May 17, 2008

First White Valedictorian at Morehouse College

I must admit that I was a bit ambivalent when I saw this headline and read this article. Part of the reason for black universities was to raise the status and education of black people, and for a white person to go in there and become valedictorian seemed to be an insult, even if he's the best performer out there.

On the other hand, there really is no reason to segregate based on race since schools like Morehouse are predominantly black. Black people can still go there and feel as if they aren't the minority, and they can focus on building up their culture through an educational institution that puts their needs first. Plus, trends don't go on forever; after 140 black valedictorians who preceded Packwood, one would expect that a non-black valedictorian would eventually emerge.

So after pondering the situation, I can't see any reasons not to celebrate this guy's achievement. It's clear from the article that he's a bright guy and quite popular with the other students. Plus, there was a quote that 44's might find funny:
"One guy came up to me and told me -- he didn't like the fact that I was here," recalls Packwood. "He absolutely didn't like the fact that I dated black women."

"So I heard him out, and said, 'I appreciate your opinion but don't agree with what you have to say,'...and now we've become, not necessarily close, but very cool," Packwood says.

About Packwood's detractors, he says:
Even though he received the support of school administrators, Packwood's scholastic success did not come without some controversy. When word got out that he might become the next valedictorian, some of his classmates - even friends - were admittedly chafed.

"They approached me and said, 'Yeah, I have a problem with you being valedictorian. I know you've earned it and even though I know you on a personal level - I like you a lot - but it disturbs me that out of roughly 3,000 black men - there's not one that's done as well as or better than you academically,' " says Packwood.

I don't think people should be disturbed though. He's just 1 out of 140, and from the description about Packwood and his popularity at the university, it's clear that he's genuine. Plus, it's just grades. It's not as if he's claiming to be anything other than what he really is.

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