Gregory Kane: No apologies for intelligence

Justin Hudson is a young, black, intellectually gifted graduate of New York City's prestigious Hunter College High School. And he feels pretty darned guilty about that.

Rapper Lil Wayne (born Dwayne M. Carter Jr.) is young, black and serving a one-year prison sentence for illegal gun possession. Carter has also made claims that he's a member of the Bloods street gang, and he doesn't feel guilty about a darned thing.

This state of affairs, dear reader, might be called black America's “Houston, we have a problem” moment, if indeed any of the mishmash of black leaders, spokespersons, activists and talking heads recognized it as a problem.

Those of us on the conservative side do. The liberal, left, progressive side? Well, not so much.

The latter feel the problems are racism, “structural inequality” and lack of diversity. Ah, diversity! That's what sent young Mr. Hudson into spasms of guilt.

HCHS accepts only those students considered intellectually and academically gifted. According to the school's Web site, “entrance to HCHS is by exam only. Students must qualify to take the Entrance Exam by achieving eligible scores on 5th grade NY state-wide tests.”

So students who want to attend HCHS have to do well on two tests: that state exam and then Hunter's own entrance exam. Doing well on that exam, we can assume, is no day at the beach.

(Students entering kindergarten at the K-through-six Hunter College Elementary School also have to take an exam. HCHS is a grade seven-through-12 school.)

In 1995, some 12 percent of seventh-graders entering HCHS were black and 6 percent were Latino. This past school year, the entering seventh-grade class had black and Latino enrollments of, respectively, 3 percent and 1 percent.

This state of affairs must have caused young Hudson no amount of consternation, so much so that he went down to the nearest precinct of the Diversity Police and lodged a complaint. At his graduation speech from HCHS this year, Hudson let everybody know what that complaint was.

“I feel guilty because I don't deserve any of this,” Hudson said. “And neither do any of you. We received an outstanding education at no charge based solely on our performance on a test we took when we were 11-year-olds, or 4-year-olds. We received superior teachers and additional resources based on our status as 'gifted,' while kids who naturally needed those resources much more than us wallowed in the mire of a broken system.

“And now, we stand on the precipice of our lives, in control of our lives, based purely and simply on luck and circumstance. If you truly believe that the demographics of Hunter represent the distribution of intelligence in this city, then you must believe that the Upper West Side, Bayside and Flushing are intrinsically more intelligent than the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Washington Heights, and I refuse to accept that.”

Hudson needs to accept this reality: As long as young black men apologize for being intelligent while some brag about being gangbangers and criminals, the percentages of black students at schools like HCHS will continue to go down. Hudson believes that New York City's public schools are part of a “broken system.”

Oh, something is clearly broken. It may indeed be the school system, which has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation. (Interesting, isn't it, that Hudson's indignation didn't inspire him to transfer to one of those schools with a low graduation rate?)

Or it may be a value system among some black Americans that celebrates thuggery and apologizes for academic achievement.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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