In a recent column [When the spell gets broken, News, July 7], Michael Romain quotes a very perceptive high school student, who said, “I think OPRF and the Oak Park community kind of have a way of trying to slowly suck the Blackness out of you.”

This statement helped crystalize some inchoate thoughts I have been having about closing the achievement gap. The goal, viewed in one way, is yet another way to impose the dominant (i.e. white) culture’s values on a class that may not fully embrace them. Academic achievement should be available to everyone, but it should not be an end in itself. The guiding principle should be that everyone must be treated with respect and fairness, not that everyone should strive to be a National Merit Scholar.

The young woman quoted above has hit upon a great truth: many efforts to “elevate” Black people are nothing more than an attempt to Caucasian-ize a vital culture that has plenty to offer outside of currently accepted (white) societal norms.

James Whalen

Oak Park

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