Piercing the Brilliant Veil: Two Stories of American Racism
7 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 2, 2010
There are two stories about racism in America. In one, we have moved far beyond our early sins of slavery and segregation. Students of color attend elite colleges and professional schools; they serve as doctors and lawyers, nonprofit leaders and captains of industry. In the second story, forty percent of our nation’s Black pre-schoolers live in poverty; one-third of young Hispanics fare as poorly. Racial slurs, hostility, and disdain for minority students permeate elementary and secondary schools, and high school graduation rates for Whites far outstrip those for Black or Hispanic students.
This Comment explores these two competing stories, using a recent empirical study by Deirdre Bowen to explore their accuracy. Bowen’s research shows that, although the first story expresses our remarkable progress on racial discrimination, the second demonstrates the systemic bias that continues to constrain us. Candid acknowledgement of the second story should inform race-based policy initiatives like affirmative action.
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