I know it’s not racism. . .

What she wore: teal capris with a cuff at the bottom, a button up shirt with stripes in teal, pink, and yellow, white leather criss-cross slides with rhinestones (yes, I wore them last week, but they go with so much!)  The shoes received many compliments. 

I started my blog this way because I don’t want to make it sound like racism.  If classism exists then I would blame things on that.
Approximately 45 girls tried out for the freshman dance team at our city high school.  The limit for the team was 22.  When team was announced, it wasn’t pretty–here’s the break down.
  • The team number was reduced to 18
  • Every girl who tried out from the middle-class middle school made the team
  • No girls from my low-income school made the team
  • One girl from the other low-income middle school made the team
  • Girls trying out were required to put their middle school on their try-out form.

I’m not trying to make it sound like racism–one of the girls from our team who tried out was white.  I’m sure that at least one of the girls who made it was black.  It’s more about classism.  The girls who made the team probably had about a million more dance lessons than our kids could ever afford.  I’m pretty sure our girls have a different "style" than the girls from the other schools. 


Here’s what hacks me (and some others) off: Would it have killed them to take the top 22 girls even if some of them weren’t as good as the ones from the other school?  Surely, the freshman squad, which performs approximately four times a year, wouldn’t be completely destroyed by some girls with a little less dance training. 


Cheerleading try-outs went a similar way–the squad was twelve.  Eleven of them came from the middle-class school, one came from my school, and none were selected from the other low-income school.   But, they did fill the squad rather than cutting it off early.


Just give our girls a chance!  Once they’re old enough to make their own money or fundraise they can go to camps too!  They can be taught!   But, if you never give them a chance, you just reinforce the idea that the world is against them.  I hope the freshman dance team is worth crushing these little girls spirits.  Somehow, I don’t think it will be.




About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
This entry was posted in Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to I know it’s not racism. . .

  1. Sheryl-Ann says:

    Wow, your entry made me a little sad because I could just imagine how your students must feel. There should be a specified quota that must come from each school so as to make the whole process more transparent and equitable.  It does reinforce the idea that the world is against them, which is what I find especially sad (sigh).  I hope your girls are able to bounce back from this disappointment.
    Enjoy your evening!

  2. Unknown says:

    I never understand situations like this.  I would think it would benefit a dance team to have many aspects of dance, that way everyone learns from each other.  I hope these girls keep perservering.

  3. Sue says:

    Blondie was on dance/drill teams in jr high and high school.  She didn\’t make it the first year even though she had years of dance and she was very good.  The next year, she remembered to smile big while dancing.  Dance/Drill team is akin to a sport in our area and very competetive.  Only the best make it, no matter where they come from or how many lessons they have.  Her high school team was one of the best in the nation.  It required being at school between 5 and 6am for practice, work outs, more practices after school, some evening practices, choreography, music mixes, costumes, learning many dance routines, and competitions.  It wasn\’t cheap either, although we tried to raise as much money as we could with fundraisers.  I know other areas it\’s like this with cheerleading.  Each year Blondie had to try out and was never guaranteed a spot.  But I do have to admit that the girls considered this their sport and had been doing it for years.
    I don\’t know if that is how it is run in your school or not.  The try out dance was taught over a three evening period and then performed before judges the girls did not know so it was fair.  I\’ve heard of other districts or states with schools whose teams were pre-chosen basically by the person running the team before the try out. 
    Maybe the grade school level could have a small dance type team extra-curricular for the girls to \’groom\’ them for what\’s coming?  They do that with cheerleading in some grade schools.  Just a thought.  I hate to see any girl miss out on this because she never had the training.  If they have the talent, they just need a little direction. 
    : ) Sue

  4. Laura says:

    Seems a bit fishy… even if racism wasn\’t involved. You don\’t want to say a certain number of girls from each school should be picked, because that isn\’t fair either. It would be nice to have their own squad, or at least let them participate in practices for awhile before they see if they can cut it. I remember try-outs and it was nerve racking. I hope they get past this and work towards next year!

  5. Dennis says:

    You take on the real issues and that is what endears you to me.  Ok there are other things that endear you to me but this is at the core of who you are.  I think your points are valid and warranted.  The way you describe the system and how it all shook out smells fishy to me too.  Racism, classism, whatever the ism ……….it sucks! 

  6. CJ says:

    I admire you for the honesty of your thoughts.  Good luck to you!

  7. Toni says:

    what a shame for these girls, what a shame, what a shame. and i wonder what the reason behind having them show their MS name was…and how do you explain something like that to them? "no, it\’s not about race, just about how rich/poor you are." huh? maybe like "the mominator" suggested, could there be a secondary dance team? at my old hs, there was cheerleading, a dance team, and a hip hop dance team…hopefully there\’s something they could do to give these girls an opportunity to get involved and hone their talent…

  8. Unknown says:

    What a sad, sad state of affairs.   Classism is indeed alive and well in this country.   Your kids deserve that chance.  Don\’t give up the good fight Katy.  They need good women like yourself on their side.

  9. Kathleen says:

    I team-teach and I am responsible for teaching the curriculum, right along with the regular education teacher.  I teach every other chapter of Geography – which is a class that I have not taken since 7th grade.  I also team in Government, Econ (never had it in my life), and English 10.  That is just this semester.  Last semester I taught English 11, Chem/Phys and English 10.  I feel totally inadequate because my specialty is special education law, modifying and adapting assignments, and working with small groups.  The problem is that I cannot develop my own style of instruction or discipline because I follow the lead of the teacher who "owns" the classroom.  I am definitely NOT serving my students properly.  I hope my school changes the model of service soon, or I will be on the job hunt. (Oh, by the way, when there is a need for a sub for one of my team-taught classes, I am usually the sub.  I save the corporation money.) Oh and now of course, I am not highly qualified.  Some days I just get pissed.

  10. Renee says:

    I made a cheer leading squad ONCE …hey they had to have some of us BIGGER girls to lift the SKINNY girls up…so me and one other chunky made the team…there is all kinds of discrimination out there…
    your kids are lucky they have you!
    take care

  11. Hollie says:

    You mean each school doesnt have thier own squad?? WOw! on that one, but I can see what you mean…and thier seems to be a much needed change to thier thinking.

  12. Sandra says:

    sounds like you are having a tough time!
    it is an unfair system,same all over the world,
    those who have get more & those who have nothing get nowhere !
    read your last post too,
    I worked a similar job in our infants school in the 80\’s…it is frustrating to watch a teacher who can\’t do the job but gets paid anyway !
    do as I did & just do your best for the kids ,they will love you for it …
    let the adults sort themselves out!!!

  13. K says:

    I agree that there should be a quota… or like you suggested…the top 22 regardless of what school they attend.
    Every child or person deserves a chance regardless of class or race… how limited are we as human beings… to categorize people in such a manner and do it in a round a bout way.  Sad honestly.
    Someone should start a dance groups that includes teams from all over, all classes.. all races… no exclusion.. not even based on talent.  Dancing is a form of freedom of speech… and isn\’t part of the constitution or something? (Sorry.. I\’m Canadian.. I don\’t know the Constitution by heart)
    I admire you constantly for the issues you address in your blog.  Don\’t ever stop!
    Ciao bella,

  14. Alicia says:

    I am SOO with you on this…when I was a cheerleader, it was all about who you knew.  By this post, I would say things haven\’t changed much in 15 years…
    HUGS!!  🙂

  15. WINDOW LIVE says:

    It is socio-economic division.  It is alive and well in Louisville Kentucky for as long as I remember.  I moved away at 18 came back at 32 and it was still the same.  YOU should start one of the step clubs at your school.  It is great!  I would give anything to be able to have that opportunity. You go girl!

  16. Unknown says:

    i myself have been very concerned about the plight of cheerleaders for ages. Thanks for taking up the cause.
    i\’m kidding….
    what he wore, Grey banana republic wool slacks- flat front and a blue /light blue check button down shirt. Black kenneth cole shoes with a canoe stitch and silver buckle.  No one noticed

  17. Tammi says:

    It\’s so sad that stuff like this happens.  At least the kids at your school have good teachers like you who care about them.

  18. Aunt says:

    off topic…..
    here i am on vacation and i thought about my comment to you, re not bringing the child birth conversation to my vacation conversation…it was meant to be light hearted and humorus and then i worried it sounded upity.
    so i meant to be friendly. just in case it came across without that smiling feeling.

  19. Jennifer says:

    i hope those girls appreciate what a defender they have in you. 
    your post fairly  bristles with righteous indignation!
    i love it! 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s