Monday, June 14, 2010

Dennis Prager show and an email

I appeared on the Dennis Prager radio show the other day to talk about the new book out from Yale University Press. The interview was congenial, and I thought it went well.

Afterwards, I received this interesting email from a listener:
Mr. Buck,

Your appearance on the Dennis Prager show was an epiphany for me. I am a white female who taught in the all black high school in Petersburg, Virginia in 1969-1970. The schools were under court-ordered desegregation, but it was not implemented until the next year. I was amazed at the high skill level of the students I taught, since they had all come up through what most of us considered to be an "inferior" segregated system. I have often wondered how the enthusiasm for learning and the intelligence of the students I taught devolved into "acting white." Since I was in favor of the greater good of integrating the schools, I never thought to question the methods being used to do so. You have supplied an important piece of information. Thank you.

My students were being forced to integrate the year after I taught them. Many of them were angry about it---so angry that I took a class period to allow them to vent. One female student kept looking apologetically at me and saying, "I don't mean any disrespect to you but . . . .", and then she would launch into an angry, profanity filled diatribe about her distaste of being forced to go to school with whites.

Now I teach high school in South Central, Los Angeles. My black students for the most part are unmotivated and uninterested in school, performing well below their Latino classmates, many of whose original language is not English. I had one very promising black student in my Advanced Placement United States History class several years ago, and he was shunned by his classmates, both black and Latino, because they said he "wasn't black." He was an outsider through four years of high school.

Memories of Christian, another male black student still haunt me. He had loving and supportive parents, who came by school the first week just to get acquainted with his teachers and tell them they were very involved in Christian's education. Their commitment showed. Christian was a well-behaved young man with skills far superior to his classmates. He read at a 12th grade level (in the 10th grade) and was an excellent writer. He was in an academically enriched program Los Angeles Unified runs with the University of Southern California which would have guaranteed him a four year scholarship to U.S.C. if he had kept up his grades and done well on the SATs. Yet, within the two years I had him, I saw Christian degenerate into a "gangsta wannabe" whose main purpose in life was to emulate his unmotivated and unskilled black male classmates. His parents were horrified and did everything within their power to stop his decline, but the allure of "acting black" was no match for loving parents who lacked the funds to send their son to private school.

Again, thank you for your illuminating study. I have ordered your book and look forward to reading it.



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