Nonfiction Societal The Word 4 minute read

The 3%


This is a test.  This is not the same type of test that you took in school; but more like the silly self-administered “tests” that might you take online or in a pop culture magazine.   No one will know your results, but you.  You don’t even need to write down your answers.  The only requirement is that you must be brutally honest with yourself.  I know this is a lot to ask, because we oftentimes lie to no one more convincingly than we lie to ourselves.

Oh, one other small note:  this test is only for White people.

Please score yourself accordingly:

1 point for every Yes

1 point for every Maybe

0 points for every No

  1. Pretend that you are a high school senior. You applied to ten colleges.  You cannot afford to go to college unless you get a full-tuition scholarship or you get a full time job and take classes only part-time.  You were accepted to every school to which you applied – all of which are good and respected schools.  However, only one school, Y University, has given you a full scholarship (they will pay for four years of tuition, room and board).  96% of the student population and 85% of the professors at Y University are African American.  Would you attend Y University?

YES     NO

  1. Please refer to Question #1. For this question, let’s pretend that you decided to attend Y university.  When you arrive, you are impressed again with the beauty of the campus, the modern facilities, and the cleanliness of all the dorms.  When your mother and father are moving you in, there are groups of people talking and laughing, some folks are hugging—clearly reuniting after a long summer.  You don’t know anyone, except for two girls who were in your chemistry class in high school and you haven’t come across them yet.  No one is mean to you; but no one is overly friendly either.  You feel invisible at moments (as if you showed up at a party and everybody is good friends, but you); and then at other times you feel as if you stand out.  When you walk into your dorm quad, the other three girls and their parents exchange shocked looks.

After a few weeks at Y University, you find yourself very acclimated with the coursework.  You study       every day in the library from 4:00 – 9:00; although none of the study groups ever asks you to join them.

You finally run into the two girls who took chemistry with you in high school.  When you see them on campus, you guys hug, talk and exchange cell phone numbers.  When you see them following this encounter, they are always with a group of other Black people and just smile and wave at you, but there is no further interaction.

One day when you are leaving the library, you see a flyer for a White Student Union meeting that is occurring tomorrow at 6:00 at a pizza parlor right off of campus.  Only 3% of the students who attend Y University are White.  Would you have an interest in attending that meeting?

YES     NO


You can tally your points if you wish, but the point of this exercise was to flip the experience of Black and White people in dealing with these decisions and experiences.

Black students are oftentimes the only or one of a just few in their school environments and work environments.  Spend a moment thinking how that must be.  Would you have your child do it?  What if it were the best school in your district?  Be quiet and reflect upon why or why not.  How do you think the situation would affect the Black child and the Black child’s family?

With this context in mind, does it undercut the current backlash about Black Student Unions on White college and university campuses?  The backlash has reached the point that some White students are declaring the Black Student Union’s as racist and are now starting White Student Unions on their already predominantly White campuses.  (see article:

What would you do if YOU were the 3%?


My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more


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