Sunday, April 06, 2008


A friend alerted me to this Houston Chronicle article dated April 3, 2008, in which we learn that

Houston eighth-graders posted a five-point gain on the writing portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, but still lagged behind many of their classmates in urban school systems across the country.

...The sampling of 139,000 eighth-graders across the country who took the exam — dubbed the Nation's Report Card — posted an average score of 154 out of a possible 300. Texas students earned a 151, down one point from 2002, the last time the writing exam was given.

...Only middle-schoolers in Cleveland and Los Angeles posted scores lower than HISD's 143 average, according to 2007 results released Thursday.

Well that's bad news, but it's delivered in a pretty straightforward manner. Until you get to this sentence, which she, and I, have a problem with. Can you tell why?

...And the 11 percent of HISD test-takers who are either Anglo or Asian scored 171 points, well above Hispanics' 138 and blacks' 140. Hispanic and black students in Houston did see six- and four-point gains, respectively.

Hmmm. I have some questions.

1. Why are Anglos and Asians linked together? Who's scores were highest?

2. Why are "Anglo," "Asian," and "Hispanic" all capitalized, but "black" isn't?

3. Most importantly, why, even though Blacks have higher scores, are we listed dead last?

Why do we always have to be at the bottom, even when we're not? And identified with a lower case letter? Come on now.
As Fannie Lou Hamer said, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. If you are too, drop the author a line to let her know how you feel.


DP said...

Isaiah - That's foul any way you look at it. Real curious what the Chronicle has to say about all of your questions.

That Girl Boo said...

that sounds straight up racist to me, how narrow mined can these folks at the chron be?
certainly they will say that it's a typo

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Some whites express that they are terribly offended by the capitalization of the word "Black". This is an example of their color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior.

While we can only speculate based on the information at hand why the capitalization of the word "Black" offends them so, I suspect it is because they think that "Black" is a merely a skin color and not an ethnic group. Of course, we regularly capitalize the words "Irish" and "Hispanic" and "Italian" because we recognize that the names of ethnic groups should be capitalized.

However, because Blacks were brought to the United States and so many other countries as slaves, we don't know the individual African countries from which we came, otherwise we could refer to ourselves as "Angolans", and that would of course be capitalized.

The term "African-American" is capitalized, however many Black people are not American, although most of us are African.

During American slavery and slavery elsewhere, it was more important to whites to distinguish us from themselves, by referring to the fact that our skin was darker, than it was to permit us to maintain a knowledge of our specific origins in African countries. They stole this knowledge from us as part of the enforcement of slavery.

Now, having stolen from us the African country name that would be capitalized when referring to our origins, they ALSO want to take advantage of that historic abomination to deny many of us the right to capitalize the ethnic name which we carried for decades, before the term "African-American" came into vogue.

Finally, I suspect that capitalizing the word "Black" means that we are a people, a political group, however subjugated we may be, rather than just a skin color, and that's what offends some whites. When "Black" is not capitalized, it conforms to the idea that there is a "black race" that is fundamentally biologically different from the "white race", biologically in significant ways, ways other than skin color. When Black is capitalized, it is an assertion that "Black" is really a different political and social identity rather than a biologically different sub-genus of the human species.

Whites insist that we must be considered different, but it must be based on our skin color, not based on a common identity, which is something they find terribly threatening and arrogant of us. Capitalizing the word "Black" implies and creates the threat of a Black political and social force. Fearing this, whites insist upon NOT capitalizing the word "Black", lest they admit the existence of social and political forces that they do not understand and cannot control.

These, I believe, are some of the color-aroused ideational, emotional and behavioral aspects of whites' insistence that we not capitalize the word "Black" and that they will not capitalize the word "Black."

DP said...

Francis, I agree that Black as it's used in America is a proper noun referring to an ethnic group. In other words it should be capitalized. The discussion going on in the Afrosphere about this issue has given us some different perspectives to consider, and you know, I'm starting to buy into your theory of color aroused ideation. Any way you look at this it's pretty much irrational to not capitalize the word when it refers to an ethnic grouping. At the least, if the editorial board refuses, then use African-American in those instances where multiple ethnic groups are referred to.