Thursday, September 11, 2014


But the fact of the matter is that many of the students who choose to come to Spelman are coming from communities where they have clearly been in the minority. It is often surprising to the casual observer that if you talk to students, they will often say, "I was one of a handful of black kids in my school. One of the reasons I wanted to be at Spelman was because I wanted to be at the center of the educational experience, not on the margins of it the way that I felt like I was in high school."
Beverly Tatum, President of Spelman College "Why America Still Needs Historically Black Colleges"
It was odd for me to read this, because, even as an African American, I felt being at a Historically Black College in the mid-1980's to be even more marginalizing than the nearly all-white high-school that I had just graduated from the year before. So although I understand it on an intellectual level, I have trouble relating to it.

But what I started learning that year was the politics of "in-group," and it's application to race. For the suburban whites I grew up around, "in-group" was mainly a matter of appearance - in effect, being white required looking white, and that was really about it. But for the more urban black students that I spent my freshman year of college around, there was an added component - to be counted as in the "in-group" you had to look black and to "act black." And while I had the first part of that down, I failed miserably at the second, and so found myself in the "out-group," mainly, and perhaps ironically, because most of my classmates felt that I was rejecting them.

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