by David Safier
“[Minority] students who are told that things are fair implode pretty quickly in middle school as self-doubt hits them,” he said, “and they begin to blame themselves for problems they can’t control.”
While the sample was relatively small, [Erin Godfrey, lead author of the study] said the findings are informative and mirror prior research. Indeed, previous analyses have found that system-justifying beliefs are associated with lower self-esteem in black adults and lower grade-point averages for Latino college students.All of this brings us back to Mexican American Studies. The program spotlighted the history of prejudice and oppression directed at Hispanics in the U.S. No question, giving that kind of instruction to Hispanic students can make us advantaged white folks feel uncomfortable. It's nicer to believe we attained our positions in society on our own merits, not because we had a societal leg up on others. Our consciences rest easier if we don't hear a lot of talk about our deep, wide, far-reaching social inequalities. But if the study's conclusions are accurate, easing our consciences by encouraging a sanitized version of American history, sociology and economics in school is detrimental to students who are on the receiving end of the inequity. When minority students understand that obstacles have been put in their path, and in the path of their parents and their parents' parents, the weight of believing "It's all my fault" is lightened. Realizing that the societal playing field is uneven and they're the ones who have to run uphill makes it easier to internalize the feeling that they are in fact "created equal" with others who have greater advantages. That knowledge may lead to the desire to run a little harder, to show themselves and the world, "Yes I can" (possibly with a little "I'll show you, you son of a bitch!" thrown in).