Key Take-Aways: I agree with this move. There are more recent and more importantly, more appropriate novels that can be substituted to convey the same or similar message. As long as the novels are still accessible to the students in the schools, I take no issue with this. Not to mention, we’ve cannonized both books with respect to important Southern Literature. I’d like to see more diverse offerings given a chance to add their voices.
This is no slight against Harper Lee or Mark Twain. They are both deserving of all the accolades they receive. Let’s hope that other School Districts take similar steps.
Key Take-Away from Coates: Obama saw—at least at that moment, before the election of Donald Trump—a straight path to that world. “Just play this out as a thought experiment,” he said. “Imagine if you had genuine, high-quality early-childhood education for every child, and suddenly every black child in America—but also every poor white child or Latino [child], but just stick with every black child in America—is getting a really good education. And they’re graduating from high school at the same rates that whites are, and they are going to college at the same rates that whites are, and they are able to afford college at the same rates because the government has universal programs that say that you’re not going to be barred from school just because of how much money your parents have. “So now they’re all graduating. And let’s also say that the Justice Department and the courts are making sure, as I’ve said in a speech before, that when Jamal sends his résumé in, he’s getting treated the same as when Johnny sends his résumé in. Now, are we going to have suddenly the same number of CEOs, billionaires, etc., as the white community? In 10 years? Probably not, maybe not even in 20 years.“ But I guarantee you that we would be thriving, we would be succeeding. We wouldn’t have huge numbers of young African American men in jail. We’d have more family formation as college-graduated girls are meeting boys who are their peers, which then in turn means the next generation of kids are growing up that much better. And suddenly you’ve got a whole generation that’s in a position to start using the incredible creativity that we see in music, and sports, and frankly even on the streets, channeled into starting all kinds of businesses. I feel pretty good about our odds in that situation.”
The thought experiment doesn’t hold up. The programs Obama favored would advance white America too—and without a specific commitment to equality, there is no guarantee that the programs would eschew discrimination. Obama’s solution relies on a goodwill that his own personal history tells him exists in the larger country. My own history tells me something different. The large numbers of black men in jail, for instance, are not just the result of poor policy, but of not seeing those men as human. When President Obama and I had this conversation, the target he was aiming to reach seemed to me to be many generations away, and now—as President-Elect Trump prepares for office—seems even many more generations off. Obama’s accomplishments were real: a $1 billion settlement on behalf of black farmers, a Justice Department that exposed Ferguson’s municipal plunder, the increased availability of Pell Grants (and their availability to some prisoners), and the slashing of the crack/cocaine disparity in sentencing guidelines, to name just a few. Obama was also the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. There was a feeling that he’d erected a foundation upon which further progressive policy could be built. It’s tempting to say that foundation is now endangered. The truth is, it was never safe.
Key Take-Away Outside of the Fashion Lens: I loved The Cosby Show and ALL it represented. I still believe that the lessons The Cosby Show taught resonate today. It’s a Standard. But growing up and going through the college matriculation experience at roughly the same time as the cast of A Different World felt special. I connected to those characters in a way that rarely happens today.
It was appointment viewing for me.
About a year ago, I logged into our Netflix Account. And looking for something to Binge Watch, I happened to see ADW listed. It took me about a month to get through the First Season, but I laughed and enjoyed it as if watching it for the first time. It’s one of those things that I planned to pick up in the New Year. So I’m disappointed that it’s no longer on Netflix. And I don’t think we have an Amazon Prime Account. Anyway, I’ll figure it out.
I was reminded of it when I watched Dear White People. There are some components that are reminiscent of ADW. I see more of it in BET’s The Quad, which I am anxiously awaiting the return of in Mid-January. Partly, because Anika Noni Rose is on my Boo List.
Regardless, A Different World feels like a different time. Or maybe it’s just me being nostalgic.