Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar, is an Akron, Ohio resident, poor, law abiding, single mother of two daughters (14 and 16 years of age), student in education at Akron University, and now a convicted felon for deciding to break “the rules” and falsify proof of residential documentation in order to bypass the school designated by the local school district. Instead of going to schools that are unsafe, violent, provide below standard academics, and consisting of a population approximated between 92-93% Black, she took it upon herself to send them to a school in the Copley-Fairlawn district where her father resided.
Within this district, the schools her children attended for two years were meeting state adequate academic progress benchmarks and had a population of White students between 73-82%. How do we know this sort of colossal atrocity that impairs the moral compass that guides our society occurred? It so happens that the rich White suburban school district hired a private investigator to unravel the dastardly deed. What do you expect though? The district has even gone as far in the past to pay $100 to anyone giving information on students who were attending the schools illegally. It was evident to all on-lookers that the school district was doing everything possible to keep outsiders out. Well, Ms. Williams-Bolar was sought, arrested, and convicted of tampering with records. She was sentenced to five years in prison. The judge in the case reduced the time down to 10 days, 80 hours of community service, and three years probation.
(Numerous other blogs and websites have discussed these issues and one has a place you can sign up in protest (see here).
Brian Poe, the Copley-Fairlawn Superintendent reported that the case cost the district $30,000 of lost tuition and $6,000 for investigative purposes. He denied that the mother was singled out due to her race. In the words of Representative Wilson of South Carolina, “You lie!”
Today, a persistent ideology is looming where Whites and an increasing number of middle to upper class Blacks blindly believe that racism no longer exists in the 21st century. However, evidence otherwise dictates that racism, oppression, and control, does exist and is persistent to survive the tides of time. Moreover, Joe Feagin scholarly noted that since slaves were first stolen from Africa, White’s intent was to not only physically enslave them through force, but by creating a system that transcended through generations to advantage Whites through the social and psychological control mechanisms that targeted people of color, subsequently holding them to their placement on the second class tier upon the White constructed racial ladder of hierarchy. This transcends still throughout all major institutions within the U.S., such as education.
Research has noted that the increasing residential segregation of Whites is closely related to their schools of choice. Simply put, heavily White suburban areas are mostly chosen by white parents due to the low number of Black and Latino populations within the area and within the schools. By blocking and alienating the abilities of Blacks, and Latinos from attending these schools, Whites are able to continue to benefit from the existence of the sites and strangleholds of White power. As in the past, within the 21st century, these “normal” actions that enable the power and privilege of Whites in part are fueled by the old White racial frame. Therefore, Ms. William Bolar is simply a casualty of “The Machine.” This racist machine constantly reminds us that there exist two unequal worlds today.
photo credit: Steve Snodgrass