The Color of MindWhy the Origins of the Achievement Gap Matter for Justice

The Color of MindWhy the Origins of the Achievement Gap Matter for Justice

Derrick Darby and John L. Rury

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226525211

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Why do white students have better test scores than black students in American schools? In this engaging book, Derrick Darby and John L. Rury answer this vexing question with novel historical evidence, and show that we must understand its origins to make further progress in closing the racial achievement gap. Telling the story of what they call the Color of Mind, the pernicious idea that there are racial differences in intelligence, character, and behavior, they show how philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and David Hume helped construct it, how it shaped American schooling, and how voices of dissent such as Frederick Douglass and Anna Julia Cooper debunked the Color of Mind, and worked to undo its adverse impact on black educational achievement and attainment. Rejecting the view that white and black student differences in achievement are a product of the Color of Mind, Darby and Rury argue that the racial achievement gap has been socially constructed. Because the Color of Mind is reinforced in tracking, discipline, and special education practices, school leaders must work to correct this. While we cannot expect them to solve social problems of poverty, inequality, and segregation, which also affect student achievement, a just society demands that they address the systemic school practices that reinforce contemporary manifestations of racist ideas. This is the only way to expel the Color of Mind from schools, and afford all kids the dignity they deserve.