The Future of American Science Leadership Comes in New Shades, New Shapes
today at 3:02 pm
I’m sitting at my desk right now, eyes fastened on a magazine page lying next to my keyboard. The page belongs to a recent issue of Science News. Distributed evenly are squares framing the photographic portraits of forty young faces, in much the manner of high-school graduation yearbooks. Indeed, the faces belong to high school students.
The headline reads:
Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalists*
It’s a page, I recall now, that’s published anew annually. I imagine that if such a page had been published forty or fifty years ago, forty saluted young White male faces would peering out at me in gleeful monochrome.
Today, it is different, far different. Today, I make out from the forty the smiles of seventeen female faces; today, I catch sight of twenty eight faces of darker coloration, boys and girls mostly of Asian ancestry, though African, Hispanic and Middle-Eastern roots have gained representation as well. The march of destiny in American scientific achievement, it seems, is coming in dusky shades and feminine shapes.
Indeed, near as I can surmise from the surnames of the mere five Caucasian males captured by camera, two carry Jewish descent, two likely Catholic (one Italian, one Eastern European), leaving one lonely White Anglo-Saxon male, and he– in a droll, dissonant note of irony–bears the surname, Christian. No joke. In another irony–not unsurprising really– this young man dwells in the bulwark of Texas liberalism, Austin.
My reflections drift toward all those Trumpist White-Supremicist males (I’m conjecturing mainly W.A.S.P.s )who march in rage and in lockstep insisting that the birthright of American identity rests staunchly and solely in them and that they will allow no other ethnic clusters to replace them. Yet somehow they must be vaguely conscious of the dramatic social and economic progress among woman and people of color in this county; hence, somehow it must stoke their collective self-doubt. It’s no wonder these WASP’s are so, well, waspish these days.
My advice to them? If you don’t want your power and your status to be eclipsed, see to it that your male progeny start diligently attacking their homework (instead of imaginary adversaries), you know, the way the children of recent immigrants dutifully do.
After all, is there any other phenomenon that more emphatically defines Americanism?
*The Regeneron Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most estimable science and math competition for high school seniors. It’s formulated to engage and inspire the next generation of scientific leaders.