Ivy League Scholarship Story Stirs Up African American Culture vs. African Culture Debate

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The story of a black student being accepted by all eight Ivy League schools is a great accomplishment that has made headlines, but now the story is beginning to stir up tension between black Americans and recent African immigrants, according to The Wire.

Why? Well, there’s a quote that may have contributed to the tension.

“Being a first-generation American from Ghana also helps him stand out, Cohen says. “He’s not a typical African-American kid.”

“Not a typical African-American kid” is the part that is upsetting some because it is being read as an allusion to the lazy black American stereotype.

The article argues that there is a rift between black Americans and African immigrants because some Africans believe black Americans should be doing better. The reason behind the thought is because they don’t know about the history of black Americans, but see their own success as a reason blacks should excel as well.

“Africans who come to the U.S. are statistically more successful than African Americans and they think ‘if I could do it, why not them?” wrote Luvvie Ajayi, a Nigerian-born immigrant.

According to a 2007 study covered by the Washington Post, “immigrants, who make up 13 percent of the nation’s college-age black population, account for more than a quarter of black students at Ivy League and other selective universities.” The author of the study offered many theories behind the disproportionate acceptance rate, including “to white observers black immigrants seem more polite, less hostile, more solicitous and ‘easier to get along with.’ Native blacks are perceived in precisely the opposite fashion.”

Black American scholar Lani Guinier gave her opinion on why African immigrants are accepted at elite colleges and universities at a higher rate.

“In part, it has to do with coming from a country, especially those educated in Caribbean and African countries, where blacks were in the majority and did not experience the stigma that black children did in the United States,” Guinier said. “The fathers of these students tend to be much better educated. This is not just true of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, this is true across the board. We have an admissions system that prefers wealth, that rewards wealth and calls it merit.”

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