Cynthia's Interests

The world as it unfolds - told from an African American woman's perspective...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

An interesting, but disturbing conversation with another graduate student

African Americans have an image problem around the world

Today I was talking to a Chinese woman (graduate student) and discovered the following: she asked me was I one of the smart Black people. I said I don’t know if I’m smarter than anyone else. I was shocked and before I could proceed, she said I don’t see any other Africans (black people) in any of my classes. I only see whites and other Asians so you must be smart for black people. I then explained to her that in America the educational system is not the same across the board. I’ve always gone to mixed schools and that afforded me an advantage over many blacks that attended inner city schools. The quality of your education is directly depended upon your socio-economic status. I told her I felt like I was one of the lucky ones to have gotten a good education in my formative years.

In fact, there was a PBS special, which followed people who were valedictorian in their high schools, who struggled to maintain a C average once they went to college. And, this is not an isolated story. When I finished talking, she said she had no idea that everyone in the US did not get the same quality of education and said this is not fair. I said no, it isn't, but this is the reality. She said that news changes everything.

African Americans truly have an image problem. Instead of asking the Mexican President to apologize for his statement, we should self-reflect and discuss ways to improve our image, our status, etc. Surely, for anyone to make these types of statements, we have a problem since it assumes that most of us are not smart.

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