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WP: Is (A White) The Face Of Diversity At Elite Thomas Jefferson HS?


Mark The Homer

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/problem-or-progress-white-student-leads-black-club-at-n-virginia-high-school/2012/04/01/gIQArXXkpS_story.html?hpid=z1

Is This The Face Of Diversity At Elite Thomas Jefferson High School?*

*print edition headline

WHITEPREZ%20102_1333036321.jpg

By Ian Shapira

Michael Wattendorf, a senior at Northern Virginia’s super-selective Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, stood before prospective members of its Black Student Union in the fall and introduced himself as the club’s president. The freshmen, Wattendorf recalled, looked a little confused.

...

To some, a white student at the helm of a club for black kids is a symptom of the school’s lack of diversity.

“If you have a black-student union and the person who is over it is white . . . what does that say?", said Charisse Glassman, who chairs the Fairfax County NAACP’s education committee and has met with TJ officials to discuss ways to increase minority enrollment. "A white person cannot understand what black children are going though when they go to that school.”

To others, Wattendorf’s presidency is a symbol of something more high-minded about the school: Its black students were willing to look beyond race.

...

click link above for the rest of the article

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Why is there a Black Student Union at all? How am I supposed to look past the color of a person's skin if attention is constantly being called to it?

I'm curious what would happen if all the white students formed a White Student Union ....

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The author left this out of the article.

"One detail I should also mention that's not in the story is that Wattendorf wondered whether he should share duties with another black student and be co-president. He was worried that a white president at the helm would provoke lots of jokes in the school. But Wattendorf said that his adviser told him no -- that he was elected on the basis of his character, not his skin color."

It's posted in the comments.

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As usual, the younger generation isn't falling in step with what the Baby Boomers' view of equality is.

I think we've hit a plateau with race relations in this country that probably isn't going to change much until everyone over the age of 40 dies. Kids today are exponentially ahead.

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Why is there a Black Student Union at all?
The same reason there are Hispanic clubs or Jewish clubs or Italian Heritage clubs. "Black" may be a race, but it is also represents a culture and a history that certain students may share, by either having grown up in that culture (like the black students in the Black Student Union) or having an interest in it (like the current President). As the story notes, he first got into it because of an interest in step dancing. That's not something that only black people can do, but it is something that comes out of a black sub-culture in America.
How am I supposed to look past the color of a person's skin if attention is constantly being called to it?
It's not offensive to notice that some people have darker skin tones than others. It is only offensive to judge someone based on it. Martin Luther King didn't say: "I have a dream that someday people won't be able to tell whether my daughters are black or white because watching TV all day will have ruined their vision."
I'm curious what would happen if all the white students formed a White Student Union ....
Probably nobody would join. Unlike "Black," or "Hispanic," or "Asian," "White" doesn't really describe a particular culture or interest group, and there are no cultural activities (e.g. step dancing) that would make sense to organize around a White Student Union that wouldn't already be part of the overall majority culture of the school. But white subgroups are certainly possible, like an Italian, Irish, or German heritage club. Or the Young Republicans.
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Probably nobody would join. Unlike "Black," or "Hispanic," or "Asian," "White" doesn't really describe a particular culture or interest group, and there are no cultural activities (e.g. step dancing) that would make sense to organize around a White Student Union that wouldn't already be part of the overall majority culture of the school.

Fishing, NASCAR, swimming (lol), camping, and let's face it, drinking PBR. :ols:

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That club would be pretty cool (except for the swimming part). I wouldn't mind if you threw in a few golf discussions.

Yeah, "goff" could work too. We should stop here though. Don't want to seem like we have a culture too. ;)

---------- Post added April-2nd-2012 at 01:08 PM ----------

What prompted a white kid to join a black union anyway?

He wanted Kwanzaa off.

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Why would parents of a black kid want their child to go to TJ? Is there evidence that the teaching is any better compared to other Northern Virginia schools? Maybe if the kid was already committed at age 13 to a certain path of scientific research, but there are plenty of negatives too. :evilg:

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Why would parents of a black kid want their child to go to TJ?

They could always go to Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, which was ranked in the top 50 best high schools in the country and was the #1 "black" high school for years. :)

I've never seen anything like it. at Banneker, kids never used their lockers, they just left their jackets, books, P.E. shoes, all on the floor of the hallway. DIdn't have to worry about anybody taking them.

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I've never seen anything like it. at Banneker, kids never used their lockers, they just left their jackets, books, P.E. shoes, all on the floor of the hallway. DIdn't have to worry about anybody taking them.

Didn't have to worry about fire either, apparently.

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Why is there a Black Student Union at all? How am I supposed to look past the color of a person's skin if attention is constantly being called to it?

I'm curious what would happen if all the white students formed a White Student Union ....

This was the most predictable "second post" I have ever seen. :ols:

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Fishing, NASCAR, swimming (lol), camping, and let's face it, drinking PBR. :ols:
I don't think that high schools let you form clubs centered around drinking beer and watching car races, and there is already a swim team, so if you want a club for fishing and camping you can join the boy scouts.
Yeah, "goff" could work too. We should stop here though. Don't want to seem like we have a culture too. ;)
The culture you are describing is not "white" culture. If anything, it is "Southern" culture, and in places where it is a distinctive minority, students have started Southern students clubs too: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2011/11/3/southern-football-food-president/
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Oh, you were just late. You are holding up your end just fine now :D

I'm just having fun with it. I've learned to pick my battles a little better. :)

I don't think that high schools let you form clubs centered around drinking beer and watching car races

Well then, schools suck. :ols:

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Jesus, the stupidity of some people in this and related threads.

Dj...the tolerance level you show in how you express yourself in this forum is exceptional.

I have such tolerance in other venues(not just professional ones) where I think it is more merited, but often not in here. It here it's just often so willful and such the product of arrogance, ignorance, and that awesome combination of both, frequently couched in opinionated, righteous, "victimized" or smarmy/wiseass attempts of humor that fail to camouflage the actual stupid (and too often, various degrees of ugly) involved. :D

As per the actual article, I say give whitey a chance. :pfft:

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I'm just having fun with it. I've learned to pick my battles a little better. :)

I know.

Well then, schools suck. :ols:

Spoken like a true scholar! :poke: :ols:

Seriously, there are no "white students" clubs in the US because there is no specific "white" experience (unless you think the point of a club is solely to exclude minorities.) The experiences are Irish, or German, or Jewish, or Southern, or New England, or Christian, or whatever - something more specific than just "white."

Having a "white students" club in the US would be about as useful as having a "French students" club in France.

---------- Post added April-2nd-2012 at 11:27 AM ----------

As per the actual article, I say give whitey a chance. :pfft:

"If the boy can't dunk, his nomination is defunct." - Johnny Cochran.

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Why would parents of a black kid want their child to go to TJ? Is there evidence that the teaching is any better compared to other Northern Virginia schools? Maybe if the kid was already committed at age 13 to a certain path of scientific research, but there are plenty of negatives too. :evilg:
It's hard to evaluate teachers on an absolute scale, but with classes full of high achieving students, teachers are certainly more free to go faster and explore more topics in depth than in an average NoVa high school. You're not going to be in a full-fledged multivariable calculus class at many NoVa public schools schools other than TJ. And you're not going to find an FT-IR or a microelectronics lab almost anywhere else. I really think that, for the vast majority of students, the positives outweigh the negatives (although there is a limit to how far kids can reasonably travel each day to go to high school).
I'm just having fun with it. I've learned to pick my battles a little better. :)
I think I would have let it go, or treated it more like a joke, if it weren't the very first reply in this thread. The "why can't we have a white guys club?" attitude is a lazy opinion that I don't like to leave unrefuted.
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