The real problem with Whanganui High School limiting a talk by boxer Joseph Parker
to Maori and Pacific Island boys is that it is part of an institutional shut down of options for working class Kiwis.
Middle class white people, teachers in particular, are locking working class Kiwis into mediocrity, under the guise of cultural support and positive discrimination.
Parker talking to Maori and PI kids illustrates a very limited vision of the future these kids; as sportsmen – entertainment for others.
This poverty of options that is shined up by calling it cultural; Kia kaha, but stay where you are.
I love boxing. I’ve trained and fought in the ring. It teaches self-discipline and true resilience. But as a career it is limited. Sports in general is hardly a novel or aspirational career path for the working class. At best it pays off for a short while, as vassals of business-savvy promoters, before their body breaks down.
The poor and working class should know that any and every option is open to them, all dependent on their interests, skills and willingness to work hard.
It is not a way out of their socio-economic conditions to treat them separately, to put up familiar “role models”, and slap a cultural lacquer on education. Social mobility requires people to be
exposed to the unfamiliar – to regard what they don’t know and recognise
as something equally possible.
So they don’t need only Parker talking to them. They need a wide array of people of any colour and culture, from any and all lifestyles and any career.
Across the Western world, social mobility is falling. Children born to poor and working class parents are increasingly less likely to earn more than them. The institutions set up by the elite and managed by the compliant middle class is responsible.
Shit, the cultural head-lock is so strong, maybe these kids do need lessons from Parker to fight their way out.