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The Concept of Minority and School Achievement

This week was focused on three key articles including Variability in Minority School Performance: A Problem in Search of an Explanation by John U. Ogbu, Behind the Model-Minority Stereotype: Voices of High – and Low – Achieving Asian American Students by Stacey J. Lee, and It’s Not “A Black Thing”: Understanding the Burden of Acting White and Other Dilemmas of High Achievement by Karolyn Tyson, William Darity, and Domini R. Castellino. I had successful discussions about the different views raised in these articles with my group members Youngjin, Myoung-Hwan, Yunjoo, and DaEun. This was spiced up with my experience when I interviewed three immigrant students at the UCSD about minority issues and immigration. I interviewed James Hernandez from Mexico, Ki Sigh from South Korea, and Pavitrah Shah from India about their view on the meanings of minority and immigration.

After reading Variability in Minority School Performance: a Problem in Search of an Explanation by John U. Ogbu, I came up with the opinion that the performance of minority students in school is influenced by their initial experiences starting from the use of their language and culture (Ogbu 320). They go to school knowing that they are minorities after all. We had extensive discussions in the group and Youngjin confirmed that there might be a cyclical occurrence of the factors affecting the performance of minority students. This means that they are transferred from one generation to the next. Myoung-Hwan and Yunjoo agreed that most students from minority backgrounds feel intimidated from the beginning of their school, and are not motivated to perform once they get to school. Lastly, DaEun suggested that the economic situation at home might be the key contributor to their dismal performance at school. All these opinions confirmed mine own that initial experiences affect the performance of minority students.

In line with Behind the Model-Minority Stereotype: Voices of High and Low Achieving Asian-American Students by Stacey J. Lee I held the opinion that the hope for a perfect future for minority students is the only thing that is likely to inspire their performance (Lee 417). Signs of a bleak future dampen their interest in schooling hence leading to poor performance. We discussed this and Youngjin emphasized that it is not easy for one to work hard in academic matters without the promise of quality life in the future, and this is the case with most minority students. Additionally, Myoung-Hwan noted that continued economic dominance of the majority in the society tends to predict a dark economic future for most minorities and this affects their children directly through the loss of learning motivation. Yunjoo and DaEun summed up the discussion by agreeing that most minority students grow up in poor backgrounds and they tend to believe that they cannot change the situation no matter how much they achieve in their academic work. These opinions are supported by positions in the best ways possible.

Regarding the article It’s Not “A Black Thing”: Understanding the Burden of Acting White and Other Dilemmas of High Achievement by Karolyn Tyson, William Darity, and Domini R. Castellino, I held the opinion that the changing desire to work and read like Whites has negated the ability of black students to succeed in their academics (Tyson, Darity and Castellino 590). In tandem with this, Youngjin affirmed that most of these minority students are not proud of themselves at times and this kills their ability to succeed. Myoung-Hwan stated that the culture of copying and acting like students from other races has been detrimental to the success of black students because they lose motivation once they fail to get the exact picture of their desired images. More so, Yunjoo reiterated that the adolescence stage has been the worst in terms of killing the dreams of most black and other minority students, because they lose track of what they want to become. Lastly, DaEun confirmed that it would be crucial to speak to black and other minority students to appreciate and utilize their identities for success. The road to success begins with the appreciation of identity and the maximization of the opportunities that come with it. Overall, group members confirmed my view that most students from minority backgrounds seem to work in the shadows and dreams of acting like the minority hence failing in their academic journey.

Experience

Understanding the concepts of minority and immigration is vital for everyone, especially for international students. I got the opportunity to talk to James Hernandez from Mexico, Ki Sigh from South Korea, and Pavitrah Shah from India about their understanding of the concepts of minority and immigration. All these individuals are students from UCSD.

In the course of the interview, I learnt a lot from the answers given by each respondent. When asked about the meaning of minority, James Hernandez stated that the thing that comes to his mind is being the least in terms of population in respect to other groups. In his opinion, immigration is all about moving from another country to another because of varied reasons such as access to opportunities. In the overall sense, Hernandez stated that the concepts of minority and immigration bring the image of imbalance in his mind, and he has seen this in his society back in Mexico where the minorities do not get similar treatment to the majority.

Ki Sigh also had his own opinions. On the meaning of minority, Sigh stated that it might mean the less appreciated people. He also pointed out that he understands immigration as the aspect of moving from one place to another with for designated reasons. The image that comes to his mind when thinking of immigration and minority is that of inequality. He says he has witnessed this across the world.

Lastly, Pavitrah Shah said that the first thing that comes to her mind when she hears of the word minority is the less populated group in the society. On the concept of immigration, she pointed out that she understands it as a movement from one country to another and it might be caused by both desirable and undesirable factors such as war. The key image that these words conjure in her mind is that of ethnicity and racism. She says she has witnessed this in her country India and even in the U.S.

All these issues resonate with what we have learnt in the sociology class because they effectively relate to the aspects of identity and appreciation within the society. For instance, minority students believe that they have to appreciate their identities first before tasting any form of success in their academics, and this directly relates to what we have studied in the course.

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