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Articles | Living
Written by Morphus on Friday, 29 July 2011 14:21   

Just when you think bigotry can’t get any worse, along comes a situation like the disturbing message out of Arkansas

 

Trice-Edney Wire Service – Just when you think bigotry can’t get any worse, along comes a situation like the disturbing message out of Arkansas that is sent to Black students who achieve higher than their white schoolmates!

 

Kymberly Wimberly, a young Black student worked hard and earned the highest GPA in her graduating class. It is reported that school officials fearing a “big mess,” decided they’d better remedy the situation by allowing a white student with a lower GPA to be named “co-valedictorian.”

 

Former President Bill Clinton speaks out on almost every issue. Since this injustice happened in his state, I wonder “Where’s Bill?” Just imagine you have burned the midnight oil all through high school, made sacrifices to do your very best, learn that your efforts exceed all others, but just when you are ready to celebrate, you are told that somebody else with a lower GPA will be receiving one half of your honor without earning it! Talk about white and gender privilege! Yes, her co-valedictorian was a male student!

 

Kymberly has succeeded in spite of personal challenges. She pushed herself, taking honors and Advanced Placement courses, leading the pack as the highest achieving student in her graduating class at McGehee High School in Arkansas. She didn’t accept being a victim of anything. She did everything right to earn her status at the top, then racism took over. Not just one school official decided to dilute the meaning of “valedictorian”, but several school staff reportedly agreed!

 

Kymberly’s mother had been informed of her daughter’s honor by her counselor. Her counselor had already sent out a public announcement of her success. To top it off, Kymberly’s mother who worked at the school was denied appeal rights for some nebulous reason to this travesty of justice by the entire school system.

 

By the way, her principal who is charged with inspiring and uplifting all of the students and teaching them about fair play, is the number one culprit here. His name is Darrell Thompson—just so you’ll know him when he shows up at a big event preaching fairness and equality of opportunity. You will know he’s a fraud. Even if every other school official conspired to deny Kymberly her sole honor, the principal was responsible for being the grownup.

 

This action sends a horrible message to every young minority person striving to be the best. The logical question is, “If white and male privilege will trump anything I do, why bother?” Most parents teach their children about navigating systems that are inherently unfair, but how does a parent explain that one is subject to such bigotry in school where officials act in loco parentis?

 

Hearing about Kymberly’s case and seeing how disrespectful many of our nation’s leaders are to President Barack Obama, you know that we are not out of the woods on bigotry. There are days when I truly cannot listen to the news because the length to which some go to denigrate Black people is outrageous.

 

Arkansas already has its storied past when it comes to schools. Nine Black students faced down law enforcement officials, a governor and angry crowds trying to prevent Black and white children from having the same opportunities to obtain an equal education. The fight is not over. Let us embrace Kymberly and let her know that she is still special and even if an unjust system doesn’t recognize her achievement, we do. The National Congress of Black Women will reach out to her to cheer her on, and it is my prayer that others will want to join us in honoring Kymberly.

 

(Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. is Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. She’s Chair of the Board of the Black Leadership Forum in Washington, DC. To reach her, call 202/678-6788; e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or see website at www.nationalcongressbw.org.)

 

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