Friday, March 20, 2015

Why America Cannot have an Honest Dialogue on Poverty and Race

When it comes to race in America, there is a lot of yelling, name calling, and finger pointing, but little in the way of honest dialogue. This is too bad because if there was ever an issue in need of honest dialogue, that issue is race. As a college professor, I witness this need on a daily basis at the retail level in face-to-face interactions with students. My classes are comprised of people of all races, many of whom come from poor and lower-middleclass backgrounds. Most of my students need to get a good education as an essential step toward building a better life. What I see in my classes are plenty of students who work hard and smart toward that end. Unfortunately, I also see students who are just passing through on their way to nowhere. The latter group is composed of students who work neither hard nor smart. In fact they hardly work at all. They appear to believe that an education is something that can be given to them and should be because they are entitled to it. Their attitude can be summarized in these words: “I paid the tuition—give me the degree.” I should add that entitled college students come in all races and both genders and rarely pay their own tuition.

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