Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Denied Valedictorian Receives Her Honor, 75 Years Late

For totally inarticulate-able reasons, this story just struck me right there.  A long overdue rectification of an injustice toward a more-than-deserving individual just has the right ring of sorrow and satisfaction.  Please watch:

The story reports that “it’s believed that school leaders did not want two black valedictorians so close together.”  Fanetta’s Gordon’s sister claims that the principal of the school especially did not want two black students from the same family to graduate with valedictorian honors.   As a result, the principal ordered the music teacher to lower one of Fanetta’s grades in the class. 

Most of us would quickly judge this a case of discrimination and robbery, and I believe that it was.  But I believe it was more sinister than even that.  You see, the principal denied Fanetta not what she was entitled to as a human being (because not all human beings are valedictorians).  Far worse, he denied a title and an honor that Fanetta earned and deserved.  The principal took something away from Fanetta that she had already possessed by ordering the music teacher to change her grade.  The way I understand it, the principal did not simply discriminate, he made her the victim of affirmative action to a position that traditionally has a quota of one.  So instead of one black young woman who earned her way to the top, a most likely white student received the valedictorian honors that he or she did not deserve just because of race. 

I hope that those who support affirmative action in the contemporary debate realize that affirmative action almost always victimizes someone.  Some colleges have quotas; almost all colleges have limits on the number of acceptances per school year based on race and ethnicity, which means someone will inevitably be rejected for belonging to the wrong race.  Employers cannot legally discriminate in hiring, yet they must fill out surveys on the racial makeup of their employees (by percentages!) that can be used to accuse them of doing the very thing they try to avoid, usually at the bark of some malcontent civil rights attorney.  In affirmative action, the dividing line between acceptance and hiring vs. rejection is race-based.  As a society, we should know that what is used to allow one race to gain a certain benefit almost always means that another race must face an undeserved loss, just as Fanetta Gordon did so long ago.  Certain races have always been favored over others for whatever reasons in any civilization.  As much as I’d like to change it and would encourage change on this, I have to admit that this is the way of the world.
It is thankfully not the way of the Kingdom of Christ, however. Galatians 3:27-29 says, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Every believer is a favored person under the merits of Jesus Christ. We are all spiritual paupers who have been given lavish suites in the mansion of Christ. How then can we deny another something that he/she deserves in this world? It is with the understanding that each human being is unworthy of God’s favor, yet we have it through Jesus, that we can act with justice toward each other.

I am so glad Fanetta Gordon finally received her honor, albeit a sorrowful 75 years denied. Kudos to the school for doing the right thing after all these years.

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