Effects of Racial Inequality and Racism in Urban Schools

The existing racial inequalities in America have often been an area of concern especially considering everyone is aware of their impact towards various leadership levels. While this is case, there is increasing attention on the impact that such inequalities affect the public institutions. For this review attention was given on the management of public urban schools to understand the manifestation of this dynamic. Currently the concept of racism and racial inequalities remains contentious throughout the United States and major parts of Europe as illustrated by movements such as the “black lives matter” creating the urgent need to appreciate racial diversity.  While experts have noted that the existence of inequality creates doubts on the country’s leadership, there is little research elaborating on whether the prevalent rate of inequality and racism in urban public schools has prevented the integration of diversity crucial in the management of schools and as such the interest to investigate the above topic.

Existing research cites that upholding equality and restraining from racial discrimination when selecting urban schools’ leaders diversifies the school fraternity, and eliminating racial bias. The roles and responsibilities of urban school administrators require selection on merits rather than race for comprehensive development. Therefore, the literature explores the roles, obligations, and attributes of urban school leaders towards student performance to understand whether administrators from the different are viewed as being effective in the same way. The review also examines the critical role of diverse leadership, examining how administrators of color promote diversity in society through the school system. Besides, the study illustrates capacity of the people of color's ability to match the responsibilities and requirements. Finally, the review explores how urban schools could potentially integrate the people of color in the leadership and management of urban schools, improving racial equality. Ultimately, enforcing racial equality in the school system entrenches the significance of appreciating diversity in society for overall development and wellbeing of society from an early age creating an inclusive society in future.

Literature Review

In contemporary society, embracing diversity in all spheres of life remains an important consideration as human beings seek to promote equality of races. It is imperative to highlight that a society that embraces equality is poised to develop due to the advantages that result from racial diversity (Smith, 2018). As a result, institutions such as schools, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations are expected to practice equality of races in a bid to incorporate every citizen in the social, economic, and political development agenda (Jones, 2018). Schools and more specifically urban schools are considered as centers of excellence which can help foster diversity and racial integration and therefore provide a favorable environment for equality to be practiced (Rutherford, 2020). It is in this respect that leadership in urban schools remains a focal area of consideration when discussing incorporating people of color in the running of administrative affairs.

Scores of studies establish that, today, the role of school administrators is changing with principals being accorded the responsibility to entrench leadership skills into the school’s fraternity. However, the historical injustices in education and in leadership reserved such positions for all white administrators, leaving very few positions for administrators of color. Rutherford (2020) argues that due to the changing dynamics in the social, economic and political alignments and leadership attributes, administrators of color are increasingly being accorded the administrative roles in urban schools, an aspect that cultivates for diversity in its entirety and racial equality in school networks (Beachum, McCray, & Huang, 2016). It is therefore worth highlighting that the extremely low number of administrators of color in urban schools in the United States of America is a cause for concern and needs to be reviewed both in the scholarly world and in the political arena because school administrative roles are somehow linked to political leadership dynamics and economics of the day.
There are numerous advantages that come from incorporating administrators of color into urban school systems. According to Burns (2020), integrating administrators of color in urban school’s leadership plays a critical role in fostering both a positive and a motivating culture for all stakeholders within the school’s systems, while at the same time incorporating a high quality learning experience for learners.  It also helps nurture learners in such a way that they learn to dispel stereotypes and prejudices that are propelled in the society about people of color in general, thus cultivating for an ethically and morally diverse society (Beachum, McCray, & Huang, 2016). The value of diversity that comes by incorporating administrators of color in urban school’s leadership is essential for the growth of modern-day America. 

According to Burns (2020), integrating administrators of color in the leadership of urban schools in the US also opens up opportunities for student growth and reflection while at the same time helping urban schools foster a sense of empathy and awareness.  It also enables learners in their capacities to significantly become open-minded citizens with new perspectives about life and race (Orelus, 2020).  It is an aspect that prepares learners for diversity in their future lives while creating a school environment that nurtures tolerant and mindful citizens.  The fact that urban schools are located in the urban centers where the population is significantly high, the available studies establish that they serve the poor and the ethnically diverse communities in the United States of America.  As a result, they are historically known to be characterized by poor academic performance in comparison to suburban schools while having high mobility of students (Lomotey, 2019). Therefore, due to the vulnerable nature of the students within urban schools, it is imperative for society to consider having effective administration which embraces diversity and understands the challenges affecting ethnically diverse groups.

Today, education has never been more important owing to the fact that globalization has influenced the way schools are run with societies having higher expectations of all the people who go through the school system. As a result, placing administrators in positions of school leadership following the provisions of equality, fairness and justice provides an opportunity for administrators of color to participate in the top-level of school management. The biggest question that scholars pose to everyone in society is “why does contemporary America have to take the debate about races and leadership seriously in this era?” According to Patton and Jordan (2017), the answer to the above question is quite straightforward and it is because racism and racial inequality has remained to /be the biggest social, economic and political challenge America is facing today. The percentage of Blacks holding administrative roles in urban schools is quite low as compared to the percentage of Whites and other races. As a result, the consequences of such statistics are felt beyond borders, delaying the agenda to democratize all institutions and apply the principles of fairness, justice and equality in urban schools (Howell & Peterson, 2016). It is in this respect that the debate about the significance of increasing the number of administrators of color in urban schools remains significant.

How Diversity in the Selection of School Leadership Plays a Critical Role in Management of Urban Schools

The time now is for society to place administrators in the top-level management or any other level of management based on merit rather than on the basis of ethnicity, race, or gender. Administrators ought to be passionate about the lives and wellbeing of the learners they represent at the top level of school management and they should offer opportunities to all including the interested and qualified people of color (Ononuju, 2016). There is nothing special about being an administrator of color or being White because the most important qualification for one to effectively and smoothly run the activities of urban schools is to have the capacity to demonstrate a high level of excellence in every leadership role.  Therefore, administrative roles include; the principal’s role, dean’s role, and head master’s role among others and any qualified individual including the people of color can manage with the zeal and the determination required for such a level of management.

In the running of urban schools which are ethnically diverse and affected by the vulnerability of poverty and population, administrators of color can effectively ensure that they coordinate, control, and delegate duties in such a way that they ensure teachers, counselors, and other stakeholders effectively improve the standards and opportunities available. It is not that administrators from other races would fail if given such opportunities or that they are the reason for the underperformance witnessed in urban schools, but holding other factors constant and allowing diversity and equality to prevail, people of color can equally deliver as far as management of schools are concerned (Presberry & Flennaugh, 2020). Through a comparison of the roles involved in the management of urban schools to other professions, it can be argued that people of color have performed exemplary in other areas of management within the social, economic, and the political arena, hence, they can also deliver if given the opportunity to run urban schools (Knight-Manuel et al., 2017).  In fact, administration duties seek to provide opportunities to an extent that one supports the goals and aspirations of all learners irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, or age. The principle “word” in the running of modern-day urban schools is diversity.

Administrators of color can effectively institute modern strategic management attributes that can give a completely new meaning of learning to all students.  According to Sanders (2018), such an opportunity in management, however, should not be on the basis of color but on the basis of qualifications, where people of all backgrounds are accorded equal chances to compete for management positions that are available in urban schools.  According to Johnson, Uline and Perez (2018), if all people including the people of color are provided with a level to seek for the administrative roles in urban schools, it is apparently clear that the divisive racism that affects American institutions shall be eliminated, paving way for a more inclusive society (Dematthews, 2018). Learners will have an opportunity to abhor racial stereotypes and school administrators will only be left with the opportunity to form curriculums, formulate goals and objectives, create school budgets, and formulate school regulations as well as creating timeliness for the purpose of streamlining school activities for the betterment of school experience for all stakeholders.

Integration of people of color in the management of urban schools plays an integral role in student development. According to Brockenbrough (2018), when Blacks are involved in the running of institutions in equal measure to their White counterparts, learners learn to appreciate inclusivity and diversity at an early age, thus, managing to understand the dynamics of an all-inclusive society even later in their lives. School is a very important level of a child’s development hence the need to ensure that there are administrators of color in different levels of managing urban schools (Pabon,  Anderson  & Kharem, 2017). Administrators of color have benefited urban schools by introducing a new approach in their management, an approach that is built upon racial equality. Their inclusion in the administrative duty in urban schools creates a rather satisfying image that is characterized by equality and abandonment of discrimination in society (Orelus, 2020). It is imperative to highlight that having harmony that comes from equality in the appointment of school administrators translates to peaceful coexistence amongst learners of different races, which later translates into the creation of a better society built upon justice, fairness and equality.  The bottom line is that having both  White administrators and administrators of color in the running of all schools, including urban ones, helps learners pursue the understanding of all people including those who are different from them in terms of race (Farinde-Wu & Fitchett, 2018).  As managers of schools that are affected by a myriad of challenges including poverty and racism, administrators of color can effectively form clear and compassionate messages that enhance diversity in its entirety.


The literature review covers the following;

Major Themes

  1. Effects of racial inequality and racism in urban schools
  2. How Diversity in the selection of school leadership plays a critical role in management of urban schools

Sub-themes for “Effects of racial inequality and racism in urban schools”

  1. The roles and responsibilities of urban school administrators
  2. Attributes of administrators of color in the running of metropolitan schools (urban schools)
  3. Factors contributing to poor performance in urban schools

Sub-themes forHow Diversity in the selection of school leadership plays a critical role in             management of urban schools “

  • Engaging Administrators of color in the management of urban schools plays a critical role in promoting diversity in the United States of America
  • The performance of people of color in other fields confirms their ability in the administration of urban schools
  • Integrating administrators of color in the management of urban schools plays a critical role in improving racial equality


Research on The concept of racial inequality in the urban school system is crucial since it inspires the next generation towards eliminating racial discrimination in the attempt to foster inclusivity in society. Thus, any contribution on the topic would be essential towards shaping how everyone views other races.  In the process of examining the effects of racial inequality in urban schools the apparent racial injustices previously enacted remains a major concern for the United States. The intersection of the inequalities with the political environment and dynamics affects the economics by enforcing stereotypes. Despite the findings in the review, incorporating the people of color in the urban schools, management does not guarantee immediate impacts in cultivating the ethics and morality to accompany diversity and as such the need to investigate how this topic needs to be accommodated arises.

The American Urban schools also have a history of poor academic performance linked with the nature of school leadership. Currently, the racial inequality in urban schools means that white people are the large population in charge of schools while the minority groups such as people of color serve as subjects of authority. Allowing for racial equality ought to enhance understanding and improve service delivery, although the research fails to identify whether that is the case. Hypothetically, integrating the people of color in leadership within urban schools is crucial since it helps to inspire the students, however this remains to a measure guided by merit as some institutions may intentionally disqualify the people of color.

Engaging the people of color in management promotes diversity and plays a critical role in encouraging racial equality throughout the United States. While including the people of color in management promotes racial equality, the selected leaders may promote racial bias rather than alleviate discrimination. Hence as a recommended solution, it is important to avert the current racial bias while also ensuring the appropriate individuals hold the offices since the ability to execute other jobs does not directly translate to equality and equity. This view also remains to be a topic requiring extensive research to explore.


Beachum, F. D., McCray, C. R., & Huang, T. (2010). Administrators and Teachers Sharing           Leadership: Utilizing CARE in Urban Schools. Making Connections:      Interdisciplinary Approaches to Cultural Diversity12(1).

Brockenbrough, E. (2018). Black men teaching in urban schools: Reassessing Black masculinity. Routledge.

Burns Thomas, A. (2020). “Please Hire More Teachers of Color”: Challenging the “Good Enough” in Teacher Diversity Efforts. Equity & Excellence in Education, 1-13.

Dematthews, D. E. (2018). Urban principal narratives on including Black boys with emotional disabilities. Journal of School Leadership28(3), 401-430.

Farinde-Wu, A., & Fitchett, P. G. (2018). Searching for satisfaction: Black female teachers’ workplace climate and job satisfaction. Urban Education53(1), 86-112.

Howell, W. G., & Peterson, P. E. (2016). The education gap: Vouchers and urban schools. Brookings Institution Press.

Johnson Jr, J. F., Uline, C. L., & Perez, L. G. (2018). Leadership in America's best urban schools. Taylor & Francis.

Jones, C. (2018). Teachers' perceptions of African American principals' leadership in urban             schools. Peabody Journal of Education77(1), 7-34.

Knight-Manuel, M. G., Marciano, J. E., Wilson, M., Jackson, I., Vernikoff, L., Zuckerman, K. G., & Watson, V. W. (2019). “It’s all possible”: Urban educators’ perspectives on creating a culturally relevant, schoolwide, college-going culture for Black and Latino male students. Urban Education54(1), 35-64.

Lomotey, K. (2019). Research on the leadership of Black women principals: Implications for Black students. Educational Researcher48(6), 336-348.

Ononuju, I. E. (2016). Legacy, Loyalty and Leadership: Creating a Pipeline of Indigenous Black Educational Leaders. Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research12, 99-106.

Orelus, P. W. (2020). The cost of being professors and administrators of color in predominantly white institutions: unpacking microaggression, isolation, exclusion, and unfairness through a critical race lens. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 1-16.

Pabon, A. J. M., Anderson, N. S., & Kharem, H. (2017). Minding the gap: Cultivating Black male teachers in a time of crisis in urban schools. The Journal of Negro Education, 358-367.

Patton, L. D., & Jordan, J. L. (2017). It’s Not About You, It’s About Us: A Black Woman Administrator’s Efforts to Disrupt White Fragility in an Urban School. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership20(1), 80-91.

Presberry, C., & Flennaugh, T. K. (2020). 3 Race and Restorative Justice in Urban Schools. Teaching to Close the Achievement Gap for Students of Color: Understanding the Impact of Factors Outside the Classroom.

Rutherford, A., & Meier, K. J. (Eds.). (2020). Race and public administration. Routledge.

Sanders, M. G. (2018). Crossing boundaries: A qualitative exploration of relational leadership in three full-service community schools. Teachers College Record120(4), 1-36.

Smith, P. A. (2016). Does Racism Exist in the Hiring and Promotion of K-12 School Administrators?. Urban Education Research & Policy Annuals4(1).