The National Spelling Bee Finalists

I was watching the results of the Scripps National Spelling Bee this morning when I noticed a similarity among the 13 assembled finalists. They are all children of color.

Spelling Proper English

Respect Are Country Speak English, protest sign, misspelled, national languageNow, we have in this country millions of white supremacists who consider themselves an elite group of super-patriots because they have white skin. Those people are fond of waving signs about how immigrants need to learn English if they want to live in America. Those signs often show their own grasp of English, acquired from American teachers in American schools on American soil, is tenuous at best. (I didn’t have to look far for examples.)

English is our language. No excetions. Learn it. Sign. misspellingNow, here on TV, I saw a truly elite group of very smart young people who speak English very well. They also know how to spell words most of us have never heard of. Because the National Spelling Bee changed its rules this year to make the competition more difficult, they also know the correct definitions of the words they have spelled.

Here are the final words:

  • scyllarian
  • pyrrolidone
  • myricetin
  • Otukian
  • drymis
  • sereh

Yet not one of the finalists is white and not one of them is named Dick or Jane, Jason or Ashley. Here are their first names: Abhilash, Aliyah, Ekansh, Harini, Kirsten, Nitya, Sahana, Sahasrad, Saharsh, Shijay, Suriya, Vihaan, and Vikram.

What This Says About the Finalists

Scripps National Spelling Bee, logo, stage set, finalsWhat does this say about the finalists?

  1. The children of immigrants are smart and hard working. You don’t get to the National Spelling Bee’s finals without studying for a long time. You have to be determined, dedicated, and willing to sacrifice short-term fun for a long-term goal.
  2. They had the support of parents who were invested in their child’s success, who encouraged them and helped them study.
  3. These kids will go on to outstanding educational achievements, landing scholarships in the best colleges and universities in the country.
  4. Immigrants provide the lifeblood of America, enriching our country and our culture with their brains, their ideas and their contributions.

What This Says About White Kids

What does this say about white kids?
(The following are my personal opinions, based on what I have seen, heard, and read.)

  1. Teach Our Children Arithetic, sign, protest, misspelledThey grow up in households where their parents and the family around them can’t spell or use correct grammar.
  2. They don’t see any point to putting in that kind of effort to win an academic competition.
  3. Parents and families did not encourage or support them, even if they did.
  4. They put more emphasis on sports, video games, social media, fashion, and hanging out with friends than they do on academics.
  5. Perhaps they expect that what they need will all come to them just because they are white.
  6. They don’t realize that all their lives they will be competing with kids like these for college acceptance, scholarships, internships, job offers and promotions.

It would be interesting to have an all-white-kid spelling bee and watch how that turns out. I suspect the competition would be different.

The Country is Changing

Now, to be fair, I understand that straight, white, Christian males still have a strong advantage in America, particularly in some parts of the country.  But that is changing. Companies want to hire the best and the brightest: the smart coders who will deliver the next great new product, the lawyers who win cases, the doctors who save lives, the marketing geniuses who can see beyond the obvious.

Get a Brain Morans, Go USA, protest sign, white supremacyBeing white might still get you to a certain point but it won’t save you if you don’t put in the time, the work, the study, and the dedication. That’s especially true if your college roomie or frat bro wasn’t a straight, white Christian male. The connections are changing, friendships broadening, women achieving, and religion becoming less important that it used to be. Young people are more accepting of differences in much of America today.

Why else do you think the bigots and white supremacists are so scared? They chant “Jews will not replace us,” but the people who will take their places are the achievers who have brown skins and different names: the ones who work hard and win.

Congratulations to All

I applaud the finalists for their achievements and congratulate Harini Logan for her success in winning the National Spelling Bee. More, I wish them all great success and recognition as they grow. I also hope they get to grow. Given what’s happening in our schools today, that’s not a given.

Scripps National Spelling Bee, finalists, LeVar Burton

Host LeVar Burton and the Spelling Bee finalists

I look forward to seeing how they will change America for the better. Only, I wish that some white kids would get the message and get to work. Maybe next year.

This entry was posted in Language and Writing and tagged , , , , , by Aline Kaplan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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