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 successes are rooted in the hidden advantages and subjective opportunities that his parents and grandparents received.
In other words, an outlier is often the product of other outliers.
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 concerning Gladwell’s discussions of race or skin color and outliers? Or, and this one might be tougher, what issues concerning race or skin color should those of us trying to think seriously about the distribution (and redistribution) of hidden advantages and subjective opportunities for students at SIUE be considering at this point?