Separatist graduation ceremonies

The Washington Post reports on the growing phenomenon of special graduation ceremonies for African-Americans and other minority groups at college campuses. For example, the University of Pennsylvania held a special ceremony for black seniors, another for Latino seniors, and a third for Asian American seniors, during the week leading up to Penn’s general graduation ceremony. These ceremonies reflect a larger campus phenomenon, which the Post describes (through the views of “oppenents” of affirmative action) as follows:
“Although many of the nation’s colleges now have substantial minority populations, those students often operate in parallel worlds that are frequently defined by race or ethnicity. They attend the same classes, but they often are members of separate fraternities, sororities and cultural centers, they study in separate groups, they eat at segregated dining tables and they unwind at separate parties.”
John McWhorter, a UC-Berkeley professor, adds:
“The fact that these ceremonies are so prevalent nicely shows that the common defense of racial preferences — that [they] put whites and blacks on the same campus to learn about and become comfortable with each other — is senseless. On the contrary, campuses are precisely where many black students learn a new separatist conception of being ‘black’ that they didn’t have before.”
It is difficult to avoid thinking that the separatist response of African-Americans on campus is, in significant part, a defense mechanism that comes into play because, as a result of being admitted with inferior qualifications, so many black students must struggle mightily if they are to compete successfully with white students.


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