Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Curmudgeonliness

I have reprinted sections of the AP piece below, rather than linked it, for effect. As you read, think about this: my father's alma mater, Howard University Medical School, will likely approach majority Caucasian, with a significant number of folk from India, Pakistan, European Union, even South America, the Phillipines...if it hasn't already. The law school's packed with tradition but often little else. On the undergrad tip most HBCUs already sporting 5 to 1 black female to black male ratios, are also hurting for cash. Even the biggies like Howard call on Uncle Sam for their endowment, has trouble retaining a lot of male students for the four years; many of the smaller schools don't have any endowment to speak of and some have ratios approaching 8 to 1. There may come a time when a chunk of their student body will come from Ukraine or some place like that.
Here's the point: Too, too many of our teens and young black men are catching hell despite the mountains they climb and flags they plant. Whether they are poor or the sons of professionals, their trials are unique and their accomplishments grand must be chronicled!
Here's the rub: Unfortunately they each carry a ton of deadweight around their necks--the legions of their "brothers"...all too busy being angry or lazy or plain silly. Too busy wanting to be Lebron or Jay-Z ...or R. Kelly. Or lionizes that shithead Reggie Bush sleeping with that whore Kim Khardashian (yes I said "doody" and I said "whore." I'm no prude. fanboys and girls, but let's be real about who people really are and what they dothings). Too busy playing on XBox. Too busy cracking only books that cost less than $10 and have the word "Trippin'" or "Chocolate Ooze" in the titles. Too busy cleaning those $150 Nikes or Tims and waxing those rims but got no money to save for a notebook computer and classes...and hey, gotta spot clean those Nikes and detail your whip in front of your mama's or girlfriend's driveway...whilst you dump a quart of used motor oil down the gutter ...ditch your Popeye's box and bones, and your bottle of Fanta cherry on the sidewalk. All that is more important than sacrifice and achievement. The kicker: you have brothers who are jumping up for Barack, yet aren't registered to vote and can't even show up to polls on time and understand the touchscreen if they are. These folk will the first to jump off when McCain's elected, or the cops beat some junior thieves. "Woe, woe is us," this type of fool whines, growls or shouts. Black women, you gotta endure us 'cause it's tough out there and we can't do no better than what we're doing... Yeah, it's a struggle just get out and fight. But why oh why do we choose--yes, choose--to make it even worse on ourselves with this clowning?
Now, read on. It's inspiring and makes me proud of the student, all of his suportive classmates, and Morehouse's commitment to learning. But yeah, part of me's pissed off. Deeply.

Valedictorian A Different Kind Of ``Morehouse Man''
By Associated PressMay 12, 2008, 22:21

From his first day at Morehouse College, the country's only institution of higher learning dedicated to the education of Black men, Joshua Packwood has been a standout.
His popularity got him elected dorm president as a freshman. His looks and physique made him a fashion-show favorite. His intellect made him a Rhodes Scholar finalist. His work ethic landed him a job at the prestigious investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in New York City.
But it's his skin that has made all of this an anomaly. This month, Packwood is set to take the stage and address his classmates as the first White valedictorian in Morehouse's 141-year history.
The 22-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., will graduate on May 18 with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a degree in economics.
He could have gone elsewhere, to a school like Columbia, Stanford or Yale, but his four-year journey through Morehouse has taught him a few things that they could not, and he makes it clear that he has no regrets.
``I've been forced to see the world in a different perspective, that I don't think I could've gotten anywhere else,'' he said. ``None of the Ivies, no matter how large their enrollment is, no matter how many Nobel laureates they have on their faculty ... none of them could've provided me with the perspective I have now.''
When Packwood applied to Morehouse, he had frequent conversations with George Gray, an alumnus who was a recruiter at the school. Gray was impressed by Packwood's credentials and spent months trying to talk the sought-after senior into choosing Morehouse over other elite schools.
``He had outstanding numbers,'' said Gray, now director of admissions at historically Black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. ``He was the kind of kid we were looking for to be a presidential scholar.''
After several conversations, Packwood began to suspect that Gray had no idea that he was White. His suspicions were confirmed when one of Gray's calls caught Packwood in the middle of track practice.
``Don't let the White kids walk you down,'' Gray quipped.
``Wait,'' Packwood responded. ``You know I'm White, right?''
Silence. Uneasy laughter. Confirmation.
``The challenge was to get the best student that we could, and Josh definitely fit that,'' Gray said.
And for Packwood, knowing that he had been picked on his merits, and not as a token White recruit, made the difference.
``That said I could come here and, ironically, be accepted for who I am,'' With each semester, Packwood's grades remained high, his confidence grew and his resume became more impressive. Summers were spent on Wall Street at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, he studied abroad in London and Costa Rica, and his studies have taken him to China and Switzerland.
He also drew attention with his looks -- some Atlanta University Center coeds took to calling him ``Tom Cruise.'' His photo album on Facebook shows a smiling Packwood posing with dozens of young, Black women who fill his page with notes.
``He kind of sticks out, but he's still relatable and he works with all of us,'' Douglas said.


Anonymous said...

First, white and Asian students have been attending HBCUs in numbers for years. I've noticed the highest enrollments at state schools and in the graduate school and professional schools. During my senior year, my roommate was white and I attended a smaller school in Alabama.

To be honest with you the only people who would be surprised by Packwood's story would be white people and ignorant black people (educated and uneducated) who never placed any value in HBCUs in the first place. Maybe now, since they realize white people attend these schools, they will give these institutions consideration instead of whining about the attacks on affirmative action.

That's not to say that talented black students wouldn't be able to attend traditionally white schools on their on merits. It's just some of us use affirmative action as a crutch. I know I have. I believe that there is some value in standardized tests. If a black student has attended "good schools" K-12, had access to tutoring, parental supervision, participated in clubs like Jack and Jill (LOL), and still tank the SATs and ACT, something else is at play. If a black student attended a white college and had decent grades and still doesn't do well on the GRE, MCAT, or the LSAT, something else is going on. Maybe those targeted schools aren't the ones for that individual student.

Um, I guess that speaks to your point. If we encouraged intellectual curiosity, the standardized tests wouldn't be an issue for us.

Let me stop.

I will ask this. What's the solution Mr. Chambers? Graphic novels seem like they may appeal to young black boys and men. What else would you suggest?

The work ethic is there. The intellect is there. The drive to achieve something is there. How do we tap into that resource and convince our boys they can do more than what they are doing now?

Lisa said...

The Alphas at 'House must've all had the flu on testing days. They never would have let this stand otherwise.

Like Goldman Sachs needs more white faces, regardless of where they went to school? They gave us the mortgage crisis, didn't they?

Christopher Chambers said...

I'm advocating a multi-level cultural shift not seen in this country since the Great Awakening. Notice I didn't say the Civil Rights Movement because clearly it was all just about basic legal rights, etc.; the socio-economic and political stuff been the, well, sticking point, right?

It means we muzzle all athletes and rappers. it means we all march off the same page. It means Dyson and Cornell are yeah, gonna have to sound more like Cosby.

The insurmountable Everest is simply that there is too much greed, insouciance and ego out there for a unified message. So we start within each family...indeed whatever definition of family there is...and say to the boys you matter. Then we say, but that doesn't mean a damn bit of difference unless you ACT like you matter. Here's how. We need to bring back the only Sidney Poitier movie concept of "moving up." Of being a credit to the race. I think the ugly underbelly of the Black Power and Black Arts movements is this silly notion that ANYTHING defiant, expressive, etc we do is legit, no matter how silly or self-destructive, and all voices MUST be heard. Hell no. Hows that been workin' out for us? Nuff said.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

My brother is a Howard Alum. The ratio in the early 90s of women to men was high but not like this. I don't even know what to say. This is not a good thing for our future. I read that the same thing (but the ratio is not as wide) is happening at predominately white colleges as well.

Hathor said...

Small yellow print hard to read.

Anonymous said...

I read the print just fine, and that last line about all these sisters pushed up on him in the yearbook is very instructive!

Chicama Vineyard said...

My niece attends Howard Law School in Washington and a have a former co-worker who's daughter- in- law from India attends Howard Dental School. I can attest to some of what you are saying.

With respect to the diseases of the spirit, however, I don't know. I am not an African American mother but a white mother and I can see the difference in outlook in my son as opposed to black men his age. There is a sense of entitlement in him. But this is outweighed by the sad and nasty (violent) sense of dejection and almost childishness I have seen among black men here in Mobile.

Anonymous said...

SoCal 82 Tiger Says -

The pressure of whether we promote the individual or the group in American culture has always been a vexing issue. It is the same dilemma no matter whether you're Jewish, Irish, Polish, Italian, African, Indian, Asian, South or Central America, or any other of the multitude of ethnic/cultural groups that make up America.

I like Chamber’s thoughts that it all starts with raising the expectations within every American family (Not Just Black American Families).
I would propose that there are UNWAVERING EXPECTATIONS parents must instill on their families. Just a few of these expectations that we must ruthlessly maintain are:

· Succeed academically in school – The goal is college and/or professional school for every child in a family (FYI European and Asian Students often know more after their high school years then American students with 2 to 4 years of college)
· Talent at sports and/or music is not an excuse to avoid academics – Da Vinci was both a scientist and an artist…
· Succeed both academically & professionally to a greater level then your parents
· Succeed at being proficient in English (IT IS THE Language of world business)
· Succeed at demanding that youth is not a time to wallow and revel in a state of arrested foolishness but a time to strive to mature and grow out of that state
· Succeed at demanding that youth is not a time to aspire to the goal of being a teenage parent… Grandparents are not put on this world to raise grandchildren!
· Succeed at teaching and providing a strong moral foundation for your children – People of Faith, Deists, Agnostics and Atheists must unite… There are standards to maintain a difference between good & evil, moral & immoral, right & wrong, and encourage everyone towards more ethical, and righteous behavior. Permitting moral relativism allows US (collectively and individually) off the hook for our worst behaviors

Once WE as a society have everyone on the same page I think all “groups” will progress. Progress over generations does not end the ills that exist between us but it keeps the focus on the future. That much touted “eye on the prize” doesn’t mean just my and success today and tomorrow but also the success of the future generations that follow me.

In reading Randal Kennedy and Thomas Sowell it connects for me that ALL Americans have both the same good and bad struggles in our histories, but each still tell unique stories of our “American” Experience…. Still Have Doubts? Try and connect the dots: Irish Americans and the Westies & the IRA, Italian-Americans and La Costa Nostra, Jewish-American and Murder Incorporated, Mexican-Americans and La “M”(eMe), Chinese-Americans and the Triads, El Salvadorian-Americans and M13, Columbian-American and the Cali Cartels, Russian-Americans and Krysha, Arab-Americans and (take your pick) PLO/Al Qaida/Al Fata/ANO/Hamas/ & Hizballah. Put in context; the “Blues” & “Reds” & East Coast – West Coast drama that is vexing and plaguing the Black-American experience is a new chapter of the same story. It’s a matter for each our “groups” to reject and not embrace this underbelly of our ethnic & racial identity.

It’s just my little rant – Excuse me if I spent too much time on the soapbox!

Anonymous said...

Brother Chambers.. you hit a home-run with the solution reply. Tough measures are needed. Failure of intact family pursuits will make solving this lastest tragedy unattainable. I attended North Carolina Central University 1973-77,undergrad. During this period our law school changed in the increasing foreign and white students. From NCCU I attended Howard University School Of Medicine. During this time 1997-80, this too was a period when many foreign students came. Mayhaps a lot of Blacks thought the white man ice was colder?