Joseph C. Phillips

Conventional wisdom says that black parents are less actively involved in their children’s education; that there exists an anti-intellectualism in the black community such that academic achievement is seen as acting white; that Black students do not read or write as well as their white and Asian Counterparts and that the middle class achievement gap is due to racism as opposed to a gap in work habits. In addition, convention says Black boys are angry, prone to violence and better athletes than they are academics. And sometimes we black folk do things that play into the mythology.

My son told us about a Korean girl in his class whose opinions command influence among the other Asian girls in the school, or at least she thinks they do. According to him the students refer to her as the "queen of the Asians." She is a straight A student.

My sons’ little brother asked if there was a "Queen of the Blacks" at the school.

“Well,” my son replied, "there is a king of the blacks."

"Who is that?" his little brother asked.

My son responded, "He is this boy that got held back last year."

I cringed.

My wife cringed.

No doubt there is more to the story but on its face it is damning. How is it that the “queen of the Asians” is a straight “A” student while the “king of the Blacks” is the kid that flunked 8th grade?

This -- however badly we wish it wasn’t so - is the paradigm concerned Black parents are battling. This is what distinguishes us as parents from the parents of our son’s non-black friends. This is why his mother and I feel a tremendous pressure that our son NOT be the black kid that can’t make the grade; why we have no patience for shucking and jiving – why we are not satisfied with a B average. We cheat him if we do not push him to be better -- if we do not demand that he achieve. If he does not reach his fullest potential he cheats us. “To those to whom much has been given...” My son has been tremendously blessed and he is now charged with carrying the banner of the people. It may not be fair, but that is the way of the world.

Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.