Thursday, May 29, 2003
The Norm of Minimum Effort: I've written before about John McWhorter's views on race and education, specifically his assertion that educational achievement in much of black America is synonymous with "acting white." A study by a professor at Berkeley, John Ogbu, seems to uphold this idea. (McWhorter is also at Berkeley, though I don't know if he has directly assisted or influenced Ogbu's work.) Peter Wood has a review here. It's worth reading. I've mentioned before, too, my sympathy for McWhorter, who is black, in that he has become the darling of the right recently. I don't think McWhorter is an ideologue, but more of a frustrated realist who has said some things that, incidentally, the GOP wants to hear. As a result, I think fewer people take McWhorter as seriously as he needs to be taken, since he is too easily painted as a shill, a sellout, or a tool of the cultural right. Maybe this study will help change that. McWhorter has been an honest and courageous critic of the status quo and has, as much as possible, left politics out of the equation.