#303: Black Male Valedictorians 🎓


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The Highlighter
For the first time in its 106-year history, Oakland Technical High School graduated its first Black male valedictorian. Ahmed Muhammad earned a 4.73 GPA, launched a STEM nonprofit, got accepted to 11 colleges, went on Ellen, and will enroll at Stanford in the Fall. Great story, right?
Not at all, says Mr. Muhammad in his valedictory address, this week’s lead article. Our media and society like feel-good stories of brilliance and resilience. We like prodigies who dazzle us with their intellect. Hard work and personal responsibility and grit: These are character traits we value.
But to be the exception is problematic. It means that structural inequities remain strong. This week’s issue features the experiences of three Black male scholars at Oakland Tech: Mr. Muhammad, and before him, Akintunde Ahmad and Samuel Getachew, who faced similar loneliness. You’ll read their perspectives and then listen to them reflect on Mr. Muhammad’s success, happy for their classmate while critical of the lack of systemic change.
+ After taking in today’s issue, if you’re moved, please share your thoughts. You can hit reply, email me, or leave a voice message. It would be great to hear your viewpoints and continue the conversation. Thank you!

I Won’t Be The Last
The Bleak Truth Behind My ‘Inspiring’ Path From Oakland To Yale
Here’s Mr. Muhammad delivering his valedictory speech on May 29.
Here’s Mr. Muhammad delivering his valedictory speech on May 29.
Black Valedictorians And The Toxic Trope Of Black Exceptionalism
Inside The Toxic Mediasphere Of Black Exceptionalism In Oakland
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Mark Isero
Mark Isero @iserotope

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