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Book Review:  Losing the Race: Sabotage in Black
America by John H. McWhorter. New York:  Free
Press.2000. $24.00.
Reviewed by Martha Maxwell, 10.21.2000.

While the federal government, has spent enough
money on Black education since the 1960s to
transform Zimbabwe into Brunei according to the author, Black student
achievement is still below that of whites. McWhorter,
a Black linguistics professor at UC Berkeley argues
that it's the fault of the Black culture which clings to
outmoded concepts of victimization, racism, and
anti-intellectualism to explain low achievement.
Recounting his own experiences with affirmative
action as a student at Rutgers, Stanford and as a
professor at Cornell and Berkeley, he describes how
at very young ages, Black children who do well in
school are taunted and teased by their peers for
acting like whitey or being an oreo and Black parents
do not insist that their children earn high grades in
school.

Although Affirmative Action efforts have improved  the
economic, educational and social standards of Blacks
he says that the Black culture fails to recognize these
changes and todays Black middle and upper class
students give the same reasons for their low
achievement that were used in the 60s - racism,
poverty, poor schools, even though they themselves
have not experienced these problems. Although times
have changed, the excuses remain the same.
While the truth is that the percentage of Blacks living
in poverty has dropped to less than 25%, fewer live in
ghettos, and more attend good schools. Those who
attend selective colleges are rarely from poverty
homes, yet their grades are lower than those of
whites.

He contends that although racism is not dead it
certainly is as manageable as other biases that
immigrants face -  certainly not what it was like in the
1960s.

This book will undoubtedly be considered
controversial by Black intellectuals since it bodes no
quarter in insisting that the Black culture is still
holding back the progress of Black students today.

Black separatism is still strong, he says, citing - O. J..
Simpson, Al Sharpton and Farrakhan and even Carl
Rowan's comments about former DC Mayor Barry,
Yes, he's a druggie but he's our druggie.
Examples
like this suggest that Blacks expect to be judged by
separate moral standards as well as different
standards for academic work.


McWhorter sees the cure as dropping all vestiges of
affirmative action and challenging Black students by
giving them that same opportunity to compete in
academics as everyone else.  He feels that continuing
to give Blacks an edge protects them from trying.

His solution may be easier said than done, implying as
it does that Black students need tough love, not
tolerance.

Knowing this, how will you change your approach to  working with Black=20
students?



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