0 In Claire's Life/ Featured

Diversity is Our Strength: Short Reflections on my Black Experience in White Private Schools

When I was 9-years-old, my mother transported my brother and I from ‘The Block is Hot” New York City down to Atlanta, Georgia. New York of the 80’s and early 90’s was violent and crack ridden, with shootings occurring with alarming frequency. My mother had seen enough, and thus took us down South. My world instantly shifted.

I went from going to the majority black public school PS 235 to the majority white Westminster Schools of Atlanta. And while my difference was amplified by my awkwardness, thick glasses, and tall stature, I eventually settled in.

While many black women at Westminster were permanently traumatized by various instances of racial insensitivity, financial disparity, or social setbacks–those moments when, in elementary school, our classmates would extend a shaky hand to feel the texture of our afro puffs, or when, in junior high and high school, we couldn’t find anyone in our class to date–I did my best to thrive. I looked at my classmate’s gargantuan homes and instead of feel inadequate, I pledged to myself that one day I would have one. I was inspired. And I turned pursuing diversity, a need for every one of every background to be seen, heard, and respected, into a business. Poster boards that I made in high school for our Diversity Club (the meetings were always poorly attended by the way) of an idyllic, multicultural melting pot of people, has come to life with FashionBombDaily.com, a place that celebrates beautiful people regardless of race, size, or age.

I did a Beyonce and turned lemons in Lemonade. But so many of my classmates still have sour grapes about their experience at my alma mater, saying they will never send their kids there to suffer similar slights and oversights.

Private schools in New York have been in the news of late, with disgruntled, privileged parents fretting over the new ‘diversity’ curriculum, calling it heavy handed and irrelevant. While the new direction might seem alarming, I’d urge those same parents to look at it from our point of view. Recent civil rights issues in our country and the admission that many places, spaces, and industries in America are still fraught with vicious racism shows that there is still a need to learn, grow, and respect each other.

Diversity has and will always been our strength. There’s no better time than now to embrace and advocate for it.

Love & Light,

*My suit is Misa Hylton x Macy’s

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