…Black students who graduate from elite colleges consistently gravitate toward less prestigious – though by no means less important – jobs in fields perceived as directly addressing social and racial inequities, such as education, social work and community and nonprofit organizing, the author found.
Beasley was inspired to look into the issue while in graduate school at Stanford University, after the dot-com boom hit. She was puzzled that none of her black peers from undergrad at Harvard University seemed to be taking part in the boom. Through a statistical analysis for her master’s thesis, Beasley realized black students were largely absent from science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as other corporate fields.
“College offers black students chances to do the same kinds of networking and to be exposed to the same information that most white students have had their entire lives,” Beasley writes. Yet, many of the students she interviewed socialized primarily with other black peers. “While black students may derive substantial value from these networks, there is also a considerable downside to their separation from the wider campus community. Racially integrated networks provide access to information otherwise unavailable to these students, including the existence of occupations they had never considered, the awareness of how to obtain training for them, and connections to professionals (white and nonwhite) who possess them.”
Hire – and retain – more minority faculty members. When students see professors of color, it sends a message that an institution truly cares about diversity, Beasley writes. And more minority faculty will likely mean more (and better) courses on the plight of people of color. Too often, Beasley says, students think the only issue African Americans face is poverty, and the only great literature and art was created by old white men. Courses focused on marginalized populations should be required for students, she says. “True diversity transcends numbers and requires an institutional commitment from the top down,” Beasley writes. “Universities that express an interest in diversity should consider how consistent that message is, not only in admissions or dorm life, but in the types of courses offered and the interactions between faculty, administrators and students.”
– from Inside Higher Ed
Dear Professor Beasley,
Really? You think a black student at Stanford can’t figure out that maybe being an engineer (assuming they have the talent and math skills) would be a good career choice? They have no idea what it might take to be an engineer or how to find out (this, in the age of Google)? What the heck are they doing at Stanford in the first place? Your whole premise is ridiculous and condescending to basic common sense. Plus, it should be pointed out that most great literature and art (although not all) was in fact created by old white men (most of whom are dead)! So Standford would be doing its black students a favor if it exposed them to the classics of Western Civilization. My guess, however, is that they can get through four years of college there without reading too many Greek/Roman/European/English/American classics and probably can take plenty of courses on black lesbian authors of the Caribbean or some such nonsense and call it a day.
P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t draw your attention to this wonderful comment posted to your article on the Inside Higher Education website:
“I have an idea. Lets have a civil war, get maybe 600,000 people killed, so that black people can be freed from chattel slavery. See how that works for 100 years or so. Then lets overhaul our whole society, modify our laws and set up a massive wealth transfer system to ensure black people can succeed in America. Then after, say another 45 years or so, we won’t have to have these stupid discussions and nobody will call us racist or anything anymore.” — from Vanguard of the Commentariat
12/12/11 UPDATE: Some additional interesting thoughts from Simon Grey on this subject over at Le Cygne Gris.