For some reason there is always a considerable amount of concern about how Black and Hispanic students are going to adjust to being minorities in prestigious private schools. People go out of their way to form groups that will help minority students adjust and matriculate. It always made more sense to me to let the students dictate what groups they might need to help them get along with one another. I think it’s best not to assume there will be a problem before the problem presents itself.
Transitions was a group designed to help new minority students adjust to prep school life. Topics ranged from discussions about the differences between our neighborhoods and Concord, cooking, cleaning, and the most controversial – how to balance a checkbook. At this point everyone began to wonder why only minority students needed these life lessons.
Minority students did not have to attend but in the beginning we were all optimistic. I attended because I enjoyed the company of Ms. Sanchez. She was one of the very few minority teachers at St. Paul’s. She let us use her apartment as refuge outside of meetings and she had the most wonderful music collection ever put together before the invention of the ipod. Her collection introduced me to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. For that I am eternally grateful.
But transitions couldn’t last under the scrutiny. White friends of ours began to wonder why they were not included and many minority students stopped showing up. Eventually it just went away and we all transitioned whether we liked it or not.