No, I’m not secretly the mother of a college-bound high school student, though I dare say these days it seems you have to start thinking of and preparing for college as soon as you have popped out that baby. Nor am I thinking of applying to college. Been there, done that.
I recently had a mini-rant on Facebook regarding the spate of media attention given to the usually Black, usually from an immigrant family, student who acquires admission to all eight Ivy League schools.
This is what I said:
Mindy Kaling’s brother recently wrote about how he got into medical school by claiming to be Black (he’s Indian). Forget that he couldn’t
cut the mustard and had to drop out! Maybe because he making this known publicly reminds me of all the patients or patient families who ask me where I went
to school. And I never know if they ask with awe or suspicion or
genuine interest, or if their subsequent pleasure/comfort/praise/silence is
necessary, reassuring or complimentary.
Obviously these are smart teens. I wish each well wherever each chooses
to go. But I rather not the media treat them like anomalies.
Asked to clarify, I followed up with this:
Chimamanda Adichie’s danger of a single story comes to mind. I’m proud of these teenagers especially Miss Khalif, but I’m suspicious of the repetitive narrative. Is it that minorities aren’t supposed to get into the Ivy League? Is it that immigrants aren’t supposed to get into the Ivy League? Incidentally, there is also the story of a white boy, but he too is an immigrant from Bulgaria.
I to believe that it’s only these five or so pupils who applied to and got
accepted by the entire Ivy League? No non-immigrant Americans? No Tiger Mom offspring Americans? No Indian-Americans? No “all-American
boy-next-door White American boy?” If these other scholars do exist,
haven’t they also worked hard? Or are their stories not sexy enough for the narrative?
started a few years ago, now everybody who is brilliant (but with the
necessary story of overcoming something) will apply to the entire League
not because they are particularly interested in each school but just
for this opportunity to be highlighted in the news.
I don’t like it!
show that Africans are among the most educated immigrants in the US
(Nigerians topped the list), so why is anyone surprised if their
offspring also pursue higher education with vigor?
So then of course I was asked if I was opposed to affirmative action. My response:
question. It’s a double edged sword. I probably could write a whole
essay on my opinion. I guess I am opposed to PREFERENTIAL treatment to
white women (who benefit most from affirmative action than anyone else) and
so-called disadvantaged minorities. Assuming
myself and our other minority classmates in medical school were beneficiaries of affirmative action, look at
us. Sizeable numbers from middle if not upper class. Are we the one’s
in society to require a leg up? We probably were taking up spots away
from the truly disadvantaged of all racial backgrounds.
I was an international student so the odds were stacked against
me I suppose but that’s another story. I would like to think that remove my
nationality, race, and gender from my application I still made a strong
candidate for schools. So on a selfish level why should I be subject to
condescending, patronising, and demeaning spoken or unspoken opinions of
others that I’m not worthy to be where I am?
said, we humans are not perfect. Were we able to truly be blind to
race, gender, etc. and were we not to care about legacy, colleges and
universities across the country would certainly have different
demographics from the current white majority with sprinkles of
diversity. No, I don’t like affirmative action but I wouldn’t say get rid
of it and leave it up to chance because biases already exist and these
biases need to be challenged or addressed one way or another.
kids above rightly should be able to get into an Ivy League school with their
credentials. But if you are going to tell me that they need affirmative action to get
in, then there’s a problem with the admissions process.
So in hindsight it seems my discomfort is race-based. Several reports suggest that despite the madness surrounding college admissions, it doesn’t matter in the long run where one goes to college, except if you happen to be from a minority. So of course these children should go to the best schools they can afford to. I guess it’s just that a little bit of me is sorry for them that for all their brilliance they will have to forever prove to others that they in fact deserve to be wherever it is they are.