January 22, 2021
The color line continues to divide us. In today’s society, racial bias seems to be a constant part of our lives.
At the epicenter of racial discrimination lie discrepancies in academic achievements between individual races. These discrepancies are extremely noticeable in college applications, processes evaluated by life achievements, grades, and standardized test scores.
Perhaps the most notable discrepancies are found in Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) scores. Though some colleges have placed less importance on the tests recently, the tests remain an influential aspect for many admissions. Though the SAT and ACT are considered equal opportunities for all, the average scores amongst Asians are much higher than that of Hispanics or Blacks.
This leads to the incorrect assumption that low scores stem from race, genes, and effort. When measuring academic achievements, however, the financial status and opportunities that impoverished minorities have must be considered.
Impoverished minorities are typically not granted learning opportunities of the same caliber as those of higher social status. Due to their low financial position, children in poor communities are unprepared for school and have poorly educated family backgrounds.
Their unreadiness stems from high rates of depression caused by stress from economic instability. Such complications often hinder their abilities to learn and comprehend the curriculum. According to a Brookings Institution study, 48% of poor children were ready for school at age 5, compared to 75% of children from families with moderate and high income.
In addition, schools located in poor communities receive far less funding in comparison to wealthier communities. According to Stanford Professor Linda Darling Hammond, “Two-thirds of minority students still attend schools that are predominantly minority, most of them located in central cities and funded well below those in neighboring suburban districts.”
Unlike some European and Asian countries that fund all schools equally, wealthy school districts in America spend nearly ten times as much money as poor school districts. According to a study from “Educational Leadership,” poor schools often obtain fewer funds and grants than wealthy schools.
Because of their race, children of color are also subject to more bias and less likely to be considered gifted.
In a Cambridge University study, the “Unequal Returns to Children’s Efforts,” professors Calvin Rashaud Zimmermann and Grace Kao measured teacher evaluations of their students. Subsequently, they discovered that students of color were often at a disadvantage due to their race and gender. Despite having the same noncognitive skills and test scores, teachers often penalized colored students more than white students.
Such biases are apparent due to the ongoing effects of institutional racism. The normalcy of racism in our society resulted in the development of stereotypes.
“Eighth grade was an extremely frustrating time for me. I was of the small percentage of Asian students at my middle school, and I never really thought I fit in,” said Katherine Ni, a current graduate of The University of New York (NYU). “I was never necessarily great at math, which went against the Asian stereotypes. My teacher would often call on me and blatantly critique me. Once when I got a problem wrong, he even said, ‘You’re supposed to be good at this,’ referring to my Chinese heritage.”
These instances of implicit bias are not uncommon. According to an Ohio State study, implicit biases cause people to hold unfavorable attitudes and feelings towards others based on their race. Although such subconscious beliefs may seem harmless, they have a significant influence on minorities that later hinder their ability to succeed.