Where do differences come from: We thought of D’Leisha Dent this morning when we read Nicholas Kristof.
Kristof wrote a highly worthwhile column about economic inequality. When we read the following passage, we thought about educational inequality and a superlative kid who lives in Tuscaloosa:
KRISTOF (5/15/14): Inequality has become a hot topic, propelling Bill de Blasio to become mayor of New York City, turning Senator Elizabeth Warren into a star, and elevating the economist Thomas Piketty into such a demigod that my teenage daughter asked me the other day for his 696-page tome. All this growing awareness is a hopeful sign, because there are policy steps that we could take that would create opportunity and dampen inequality.When we read the highlighted passage, we thought about D’Leisha Dent.
We’re going to take a fairly safe guess—Kristof’s daughter is a superlative kid. According to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ report in The Atlantic, so is D’Leisha Dent.
As we’ve noted before, Dent is president of the senior class at Tuscaloosa’s Central High. She was homecoming queen this year. She’s on the mayor’s youth council.
She’s a three-time individual state champion in track.
There’s one major difference between the two teenagers in question. One grew up in a bookish environment, the other great kid didn’t. As a result, the one kid wants to read Piketty’s book, or at least she thinks she does. The other great kid, who wants to serve, may not get into college.
In theory, that’s what Hannah-Jones refers to when she pictures Dent doing better academically had she attended schools with more white and middle-class kids.
For our money, Hannah-Jones seems to be glossing reality a bit in those extremely brief, extremely easy ruminations. But that’s the theory which is at play in those moments.
Last night, we watched Don Lemon and his stooges as they battered Donald Sterling around. They’ll talk about Sterling till the year 2020 if the ratings hold.
We’d love to see them talk about Tuscaloosa’s kids—about what can be done to help them do better in school.
That will never happen, of course. There’s no sign that they care about that.
That said, we thought about Tuscaloosa’s kids when we read about Kristof’s daughter. In terms of future academic success, some kids grow up with a lot of advantages.
How do we spread those advantages to other kids? This question generates an amazing lack of interest.
On the other hand, Lemon’s panelists simply loathe racism. And they very much want you to know that.
Still coming: A look at the gap