Century Marks

Century Marks

Classroom diversity

A growing body of research indicates that diversity in the classroom contributes to childhood development. Kids who make friends with kids from other races in school are better able to handle diversity and their academic performance is improved, according to a study done at New York University. Without assistance from teachers, however, the tendency over time is for same-race relations to increase and cross-race relations to decrease (NPR, July 12).

Repressed past

When Margaret Biser led tours at a historic location in the South that included a plantation, she’d occasionally get hostile responses from people who didn’t want to hear about slavery. Many white people expressed genuine ignorance about the slaves. They suggested that slave owners took care of their slaves out of the goodness of their hearts rather than economic self-interest. Many realized that field slaves had a hard life, but they thought that house slaves had a sweet deal (Vox, June 19).

Under siege

Attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt are spiraling out of control, according to Bishop Angaelos, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom. These attacks have been fueled by inflammatory rumors that Christians are building new churches in Egypt and that Christians and Muslims have engaged in affairs. In one instance, a 70-year-old man was stripped and paraded naked through the streets of Minya before he was killed. Coptic churches and the homes of Coptic Christians have been torched. Lack of local law enforcement, says Bishop Angaelos, gives license to more attacks by radicals (Christian Today, July 25).

Good news on wages

It has been popular on the left to point out that the richest 1 percent of people have captured 99 percent of all new income since the recovery from the great recession. But that figure is out of date. The income gains by the 1 percent are down to 57 percent. Incomes for people outside the 1 percent increased by 3.9 percent last year, the highest figure since 1999. As the number of unemployed people has shrunk, workers are again able to demand higher wages. Walmart, Starbucks, Target, and McDonald’s have raised employee salaries (New York Magazine, July 27).

Calhoun at Yale

Three months ago Yale University announced it had decided to keep John C. Calhoun’s name on one of its residential colleges. Calhoun was a defender of slavery before the Civil War and a notorious racist. Yale defended its decision, saying that the sordid history associated with slavery couldn’t be expunged from the record, and the presence of Calhoun’s name on campus should encourage wrestling with that history. After widespread objections from faculty members and students, Yale recently announced the formation of a committee to study the issue. In a widely cited essay, American history professor Matthew Frye Jacobson asked: “Have you ever reflected on how it might feel to go to school and be assigned to a residential college named for Joseph Goebbels?” (Inside Higher Ed, August 2).