But behind the different priorities of black students -- and of their parents -- is a pervasive suspicion and hostility to the white school authorities and to the whole culture which they perceive as a white culture that they must resist as a threat to black "identity." At least, that is how Professor Ogbu sees it.
Unfortunately, the very same apathy can be found among black students and parents where the school authorities are black. I saw it when I taught at a black college -- Howard University -- in the early 1960s, when there was no affirmative action and no "white culture" or "white power structure" as distractions.
The cold fact is that there was never any reason in the first place to expect all groups to have the same interest or the same performance, whether in education or anywhere else. Whites do not do as well as Asian Americans in either educational institutions or in the economy. And they can't blame racism.
Malays do not do nearly as well as the Chinese in Malaysia.
Sinhalese have not done nearly as well as Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Northerners have not done nearly as well as southerners in Nigeria.
None of this means that it is OK for black students to keep doing less than their best and to keep falling behind. It does mean that the time is long overdue for realism and honesty -- and for getting rid of racial hype and the claim that it is all whitey's fault. The issue is not protecting the image of blacks but keeping a whole generation from destroying their own future.