MRS. ATCHISON: I would assume that parents, yes, should be responsible for joining the Parent Teacher Organization [independent and not affiliated with the national PTA].
MR. ATCHISON: They have to be held accountable.
MRS. ATCHISON: Let me explain. I went to PTO twice and I swore I would never go back. Not a lot of White parents talked to me. Nobody talked to me. And you’re standing there. White folk go out of their way to make sure they don’t talk to you, to drive you away. You don’t feel like begging people to say ‘hi’ to you, to make them some cookies. You’ve already been mistreated at work. You step out two times, maybe three and you don’t get any response you say, I don’t need this. So, yes, you should go to the PTO but when you go to the PTO in [inner-city school] folk are kind to you.
MR. ATCHISON: But the parents have got to go for your kids. You’ve got to talk to the teachers, you’ve got to block out everybody else.
Success: Aspirations for Our Kids
MRS. ATCHISON: Being satisfied with yourself.
MR. ATCHISON: Exactly—and living...doing the best you can do. You can’t do no better than your best. I tell kids at sports, I say, hey, if we did our best and they beat us, then they were the better team. But that masks whatever we’re lacking, let’s get out there and work on it. Show me what the game is. Show me where I’m at. I might be down for a minute, but I’m going to get in this race. Am I still successful even though someone else won the top spot? If you aim high and if you fall, you still might fall in a good spot.
We are grateful to the Atchisons for their straightforward honesty and insight showing the power of the family story, the power of grounding their children in the family, kin and church community, and the power of their racial realist perspective in pushing against the ethos and system at the school. They created a path for their children to flourish in this achievement-driven school district that harbors deep racial and social class barriers.