At the back of the lecture hall at USC, where I was making a speech on the general welfare of children in show business, a young black woman raised her hand to ask a question.
“Why should we be listening to a Dweem?”
I’d never heard the term, and neither had the Professor who had invited me in to speak to a combined class of Journalism and Film School students.
The young woman explained. “DWEM…Descendant of a White European Male. There are a lot of people in this room who think that DWEMs are the problem, and that your views have no validity.”
I was nonplussed. For the first time I actually looked at the composition of the students sitting before me. They were, I finally noticed, a very colorful assembly. It hadn’t occurred to me, fool that I am, that skin color had anything to do with exploited children who work.
In Southern California we often refer to USC as “the University of Spoiled Children” because of its dynastic pretensions, liberal admission policy for superior athletes (did you know O.J. Simpson has a degree in Chemical Engineering from USC?), and the inordinate number of BMW’s and Benz’s that surround the campus. USC, founded in 1880, is a stellar private university, offering more than 100 major courses of study to a student body of 32,000, split almost equally between undergraduates and graduate students.
USC is “family” if you were born in Los Angeles, a place you would attend if your family could afford it. UCLA, just across town, is the main USC rival, and one of the jewels of California’s higher education, a State school of international distinction.
At the time the term “DWEM” was explained to me I confess that I had a flash of anger. Who founded and built USC if not DWEMs?
In the mid-50’s I had the advantage of going to one of the best schools in the #1 school district in the #1 State in the #1 country in the whole entire world when it came to education.
Today California is tied with Mississippi for 48th place in America, and the United States is ranked 21st in Education in the industrialized world.
In Los Angeles we have 17 high schools either in or near receivership, and it for that reason that I write today. Our local Copely newspaper, The Daily Breeze, published a feature article on the status of one of our more prominent high schools, Banning High in Wilmington (hard by the Port of Los Angeles), a high school that at one time nearly always contested for City honors in Athletics. In the past fifteen years Banning has become largely Hispanic. The Breeze printed a Banning scorecard that almost made me weep. To wit:
9th Graders with a D or an F in English? 88%
9th Graders with a D or F GPA? 59.9%
Daily rate of Absentees in 3,500-student body? 8%
9th Graders who repeat at least one grade? 33%
8th Grader failure to complete Algebra I? 88%
Meantime, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that our own Federal Reserve has partnered with the central bank of Mexico to make it easier to transfer money to what is euphemistically called, “the country of origin” for Latino migrants, an amount now estimated to be 55 Billiondollars per year!
That’s 55 Billion not spent in the United States, and not subject to taxation, let alone its circulation through the economy, subject to taxation with every transaction. Now do you understand why schools, particularly in California are failing?
A Giant Sucking Sound, indeed. How ‘bout a 50% tariff on “remittances?”
But what do I know? I’m just a DWEM.
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