October 19th, 2000

'Radio Vault' Podcast - Are Blacks 'Losing the Race'?

( Click here to download the podcast )

Professor John McWhorter makes the assertion that the primary cause of the achievement gap between African Americans and Whites is an anti-academic ethos that pervades African American culture.

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As a white teacher in middle school, I see my black students selling themselves short, particularly the boys. Some of them think it’s cool not to do homework or study. It seems no matter how much I pep-talk them into being academic, it makes no difference. One boy was severely near-sighted, but refused to bring or wear his glasses at school. He could barely see, but refused the glasses because he didn’t want to look nerdy. I had to copy everything that was written on the board on paper for him to see at his desk.
One thing you mentioned in your interview that was surprising is that class and parental education does not affect black students’ performance in significant ways. One black boy in my class had a father who was an assistant principal with advanced degrees. The child performed marginally in school much to his parents’ annoyance. Black teachers seem to have the same situation in their classrooms. Thank you for addressing this somewhat sensitive topic. It needs to be investigated further so that schools and communities can offer solutions to help our young black children achieve.




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