Monday, June 03, 2002
HARVARD BLACK STUDIES DEPARTMENT DOES SOMETHING RIGHT?
When UC Berkeley prof. John McWhorter published his book, "Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America," which argued that contemporary black culture discourages academic excellence, his views were condemned by many on the left. But now, advocates for black children and members of Harvard's Black Studies Department, appear to be taking his thesis seriously.
Spurred by rumors that middle class black students in Boston were lying about their family income on college applications, to excuse bad grades and take advantage of affirmative action, the Rev. Eugene Rivers and his wife Jackie created the Dubois Society, a self-proclaimed academic honors society for black students. Members are assigned readings and meet once a week for academic discussions, many of which are led by faculty from Harvard's Afro-American Studies Department, which also provides classroom space and funding for the program.
While conservatives might raise a few hackles about the program's racially-centered academics, it's namesake W.E.B. Dubois' communist political leanings, and its segregated atmosphere, I for one find it admirable that Harvard Profs are actually doing something real for their community, instead of insisting that all academic racial disparities are the fault of institutionalized racism.