Let us use this time of pandemics and protest to refocus on that vitally important part of our mission, to try harder to fully realize what our nation hails as self-evident truths
I often point out the benefits of a college education, especially a liberal-arts education. A recent Associated Press article highlights yet another reason to get an education beyond high school.
The data show that college-educated students are faring much better, with half the unemployment rate of others in this COVID-19 era.
The nation’s racial divide and related socioeconomic disparities are being made more obvious by COVID-19,"
One privilege accorded more often to college-educated people is the ability to work from home. Some 20% of high school graduates can work from home, whereas 63% of college graduates can work from home. While that is good news for college-educated workers, it also needs to be pointed out that college-educated workers are enjoying a privilege, one that they may not recognize. Those who work from home can do so because others with less education and lower pay make that possible.
Too many of us attend our daily Zoom meetings in the relative safety of our homes without thinking about—let alone acknowledging—those who must labor to deliver packages to our doorsteps, process our food, operate our utilities and maintain the internet. Those who do such work risk viral infection to maintain financial health. And those who enable work from home to be possible are also more likely to be Black and Latinx.
The nation’s racial divide and related socioeconomic disparities are being made more obvious by COVID-19, both to privileged communities and unprivileged communities. That is in one respect a good thing. Privilege is most insidious when it lurks in the shadows. When it is thrust into the light and carefully examined, all of its dimensions and implications become clear.
The United States abolished slavery in the 1860s. But that’s not the end of the story. Ask a historian, or, better yet, take a history class. That way, you’ll learn (or be reminded) of the failure of Reconstruction, the “separate but equal” fiction of Plessy v. Ferguson, the American apartheid of Jim Crow laws, and the still-unfulfilled promises of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s. Racism and racists never left us. It is long past time they did.
At the university, we are in the business of providing education and producing those college graduates who enjoy a privileged place in our society. That is a good thing, one that yields advantages and pathways for all, most critically underrepresented peoples and first-generation students. Let us use this time of pandemics and protest to refocus on that vitally important part of our mission, to try harder to fully realize what our nation hails as self-evident truths.