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Holding people to standards
> All these issues have ditches on each side of the road...
Six months into our union, Ernest commented that that I held my students
at the black United Methodist college to a lesser standard than I had used
at the University of Alabama. "You speak of making allowances for this
and that which the students may not have had. It's perfectly all right to
give them more time and a super abundance of encouragement, but it is
racist to give them a grade inflated for race. You will be called a
racist if you hold them to the same standard you hold anyone else, and you
will be called a racist if you do not hold them to the same standard you
hold anyone else. Just what kind of racist are you prepared to be?"
Over the years I had many students, black and white alike, who took me for
a course the second, sometimes even the third time, when they had failed
it. Always they were the students who had worked hard but failed. "I
like you and enjoy having you as my student, but don't you try
your luck with someone?" I would ask. Almost always the reply was the
same, "You won't pass me until I deserve it, and you will pass me when I
do; and you'll keep working hard with me until that day comes."
After Ernest's judgment, I lived with much more respect for my students as
colleagues than ever I had before.