In a recent op-ed column Derrick Z. Jackson called out Dartmouth College after another instance of racial insensitivity occurred on its campus. As with any form of isolation, the “cloistered” environments that insulate our most privileged communities can become breeding grounds for fantasy and delusion. How else could white fraternity students think that sponsoring a “Blood and Crips” party was ever a good idea?
Our role as educators is to penetrate provincialism and ignorance wherever found. That Dartmouth, one of our nation’s premier academic institutions, could not perform so basic a function is disheartening.
Sadly, we live in a time when, even though our nation’s president happens to be black, pockets of ignorance still remain and continue to damage the thinking, not to mention the humanity, of many people. As Jackson rightfully suggests, “ghettos” can come in many forms, any place where lack — material, intellectual, moral, or otherwise — exists in concentrated amounts.
Ghettos, whether spurred by privilege or by poverty, should be something from which those who live in them do all their best to escape. As educators, our charge is to aid in those escapes whenever possible.