Your Feb. 1 paper featured the Point of View “ The need for demonstrators, not protesters” from Bill Massey, who joined a long line of white people eager to share their opinions on what is wrong with black folks and how to fix them.
A retired teacher, he told a disturbing story about young black male students entering his school as smiling sixth-graders and leaving three years later with scowls and little interest in education. Massey had a long list of explanations for this phenomenon, including lack of black role models, peer pressure to not achieve, black people protesting police killings and, somehow, O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder acquittal. These influences, according to Massey, transformed happy sixth-graders into unhappy alienated eighth-graders.
But all the factors Massey listed would have existed when his students were third-graders as well as when they reached his classroom. The new influence omitted from his analysis is the influence of Massey himself. Exposure to a teacher with so many negative stereotypes about young black males might be a better explanation for the transformation Massey observed.