Students show us how to talk with candor, respect

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

When we sat down recently with a group of Natchez High School students to discuss the impact of a desegregation court order, we were impressed by their candor.

They were talking about the school district’s attempt to have the court order lifted, but their discussion naturally veered into other topics.

The students we spoke to are proud of their school and proud of their education &045; and they are hurt by negative public perceptions of their school and its students.

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The students, both white and black, spoke not only about their education but about how race does and does not play a part in the difference in the populations at public and private schools in Natchez.

The students said that of course they recognize that the white population in their schools decreases as students get older, but they also recognize that parents and students have a variety of reasons for where they choose to attend classes.

As one student said, &uot;You can’t judge (people) by the school they go to.&uot;

What we appreciate most from the discussion is that the students’ conversations prove our community can have a meaningful, calm discussion about race and its impact on all of us.

And that conversation should be ongoing, filled with the kind of candor &045; and respect &045; that the students at Natchez High showed.

It can often be difficult for adults to conquer our discomfort and confront racial issues and questions.

But if we take a cue from these students &045; the future of our community &045; we can talk to each other without fear and without embarrassment.

Our community will be better for it.