The Curious Case of Cameron Clarke
4 months ago
Two Philadelphia-area high schools have two high-scoring talents, but one's name is barely mentioned
"I just feel like on that particular day, I was focused and I got kind of lucky, I guess, that I didn't make any mistakes," he says.
We're not assuming anything about either kid, we can only go off of what we've read. But, it hasn't been made clear if Clarke is even planning on going to his dream school, or if he even has the resources to. His father is a manager at a popular Jamaican restaurant on the nice part of town, while his mother is a Spanish teacher at a Catholic school in Northeast Philly. Tuition at Princeton exceeds $35,000 a year. While we'd like to hope that Clarke will be receiving some kind of scholarship to reward his hard work, we haven't seen any reports of such a gift. Him wanting to keep his perfect SAT score a secret from everybody, even his own teachers, probably isn't the most effect campaign strategy to get one either.
[Also Read: Dumb Jocks: HS's Lowering GPAs for Athletes?]
Jordan on the other hand has schools begging him to come. At the height of his recruitment this year, Jordan had at least 16 Division I colleges interested in him, with seven offering him full scholarships. As the deadline to commit draws near, Jordan has whittled his list of suitors down to three. No matter which one he chooses, Jordan will be afforded a chance to receive a good education, free of charge. And there's no guarantee that he will even stay to finish if his basketball talents can get him to the pros sooner than later.
Clarke's modesty and avoidance of the spotlight has been interpreted as both noble, and needed. While he has been called a "rockstar of academia" he behaves as anything but. Googling his name doesn't lead to any particular twitter or Facebook page with him boasting about how smart he is. Scholars like Dr. Owen Knox, Ph.D, founder of Los Angeles’ Council of Black Administrators, says that students like Clarke shouldn't be viewed as an exception anyway and hopes that instances like his become the standard.
Jordan couldn't avoid the spotlight if he tried. Cameras have been following him for the last two years and he has at least 60 different YouTube "highlight" videos of him nailing 3-pointers and dunking on opponents. As far as modesty? Well, he's nicknamed himself "Black Jesus" on Twitter. You can't be too humble naming yourself after the messiah.
In a country where you're prone to hear more bad news about a young black man than good news, both Jordan and Clarke's accomplishments deserve to be highlighted. But, both of their stories make us take a look at how our community views and celebrates success.
As soon as someone finds out how high they can jump, athlete's have the red carpet rolled out for them. Being the smartest kid in class? Not so much. The fact there are probably more people who know Rysheed Jordan's name than Cameron Clarke's is a testament to what is celebrated more in our community. While we don't know if Clarke's insisting on keeping his smarts a secret is a product of his own modesty or embarrassment, it is a shame that a story like his is often overlooked.
While both young men appear to be on paths towards greatness, let's all hope that each of their journey's, and ones similar to it will receive equal amounts of attention and accolades. Beyond that, let's applaud both Jordan and Clarke for being bright spots in Philadelphia's gloomy education system.