Tuesday, April 11, 2006

500 Words is Not Enough

The people who genuinely need to read this post may never see it. I contributed to a piece for The Michigan Daily about self segregation. In it I try to explain a little about what is now being referred to as "the Black Hole"--you know, the mass of Black people in a public space that seems to constantly attract more Black people. I agree with everything I said in the piece, otherwise I wouldn't have wrote it, but I'm not exactly sure this phrase came out correctly:

"I also relish the opportunity to be around other intelligent black people. Since this is the University of Michigan, a vast majority of us aspire to heighten our consciousness.

Sadly, that may not be the case for other parts of the world. The fatalist in me fears that I'll never be around such a concentration of scholastically inclined black people ever again."

My time at the University has been my first experience dealing with so many intellectual Black people. And I do fear that outside of the context of the University I will never find Black people this accepting and supportive of my own intellectual pursuits.

That being said, I don't know how I feel about contributing to the notion that there are masses of dumb Black people roaming the non-Ivory Tower-lined streets--a notion which can be implied by my aforementioned fears. I only had 500 words so I didn't have space to adequately qualify my sentiments.

I don't want to be an elitist. I know there are non-academics who are extremely intelligent. My Grandfather was a bus driver in Detroit and he happened to be a genius, I'm sure he wasn't the only one. Of course, my Grandfather probably would have been an academic had he not had to deal with being a Black youth in the Great Depression and all of the stuff that entailed, but I digress.

Also of note in the piece is that all of the students are minorities of some sort. I didn't know who was going to be contributing but I was hoping for at least one white person. Instead there are three Black males (including myself), one international student who appears to be from the Indian sub-continent of Asia, and one half white/half Latino person who for the last several years has been embracing his Latino side. This fantastic representation makes it seem as though only non-whites are doing the self-segregating. As though white people in no way contribute to the clumping based on ethnic lines in the world. That's ridiculous. But I can't criticize the Daily because I work for them so I'd better stop now. I think I have authorization to post on the Daily's blogs so maybe I'll try to put a version of this up there. Until next time, Peace and God Bless.

edit: I have successfully posted to the Michigan Daily blogs. The message is slightly different. If you want to comment just go here

-David Betts

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You should know that sometimes in the media that's the way it goes. Don't beat yourself up about it.
I will say about your fatalist fears about scholastically inclined Black people that you should always have hope. Some folks may not have had intense training under an instructor but are still EDUCATED by LIFE. This is my experience having left Michigan for almost two years now. There definitely are scholars and educated folks. Some of them know what they know about police corruption, parenting and the education system not because they read it in a book but they experienced it. I work everyday to validate my students' feelings by showing them the truth (facts and book knowledge) in what they feel. Sometimes what they feel is not justified and sometimes I have to burst their bubbles but more times my students have a general grasp on the stuff we have dug a little deeper to know about in college. My students are 18-21 years former out of school youth and predominately young black folk.
I don't talk to my students about things they "should" know. I talk to them about things they feel are important and I try to heighten there consciousness around that. You wouldn't believe how far that goes. One my students told our career counselor she wanted to go to the same college as me because Ms. M knows about everything. To me the thirst is out there for the masses who are not "scholastically inclined" but are we willing to help them in their pursuit?