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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A thought on Peggy McIntosh’s essay on White privilege

By Jenny Jackson

 Special to CSMS MagazineThroughout my life, I have experienced situations where I can identify with the views of Peggy McIntosh. My daughter was placed in an advance math class when she was in the 8th grade. In the class, she was able to receive high school credit. Being the only African American student in the class made it very difficult for her.Although my daughter could do the assignments, she was never given the chance to prove herself. From the start, the teacher questioned her abilities to do the work. One day, the teacher called me in for a conference and told me that she didn’t think my daughter would do well in the class. As I began to look around in the class, I saw that my daughter was the only black student in her class. So I questioned the teacher about why she didn’t have a more ethnically diverse class, and she responded by saying “they just can’t keep up with the work.”I asked the teacher to please give my daughter a chance to prove herself, and if after four weeks she saw that she was not capable of doing the work, we would then place her in another class. The teacher said “okay.” Within those four weeks, my daughter began to excel in her math class.So, one day I was at worked and received a call from the teacher, asking me to come in for a parent conference. Nervously, I ran to the school. When I arrived at the school, the teacher was in the front office, waiting for me. We began to talk, and she told me that my daughter had the highest grade in her class. Then she began to apologize to me for assuming that my daughter wouldn’t do well in her class because she was African American. “A lot of African American students don’t put effort into doing their work, and didn’t care about education,” she said. The teacher also stated that “ethnic” parents don’t take time with their children, so that’s why they don’t do well in school. I had to quickly let her know that this African American girl has two loving parents who always take time to teach her. We have always told her that education is power, and without it, you will get nowhere in life.My daughter has since graduated from high school in the top 5% of her class. She is now attending Florida State University, and she has recently been inducted into the National Honor Society for Collegiate Scholars.Note: Jenny Jackson is a writer living in Mobile, Alabama. She wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine.Also see The road to paradise is not always rosy for university graduates

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