The Philadelphia Weekly just published an interesting story about Asian American students, mostly immigrants, who attend schools in South Philly, being racially targeted by both White and African American peers. By fighting back, Asian American students are finding themselves in disciplinary difficulties. Despite the fact that both Black and White students have been found to be instigators, the article is quickly framed as a Black on Asian violence problem, and so do the comments posted about the article. Why not acknowledge the problem as what it is? With the growing population of Asian Americans in Philly schools, educators need to do a better job of teaching students how to interact in a racially diverse setting.
From my own experiences, I know that too many teachers, coming from a liberal color-blind perspective, don't know how to handle or confront racial conflict. I mean, if you're stuck on "there's no race, just the human race" you are obviously going to have problems understanding how race, racism, and racial inequalities are in play on an everyday basis. In my own experiences, I struggled to survive racial harassment my pre-K through 12th grade days (I was 4 when I got in my first fistfight at pre-school). The teachable moment? The teachers never once punished the harassers. Instead, they told me how it was important for me to turn the other way, to just walk away as people spit on me, kicked me, tripped me, pulled my hair, etc. etc. Thankfully, in Philly, the district and schools seem to be taking action to address the conflicts.
While No Child Left Behind requires districts to take action in cases of violence in schools, I've never seen much in the way of requiring educators to know and learn to teach students how to understand racial differences, systemic inequalities, and to interact respectfully across racial lines.
It's great to have stories like this brought to light, but let's be clear that when both White and Black students are the perpetrators, media simply shouldn't focus on the Black on Asian violence. It doesn't help the situation.