Pedestals

A monologue about a young black woman who is expelled from school for standing up to racism starts a conversation about the high expectations and double standards imposed on students of color in majority-white institutions. Featuring an interview with Angela Antoinette Bey, whose life growing up in Southwest Philadelphia looked very different than the private high school she attended, and an honest conversation with two mother/daughter duos who share the experience being de facto representatives of diversity in mostly white spaces.


Dear Black Girl: You’ll come to this private institution with stars in your eyes. You’ll be fooled, used, and abused, so long as you can stand it. And when you finally speak out, you’ll be disappointed.
— from "Pedestals" by Angela Bey
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In a perfect world every child would receive a quality education. Instead, our nation continues to face an outstanding achievement gap between white and non-white students.

For decades, the children of poor minorities have been expected to attend their respective neighborhood public schools without choice. These schools are historically known to have less than their private counterparts. Less resources, less rigor, less white students and less opportunity for future upward mobility.

Upward mobility is the explanation for why many minority parents who have accumulated more wealth and education tend to choose private schooling for their children over public schools, often with the aid of vouchers and scholarships offered by the private institutions.

Many of these families eventually discover that these allocations come with a great cost. There are current inquiries to determine the true design of opportunities for students of color to attend private schools. Were these opportunities created to benefit these students or to use them as adornments? It is hard to believe the answer not to be the latter when these institutions continue to fall short at supporting minority students both emotionally and socially.

Getting faces of color to fill private school classrooms is only half the battle. Real work and genuine interest are needed in order to stop the ultimate outcome of students of color losing out when attending private schools.

the conversation

Nola Latty (left) is a senior at Friends Select School, where she is an active member of the theater program and numerous other clubs and activities. Her play "Y2K" recently won the Mary Margaret Longaker '27 Playwriting Competition. This fall, Nola will attend the Tisch School for the Arts at New York University to study acting.  Yvonne Latty is a producer and host of Mouthful. She is an award-winning journalist and documentarian. Her documentaries Sacred Poison and Home have been screened internationally. She is the author of We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, from World War II to the War in Iraq (Harper Collins/Amistad 2004) and In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss and the Fight to Stay Alive (Polipoint Press 2006). In Conflict was developed into a successful Off-Broadway play. She was an award-winning urban reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News for 13 years.  

Nola Latty (left) is a senior at Friends Select School, where she is an active member of the theater program and numerous other clubs and activities. Her play "Y2K" recently won the Mary Margaret Longaker '27 Playwriting Competition. This fall, Nola will attend the Tisch School for the Arts at New York University to study acting. 

Yvonne Latty is a producer and host of Mouthful. She is an award-winning journalist and documentarian. Her documentaries Sacred Poison and Home have been screened internationally. She is the author of We Were There: Voices of African American Veteransfrom World War II to the War in Iraq (Harper Collins/Amistad 2004) and In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss and the Fight to Stay Alive (Polipoint Press 2006). In Conflict was developed into a successful Off-Broadway play. She was an award-winning urban reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News for 13 years.

 

Olivia Haynes (right) is a senior at William Penn Charter School. As a filmmaker, Olivia has worked with the Scribe Video Center, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and the Blackstar Film Festival. This fall, she will attend Goucher College to study art history and anthropology. Lisa Nelson-Haynes is the Executive Producer of Mouthful and Executive Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Before joining Young Playwrights in 2016, Lisa was the associate director at the Painted Bride Art Center, where she ran the Center’s educational outreach and residency programs, marketing and communications departments and managed contractual relationships with artists. She is also a nationally recognized expert in digital storytelling through her work as a facilitator with Storycenter, which uses the art of first-person narrative as a tool for education, advocacy and community-building.

Olivia Haynes (right) is a senior at William Penn Charter School. As a filmmaker, Olivia has worked with the Scribe Video Center, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and the Blackstar Film Festival. This fall, she will attend Goucher College to study art history and anthropology.

Lisa Nelson-Haynes is the Executive Producer of Mouthful and Executive Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Before joining Young Playwrights in 2016, Lisa was the associate director at the Painted Bride Art Center, where she ran the Center’s educational outreach and residency programs, marketing and communications departments and managed contractual relationships with artists. She is also a nationally recognized expert in digital storytelling through her work as a facilitator with Storycenter, which uses the art of first-person narrative as a tool for education, advocacy and community-building.

Further reading & resources

Check out this video put together by Olivia Haynes and a number of her classmates at William Penn Charter that digs into her black male classmates' experiences at school.


"Pedestals" was performed by Nia Benjamin under the direction of Steve Gravelle

Anne Hoffman helped produce and edit "Pedestals"

Digital content support from Kiarah Cannady