Did you know that 38 percent of America thinks blacks are less intelligent than whites?
Not only that, but 43.4 percent of America believes that blacks are less hard-working than whites and - even though the biggest mass murder in the history of this nation was committed by a white guy named Tim McVeigh, and the most esteemed American apostle of nonviolence of the 20th century is a black man named Martin Luther King - 43.7 percent of America thinks blacks are more violence-prone than whites.
Those numbers were given to me by Tom Smith when I called him last week. Smith is the director of General Social Survey of the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center.
Smith was citing the GSS 2000 report. And believe it or not, it reflects a more positive image of black America since the survey was first done in 1990. Sure, you could say: "Well, the majority of America thinks blacks are about equal with whites when it comes to intelligence, work ethic and violence. So that's good news."
It certainly is but before we start patting ourselves on the back, Smith reminded me that "a fair portion of the positive rankings come from the group itself."
So it appears that because most blacks who were surveyed thought of themselves as equal to whites when it comes to smarts, desire to work and violent urges, it is probably safe to assume that a majority of white brothers and sisters continue to look through a social lens tainted by the legacy of white supremacy.
So when I saw the story about a suit being brought against this lily-white boarding school in Groton buried in the New York Times last week, it caught my eye.
A former student of the Groton School, Cannon E. Hawkins, who is now a junior at Brown University in Providence, R.I, has filed a suit alleging that he and other students were routinely assaulted and sexually molested by schoolmates. The suit accuses school officials of failing to protect students who were attacked in their dorms and the school's dining room.
The Groton School, about a half-hour drive northwest of Boston, has an impressive alumni, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and McGeorge Bundy. The school bills itself as a place that not only cultivates academic excellence but also character and morals.
A recent capital campaign at the school quotes the father of the famed child psychiatrist Robert Coles: "Character is what you do when no one is looking."
The suit says the attacks began in 1996, and continued until the following year. "Three of the four boys will often pin a single boy down, grab his testicles, shove his fingers up his rectum, then lick his face," the Times reports.
Hawkins says he didn't file the suit until now because of "a code of silence that existed among the students, and because they were so widespread and appeared to be intertwined in the fabric of the school's environment."
The headmaster, William Polk, and Hardwick Simmons, Groton's board chairman and chief executive of NASDAQ, declined to comment.
Hawkins' father, Peter Hawkins, told the Times that his son and two other boys told Polk about the alleged assaults in March 1999. The response was a letter to parents in which "the administration appeared to minimize the accusations...describing them cryptically in (the) letter as 'alleged incidents occurring two years ago that involved male students and the violation of personal boundaries'."
When I finished reading the story I thought about Howard Snyder and Melissa Sickmund's 1999 report for the National Center for Juvenile Justice, which says that whites are twice as likely as blacks to be involved in child sexual molestation and are also more than twice as likely to kill their own parents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, whites are more likely to bring a weapon to school with them than are blacks. Remember "The Trench Coat Mafia"?
Beneath the Times story was an ad seeking donations for the United Negro College Fund. In the ad photo, there are two black, young brothers leaning against the wall of a building that is obviously in some urban ghetto.
They're sportin' the baggy pants with one pant leg pulled up. Their faces are pasted over with their apparent yearbook photos. Under the yearbook pictures are their names. Under their names, we read of Jason Banks' and Earl Dozier's "dream." Jason's dream is to study foreign relations and Earl's dream is to become a dentist.
Tell you what America: Let's re-invest in this nation's public school system, with a special focus on those languishing in malnourished inner-city schools - ya know those bottom of the "bell curve" kids; the ones that far too many white brothers and sisters think pose such a safety threat to their kids.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste - even the allegedly less intelligent and violence-prone minds of poor colored children.
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and syndicated columinist. He can be reached via email: email@example.com
Copyright © 2001 Cape Cod Times