The Color of Character

Self Esteem The Easy Way

Big bowl of self esteem

Self Esteem on a Platter

In The Color of Character, I write about the difficulties of integrating a junior high school in 1970. One of the observations of the story’s protagonist was that his black classmates were being handed a random collection of reasons as to why they “should have self esteem.” As if you can be talked into having self esteem, as opposed to developing it over years of positive enforcement from dedicated parents, teachers, and society in general when you do the right things . This “If I say it enough, it will be true,” approach failed to assist the black students in their studies or social relationships with their classmates. They were told they were fine as they were, and that the world owed them, well…the world. If anything made a black student feel less than superior, such as a math class, a history lesson seen as written with a Eurocentric viewpoint, or a political point of view, then the administration saw it as a danger that could take away a black child’s self-esteem, thereby preventing that child from advancing in life.

Eliminate Challenges That Lead to Growth

Apparently the thinking then – and now – is that rather than give the student the tools to learn, develop critical thinking skills, and the motivation to master a subject or a challenge, it is better to lower the bar, remove the threat, and hand out an award for showing up as whatever minority identity you claim. And it seems everyone is claiming some sort of minority identity exempting them from advancing and learning by the efforts of themselves, their families, and dedicated educators.

You Get Out What You Put In

What has been the result of this approach? I hold up the typical American high school graduate or drop out as an example – particularly members of minority classes. The herd mentality, lack of critical thinking skills, inability to form a cohesive paragraph or to speak proper English, solve a basic algebra problem, dress to impress, or display even the basic knowledge of how our democracy works is the result. The bar has been lowered. But thank heavens no one’s feelings have been hurt. Isn’t that great?

A few years back, if someone told me I’d be quoting from a “right of center” periodical (and doing it with greater frequency), I’d have told that person they were mistaken. That is no longer the case. Read the following article from American Thinker.  Read here. In my opinion, if you don’t agree with the author, than you are ignoring what we already know to be the results of this kind of attempt at boosting someone’s self-esteem. “Look here. The part of the map from which your ancestors came is now larger, so you are now more important than you were, and your self-esteem should be growing.”

Someone Gets Paid to Think About This

The person whose job it is to determine that removing these self esteem busting maps from our classrooms is fooling himself. He will have accomplished nothing. I’ve seen this before. If it isn’t maps, it’s something similar. These are red herrings. Distractions from real work. I lived it. I see the results of it every day on the streets, on job applications we receive, in the media, and any other real or virtual place. Efforts like the one belittled in the article offer no practical assistance to struggling black children, nor do they help foster serious dialogue about how to improve their condition or race relations. Good people who want to make a difference don’t want to waste time on superfluous nonsense.

If you had a crystal ball, do you think you would see a future where this revised map will eliminate racism, improve racial understanding, elevate a child’s self esteem, or give him the skills and knowledge he or she needs to better his or herself? Perhaps that is the next item on this person’s list of dangers to eliminate.

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