White Woman Needs Education!

I sent this letter this morning to Dr. Ivory Toldson, Howard University.
(Paper grading be damned!)

Dear Doctor Toldson,

I was glued to listening to your interview with Michel Martin regarding black male representation in prestigious universities. It made me stop and think about all the black male students I have had over my 27 years of teaching High School Mathematics.

Please bear with me...I know your time is extremely limited...

I am white. I am almost 50 years old. I am liberal and (Jewish) and lived in San Francisco through 9 th grade, attending the most racially balanced public school in the city. While keeping my Jewish cultural identity, I attended Glide Memorial Church, making posters to unite the farm workers and free Angela Davis. My father is one of the first white male members of the NCAAP.

I lived with my husband and daughters in Ghana for one year. My daughter has just committed to American University, largely due to the fact that is one of the most integrated colleges in the US (so proud!). (We left Ghana when daughter was 15, at 16 she traveled back, alone to see her friends!) younger daughter's best friend is one of the only mixed race black students at our high school.

And yet, I don't have a single black friend.

The point: I don't reach my black students. I am failing them. Granted we don't have many living in Northern California. And when I look at how they are doing in school...I want to shrink away. Sports, sports, sports. These are beautiful, gifted young men who are intellectually wasting away...the one young man who tries to be intellectual is ostracized by his sporty peers. Yeah, and we have even fewer Asian students and they are going to Brown and UC Berkeley this fall. And yeah, we have a few Hispanic students, and one is going to Stanford. Mixed race black young man, Junior College...to play basketball.

Please educate Me. Please help me help our schools move these boys into being prepared for PRESTIGIOUS universities. Please help me help these young men (and women, well, my daughter 's bestie wants to go to Stanford!) create bigger images of themselves as intellectually worthy.

Thank you for all the work you do.

Sincerely yours,
Amy Zimmer
Sebastopol,  California
Education Blog: Http://zicker63.blogspot.com

You may also like


  1. Please tell me you got a response. Heck, I'll send you $10 for stamps if you haven't and promise to send another copy of the letter on the first of every month until the $ runs out.

    I teach 1.02 miles (really) from the city limits of Detroit (Michigan). My population is about 50% black, 30% white 10% southeast asian (currently Bengali) and the rest Iranian/Iraqui/Kurdish

    I find that black male students are among the least motivated. I also commonly see the shunning that such student receive when they do try.

    I really do want to know if he answers.

    1. Your response is far superior to any response I have received. Just because it validates that the letter was important. (may that was my problem, I used email! Dang!)
      I haven't posted his Dr. Toldson's response, though he did indeed respond. Very impressive: Here goes: (and thanks for coming by and caring):

      Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your message. There's not much help I can provide from the information in the email. I suggest you visit Stanford, find a Black male student, and ask him what he received from this family, community and school that helped him to accomplish his educational goals. Or, you can ask you school leaders to bring me to northern California to conduct an inservice training for your staff. I have a presentation called, "Breaking Barriers: Plotting the Path to Academic Success for School-Age African American Males."



      S. Sounds like we have a field trip! Amy


Like what you read? Want to contribute to the conversation? Leave a comment!