November 14, 2005

When doing well might be a dangerous act

Well, this is one of the more depressing things I've seen in a while (Warning - disturbing photo):

Police are investigating after a teenager from Neath was attacked in school hours after receiving two academic awards. Danielle Price, 15, was treated in hospital for facial injuries after the assault at Llangatwg Comprehensive. Her mother reported the school yard assault to South Wales Police who have launched an investigation.

Another girl, also 15, was suspended from lessons for a week. The school said it had taken "appropriate action"...

The attack happened during morning break earlier this month when Danielle, a Year 10 pupil who hopes to become a solicitor, was celebrating being presented for awards for achievements in German and Humanities in assembly.

It would be nice to think there is no relation between Danielle's being singled out for academic awards and the attack. However, this comes on the heels of disturbing reports like this one:

Smart black students being accused of "acting too white" is an issue Triangle educators are debating at a youth and race conference this week. Students say the stigma is keeping some of their peers from doing well in school.

Tenth grader Anais Guzman is on the honor roll. She says some of her peers see the achievement as acting too "white". "They can get high grades but they don't want to because they'll be considered as acting white, so they put white people down, Guzman said.

Note that not only is high academic achievement seen as being "white" - a pernicious racist idea if there ever was one, on par with anything the KKK ever theorized - but "being white" isn't considered to be a good thing. Neither, possibly, is being given awards in German and the humanities.

P.S. There are those on the web who dispute that African-American students disparage high achievement. And I know of at least one study suggesting that, while there are those who spread the nasty "acting white" accusations, many African-American students are able to ignore such bad ideas.

I also know that the victim of the attack in Wales is white, so the "acting white" issue isn't what's going on there (if indeed the attack has anything at all to do with her awards). However, seeing these two stories close together led me to ponder how both could be the result of same underlying issue - the emergence of an ideology of victimhood and outcast status, where anyone's efforts to achieve "within the system" would be derided and attacked.

Update: And then there's this (Hat tip: Henry Cate).

Posted by kswygert at November 14, 2005 04:51 PM