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Minneapolis Pursues Rezoning Initiative To Integrate White Students Into Black Schools

When many Americans come across the term “integration,” thoughts of Black students enrolling in predominately white schools likely come to mind. 

However, one Midwestern school district is turning this narrative on its head by having white students desegregate predominately Black institutions.

Minneapolis recently unveiled a citywide plan to rezone school districts to combat rising segregation rates in the city’s public education system. The New York Times reported approximately one-third of students throughout the city (about 10,000) were assigned to new schools, emphasizing getting white kids into predominately Black academies.

“Everyone wants equity as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them,” said Eric Moore, an official for Minneapolis Public Schools. “This plan is saying everyone is going to be equally inconvenienced because we need to collectively address the underachievement of our students of color.”

One of the institutions impacted by this rezoning is North Community High School. Principal Mauri Friestleben–who is multiracial and identifies as Black–says that, while she’s excited about the initiative, she has seen some mixed responses from white Minneapolis parents.

“At times, it was demeaning and humiliating,” Friestleben said, recalling some parents questioning their children’s safety and whether or not the school would be academically rigorous enough.

Khulia Pringle, a Black education activist from Minnesota, also voiced her opinion of the initiative. 

“I don’t think a Black kid sitting next to a white kid means that all of a sudden a Black kid is going to have higher academic outcomes,” Pringle by noting. “It’s the reality that wherever white people are, comes resources.”

Regardless of the outcomes, however, Friestleben clarifies that she’s on a personal mission to give Black students the same prioritized attention their white counterparts have traditionally received.

“I make a commitment that every child that walks into any doors that I’m leading, that they will feel like royalty,” the high school principal stated. “As a society, we have subconsciously rolled the red carpet out for white children for generations upon generations. So it’s my challenge and my honor to do that for Black children, to give Black children the same experience of ‘you are the center of my world.'”

“We are not going to let anyone else be our validators or invalidators,” Friestleben added.

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