BY KELLY HAND
On November 16, the National Book Foundation awarded Ibram X. Kendi the National Book Award for Nonfiction for his book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. We congratulate him and commend the National Book Foundation for its excellent choice!
Based on an excerpt from the book, Kendi’s Academe article, “Why Standardized Tests Have Standardized Postracial Ideology,” appears in the new November–December issue of Academe, which focuses on race on campus. In the article, Kendi takes a critical look at the assumptions about “race-neutral” admissions factors underlying arguments against affirmative action. He considers standardized testing as a manifestation of postracial ideology, which perpetuates the illusion that America has become a “color-blind” society. His article traces this ideology in the legacy of the 1978 US Supreme Court decision in Regents v. Bakke, which ruled 5–4 against the University of California Davis’s setasides for nonwhite students in its medical school admissions. The result of this precedent against quota systems is that black students are now about five times less likely to enroll in highly selective colleges and universities when compared to their white peers than they were at the time of the decision.
For Kendi, fighting against standardized tests is essential to the fight against racism and postracial ideology. He writes, “These tests have failed time and again to achieve their intended purposes: measuring intelligence and predicting future academic and professional success. The tests, not the black test-takers, have been underachieving.”
Read Kendi’s article online and share it with your friends and colleagues.