Education, Equality and Race

I’ve just restarted The Shape of the River by former Princeton and Harvard presidents, William Bowen and Derek Bok. It’s an excellent treatment of race as a factor in college admissions. A statement jumped out from page xxiii of the Preface:

Our country respects individual achievement, but it also recognizes that what people have achieved often depends on the families they have grown up in, the neighborhoods in which they have lived, and the schools they have attended, as well as on their own ability and hard work. People rightly seek a society in which racial prejudice no longer limits opportunities. But any close observer of American society cannot help but see the many ways in which, covertly and overtly, consciously and unconsciously, actively and as a consequence of inertia, racial differences that have been long in the making continue to thwart aspirations for an open and just society. Words reflect this reality. When an interviewer interested in nomenclature asked the distinguished social psychologist, Kenneth Clark, “What is the best thing for blacks to call themselves,” Clark replied: “White.”

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