Saturday, August 15, 2009

Colleges and race

The WSJ's Naomi Schaefer Riley recently wrote about "The Real Path to Racial Harmony". It is about the odd practices of U.S. colleges and universities when it comes to race and ethnicity.

I have long been baffled by selective color blindness as practiced at my institution. Separate graduation ceremonies for blacks and hispanics (and perhaps others) are welcomed. But integration by edict is practiced in other areas, including assigning students from different racial groups to share dorm rooms. Is this coherent? What is supposed to be achieved? I have blogged many times about the obvious fact that tribalism is poison. Why sanction any of it? If indivdiuals are more comfortable with others of similar background, that is their free choice. But why give it any official sanction, esepcially when a more integrated society is the goal?

Joyce Carol Oates is now my favorite writer of American fiction. Her Black Girl/White Girl explores some of the problems encountered by two young college women who should never have been paired but it is a match that cannot be undone by anyone because of racial sensitivities.

Why not strive to de-emphasize race as much as possible? But that is not the way of modern higher education. The society has moved on. Now go with the momentum.