School ends discriminatory student election policy–What took so long?

written by co-editor Tami Winfrey Harris

Rarely does a racial firestorm put itself out cleanly and to everyone’s satisfaction within days. But that’s what happened in the case of Nettleton Middle School in Mississippi, which has corrected its baffling policy of marking specific Student Council positions specifically for black and white students. In the aftermath, it is worth asking how racism becomes so easily entrenched and how a leadership and community can become so complacent that no one might recognize and challenge it.

The Nettleton story broke on Mixed and Happy, a blog for interracial families. Students at the school had been sent home with literature on Student Council elections revealing certain positions designated specifically for black students and others for white students. One mother wondered where her biracial daughter fit into all this and was told by the school board that a child’s race is determined by her mother, especially since fathers are absent in most minority homes.

The naked inequality, prejudice and ignorance demonstrated by Nettleton Middle School’s policy, compounded by the revelation that the school district also had separate homecoming kings and queens for black and white students, caused the story to erupt across the Internet and on television news. How could this happen in 2010?

Read more…

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About Tami

Tami Winfrey Harris writes about race, feminism, politics and pop culture at the blog What Tami Said. Her work has also appeared online at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ms. Magazine blog, Newsweek,, Huffington Post and Racialicious. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism. She is mom to two awesome stepkids and spends her spare time researching her family history and cultivating a righteous 'fro.
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