Yesha Callahan

Sen. Knollenberg On Racial Disparities In Education: ‘We Can’t Make An African-American White; It Is What It Is’



If you need proof that some elected officials give zero effs when it comes to the black community, look no further than Senator Marty Knollenberg. The republican official out of Michigan is currently under fire for his lackadaisical attitude toward racial disparities in education which was caught on tape late last week.

On Thursday, Sen. Knollenberg was confronted with data showing that most students in the state of Michigan who were struggling academically were students of color. To that, the senator responded:

“You mention why these schools districts fail, and you mention economically disadvantaged and non-white population are contributors to that. And we can’t fix that. We can’t make an African-American white. That’s just, it is what it is.”

So basically, if these kids were white they’d be performing better but since they’re not, who cares?

Knollenberg is partially right in that he can’t make black kids white and, therefore, make people actually give a damn. Unfortunately, his attitude that “it is what it is” suggests he thinks African American kids are somewhat academically inferior when the reality is if teachers didn’t dismiss black kids as hyperactive or less intelligent from the time they stepped foot in a classroom and actually gave them a chance to succeed the senator would be having a much different conversation right now. Black kids aren’t behind because they lack the ability to excel, they’re behind because teachers, administrators, and even members of Congress don’t care to see them succeed.

Of course Knollenberg is now trying to backtrack on his comments, telling WXYZ Detroit his remarks were taken out of context: “My passion is for improving education and making sure every single child gets a good education,” he said. “We should not have failing schools anywhere.”

But what we shouldn’t have and what we do have rarely add up in academia and race relations so while Knollenberg’s office gave this half-assed retraction the good old college try, the fact remains that we do have failing schools and failing students of color everywhere, and a great deal of that dilemma can be chalked up to plenty of administrators’ attitude that it is what it is

  1. December 7, 2015 - Reply

    Obviously, he’s stupid.

  2. December 7, 2015 - Reply

    And we can’t make you intelligent Senator…it is what it is! Sighs, this goes to show that these people know about racial disparities and the issues plaguing the Black youth in terms of education but they don’t care because it is not their kids, it is not their “future” hence the blase attitude. But he is a lair stating there is nothing that can be done about racial disparities and the fair allocation of resources.

  3. December 7, 2015 - Reply

    This is the face of a white racist (who is a member of the GOP). They or white racists don’t care about Black youth or black people in general. They believe in the lie of black intellectual inferiority when our people build great civilizations for thousands of years. Frankly, there should be radical changes in society , so all black children can have the opportunity to receive a high quality education. The state Senator is obviously not intelligent in his statement and that is why he issued that faux apology. There are plenty that can be done. Property taxes have funded schools readily. Many policies in education have favored the wealthy and not the poor in a great degree. Wealthy schools have state of the art equipment while poor schools struggle in many cases. This should change.

  4. December 7, 2015 - Reply

    You can’t fix stupid

  5. December 7, 2015 - Reply

    This “pass the buck” statement represents a common attitude among bigots in politics.
    The real issue is a biased educational system with incompetent faculty and board members, who simply do not care to promote positive academia due to ethnic divisiveness. It has nothing to do with black children being inferior.
    That is an old white supremacist trick used during segregation and it doesn’t fly today.

  6. December 8, 2015 - Reply

    he and his tribe are the reason for those ‘racial disparities’.

  7. December 8, 2015 - Reply

    It would be nice to hear the rest of what he said.There have been too many times when a snippet of a conversation was taken to stir up ish.

  8. December 8, 2015 - Reply

    He’s right, though. Black women are the most educated demographic in America at present, and also the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. Black men are failing in school, but… it is what it is. You can’t make a black man act responsible and like other races of men. Black women have given their lives, reproductive years and sanity trying. He’s only ignorant of the fact that black WOMEN have begun surpassing his own demographic in terms of educational achievement. Someone should let him know.

    • December 8, 2015 - Reply


      He will never say that because he believes all blacks are idiots.I think that young black males could and should do better in school but they need better teachers who understand them.Many white teachers believe that black students are dumb and talk down to them.When I was in school a Filipino teacher would frequently tell this black boy that he will grow up to be nothing.We were in the 3rd grade.

      • December 9, 2015 - Reply


        You’re right Sister.

        The politician was talking about black people in general.

  9. December 8, 2015 - Reply

    You know I’m glad folks are being honest about their thoughts instead of flying under the radar. Thanks for letting us know where you stand. The phrase “we all we got” is absolute truth. 99.98% of ejected officials don’t care about us. We can’t wait for them to fix our problems. We have to do the work ourselves.

  10. December 9, 2015 - Reply

    “Black kids aren’t behind because they lack the ability to excel, they’re
    behind because teachers, administrators, and even members of Congress
    don’t care to see them succeed.”

    What about the parents? Do they give a damn? The school is only doing part of what is necessary for our kids to succeed. The rest is up to the parents. Doing homework with your kids, keeping up with their progress, attending student/teacher conferences, asking questions what you can do to help your child succeed is what needs to happen. If I relied on the school to help my child succeed, he would be in a heap of trouble. Parents have to get involved. The system is failing; for those of us that can’t afford private school, we have to be more proactive.

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