This I Believe

Matthew - Plymouth, Michigan
Entered on April 18, 2007

The Ethnic Response to Scholastic Success

In terms derived from the general public, success is the opposite of failure. Failure in general refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective. Throughout history, mankind has been dependent on meeting certain goals or achieving a social status that in turn is seen as a success to others. Whether or not this goal is truly a success means nothing unless he or she is perceived in a positive or negative way to society. Although success is a qualitative amount, there are many indirect ways to label ones status. When dealing with ethnicity, is it uncommon for students to understand their status just by the color of their skin? Although race detects certain biological differences, it however has no barrier on the amount of material a student may conceive academically. I believe that success is defined differently, both academically and socially, to certain ethnicities.

White and Asian students define success in school as earning high grades due to the misconception that both these races are the backbone of the white collar world. One can argue that these ethnicities are superior academically because of their leading role in politics and international business. However, while society labels these races academically superior, the strive to succeed is upheld at a higher standard. No longer are students satisfied with average grades and no longer are teachers and/or professors giving the students a chance to fail. In all reality a failure is the mistake from which people can grow and learn from. It is understood that both Asian and White nationalities must not fail because failure is not an option.

African-American students define success as doing as well as other black students and not failing because society undermines their ability to strive as a white collar citizen. Unlike the White and Asian races, the African nationality does not have a strong arm in parliament nor an equal say in foreign affairs. Broken from the poverty and genocides happening in Africa and South America, the African culture is more accustomed to failure than success. While those third world countries may not have a direct influence on African Americans, it is understood that American society downgrades their chance of success due to similar instances. Poverty strikes many African American households daily. As the value and condition of living decreases, one would believe the chances for a good education would also decrease. The discussion is not whether these low-educated Americans can become academically inspired to succeed, yet that the percent of failure is dramatically increased.

Hispanic students define success as attaining a white-collar job in an office after graduation because the high school diploma far exceeds their expectation for success. While illegal immigrants continue to enter the United States, Hispanics are viewed as working class citizens. Although Hispanics consider graduating from high school a success, the general public views it as a failure. To society, it’s just never good enough.

The American society believes that academics are the measurable substance that high school students need to turn success from qualitative to quantitative. I believe that if educators would rather preach than teach and let society realize that it is not the grade on the paper that matters, but what the mind, body, and heart are capable of, then society would never be fixated on success. The fixation of success is the result of society unable to fail. Success is an immeasurable substance that will never be calculated on a notepad, yet written in stone within every failures heart.