Trayvon Martin Foundation Must Reject Profiling of Students

by Christopher Paslay

Speaking out against profiling should include the hypocrisy of affirmative action against American students.

In March of 2012, the Trayvon Martin Foundation was established in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.  A Florida-based non-profit organization, one of the Foundation’s major goals is “increasing public awareness against all forms of profiling.”

According to its website:

The Trayvon Martin Foundation will use resources and tools to bring social awareness to similar cases.  In this decade, we are still fighting some of the same issues that prompted the Civil Rights Movement as it pertains to injustice and racism.

Although Daryl Parks, the Martin family attorney, stated that George Zimmerman’s murder trail was not about racial profiling (despite that fact prosecutors insinuated otherwise), the non-profit foundation named after Trayvon clearly is.

When it comes to using race as a means to profile, America remains divided.  Conservatives tend to fight for universal colorblindness, striving to, according to Dr. King, “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  It is liberals, ironically, who are obsessed with viewing everything in society, from college admissions to academic test scores to the demographics of police and fire departments, through the lens of race, gender, and sexual orientation.

In December of 2011, I received my M.Ed. in Multicultural Education from Eastern University.  In a course titled Urban Education, we had a discussion about the concept of “colorblindness” in American society, and its ramifications.  I took the position that colorblindness was an admirable goal, and that as a society, our ultimate ambition should be to simply view people as people, not whether they are black, white, gay, straight, etc.  This, I stated, would be the highest form of tolerance and multiculturalism—looking past superficial cultural differences to the universal characteristics that join us all as human beings.

The professor used my viewpoint as a springboard into a lesson on social justice.  “Colorblindness,” she told the class, “is a code word for white supremacy.”  She went on to explain that striving for a colorblind society was dangerous, because when people no longer took race, gender, and sexual orientation into account, society would revert back to a culture dominated by the White Western Establishment.  It was our duty as good citizens, she surmised, to be cognizant of other’s differences, so we could not only celebrate them, but make sure they were equally represented.  In other words, colorblindness ran counter to social justice.

It is liberals, not conservatives, who are obsessed with profiling.  Affirmative action, a policy that dictates we must look at a person’s race, gender, and sexual orientation when making decisions about employment, education, and the dolling out of government contracts to businesses, is a prime example.  Amazingly, as the liberal establishment deceptively spins the Trayvon Martin tragedy into a lesson against racial profiling, they have no problem with the fact that the University of Texas at Austin profiled Abigail Fisher, a white woman who insists she was denied admittance into the school because of her race.  Liberals also appear unmoved by affirmative action policies that keep many deserving Asian American students out of the nation’s top universities simply because too many of them are highly qualified.

According to an article in the New York Times headlined “Asian Americans in the Argument”:

“If you look at the Ivy League, you will find that Asian-Americans never get to 20 percent of the class,” said Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission” and editor at large for Bloomberg News. “The schools semiconsciously say to themselves, ‘We can’t have all Asians.’ ” Mr. Golden says it is helpful to think of Asians as the new Jews because some rules of college admissions, like geographic diversity, were originally aimed at preventing the number of Jews from growing too high.

Just like Obama’s enforcement of his own health care law, liberals’ outrage over profiling is situational.

For example, it appears okay to profile a person when it comes to public education.  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights conducted a report that surveyed 72,000 schools serving 85% of the nation’s students.  The report used race and gender to profile the differences between students on a wide range of issues including discipline, work readiness, school finance, and dropout rates.  In addition, No Child Left Behind uses race, native language, and socioeconomic status to profile the results of student achievement on standardized tests and to rate the overall quality of teachers and schools.

It also appears okay to profile when it comes to awarding government contracts to small businesses (especially minority owned), and when it comes to hiring and firing police, teachers, fire fighters, and any kind of state or government worker.  It appears okay to profile when it comes to processing a non-profit organization’s request for tax exempt status; or when hiring coaches in the NFL; or when awarding Oscars for Best Actor; or when requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice get involved in charging a person with second degree murder in a shooting that was deemed by local authorities to be self defense.

It’s not okay, however, to profile a person to protect your own neighborhood and family.  If there have been documented burglaries in your neighborhood by people of specific races, wearing specific clothing, and a person of that very race, clad in that very clothing, is wandering around suspiciously in the rain after dark, a community appointed neighborhood watch captain cannot stop and observe this person.  That is profiling of the unacceptable kind (as is instructing that person wandering around in the rain not to dress in specific clothing that may very well provoke misunderstandings with authority).  Better for that neighborhood watch person to go about his business and look the other way.  Better to let 100 suspicious-acting folks wandering in the rain after dark break into your house (and continue to dress in a style of clothing with suspicious connotations) than accost one innocent person.

I have no qualms with the Trayvon Martin Foundation “increasing public awareness against all forms of profiling.”  So long as “all” really means all, including profiling of the progressive liberal variety.

Advertisements

Why Not Close Philly Schools by Lottery?

by Christopher Paslay

To keep things “fair” and “equitable,” School District officials should shutter schools by pulling names from a hat. 

The Philadelphia School District is planning to close 37 city schools by next fall.  This move has caused many in the community—from City Council to advocacy groups like Action United—to question the fairness of the decision.  A disproportionate number of minority children and neighborhoods will be affected by the closings, prompting the U.S. Department of Education to launch an investigation into possible civil rights violations.

Reverend Alyn Waller, the pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Northwest Philadelphia, recently joined the conversation about the school closings.  “I am not in favor of school closings without merit and without data to support such a drastic decision,” he said.

Waller’s choice of words, in particular, merit—is curious.  Since when does “merit” factor into the Philadelphia School District’s decisions?  Since when do things like work ethic, initiative, organization, motivation, prioritization, awareness, resourcefulness and the like factor into School District policy?  In fact, the concept of merit runs counter to school equity in general and social justice in particular; a meritocracy is often viewed as a system that advances the “privileged” on the backs of the “less fortunate,” allowing the poor and disenfranchised to slip through the cracks and fall further behind.

Take the controversy over the admissions to the Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia, for example.  Last month, because of the school’s reputation for success, nearly six-dozen people lined up outside the school in the winter cold hoping to reserve a spot for their son or daughter in Penn Alexander’s coveted September kindergarten class.

According to the Notebook:

By Friday afternoon, 68 people were lined up outside the school in freezing weather, hoping for one of the 72 kindergarten seats. The first parent arrived early Friday morning, setting off a scramble. Registration starts Tuesday morning and was on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What did these 68 people have in common, besides the fact that they desperately wanted to get their child into the Penn Alexander School?  Obviously, they all prioritized education and felt that waiting in line in cold weather for days was more important than doing anything else.  They also showed initiative, were organized, motivated, and resourceful.  But to School District officials, this meant absolutely nothing.

After parents, friends, and relatives of the hopeful kindergarten children had already dedicated many, many hours of their time camping out in the cold, the School District decided to change the protocol for admissions and make the application process a lottery, to be held in April.  The School District’ reasoning: so it could be fair.  Apparently, not all the parents, friends and relatives of the kindergarten hopefuls in Penn Alexander’s catchment area had the means and opportunity to camp out in front of the school.  Some had to go to work (although this line was forming mostly over the long MLK weekend), and others simply didn’t have the resources to stand in the line.

Now, let’s examine this situation more closely and focus on the concepts of both “fairness” and “merit.”  First, fairness.  How fair was it to the people camped out in the cold for days that their chances of securing a spot for their child were no better than those who didn’t camp out for a spot?  Was that fair to them?

Now, merit.  Which individuals had more merit? The parents who were motivated, organized, and resourceful enough to camp out in the cold, or those who didn’t show up at all?  Those who made getting into Penn Alexander a priority, or those who didn’t?  Which parents will better serve as a driving engine of the school and better support its mission and the educations of all the children?

Social justice advocates will claim that just because certain parents didn’t show up and camp out in the cold doesn’t mean they lacked motivation, organization, work ethic, etc.  These no-show parents, some of whom may have been disabled, some of whom may have been single moms or dads working not one but two jobs . . . it’s always two jobs, despite the high numbers of disability claims in Philadelphia and unemployment numbers . . . these no-show parents may have been just as focused on getting their child into the school than the parents of those who had the opportunity to wait in the line.

To this argument I say balderdash.  In order to be a true stakeholder in something you need to make an investment.  Just because you breathe, just because you have a pulse doesn’t make you entitled to something.  Sure, maybe some parents did have to work a job (or two) and couldn’t wait in line, but some also didn’t care, or had other priorities.  Why should those who camped out be punished?  Is this the School District’s idea of fairness?

There is another issue at stake here, and it is called incentive.  If those parents who were organized, motivated, and resourceful enough to camp out in the cold are treated just the same as those who didn’t show up at all, what kind of behavior is this incentivizing?  Organization, motivation, and resourcefulness?  I doubt it.  It’s called dropping the standards to the lowest common denominator.  AKA: making everyone the same for the sake of making everyone the same.

The School District takes this same approach when it comes to discipline.  Last summer, they eased-up on the student code of conduct, making it harder for administrators to suspend and expel wayward and unruly students.  Now more than ever the rights of the violent few are more important than the rights of the hardworking many.  Is this fair?  Based on merit?  And what kind of behavior is this incentivizing for the kids?

The same thing is happening in academics.  Non-gifted, non-advanced placement students are being forced into gifted and advanced placement courses for the simple sake of “equity” and “fairness,” taking valuable resources away from those students who are there because of merit—dedication, organization, work ethic, and natural talent.  Is this “fair”?

Is it fair that Asian American students’ SAT scores, which are the highest of all races, are discounted on college applications just to give minorities a better chance at admission?  Is this based on merit?

Reverend Alyn Waller’s use of the word “merit” in regard to the School District’s proposed school closings is interesting indeed.  Too little in education today involves merit, not just in Philadelphia, but across the nation.  With this said, the Philadelphia School District should consider using the same process it did with the Penn Alexander School when it comes to the dilemma of closing 37 schools next fall: it should go to a lottery.

Dr. Hite should simply embrace the social justice mentality lock, stock, and barrel and just put every single school in the city into a hat—Masterman and Central included—and start pulling names.  The first 37 schools that get drawn get shuttered, plain and simple.  White neighborhoods and Black neighborhoods and schools in the Northeast as well as the Southwest would have an equal opportunity to get cleared-out and sold.

This might not be Reverend Alyn Waller’s idea of merit, but it would sure be “fair,” and fairness is right up the Philadelphia School District’s alley.

Obama Demands Race-Based School Discipline

In plain English, if different races have different incidences of disciplinary action, those of a favored race who act worse will be punished less, or those of a disfavored race who act better will be punished more, or both.

President Barack Obama recently signed an executive order hiring race-sensitive bureaucrats to hold meetings and mandate racial discipline quotas.

The order charges his new racial justice team, in part, with “promoting a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools.”  In plain English, that means that if different races have different incidences of disciplinary action, those of a favored race who act worse will be punished less, or those of a disfavored race who act better will be punished more, or both.

It’s true that a higher percentage of black students than white students receive school discipline such as suspensions or expulsion.  A recent, representative study of nearly half the country’s school districts found that 17.3 percent of black students were suspended in 2009-10, whereas 4.7 percent of whites and 7.3 percent of Latinos were.  Only 2.1 percent of Asians were suspended that year.  The black graduation rate is 64 percent.  For whites, it’s 82 percent, and for Asians, it’s 92 percent.

Given these and similar statistics on practically every measure of academic success and self-discipline, the president wants to require schools to punish equal proportions of white and black students, regardless of how individual students behave.  That will mean overlooking infractions by black students or punishing more white students for pettier infractions.

Punishing students differently based on skin color — that’s not racist? . . .

This is an excerpt from an article published today on American Thinker called “Obama Demands Race-Based School Discipline” by Joy Pullmann.  Pullmann is managing editor of School Reform News and a research fellow in education at The Heartland Institute.  To read the entire article, please click here.

Commenter Calls ‘Academic Excellence’ Article Racist

by Christopher Paslay

On July 28th I posted an article here on Chalk and Talk titled, “Obsession with Race is Killing Academic Excellence.”  The following day a commenter with the username philaken lambasted me for being a racist.  Here is philaken’s post (errors included):

What a racist article! Mr. Pasley, are you part of the right-wing campaign to institute a New Reconstruction to roll back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement? After the Civil War, Reconstruction instituted Jim Crow segregation which for some African-Americans was as bad as slavery and resulted in a hundred years of misery for several generations of African Americans. At no time in American history has there been social policies to ameliorate the consequences of centuries of slavery, quite the opposite.

I agree with you that the Obama administrations “White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans” is wrong because it is based on identity politics. History shows, such as the current corruption scandals in some ethnically based charter schools, that this is a course fraught with abuse. There should be programs directed at all low income schools (regardless of ethnicity) to overcome the affects of poverty.

However, the conclusions your draw can only be characterized as racist. Do you, Mr. Pasley, believe that people of African descent are intellectually and socially inferior to people of European descent? This is the implication all through your article. If you do not believe this than you must look to the social causes which lead to the deficit in achievement for many African-American students. This is not an excuse for low achievement, it is a diagnosis.

I was taken aback by your article immediately previous to this one. In it you state, “If CNS truly wants to campaign for nonviolent schools, they should start by demanding that all the hooligans, bullies and thugs stop destroying the system, and fight to promote character and traditional core values among their own peers and classmates.” “hooligans, bullies and thugs”? Students are not born with social and emotional problems, they develop under specific social circumstances. This is the language meant to dehumanize and place individuals outside the human family. It is language that always precedes pogroms and genocide. Governor Corbett is onboard with this mentality. In last year’s budget he cut education funding by $1 billion (the largest cuts being made in low income districts), while increasing the prison budget by $700 million (including three new privately owned, for profit prisons).

Everyone must be held accountable for their actions. However, to ignore the social context of actions, and oppose economic policies which address the gross inequality in our society, is to return to a form of barbarism akin to the serfdom of the Middle Ages.

I urge you to view the program “Confronting the Contradictions of America’s Past” on Bill Moyers & Company to consider these issues.

Here is my response to philaken:

First, I’d like to thank you for your lengthy six paragraph response.  It is a classic example of an ad hominem logical fallacy, and I’m planning on using your comments along with my original post in my 11th grade English class this fall when I teach persuasive writing/propaganda techniques (I’ll be sure to give you full credit). 

The dead giveaway that your argument is an example of an ad hominem attack is your name calling in the opening line of your post when you say my article is “racist.”  The first thing I teach my students is that name calling is a sure fire sign of a weak argument, and to stay away from employing such a technique in their writing; those who respect the open discussion of ideas are never reduced to calling people names just because they don’t agree with them. 

According to dictionary.com, ad hominem is “1.—appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason; 2—attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.” 

I’ll refrain from calling you names and attacking your character as a sign of goodwill between us, and stick to the actual claims made in your argument.  You ask me “are you part of the right-wing campaign to institute a New Reconstruction to roll back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement?”  I’m not sure how calling for freedom and equality for all students, regardless of race or ethnic background, is rolling back the gains of the Civil Rights movement.  I believe deeply in the principles contained in MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. 

I advocate for colorblindness in our society, and I believe our country (as well as our education system) needs to focus more on the things that make everyone the same and stop dwelling on the differences and playing, as you say, “identity politics.” 

Next, your question: “Do you, Mr. Pasley, believe that people of African descent are intellectually and socially inferior to people of European descent? This is the implication all through your article.”  I have a question for you:  do YOU believe this?  There is something quite telling in your question, and the way you chose to interpret my article.  Where is the evidence that my article implies such a thing?  (Or is this simply an issue you are wrestling with?) 

As for my use of the words “hooligans,” “bullies,” and “thugs”: I’ve been teaching in the Philadelphia School District for 15 years.  I’ve mentored, coached, and tutored thousands of young people from every race and ethnic background under the sun.  I’ve interacted with hundreds of parents.  And when students misbehave and disrespect themselves and their peers, I will call them on it.  When students steal, bully, assault, rape, or otherwise rob their hardworking classmates of their right to learn, I will address this situation head on.  I will call them hooligans, bullies, and thugs, because that is the behavior they are displaying.  You state, “Students are not born with social and emotional problems, they develop under specific social circumstances. This is the language meant to dehumanize and place individuals outside the human family. It is language that always precedes pogroms and genocide.” 

“Pogroms and genocide”?  Spare me the hyperbole and hokey appeals to emotions (propaganda instance #2).  I teach inner-city teenagers for a living, and I will do what I need to do to protect my students’ rights to an education.           

Again, I’m not sure how advocating for equal treatment for all students is Jim Crow.  I’m not sure how suggesting that children in the 21st century should not be held accountable for the sins of their ancestors is “racist.”  I’m not sure how highlighting that there is a difference between equal opportunity and equal achievement is an attack on civil rights. 

I believe that all students should be treated as students—regardless of race—and that they should be rewarded on the basis of individual merit.  You seem to believe that certain children of certain races need special treatment to assure that they can hold their own in society and school.  (Who believes children of African descent are inferior to children of European descent?)  

You state, “to ignore the social context of actions, and oppose economic policies which address the gross inequality in our society, is to return to a form of barbarism akin to the serfdom of the Middle Ages.” 

“Barbarism and serfdom”?  I know, more of your hyperbole and cute appeals to emotion (propaganda instance #3).  Again, I teach real children in a real urban school and am too involved in their lives and educations to manufacture such fantastic analogies. 

No student deserves to be bound by the past, and I will continue to fight for freedom and healthy academic competition.  I urge you to listen to the views of Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, an African American who is now a US Rep. from Florida’s 22nd congressional district.

–Christopher Paslay

 

Which Students Deserve Amnesty? Only Obama Gets to Decide

by Christopher Paslay

Obama himself–not Congress or the people–will decide which students should be held responsible for the crimes of their parents.   

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.  It has also been home to slave masters, segregationists, and illegal aliens who’ve crossed the border or over-stayed their visas.  These sinners and rule breakers have given birth to children–some in the United States, some on foreign soil.  Many of these children are now students in American schools.  Which should be granted amnesty and which deserve a penalty?

This is a decision best left up to the president–at least in the mind of Barack Obama.

Let’s start with granting amnesty to America’s undocumented residents. President Obama’s recent executive decision to override Congress and implement parts of the DREAM Act–granting immunity to an estimated 800,000 illegal aliens residing in the United States–is a case of the president deciding that certain students should not be held responsible for the crimes of their parents.  In other words, youths brought to America illegally by their parents shouldn’t be forced to leave the country.

President Obama stated this in his June 15th speech on immigration policy:

Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life, studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class, only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.

That’s what gave rise to the DREAM Act. It says that if your parents brought you here as a child, you’ve been here for five years and you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, you can one day earn your citizenship. . . .

(The DREAM Act does make a lot of sense and has received some bipartisan support . . . a version of it was actually introduced by George W. Bush . . . unless of course you are one of the thousands of legal immigrants following the law and patiently waiting your turn to become a citizen.)

On the other hand, President Obama’s support of Affirmative Action–a policy that uses skin color to decide which students get into which schools and receive preferential treatment–is a case of the president deciding that certain students should be held responsible for their ancestors’ past crimes.

Jason Kissner, associate professor of Criminology at California State University, Fresno, said it best:

Why should today’s White youth be held accountable, via affirmative action measures, for Jim Crow laws?  Why should they be accountable, via affirmative action measures, for the enslavement perpetrated not by their parents but by people who acted several generations ago?

How about today’s Asian youth?  Why on God’s green earth are they forced to limp around with the lead ball of affirmative action lashed to their ankles?

And what, exactly, is the justification for extending affirmative action to Hispanics anyway?

Also, has anyone inquired whether the beneficiaries of Mr. Obama’s immigration pronouncement are now lawfully entitled (which, given Mr. Obama’s proclivities, is admittedly not the same as asking whether they will in fact receive) dispensations such as affirmative action small business loans?

Can anyone at all explain how it makes sense to distribute government benefits, on the basis of “innocence,” to those whom all parties admit are unlawfully here and then discriminate–in spite of innocence–against those whom all parties must admit are lawfully here?

The most interesting part of this all is that President Obama himself–not Congress, not the people–gets to decide who gets amnesty and who gets a penalty.  Despite the fact that Congress shot down the DREAM Act, the president recently used an executive order to implement portions of it anyway.  Many Americans believe that this was an overreach of presidential power.  In fact, President Obama thought so himself.

In March of 2011, the president clearly stated that he could not stop deportations of undocumented students through an executive order when he addressed a town hall forum hosted by the spanish speaking network Univision.

With respect to the notion that I could suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know we have three branches of government. Congresses passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws and then the judiciary has to interpret the law. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system, that for me through simply an executive order ignore those mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

Last month, the president ignored his own best judgement, overrode Congress and gave amnesty to nearly one million unlawful aliens anyway.

As for the hard working American students being penalized for their ancestor’s sins via affirmative action?  The president has offered no such amnesty to these children.

Apparently, these students and their parents will have to hope that President Obama wakes up on the right side of the bed one day and changes his mind.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (part two)

by Christopher Paslay

  

After reading the second half of Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? I would like to commend her for having the courage to bring the issues of race and racism in America to light.  There are those who believe talking about race can only cause more frustration and serve to polarize the races even further, but I agree with Tatum when she says that there is a psychological cost of silence.  “As a society, we pay a price for our silence.  Unchallenged personal, cultural and institutional racism results in the loss of human potential, lowered productivity, and a rising tide of fear and violence in our society.”

         

I agree wholeheartedly.  No topic in America should be taboo, especially the topic of race.  Communication is the best way to promote understanding and solve problems non-violently.  Tatum’s book is a powerful (although extreme) tool for challenging racism in America.  It’s a radical wrecking-ball crashing through traditional thinking, forcing everyone who reads it to reexamine the way they view race relations in the United States.

         

However, this doesn’t mean we should embrace all of its ideas and accept them at face value.  There are many concepts in Tatum’s book that are off-base and oversimplified—points that come from a worldview that is limited in scope and perspective. 

         

For example, in Part III of her book, Tatum presumes to tell us all how to understand “Whiteness in a White Context”.  If I recall correctly, isn’t Tatum black?  Then how exactly does she have the life experiences and credentials to write about the thoughts, perceptions, prejudices and inner-struggles of white Americans?  Because she’s taught at SpelmanCollege, a historically black liberal arts college for women in AtlantaGeorgia?  Because she’s held workshops and roundtables on racism with white liberal college students?  Because she’s interviewed “angry white men” and can now understand the psyche of those white Americans who disagree with her ideas and politics? 

         

Tatum has misrepresented whites in several areas.  Because whites are supposedly the “unexamined norm” of society, she claims they “can easily reach adulthood without thinking much about their racial group.”  She also states they “tend to think of racial identity as something that other people have, not something that is salient for them.” 

         

I can see how Tatum might have arrived at this misconception.  During her workshops on race, it’s quite possible that many of her liberal white college participants were so guilty about being white, they hesitated to mention it as part of their identity.  This seems to be an offshoot of our politically correct culture: when it comes to discussions on race, being white is synonymous with being the bad guy. 

         

The reality is, many white people do think about their racial group and identity.  We are not permitted to come out and celebrate being white (unless you want to be associated with the KKK), but we are proud of our heritage.  Think about it.  How many whites do you know—young and old—who wave the Irish flag (St. Patrick’s Day; Irish American Heritage Night at Citizen’s BankPark)?  How many whites are proud of being Italian (ever see the T-shirt that says, Italians do it better)?  How about the Greeks?  And the Poles?  And the Jews?   

         

Tatum also misrepresents whites when it comes to Affirmative Action.  She claims that white folks who believe in Affirmative Action are healthy with a positive self identity, and those who disagree with it are confused and suffering from something she calls “aversion racism”.  Tatum defines aversion racism as “an attitudinal adaptation resulting from an assimilation of an egalitarian value system with prejudice and racist beliefs”.  In other words, if you don’t believe in a system that awards jobs, contracts and college admissions to people based on skin color, you are a racist who is “breathing the smog of racial biases and stereotypes pervading the popular culture.”

         

I’ve been teaching racially diverse students in the PhiladelphiaSchool District for 12 years.  I’ve worked for the Philadelphia Youth Network for six summers, spending time with students on playgrounds in Southwest Philadelphia, in basements of churches in North Philadelphia, and in rec centers in a dozen other parts of the city.  I am fair, open-minded, and compassionate.  But because I don’t agree with Affirmative Action, Tatum presumes I’m a racist (although I’m white and would already be a racist by default, according to her philosophies). 

           

“When the dominant identity of Whiteness goes unexamined, racial privilege also goes unacknowledged,” Tatum says.  “Instead, the achievements that unearned privilege make more attainable are seen as just reward for one’s own efforts.” 

         

Nothing exemplifies the hypocritical nature of Tatum’s reasoning more than this statement.  Tatum insists whites are privileged, and therefore given preferential treatment (and because whites haven’t examined their “Privilege,” they falsely believe that what they’ve been given is based solely on merit).  At the same time, Tatum’s an advocate of Affirmative Action, a system that gives preferential treatment to people because of their race (people who falsely believe that what they’ve been given is based solely on merit).    

         

Do you see the double-standard here?

         

Although Tatum’s book is radical in its ideologies, it is a powerful way to confront racism in America.  However, I think the title is misleading.  Instead of calling the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Tatum should rename it, Giving the White Man a Taste of His Own Medicine.  This would be much more accurate and honest.  

 

Christopher Paslay is a Philadelphia schoolteacher.  His new book, The Village Proposal: Education as a Shared Responsibility, is now available from Rowman & Littlefield .  To order a copy, click here.