Nov. 19, 2001: Bingo! Dr. Michael Adams, president of the University of Georgia, has put the responsibility of increasing student body diversity at UGA right where it belongs —

on the rest of us. This is not the university’s problem; it’s ours.

For several years now, Dr. Adams and others have wrestled with the issue of whether UGA should take only the brightest and best from our state, which tends to make the university mostly white and predominately female, or should it more closely represent the demographics of the state, which is almost one-third minority.

UGA’s minority enrollment is currently about 6 percent. That is well within the range of other state universities in the country, although that fact isn’t generally made known by those who accuse the university of not trying hard enough to recruit minority students. Students who qualify to attend the University of Georgia generally have their pick of schools from which to choose. Just as every qualified white student doesn’t pick UGA, neither does every qualified black student. But currently there are more qualified white students than there are qualified blacks and that is the crux of the problem.

In comments published recently in the Atlanta Newspapers, Dr. Adams said if we want more minority students in the university, society is going to have to do a better job of preparing them for college. If not, the student body will never come close to reflecting the demographics of the state.

Neither UGA nor any other institution of higher education can do in four years what elementary and secondary education failed to do in 12. And it isn’t the fault of K-12, either. The buck stops in every home of every student in the state. A good education is available to anybody who wants it. The problem is, not enough do.

But be forewarned: Education gives people the power to think and act for themselves. An educated black populace would be the worst thing that could happen to demagogues like Jesse Jackson and all the race-based organizations who need people to feel helpless and hopeless if they are to thrive as power-brokers and make a few shekels in the process.

If you don’t think that the black power brokers are a bunch of two-faced hypocrites, look at their obvious silence at the fact that two of the most prominent members of the Bush administration are minority success stories: Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the president’s national security advisor. I don’t know about you but I would be a tad concerned if these were “token” appointments since they hold my life in their hands. They are there because they are imminently qualified. Check their backgrounds and you will find that both took advantage of the opportunity for a good education.

Powell and Rice should be held up proudly as role models for every young black person in the country who aspires to a better life but they hardly rate a mention from Jackson and others who profess to have their people’s best interest at heart. Yeah, right. The only interest this crowd has is maintaining power, even if it means crippling an entire generation of people.

Blacks have suffered under a terrible yoke of discrimination in the “separate but equal” nonsense that was allowed to fester too many years in our society. The result has been a two-tiered society of haves and have-nots. That chasm must be eliminated and a good education is the great equalizer. But somebody has to convince young blacks that school is “cool” or they will find themselves living on the lower end of the economic scale for the rest of their lives. No amount of demagoguery is going to change that fact.

Hopefully, there is a light at the end of this bleak tunnel. A recent Black Entertainment Television survey showed that 42% of the respondents said that the single biggest threat to black progress is a lack of education. Maybe that obvious point is finally getting through to some people. I hope so.

I want to see my university as diverse as it can possibly be but I don’t want to see it dumbed-down just to accommodate an artificial number and I don’t want to see the courts monkeying around in the issue. Mike Adams is right as rain. Give him a large pool of qualified minority students and he’ll turn out some outstanding citizens. Otherwise, we’ll be fighting this battle when Jesse Jackson is just a bad memory.