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Leveling the Playing Field?

Michaela's picture

Can education create a level playing field? For Kai Davis, education simply reminded her of the lower playing field that she was expected to live, work, and die at. Her white classmates were surprised to see that she could excel in the AP classes that they believed to be above her level, creating a dichotomy of "us" versus "them" wherein she was out of the place that had been prescribed for her by her pigmentation. She also seemed disappointed with the reaction of her African American peers, feeling like "having a 4.0 made [her] 4 shades lighter," setting her apart from the "normal" black students who struggled to stay in school and keep their grades up. Being smart was a "white" trait, one that Kai was seemingly betraying her race to have.

It's interesting to think about whether affirmative action is a force to level the playing field, or whether it further separates African American students from their white peers. Are we really encouraging diversity? Or does it create isolation within top universities for diverse students, while leaving other members of their race behind who have not met the bar to come and be isolated?

While I am firmly pro-affirmative action, it's troubling to think about the way diverse students are regarded when outside of their "normal" playing fields.


Jomaira's picture

I actually had a student at

I actually had a student at Bryn Mawr, ask me if I believe in affirmative action, since it had gotten me here. I can definitely understand your point.