Thomas Sowell

But in one sense I was much more fortunate than Ben Carson and other black youngsters today. The shock of being in a school, whose standards were higher than I was able to meet at first, took place in an all-black school in Harlem, so that there was none of the additional complications that such an experience can have for a black youngster in a predominantly white school.

By the time I first entered a predominantly white school; I had already caught up, and had no trouble with the school work. Decades later, in the course of running a research project, I learned that the Harlem school, where I had so much trouble catching up, had an average IQ of 84 back when I was there.

In the predominantly white school to which I later went, I was put in a class for children with IQs of 120 and up, and had no trouble competing with them. But I would have been totally wiped out if I had gone there two years earlier -- and who knows what racial hang-ups that might have led to?

Chance plays a large part in everyone's life. The home in which you are raised is often a big part of luck being on your side or against you. But you don't need parents with Ph.D.’s to make sure that you make the most of your education.

The kinds of things that statisticians can measure, such as family income or parents' education, are not the crucial things. The family's attitude toward education and toward life can make all the difference.

Virtually everything was against young Ben Carson, except for his mother's attitudes and values. But, armed with her outlook, he was able to fight his way through many battles, including battles to control his own temper, as well as external obstacles.

Today, Dr. Benjamin Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon at a renowned institution, Johns Hopkins University. But what got him there was wholly different from what is being offered to many ghetto youths today, much of which is not merely futile but counterproductive.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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