Monday, August 13, 2007

The book you should be buying...

The debate over Wal-Mart and what black folks read is, well, sort of "academic," pardon the joke, when laid against more important matters. Now, while many of us find happiness in spinning rims and wanting to be the next Beyonce, others yearn for a college degree and here, Peter Schmidt's new book , Color and Money: How Rich White Kids are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action should be instructive.


Watch for my interview as the school year begins; hopefully we can arrange it for you folk with teens or anyone considering law or med school. He even touches on this fiasco at Duke re: the Lacrosse Team.


Check out testimonials like this: "Books on the highly-charged issue of affirmative action are usually one-sided and inflammatory. Peter Schmidt’s Color and Money is a wonderful exception. It provides an honest and fair examination that is also passionate and illuminating. Schmidt carefully weighs the arguments for and against affirmative action and then lays bare higher education’s naughty secret--that for all its self-congratulatory embrace of diversity, poor and working-class students of all colors remain largely shut out.”--Richard D. Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation, and author of The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action


Schimdt doesn't pull any punches. He does indeed warn that this is a two-way street. So instead of buying cheesy romances or thug novels at Wal-mart or Madden Football or them new rims, black parents should be using what resources they have to enrich and prepare children to enter this battle--and win it. Too much of "winning" seems to be tied to getting a record contract with a Hip Hop label, and indeed the elites at these schools reinforce this by the implicit and even explicit notion that we CANNOT compete with them and win on that level. This irony of entitlement (ironic because it is usally they, either in school or the workplace, who claim WE consider ourselves entitled to X, Y and Z because of color and slavery) means they say "stick to crime, rap and stripping, and bein' sassy like Mo'Nique and Queen Latifah, or cooning like Flavor Flav." And damned if too many of us kinda-sorta do. Schimdt, a senior editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education, shows us just how insidious this is.


And of course he's white. What? Well, is a publisher going to take a black academic author seriously--unless its a treatise on "Tupac and Fiddy as Revolutionaries?" Hence we come full circle--and you fanboys and girls of mine know what I mean. Buy the book. Read it. Stop buying crap. There's too much at stake now. Seriously...

13 comments:

Snowman said...

I disagree with the title portion "Rich WHITE kids," as working class white students and rural students also face these "classist" barriers and lip service to access, diversity etc. Diversity also means that your whole student body does not come from in state, or a certain region or from prep schools, Catholic schools etc.

Anonymous said...

But does this book giove parents and students practical tips or ways to combat this (other than sit-ins and singing! :-) )

Hathor said...

I just want to know how white or male one has to become to get noticed in that competitive environment. It seems that I am still running behind. Can I help that I am not a genius and can not boast of an high IQ or one of the top ten schools. Should I read his book to find a solution for me?

lance williams, sr said...

I intend to buy it, Hathor. I guess if you are out of school it is too late for you. (smile)

Peter Schmidt said...

Hello Christopher, and thank you for your generous blog entry on my book. Hello also to your readers who have posted here.

A few points of clarification--

I think Snowman is missing something in his interpretation of the title. The book focuses very, very heavily on class barriers, including those faced by kids in rural settings. Thus the reference to rich white kids coming out on top.

Anonymous airs a criticism that I have heard from others who are frustrated that the book describes problems but does not offer solutions. The thing is, as a journalist, I cannot promote a policy agenda and keep my day job. (A cynic might argue that all journalists advance agendas, but that is a debate for another day.) I figured in writing the book that if I described the problems our society is dealing with in a thorough, balanced manner--rather than spinning such a discussion to favor one side or another, and thus writing either "a conservative book" or "a liberal" book"--I would be making a contribution.

One final note: your readers can get a taste of the book, and read updates on the affirmative action fight in higher education and tons of research and reporting on race and class, at my Web site, colorandmoney.com. I am more than happy to get feedback, and am glad to see that my book is getting the attention of people who care about these issues.

I take it from your blog entry that you want to interview me. Just shoot me an email whenever you are ready.

Submariner said...

Does he offer anything more substantive or magisterial than The Shape of the River by William Bowen and Derek Bok?

Cuzzin Geore said...

I'll seek out this book to try to give my children an advantage if it can do that, but I think we really have to get our kids reading newspapers, and I mean the good old fashioned paper-copy urban dailies, the repected ones (NY Times, Wash Post, LA Times, WSJ, etc.) It will improve their reading skills and give them more time to think than the views they get from TV and the internet. The subjects of which Mr. Schmidt apparently writes are discussed all the time in the papers and are the fodder of great family dinner conversations.

Lisa said...

I graduated from Cornell. My brother graduated from SC State (an HBCU) with honors but he had friends who just "attended" the school and I had friends who went to Howard and other HBCUs and either never graduated or found it not to be the paradise they thought it would be over a large land grant college, small liberal arts white school or an Ivy. Some were ill-prepared for ANY college rigor whether it was an HBCU or a white school.

Indeed for some it wasn't a "choice." Their grades were so-so and it was either an HBCU which was admitting a lot of kids from out of state to increase enrollment, or community college for a year until they had the grades and sadly, the cash. Their parents not only hadn't academically prepared them, they hadn't financially prepared, either. I do not mean bad credit, though there was some luxury spending. I mean and utter misunderstanding of ways to finance tuition. One parent told my mother there was no way she was incurring debt to send her son to an elite college, or any college. I can understand the sentiment but I know for a fact that this woman's mother met the literal stereotype of someone who sacrificed everything so her daughter could attend Georgia Tech rather than an HBCU. The mother of this young man last year promptly replaced her old car with an Infinity SUV. The bizarre thing was that two families I know of (I think this issue is too important for us to be sqeamish about "dirty laundry") had college educations in their backgrounds for at least one prior generation.

So I understand this is a two way street, but I also recall the sense of entitlement and the disdain many white students at Cornell had for me. It was even more bizarre that the disdain jumped schools to other Ivies like Princeton (sorry, Mr. Chambers!). Many of my white classmates may of joked about the "privileged" kids atH-Y-P, but more than a few would mumble how they could have gone to H, Y or P had it not been for affirmative action. My older cousin went to Cornell and I was proud to be there. I received financial aid and perhaps to prove Mr. Schmidt right I went to work in corporate America right away.

I certainly will take a look at the book!

Lola Gets said...

The disdain you Ivies had for each other doesnt compare with the disdain we Seven Sisters' gals had for you Ivies!
Haha!
Think youre better...Negro please!
:)

Fortunately, in my family, we dont have a problem paying for education, becuase we know itll pay off in the long run.
L

Hathor said...

Unless one would get a scholarship, how would a parent help subsidize financial aid at any Ivy League School. The yearly tuition is what I make in a year. A second mortgage? I do not want to hear about grants and other stuff. I know the entire financial aid situation, how you qualify and that you really don't have to make six figures to get little or nothing. I think those schools would be left to the elite. Not what an average black could aspire to. 1450 may get you in, but free money? A lot of those 1600 SAT scores come from a lot of costly tutoring. They don't talk about that when discussing the bell curve. So we would be left with maybe a tenth of a percent of our population that might have a chance. And why is it that we can't be average? I run into so many average white people who are making it.

Pebbles Flintstone said...

This is a talk we neglect to have with our children, and likley our parents didn't have with us. Thus we start the "game" one step behind the "rich white kids."

Anonymous said...

Meh!

byrdparker said...

I must agree on a few points that Lisa made . My Mom and Dad were blue collar workers , they worked long and hard to put food on the table and make sure i was getting a sound education in a good schools be it private or parochial. But because their eyes were always on the prize , they focused to much on the little pictures or reminisced about thier time , they totally missed the big picture . Although I turned out alright, never less , my life was turned out from college onward . I am glad I turned out alright , because for a moment there it was truly frightening , much of what I considered my birthright from a privilaged childhood turned out to be truly false once I hit college!

I will read this book ! You are right our people need to wake up !!!