School Colors

Trailer

Episode Summary

Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of the most iconic historically Black neighborhoods in the United States. Community School District 16 covers about half of Bed-Stuy. And almost every school in District 16 is hemorrhaging kids. Something is wrong. But today’s crisis is just the latest chapter in a story that goes back 200 years. Black people have been fighting for self-determination through their schools for as long as there have been Black children here in Central Brooklyn. This is School Colors: a new podcast from Brooklyn Deep about how race, class, and power shape American cities and schools.

Episode Notes

Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of the most iconic historically Black neighborhoods in the United States. Community School District 16 covers about half of Bed-Stuy. And almost every school in District 16 is hemorrhaging kids.

Something is wrong.

But today’s crisis is just the latest chapter in a story that goes back 200 years. Black people have been fighting for self-determination through their schools for as long as there have been Black children here in Central Brooklyn.

This is School Colors: a new podcast from Brooklyn Deep about how race, class, and power shape American cities and schools.

CREDITS
Producers / Hosts: Mark Winston Griffith and Max Freedman
Editing & Sound Design: Elyse Blennerhassett
Original Music: avery r. young
Production Associate: Jaya Sundaresh

School Colors is a production of Brooklyn Deep, a citizen journalism project of the Brooklyn Movement Center. Made possible by support from the NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

More information at our website: www.schoolcolorspodcast.com.

Episode Transcription

MARK WINSTON GRIFFITH: New York City is changing. Everyone can feel it. Nowhere is that change more dramatic than in Bedford-Stuyvesant: one of the most iconic historically Black neighborhoods in the United States. And in Bed-Stuy, nowhere are the stakes higher than in the public schools.

P.S. 25 STUDENTS: Save our school! Save our school! Save our school!

MAX FREEDMAN: P.S. 25, at the corner of Lafayette and Marcus Garvey Boulevard, is supposed to hold 600 students. Last year, they had 82. And P.S. 25 is just the most extreme example of what’s happening across Community School District 16, which covers about half of Bed-Stuy.

MARK: Almost every school in the district is hemorrhaging kids. Something is wrong.

[MUSIC: avery r. young, “Lament”]

MARK: This is School Colors, a new podcast from Brooklyn Deep about how race, class, and power shape American cities and schools.

FELICIA ALEXANDER: You're not born and raised here. You're not do or die. You just got here.

VIRGINIA POUNDSTONE: I am white but I am no dummy. I know what Bed-Stuy means.

NATASHA SEATON: Oh, this is racism? Damn.

LESTER YOUNG: What's happening by default is that the district is going to disappear.

MAX: What’s really happening here? Is it all about gentrification? White and middle-class families moving in and opting out?

VIRGINIA POUNDSTONE: No one I was meeting sent their kids to school here.

MARK: Is it competition from well-funded charter schools?

NEQUAN MCLEAN: Some parents like shiny things. And if you can show them something shiny. That's the way they're going to go.

MAX: Are the traditional public schools just… failing?

FELICIA ALEXANDER: I have a big issue with people constantly saying District 16 schools suck they suck they suck. No they don't.

MARK: I’m an organizer, a journalist, and a parent; I was born in Central Brooklyn and I’ve been working here for 35 years.

MAX: I’m a teacher, an audio producer… and a gentrifier.

MARK: Together, we’ve been to dozens of public meetings and interviewed more than 60 people:

MAX: Parents, teachers, and students;

MARK: Politicians, historians, and activists;

MAX: My landlord;

MARK: My uncle;

MAX: And what we found is that today’s crisis is just the latest chapter in a story that goes back 200 years.

MARK: Black people in Central Brooklyn have been fighting for self-determination through their schools for as long as there have been Black children here. And that’s a long-ass time.

DOLORES TORRES: The plan for community control was.

REV. C. HERBERT OLIVER: We knew that Black people were capable of running schools.

ALBERT SHANKER: They will burn the city down.

CHARLIE ISAACS: It was a beautiful thing that got destroyed.

NATASHA CAPERS: We changed y’all whole world. You welcome.

ADELAIDE SANFORD: But that change was resisted with passion with tenacity with money.

SEGUN SHABAKA: The government was hostile.

CLEASTER COTTON: The pressure that we went through as children killed many of us.

RAFIQ KALAM ID-DIN: This is what happens when you don't have people who you're trying to serve as a part of the solution.

DAISY GRIFFEN: They want us to be like puppets with our heads down when they say to do stuff but we not having it.

NEQUAN MCLEAN: What am I doing? Why am I leaving my kids at home to go and fight for something that the parents from that school didn't even come out to say yea or nay.

NATASHA SEATON: You think everybody’s rich? No!

ANIKA GREENIDGE: Who the fuck do you think you are?

SHAILA DEWAN: I am a pariah.

MAX: What’s happening in District 16 right now is happening across New York City. And what’s happening in New York City is happening in cities across the country.

MARK: Sure, the district is just lines on a map but it feels like more than that: it feels like the disappearing district is the harbinger of a disappearing Black community.

FELICIA ALEXANDER: I think that every time minorities have something good it gets taken away from us. And I'd like to be able to hold on to something.

MARK; School Colors, coming soon from Brooklyn Deep. Subscribe now, wherever you get your podcasts.