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Brooklyn Prospect on Slate.com

The Taylor twins’ school days begin on the F line in Brooklyn. Class starts at 9 a.m., but the twins are usually early. Sometimes they’re on the train by 6:30 a.m. for early sports practice. Though not identical, both are tall and athletic and smile easily, so their classmates often mix them up. They keep their grades high. Khadejah aims to always score above 80 on exams and Yazmine is only satisfied if she scores at least 90. Overall, they operate as a team: What one misses, the other will pick up. Their mother, also a twin, calls it a “twin thing.”

The family members’ racial and ethnic identities illustrate complexities that demographic data often fails to capture. Lino’s parents came from Honduras in the 1960s. So, on official forms, the twins check the Hispanic box, but in conversation they mostly refer to themselves as black. Their father, who has one parent from the American South and one from the West Indies, identifies as black. The family is Muslim, and Lino wears a hijab. “When people see me they are like, ‘Oh, she’s Muslim.’ Then I start speaking Spanish, and there’s a whole other spiel of questions.”

Lino and Taylor had several reasons for seeking a diverse school for their daughters. They have happy memories of their own experiences at elementary and middle school in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood, where they met. The school enrolled a mixture of Italian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, and black children, Lino says. She didn’t want her daughters in classes where the students had never “seen a white child in the school.” And she thinks that ultimately a racially homogenous school is no preparation for life, because the real world is diverse. She considered it a plus that Brooklyn Prospect is a charter school, since she believes it is more innovative and adaptable and more likely to set high goals for students.

Click here to read the full article on Slate.com - an online magazine of news, politics, technology, and culture. 

 

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