Monday, May 30, 2005


The NYT Deflates the Dreams of Graduates at the Worst Possible Time

Class and the American Dream - New York Times: "A parallel series in The Wall Street Journal found that as the gap between rich and poor has widened in America, the odds that a child will climb from poverty to wealth, or fall from wealth to the middle class, have remained stuck, leaving Americans no more likely to rise or fall from their parents' economic class than they were 35 years ago. "

This NYT editorial writer goes on to suggest "stronger affirmative-action programs to bring low-income students into colleges". He obviously hasn't set foot onto any American college campuses lately. If he would go to check his theory, he would see that it is far closer to achieved than not. When I went to college right out of high school, we will say several years ago, my dorm floor was multi-cultural to say the least. One of the women I became closest to on my floor was a black woman who came from family of drug dealers. Other drug dealers had come into her home and held them at gun point, I think twice. She was surrounded by thugs much of her life. Her boyfriend, at the time, was a huge Shaq-like black man who all of us girls took in as our favorite Jolly Green Giant of a man. I, at first, was a bit scared of him, and thought he might be a hit-man. Turned out that this man was a brilliant thief. He had been stealing from people's bank accounts online for some years. Some government agency came in to arrest him in my dorm, and eventually offered him a government job to help catch future online thieves. There were other black girls on this floor who had come from low, middle and upper class backgrounds. We can add to that the Asian women, several Jewish women, one of which was an educational roommate of mine, a Russian, a wonderful Jordanian friend, and yes, white upper class women. We seemed to revel in the mix of cultures and backgrounds, somehow recognizing that the time we spent understanding each other would stay with us all of our lives. The black women giggled when I would try to learn ebonics while in the community bathroom. The Jewish roommate often carefully explained her traditions and why her religion was important to her. The Jordanian, who I was particularly fond of, was also kind to start our friendship with a detailed description of her home country and its religious practices. Her family lived on the same road as Jordan's prince. She was disgusted that she would have to go through a checkpoint to get to her parent's countryside home.
One thing I can be sure of is that many of those women did not finish college, but I can also be sure of the fact that most of them have become successful. That includes the ones that came from the upper classes as well as the ones that came from humble backgrounds. This editorial misses the point. First, we have many, many programs. Second, I think that the proud protected classes don't want to be seen as those that need copious programs to help them. Third, if you look around, you will see extremely mixed campuses, of women, men, a rainbow of colors and cultures preparing them for a society that is more and more seeing them as amazingly capable people, regardless of these buzz issue differences. Saying, at a time of graduation, that people have less opportunity works to diminish a dream. Let's give them the shove into the real world with the inflation of the dream they have held close over the last four years: hard work and clarity of vision will allow for success beyond your wildest dreams in this country. If that were not so, people would not fashion floats of Chevy's or risk their lives in deserts to get themselves and their children here for better lives. They do this, because a country of dreamers has more than its share of success stories.

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