Public schools in gentrifying neighborhoods seem on the cusp of becoming truly diverse, as historically underserved neighborhoods fill up with younger, whiter families. But the schools remain stubbornly segregated. Nikole Hannah-Jones has chronicled this phenomenon around the country, and seen it firsthand in her neighborhood in Brooklyn.
“White communities want neighborhood schools if their neighborhood school is white,” she says. “If their neighborhood school is black, they want choice.” Charter schools and magnet schools spring up in place of neighborhood schools, where white students can be in the majority.
“We have a system where white people control the outcomes, and the outcome that most white Americans want is segregation,” she says.
In a recent episode of The Atlantic Interview, Nikole Hannah-Jones and The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, discuss how integrated schools are good for white children and black children.
“If one were to believe that having people who are different from you makes you smarter, that you engage in a higher level of thinking, that you solve problems better, there are higher-level ways that integration is good for white folks,” Jones says.