Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups
The epilogue at first appears to be the final presentation of a randomly
selected and researched outlier. But we soon learn that the closing
outlier narrative is in fact a narrative about the author, Malcolm
Gladwell. We learn, perhaps not surprisingly at this point, that
Gladwell’s own success emerges from the hidden advantages and multiple
opportunities that his parents and grandparents received.
Among other important issues, Gladwell explains how light skin color
allowed his otherwise disadvantaged black relatives to excel in ways
that their fellow dark-skinned Jamaicans did not. Having an ancestor who
had “a little bit of whiteness” or having one who got a chance at
meaningful work became an “extraordinary advantage.” It was an advantage
not simply based on working hard but rather on arbitrary yet powerful
cultural and structural factors.
What stood out to you most concerning Gladwell’s discussions of skin color and advantage (or disadvantage)? Why?