Penn Manor Gets a Touch of Color: Editorial

As more minorities roll into mostly white schools, the monster of racism recedes to the shadows, away from the unsuspecting innocent eye. Here in Penn Manor, a high school set in a small, rural college town in Millersville, Pa., opinions and views are growing more and more liberal in a community once immersed in conservative backgrounds.

When I came to Penn Manor School District several years ago it was a life-changing experience for me and a big cultural shock as well. I was born in Philadelphia, Pa., and I was educated in both Delaware County and Philadelphia city schools, two districts where the number of African American students exceeded all other races. I didn’t know what to expect of my new school.

According to Penn Manor’s own race-relations consultant, Quay Hanna, “A black student coming from a mostly urban area will struggle more, since he is not only trying to adapt as a minority student, but also because he is coming from a completely different cultural background.”

I couldn’t have agreed more with this comment.  The first day I came to Manor Middle it was me, my mom, aunt, grandmother. A counselor at the middle school had just gone over the rules and regulations with us and I was, at first surprised, at how lenient the school was. There was no dress code, no school security, and recess after lunch. I thought I’d just arrived in my picture-perfect school. Then within a week, reality hit me and the struggle began.

As I walked through the halls of Manor Middle that first week, I couldn’t help but notice all the attention I was getting. Eyes following me from class to class, at first I wondered, were they just curious as to who the new student was or were they staring at me because I was black. I decided it was both.

I can’t say I had trouble making friends in my new school because everyone seemed really friendly and helpful. But I also cannot say I didn’t have serious problems at the school either. A couple of months into the school year,  a racial incident sprung up one time during lunch. I was called the “N” word multiple times by a student while sitting at a table with some friends. Although this wasn’t the first time someone called me the “N” word, it was the first time it happened here for me. I reacted by pouring water on the student and giving them some words to remember. I felt this to be a fair response especially because this student was female.

As I stormed out of the cafeteria, heated and on the edge, I marched into the office of the middle school demanding to talk to somebody. The first person I saw was the vice principal.  I explained what happened, the principal was informed, my parents were contacted.

Throughout my first year in this school district, I started seeing different sides of people. But instead of thinking that all white people are racist like many of my peers do, I realized that judging a whole race on a few people is unfair and incorrect. I had to hate the concept of racism from both sides.

As time went by, I began having less racial incidents in school. Although I’m not having racial problems anymore, I’m not so sure the problem of racism has ceased. I think Penn Manor has come a long way but from what I see and hear, it still has a mile or two to go.

By: Robert Henry

4 thoughts on “Penn Manor Gets a Touch of Color: Editorial”

  1. Robert,

    I applaud your willingness to explore a topic of this nature in our school district. Good for you, taking a risk, and congratulations to you and the Penn Points staff as well, for taking a risk with the first online version of Penn Points. Well done.

  2. You impressed me last year in U.S. History 2 and you continue to impress me with your willingness to go over and above with a topic that many would not feel comfortable talking about.

  3. Coming to Penn Manor from McCaskey and from years in the city is the definition of culture shock let me tell you hahah.

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