hispanic, and 1.2% black.  This chart shows the trends over time:



The article profiles one black student:

A lot of black students, he said, have confided, "If I could do it all over again, I don't know if I would have come here."

"There's something very isolating," Mr. Colón said, "about being one of the very few."

Rudi has never harbored regrets. There have been disappointing and enraging moments, she said, like when a good friend, the only black senior in Stuyvesant's esteemed speech-and-debate team, was given a book on rap lyrics as a holiday gift from a white boy she had been mentoring.

Like many of her white and Asian classmates who make lengthy treks from the outer reaches of Brooklyn and Queens to Stuyvesant's campus near the site of ground zero, Rudi begins each day before dawn. She sets the alarm on her cellphone for 5:30 a.m., and puts it at the edge of her bed so she has to get up to turn it off. At 6:15, she rouses her father, who drives her to the Wakefield/241st Street stop on the No. 2 train to Manhattan.

One recent morning on the train, she rested her head on an environmental science book as thick and heavy as an encyclopedia volume, squeezed on each side by strangers drinking coffee and nodding off. Blue earphones piped in Bob Marley and U2 tunes, her antidote against the rattle of the hourlong ride.

After exiting at Chambers Street, she quick-stepped west, then across a pedestrian bridge and into the exclusive club, book pressed against her chest like armor as she lost herself in a sea of arriving students. Hers was the only black face in sight.


A System Divided

To Be Black at Stuyvesant High

Published: February 25, 2012

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