By
Mark Robinson & Raymond Smaltz, III

Place Of Privilege

There are private schools all across the country, places with better resources, better teachers, better budgets.  By definition, these schools are not for the public.  They are private.  They are exclusive.  They are for those who can afford better.  Rarely does that include black students. 

In the 1960’s, it almost never did.

And then there are the ultra-elite private schools, the super schools; places where the resources, the curriculum and the tuition are comparable to the best liberal arts colleges.  These are schools where lineage is a factor in the admission process.  These are not schools for those who can afford better, they are schools only for those who can afford the very best.

These are places of privilege.

The Place:    In New York, the crown jewel place of privilege is The Dalton School; one of the most prestigious, elite prep schools in the nation, recognized globally for its visionary progressive educational philosophy.   Whenever popular culture needs a readily recognizable reference for the alma mater of the extraordinarily rich and famous, they simply say “Dalton.”  Dalton is where Anderson Cooper was a student, Jeffrey Epstein was a teacher and Robert Redford and Bob Fosse were members of the PTA.  Time Magazine called Dalton “the most progressive of the city's chic schools and the most chic of the city's progressive schools.”  Dalton, and the extraordinary places of privilege like it, are where the purebred 1% are taught and groomed to become the next generation of America’s power elite.

The Time:     The second half of the 1960s, a period of unprecedented, involuntary, wrenching change in America, and few, if any, were optimistic about the outcome of that change.  It was a time of omnipresent conflict: young vs. old, black vs. white, north vs. south, haves vs. have-nots.  The Civil Rights movement.  The Black Power Movement.  The Anti-War movement.  Everything moving.  The assassinations of MLK and RFK led to riots, despair and fear.

It was in this historic, revolutionary time and place that the board of trustees of Dalton felt compelled to reach out to the previously unfamiliar communities of New York and actively recruit minority students.  Black boys.

By the early 1960’s, Dalton’s star had lost some of its luster.  Among New York’s super-elite schools, it was no longer King of the hill.  In just four years – from 1960 to 1964 – Dalton had gone through four headmasters.  Dalton parents were unhappy, and the board of trustees was in full-on panic mode.  And so the Dalton trustees and brand new headmaster, Donald Barr (father of the former Attorney General), committed themselves and their school to a radical course of actions that would not merely embrace change, but would attempt to shape that change into a better, more progressive, more inclusive and more diverse future for the school. 

“Place Of Privilege” tells what happened to the black boys placed into this strange new world, without any support system, without any rules of engagement.  The sudden presence of this small group of black boys began to change Dalton forever. 

And now, 50 years later, we talk to Dalton’s most recent minority alums to find out if the elite private school landscape changed from 50 years ago.  We ask if the drive for diversity and inclusion made things any better.

“Place Of Privilege” tells the stories of these students; how Dalton changed their lives, and how their lives changed Dalton.  Written by two of the young black men with very different backgrounds (Mark Robinson and Ray Smaltz) who were among the new and very different members of the Dalton family during this historic time.  Among the stories and secrets unearthed as part of the research for this book were revelations about how Mark’s own family history is – incredibly – inextricably intertwined with the history of Dalton.  “Place Of Privilege” provides the remarkable narrative of the pathfinder courses their lives would take, as well as the story of what happens when you are young, black and in an unexpected place of privilege.

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Place Of Privilege

Young, Black, and in an unexpected place of privilege
 
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Mark Robinson

has spent the past 40+ years in advertising at some of the industry’s most prestigious agencies.  Mark has been featured in Fortune magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Advertising Age. 

Mark is a past member of the American Advertising Federation’s Multicultural Marketing Leadership Council, a national touring lecturer for the American Educational Foundation, and an ongoing mentor for MAIP (Minority Advertising Internship Program) for the American Association of Advertising Agencies. 

Mark was chosen by filmmaker Spike Lee to co-found and manage his new agency, Spike/DDB.  In 1998, Mark launched Heritage Apparel, an internet-based clothing company that celebrated African American history and heroes.  In 2001, he was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year for the successful launch of his next company, S/R Communications Alliance; the first 100% minority-owned network of 10 multicultural advertising companies, with combined business of $225 million. 

Mark was nominated for the 1994 Connecticut Human Rights Award for his community service and work in multicultural education.  In 2000, Mark was appointed by the Governor to serve on the State’s Martin Luther King Commission.  And in 2009, he was chosen by the State of Connecticut to receive the Martin Luther King Leadership Award.

Mark lives in Connecticut and is a highly sought after strategist and advisor to various political campaigns and community organizations. 

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Raymond B Smaltz III

has traveled the globe producing, directing & replay directing major sporting events for most of the various broadcast and cable networks.  Ray’s production company, RaySun Productions, has worked with every major professional sports producer and broadcaster, including the NFL on FOX; the National Football League of Europe (highlighted by three nationally televised World Bowls); ESPN Championship Week College Basketball; the Foot Locker Track & Field Series on CBS; amateur events such as the Pan American Games on Telemundo; a total of twelve Winter and Summer Olympic Games; combat sports such as EliteXC, Metamoris 5 and Strikeforce MMA; and professional boxing for EpixHD Boxing, ESPN Boxing, HBO Boxing and Showtime Championship Boxing, featuring the highest grossing pay-per-view boxing event in history - Mayweather vs. Pacquaio.

During his thirty-plus years in sports television, Ray has garnered four Emmy Awards; 1988, 1992, 2002 & 2004 for “Best Live & Edited” Olympic coverage, three Telly Awards in 1993 and 1996 for “Best Music Video” & “Best Production & Graphics for the Foot Locker In-Store Video,” the prestigious Olympic Golden Rings Award (Silver Rings) in 1996 from the International Olympic Committee for “Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting - Weightlifting,” and a NATAS Award in 2005 for his production of Seattle Seahawks Pre-Season Football.

Ray currently resides in Orange County, New York with his wife, Teri Williams Smaltz.

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REVIEWS & PRAISE

“FORTHRIGHT AND HEARTFELT, RICH WITH ERUDITION ALONG WITH HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND PERSPECTIVE, PLACE OF PRIVILEGE MAKES A VITAL CONTRIBUTION TO UNDERSTANDING OUR TROUBLED PRESENT AND OUR CHALLENGING PAST. FOR TODAY’S STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS, IT’S AN INVALUABLE GUIDE"

CHRIS CONNELLY / ESPN & ABC NEWS / DALTON '74

Amazon Reviews

Mark Robinson and Ray Smaltz, have written a very personal yet deeply researched and insightful memoir.  Place of Privilege: Young, Black and in an Unexpected Place of Privilege provides a riveting coming of age story of two African American males who land in a parallel universe.

Read it.

Privileged

July 5, 2021

 

 

I began reading Place of Privilege on Saturday afternoon and couldn't put it down! At around 6 pm a house-guest arrived. While I was having a great time chatting with her, the book was so engaging I found myself wanting to wrap up the night so I could get back to the book. And I did. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night until I finished it.

It was a raw, honest, and informative glimpse into the lives of two men whose privilege came at a price -- a price that is often not understood or acknowledged by society. It also very eloquently demonstrates the realities of institutional racism in very real terms - it's not theoretical; there is not an overuse of buzz words; there are just very clear examples through their lived experience.

Mark and Raymond also do an excellent job of pointing out where Dalton went wrong -- and continues to go wrong - while at the same time recognizing the tremendous blessing the school was in their lives. In the polarized world that we live in it's rare to find an analysis that is both positive and constructive, loving and critical and honest yet hopeful. Mark and Raymond manage to present this complex reality in very real terms.

This is a book that will make you think and grow as a person. I highly recommend it!

 

Kimberly Callinan Taylor

July 9, 2021

 

 

 

I highly recommend *Place of Privilege*.   Smoothly readable, with strongly felt personal stories and good historical background.

Carole

July 12, 2021

 


What struck me most about the book is how much I “got it” in my gut... a testament to how well the authors bring to life the deep (universal) emotions they felt as they describe their experiences. The whole time I was reading Place of Privilege, those emotions were palpable; Smaltz and Robinson have writing styles that are at once conversational and educational. (Think very well-researched primary source for a hip, balanced American studies curriculum).

Anyone who has ever felt othered, ostracized, or like an outsider will empathize with the myriad of emotions they felt as they navigated the world that was Dalton. My gut read this book as much as my intellect did. And, I couldn’t put it down.

A modern day tale of two cities, Smaltz and Robinson take us on their journeys from Harlem and Queens to the tony, white, upper-east side of Manhattan wherein lies The Dalton School.

Their stories made me laugh, cry, get angry, and wonder.  How in the world did they handle themselves with such grace and wisdom when they were so young? How can they tell their stories with so much compassion for people that wronged them? How can they reflect with so much objectivity AND kindness?

There is so much to learn from this book if you’re a student, an educator, a parent. And, it’s such an enjoyable read. Instructive, entertaining, relatable...my kind of book.

Particular Fuss Pot

July 12, 2021

 

 

 

“Place of Privilege" is a fascinating look at an unusual event in American educational, social and racial history: The pioneering arrival  in the late 1960s of  African-American boys at one of the most prestigious private schools in the nation. These talented Black students from struggling families of modest incomes suddenly entered a world of the wealthy and privileged — and white. 

 

Thanks to the bright, crisp, lively writing of the two authors, there’s not a boring page as they describe their experiences  and feelings during what clearly was a trying, stressful career at Dalton. What makes the book even better is the fact that its publication seems to be helping the school recognize its shortcomings in educating — and particularly, supporting — its minority students.

 

"Place of Privilege” is a must read for Americans who need to understand the arduous journey of integrating into an often unwelcoming White privileged world.

Jack Sanders (author & newspaper editor)

August 21, 2021

 

Netflix and the Obamas, please take note. This book is fated to become a classic series or film.

Holly

July 15, 2021

“THIS IS A REALLY GOOD BOOK."

LILY ROBINSON / BEST DAUGHTER EVER / EVER EVER

 
 

WHERE TO BUY

Place of Privilege is now on sale everywhere you buy books