Switchfoot, and American Education

Yay! On top of finding out that Season 2 of Joan of Arcadia will be out in November, I got an email today that Switchfoot’s new CD will be out on December 26! It’s called Oh! Gravity. The punctuation in the title makes me think of Panic! at the Disco. I’ve only heard “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” and I hate it. I like the style of the music, but I don’t understand how a song with a chorus that gets edited so liberally can be so popular. Forget them: there’s new Switchfoot on the horizon! The email mentions a fall tour, too… any takers?

In other news (pun not intended), I read two WashPo articles today and one yesterday that deserve mentioning. The first was in the Sunday Source, which is my favorite section. It was written by a Yale senior who took a cooking class designed specifically for college students. Genius! Forget lab sciences; I need to take that class. The second addresses one of my biggest complaints about the current state of education in the United States: high school graduates’ vocabulary is pitiful. How do you graduate from high school without knowing what “satire” means? You don’t have to understand it, but you shouldn’t frown at the sound! The author blames this crisis on the lack of pleasure reading. To some extent, I agree. However, in the era of Harry Potter and (unfortunately) The Da Vinci Code, more students are reading. Even back at my high school, I’d see my peers reading what are popularly called “black books.” (Borders keeps them under “African-American Interest.”) So they’re reading, but apparently it’s more about the sex scenes than expanding their vocabulary. Mark my words: I will be the teacher the students complain about because she makes them watch School House Rock.

The third article caught my eye for several reasons. The first, clearly, is good copy editing leading to good headlines. The second is that it’s an issue I’ve pondered myself, also for clear reasons: black American culture.

Where is the civil rights groundswell on behalf of stronger marriages that will allow more children to grow up in two-parent families and have a better chance of staying out of poverty? Where are the marches demanding good schools for those children—and the strong cultural reinforcement for high academic achievement (instead of the charge that minority students who get good grades are “acting white”)? Where are the exhortations for children to reject the self-defeating stereotypes that reduce black people to violent, oversexed “gangstas,” minstrel show comedians and mindless athletes?

The best example of this chasm between the reality and the potential of black American youth may be my sister and me.

Yeah, this is gonna get personal.

I am what some would call whitewashed; I’m far from ghetto. I don’t exactly live in the suburbs, but no one hangs out on the streets around here. We are the county of the DC Sniper. We are a county where my not-so-alma mater had its gym imploded, but was recently slated for rebuilding because a new gym isn’t enough. I ignored that as I walked from AP class to AP class. Many (I could say most) of my friends are white. There were fifteen white people in my graduating class of 550, and I knew maybe ten of them. My ex is white. (He’s half-Asian, but he doesn’t claim it.) I like *NSync, the Lance revelation notwithstanding, and Christian rock music, and for a time, even Britney Spears.

My sister, on the other hand, wears gigantic hoop earrings, listens to Chamillionaire, Ciara, and the rest of the WPGC radio crew, and has mostly black friends. If she brought home a white guy, I’d be shocked. (But she’s only fourteen, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon anyway.) She’s more what you’d expect of a “typical” black girl. That is to say, aside from getting good grades, she’s my total opposite. We don’t even have the same hair color; hers is a lighter brown.

Back to my point. I don’t know about her experience, but I’ve always felt a tad traitorous for not being more “normal.” Despite that, I wouldn’t change who I am. I don’t envy the young black women with three children who all have different fathers. I know that children—of all races—can be more than stereotypes. I want to advocate for children in that way. I really don’t want to leave any children behind.



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