E2010 Wired

The power of our words can inspire change in a single person, then two, then the world.

Blacks Under-Achievement: Racism or Master Class in Victimhood


Were he white, the comments made by Dr. Tony Sewell, an activist for education reform in the UK and director of Generating Genius, a charity whose mission is to place more black young men in universities, would have been branded a right-wing racist.

In a recent article, Master Class in Victimhood” that appeared in Prospect Magazine, Sewell commented that “we’re given our kids only the discourse of victimhood” noting further that “it’s our class, not our color, that screws us up.”

Sewell noted that previously, what held black children back was institutionalized racism in British schools, but that has now changed. His claim is that blacks do not succeed because the children are irresponsible, disrespectful, and lack good parenting. Adding to the problem, Sewell commented that educators are so afraid of being branded as racists that they have low expectations and treat black students as victims, which in this case, black boys are quick to embrace.

“What we now see in schools is children undermined by poor parenting, peer-group pressure and an inability to be responsible for their own behaviour. ….“They are not subjects of institutional racism.”

“They have failed their GCSEs because they did not do the homework, did not pay attention and were disrespectful to their teachers.”

“I believe black underachievement is due to the low expectations of school leaders, who do not want to be seen as racist and who position black boys as victims.”

Looking at Dr. Sewell’s remarks about the issues in the British school system and comparing them to the achievement gap and high school drop out rate in our own school system, we cannot help but be compelled to ask are we teaching victimhood to our students? In the schools that succeed, what is the underlying paradigm? What are we doing to bring up our expectations, include guardians and parents into the mix and more?

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