Student A, who describes himself as black and Hispanic, receives a 98 on a statistics test; his professor also writes “excellent” beneath the grade. Student A peers at the tests of blonde, blue-eyed Students B and C, both of whom have told him their parents are WASPs. They both received grades of 100, but the professor—at least as far as Student A can see based on his (seemingly improper) peeking at their exams—did not write “excellent” beneath their grades.
What does the above scenario indicate?
a.) The professor liked Student A, and didn’t particularly like Students B or C.
b.) Student A’s test score was a dramatic improvement from his previous performance, so the professor wanted to give him particular encouragement, while Students B and C had been consistently excellent.
c.) Student A’s exam had been on the top of the pile, while those of Students B and C were on the bottom. The professor got progressively more tired as she graded the exams, and by the time she got to the bottom of the pile, simply indicated grades without any additional commentary.
d.) The professor’s implied message was that scoring a 98 was exceptional for Student A because he's black and Hispanic, but not for the white students.
If you answered a, b, or c, you might console yourself for having common sense—but you should also immediately withdraw your application from any Group of 88-dominated department at Duke.
In the scenario above, Student A was none other than Group of 88 extremist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva; and he recounted the story, with option (d) as his explanation for the event, to the Duke Public Relations office for its article commemorating him and fellow 88’er Paula McClain as two of the three members of the entire Duke faculty singled out for their “mentoring” of Ph.D. students.
Obviously, “mentoring” in this case means training students to be extraordinarily sensitive to any potential racial, ethnic, sexist, or heterosexist slight, no matter how remote the probability.
As for Student Bonilla-Silva’s statistics professor: she should learn from this episode that no good deed goes unpunished, and should remember that the next time she wants to praise a student for a job well done, she might be setting herself up to be attacked as a covert racist.