There are two strikes against a large number of urban children who have to rely on the public school system to receive an education. Strike one is being black. Strike two is being on the lower end of the socioeconomic totem pole.
However, some educators, particularly those who work in America’s inner-city public school districts covertly teach black students that there is a way around the natural strikes society already has stacked against them. The message in these unwritten rules, which are designed to help black children transcend their disadvantages is very simple.
Assimilation is at the center of the teachings in these unwritten rules. Here’s the recipe for success. If you’re a poor black student, you’ll get ahead regardless of the cards stacked against you if you avoid “ethnic hairstyles,” refrain from “dressing urban,” and stop “talking black.”
But the narrative that guides the opposition to this mindset of assimilation is hinged on the notion that disavowing any kind of cultural identity is a very dangerous path for black children to follow. The Washington Post has been on a roll with some of the articles that have been published recently in its education column.
Valerie Strauss, a columnist for The Post wrote an article that was published today, which covered an essay written by Joseph N. Cook, a black English professor at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tennessee. Cook’s essay was originally published on the website of Teaching Tolerance, a project sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The mission of Teaching Tolerance is aimed at preventing prejudice and creating cultures of equality in America’s school systems. Cook’s essay (which was republished by The Post with permission) points out the dangers of creating an inferiority complex in black students.
“Black students are held under a hypercritical lens,” Cook writes. “This results in a black student population who feel restricted, policed and regarded as potential problems — rather than as students with potential,” he continues.
Encouraging black students to assimilate a culture other than their own makes them feel that who they are naturally is not good enough. We don’t have to look very far to see what happens when the mentality of automatic inferiority sets in for black children. These children eventually grow up to be self-resenting adults that abuse and abandon their communities.