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Deconstructing Race: Remembering Segregated Schools

Race is definitely a social construct that is designed to benefit some to the detriment of others—in the case of America, it benefits whites to the detriment of Blacks.

My father's people were very dark and my mother's people were white. We as children were various shades of brown. I never understood why my grandmother said she was colored, and had to tolerate the indignities of racism.

The one good thing about segregated schools was that the black teachers were dedicated to providing excellent teaching and served as role models for the students. Our teachers taught us that black people were as good as whites. It’s almost like they were anticipating the supreme court’s Brown decision that desegregated the schools

It was our job as students to prepare for the day when segregation would end. Because of the system of racism, we were required to excel, to be better than whites in order to compete in an uneven playing field.

John Fleming is Director Emeritus of the Cincinnati Museum Center and an independent museum consultant who resides in Yellow Springs.

Deconstructing Race is a series of commentaries about racial identity by Miami Valley residents. It's co-curated by Dr. Kimberly Barrett, vice president of multicultural affairs and community engagement at Wright State University. The series features ten people of varying ages and racial identities responding to one or more of the following questions:What is your experience with racial identity? Are there pieces of your identity that are frequently misunderstood, invisible, or visible in complicated ways? If you could make one wish about race and identity, what would it be?  

Submissions are still open. Send your answer to one or more of the questions above, in 200 words or less, to lwallace@wyso.org. If your submission is accepted, it will be edited by WYSO and you’ll be asked to come in and record.