A recent study at Ohio State University claims black students perform much better in academia when roomed with white students. If these same students are able to remain in the opposite-race coupling for more than eight weeks race relations improve, too. Dang! Now the trick is out of the bag. I've been deliberately placing myself in white environments in order to push my intellectual capacity and encourage diversity. Black folks just aren't challenging enough and they're certainly not open to a diversified world unless forced at gunpoint. I'm kidding, folks! I'm kidding. White people do not inspire to be on my best social or academic behavior, and I refuse to believe black people are reluctant to diversify their circles unless forced by law. Okay, I'm lying, a little.
During my undergrad years in Ohio I had three white roommates. Besides from my engineering roomie, I was considered the smartest. They were all impressed because "somehow" I tested out of math. Let me not lie, I was the one who told those guys I tested out of math. I wanted them to know they weren't dealing with some kind of handout brother. But that didn't stop their relentless questions about my hair and particularly, my musical tastes. So in an unhealthy effort to derail their stereotypes I insisted I listened to all types of music. Top 40, Indie, British Import and rarely, RARELY did I partake in rhythm and blues or what was called Urban Contemporary. I did, of course, but I felt challenged to speak against stereotypes. I also had the bizarre habit of announcing my quarterly grades in passing. I didn't even say Hello or Who ate my last piece of pizza? I was all about shoving my grades in their faces.
It's a painful thing to admit, but I'm afraid the recent study rings true. Thrown into the tizzy of white academia might put blacks in the academic hot seat and inspire unhealthy stereotype avoidance. Is that the correct phrasing? Yikes! I hope no white readers are reading.
Thoughts? Recollections? Testimonies?
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.