Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Personal Best: The case for colorblindness in the age of genetics

By William Saletan
Posted Tuesday, May 5, 2009, at 9:11 AM ET

John McWhorter has attacked me.

Well, not really. He has actually written a very polite spanking of me in his blog at the New Republic. But I like to think of it as an attack, because coming from McWhorter, there's no higher compliment. I remember watching him give a talk on C-SPAN years ago. The subject was black underachievement and its politically correct apologists. It was like one of those action-movie scenes where the hero takes on 50 guys in hand-to-hand combat. He was fearless and funny and brutally incisive.

McWhorter believes in holding people to high standards. He despises excuse-making and wallowing in victimhood. I'm a huge fan of his argument and his attitude. As a prescription for underachievers, I think it's both the best medicine and the highest form of respect.

Read more HERE.


Anonymous said...

Saletan is brave to address this. He's right though, if government agencies focus on race disparities then research into hereditary causes becomes unavoidable.

LegalBeaglette said...

I agree with both McWhorter and Saletan that holding people (to include students) to high standards is “the best medicine and the highest form of respect.” I was educated in public schools after segregation practices had ended, and I have often thought that the tracking of educational achievement by race was wrong-headed. My fellow students were…my fellow students. Hair color, eye color, skin color were differences, but not differences that defined how well anyone was going to do on the spelling or math (or any other) tests we took.

I recall that a speaker at one of the BoE public forums this year pointedly told the Board that the scores of minority students on AP exams in the county were completely unacceptable, and that it was the Board’s responsibility to address that. How, exactly? Are these “minority” students to whom he referred provided a different education (K-12) than the “non-minority” students? Should they be? (If so, why? And in what ways?) It’s one thing to point at what one perceives as a problem, entirely another to define it in substantive terms and propose solutions.

When I read Saletan’s article, my initial reaction was that it would be absurd to think that anyone would propose looking at genetic bases (based on skin color) to explain achievement disparities. It strikes at the heart of what I’ve always believed about the human beings with whom I walk this planet. Having read the associated articles, I’m now not so sure.