We love to hear over and over again especially in academia about how America is a nation of searing racism where the entire system is set by whites to keep blacks. Institutional racism is just the norm in America we are told where blacks are never given a chance and have to do twice as well for half the credit. The following account by a teacher highlights the reality that our educational institutions-like most of America-actually go out of their way to help blacks and look the other way when they underperform. This has created a generation of blacks who grow up with a sense of entitlement and expect to be given special treatment-the kind of treatment what is much less available to whites. There is racism in America but it is against whites. So many whites, have internalized fear and quilt, routinely go out of their way to favor blacks, in a way that they would never dream of doing with their racial compatriots. Read the text below:
Before I taught college, I taught at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, CA. I had one student who had a basketball scholarship to UC Berkeley, dependent upon getting a C average her senior year. She was failing my algebra course. We brought her parents in. Her dad told me to give her a C no matter how well she did in my course, because she was the first person in their family to get into college. I told her parents that grades did not work that way, and that she could get free tutoring before or after school, but that she had to pass my course on her own merits. She missed the midterm exam, and her mother called the next day to tell me that her daughter missed the midterm because the daughter was getting her hair braided that day. I told her that she should take the money budgeted to the hair braider and spend it on a private tutor. The parents filed a complaint against me and I was reprimanded for that suggestion as “culturally insensitive”. She was a bright, likable girl, and very popular. She had played basketball overseas in youth tournaments, and was a great player. As it became clear she might not pass the class, I had students and other teachers pressuring me to pass her regardless of her grade. I graded her final exam five times, each time being more generous, trying to give her enough partial credit to pass. I was able to work her grade on the exam up to 58%. I gave her an F and she lost her Berkeley scholarship. It still breaks my heart to hear her sobs when I told her. I still think I did the right thing.
The common denominator in all of these cases is an assumption the students had that education consists of indulgences bestowed upon the student by a more socially privileged teacher or administrator who pities them. These students were uniformly astonished when other considerations, such as merit, trumped pity. When we lower the bar of merit to admit the underprivileged, the message we send is that merit does not apply to them. Then we fail them by failing to disabuse them of this assumption.