Do Private Schools in the United States Discriminate Based on Race?

Table of Contents

Racial issues have always been a major problem in the US due to the historical origins of the nation’s establishment. Therefore, its presence in educational facilities is inevitable, especially because of economic disparities, which result in private schools becoming more expensive than public ones. The main reason is the fact that the white segment of the American population had a historical advantage over people of color, which explains why the latter group is economically behind the former. It will result in the fact that costlier educational facilities, such as private schools, will be less accessible to people of color than to white people. Therefore, there is an inexplicit form of racial discrimination against minorities in private schools.

Old and New Racisms

The entire American society underwent major visionary and perceptual changes positively because people fully adhere to the notion of tolerance and equality. The rare cases of explicit hatred toward other racial groups can be considered as an outrageous exception from the norm. These individuals are usually condemned, and they suffer long-lasting consequences, such as loss of employment or legal persecution. The nation’s major policies and support networks are designed to adhere to equality and eliminate discrimination. Therefore, the old form of racism is non-existent in the US.

Evaded Racism

However, the lack of explicit racism does not mean that racial discrimination does not exist. New racism is a direct manifestation of race-based discrimination, which promotes structural racism and marginalization of minorities. It does not involve direct emotional hatred and can even be unintentional, but the effects can be observed among people of color. It is also present in the K-12 school system, and it takes the shape of “antiracist” racism, evaded racism, and everyday racism (Kohli et al., 2017). Evaded racism is the most common form of its manifestation because it does not address the issue in the context of institutions and essential structures (Kohli et al., 2017). The given form only addresses racism on the surface-level in a highly frivolous manner. Such an approach undermines the effect of institutional racism, which results in no action being taken against it.

“Antiracist” Racism

“Antiracist” racism is a more deceptive form of discrimination, where minority school students are marginalized through policies that are supposed to be a solution. For example, colorblind racism is an attempt to make educational facilities not recognize or not “see” race (Kohli et al., 2017). This inevitably results in racism being unaddressed, which leads to silence. It is a highly pretentious form of the new racism, which does not want to admit the fact that the issue persists. It forces both whites and minority groups to dismiss the problem and be “blind” to it. This type of discrimination is ever-present among private schools due to economic disparities causing unequal access to education. In addition, such racism is easy to implement among schools because students are obedient to their teachers, and thus, the notions can be deeply ingrained in the mindset of all children and adolescents. “Antiracist” racism can also take the shape of policies that are supposed to encourage tolerance and equality, but in practice, promote discrimination against minorities.

Everyday Racism

Everyday racism is one of the least recognized forms of discrimination. It takes place on interpersonal levels and occurs in small instances, which makes it easy to dismiss (Kohli et al., 2017). In private schools, which are dominated by white children and educators, minority groups are especially vulnerable to everyday racism. Teachers can express subtle racism, and micro-aggression and the recipient may not be able to report it due to the lack of evidence and insignificance. In addition, everyday racism can be expressed among students, where economic disparity results in even fewer minorities being present at private schools. This predominantly white environment can be discriminatory towards students of color. Lastly, private schools can be inexplicitly racist during the admission level, where people of color cannot get in these schools.

Structural Racism

Private schools are costlier options compared to public schools, and thus, their availability among poor neighborhoods is limited or even non-existent. In other words, it creates structural or institutional discrimination against people of color because historical economic disparity prevents them from being able to afford better educational facilities. Structural racism is the result of cumulative actions taken against minorities, and they can be conducted unintentionally (Blaisdell, 2015). This means that minorities might have equal legal rights, but past discrimination still affects them in having an unequal starting point in life. Poor neighborhoods are predominantly occupied by people of color, whereas prosperous districts are mostly white. The latter statement is also applicable to private schools, which give an educational lead to economically advantaged white students.


In conclusion, it is evident that discrimination is present among private schools, but it is not explicit and direct old racism. New racism is subtler and even mostly unintentional, but it marginalizes students of color to a great extent. Evaded racism does not address the primary causes of the issue, which makes the discussions pointless. “Antiracist” racism introduces deceiving changes, which seem to promote equality, but result in more discrimination. Everyday racism is not open and easily distinguishable because it happens at the micro interpersonal level. Private schools are part of structural racism, which discriminates people of color based on race and economic disparity.


Blaisdell, B. (2015). Schools as racial spaces: Understanding and resisting structural racism. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29(2), 248-272.

Kohli, R., Pizarro, M., & Nevárez, A. (2017). The “New Racism” of K–12 schools: Centering critical research on racism. Review of Research in Education, 41(1), 182-202.

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