The Mythology of Shaming Achievement

Onyx Contributor:  Johnny Silvercloud (@JohnnySilverclo)

The Mythology of Shaming Achievement

I remember coming up as “one of the smart” kids in school.  After a night of reading past what the teacher intended I would be found in class with my hand raised all the time until I learned that the teacher got tired of me knowing the material.  The moment I noticed the teacher disrespected my arm in the air, I’d just call out the answer.  Why?  Because I knew the answer, knew the material, and I was proud of the fact.  In fact I was so proud that, almost in an arrogant sense, I was offended that I wasn’t called on.  I mean after all, my hand was up first right?  Why wait three minutes for someone else to raise their hand when I had the ONE hand raised?

Were there kids who tried to subtract from me due to me being smart?  Absolutely.  But is this a uniquely black thing?  Absolutely not.

This is relevant because Charles Barkley — the new black conservative cheerleader who made a career ironically out of proclaiming “he’s not a role model” — attempt to highlight social ills as if they are unique to only the black community when they are not.  In this case, it would be academic shaming.

I remember academic shaming.  But strange enough, academic shaming exists in all sub-cultures in the United States.  I can’t fault “Sir Charles” too much being that he’s an ex-basketball player and I shouldn’t expect anything looking like a well-studied, “educated-in-psychology” answer from him, but if he would have read this sociological finding he’d realize that academic shaming exist across all races and ethnicities.  It is NOT a uniquely black thing.  It is not something that only blacks do.  On a scientific basis, it has been debunked.  Further, it’s categorically absurd to ask or beg only blacks to NOT do something that everyone else is doing.

Jocks versus Nerds

To place this numerically, there are 38.9 million blacks in America, opposed to 223.5 million whites.  If both groups engage in jocks versus nerds bantering, it’s idiotic to ask ONLY one group — only 38 — to not do something about their jocks vs. nerds issues.  In white communities this phenomenon manifests in less racialized terms, but it’s still there.  Instead of “sounding/acting white”, it’s “sounding/acting snobbish” and other select words that have the same meaning.  This goes further when you cross the Bible Belt into Red State rural America where whites will shame other whites for sounding or acting “liberal” when free thought is taking place.  Speaking of Charles Barkley, how come there’s no “white Sir Charles” equivalent to address academic shaming in white society?  In politics?

As an adult black male who goes back into “the hood” every so often, I like to point out that there’s virtually NO ostracizing of any intelligently sounding black people.  This is probably due to the fact that it’s reasonable to consider that black professionals will be articulate and diligent speakers just like any other social group.

Is it a moot point to bring up how much black people celebrate black academic success?  Every year since 2010, Englewood’s Urban Prep Academy for Young Men boasts 100% graduation and college acceptance among it’s seniors.  Historical black colleges that continue to exercise immense esprit de corps and academic achievement seem to be rooted much more on Afrocentricity than Eurocentric values.

Being that this discussion has been brought to light to provide a smoke screen for the apparent law immunity police have in killing unarmed Afro-Americans, let’s also bring up the fact that civil rights or human rights are UNCONDITIONAL, which means that respectability should NOT be affixed to admirability in the first place.  The black on black academic shaming, much like anything that has “black on black” in it’s title, is a myth, at best.

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