Whitewashing valedictorians, girls rule at science, and the case of the laboring lawyer-to-be
A high school student in Arkansas was blocked from receiving sole valedictorian honors this summer, despite earning the highest G.P.A. in her class and receiving only a single B in her four years at McGehee Secondary School. Kymberly Wimberly’s offense? She’s black. School administrators worried that Wimberly’s accomplishment would result in a “big mess” at the majority-white school, so Principal Darrell Thompson told the student’s mother “that he decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian,” even though the white student had a lower G.P.A.
The mind reels. And then the mind gets suspicious.
I know some of you are willing to say “Eh, it’s Arkansas” and leave it at that. But when I think about how things tend to work in S.G., I’m not so sure it’s not happening here, too.
There are some damn smart students here whose family came from South of the Border — or, in some cases, whose family stayed still when the border moved south — but our roster of Valedictorians has been blindingly white. And when a not-so-pasty kid starts creeping up the class rank list, one of the children of the leading lights will suddenly come up with an extra-credit project that pushes them over the top. Either that, or one of our melanin-blessed classmates will get an unaccountably low score on a test or in chem lab. And if that melanin-blessed classmate is also gifted with ovaries? Well, deduct a letter grade for daring to bring that nasty egg-laying apparatus into science class. Everyone knows girl can’t do science!
(Which reminds me — I brought this clipping about the three female winners of the Google Science Fair to my Chem teacher. He took one look at the picture and said something about how they’re all Asian, so it doesn’t count. WTF?)
(Also, how freaking cool is it that the trophies are made of Legos?)
ANYway. I’m even more interested in this quote from an article on Alternet:
Wait, so she’s not just African-American, she’s also a teen mom? Good God, but wouldn’t the S.G. power structure be in a tizzy in that case! Because obviously, anyone who has kids can’t be using her brain for anything other than playdate schedules. Oh, sure, it’s fine for the rich wives of S.G. to have a little hobby career, but it’s not like it could ever be more important than raising the kids and keeping the hubby happy.
Which made me love this story, too: A woman in Chicago went into active labor while taking her Bar Exam — and calmly finished the test, then walked to the hospital. She gave birth two hours later. From the article: “I’d love to see a lawyer make a “women can’t be partners because they have babies” joke around this remarkable woman.”