What is the "crucial paradox which confronts us here?"

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The "crucial paradox which confronts us here" that James Baldwin writes about in "A Talk to Teachers" (1963) is the divided purpose of American education and its damaging effect on African Americans. He writes that one purpose of American education is "to perpetuate the aims of society" and to socialize children in that society. However, the other purpose of education is to make students more aware of the values of their society and to hone their ability to question these values. Baldwin writes, "as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated."

The paradox of the educational system is that it is designed to school children in American values, but, at the same time, it makes African American children aware that the promises of America are not part of their life. As Baldwin writes of the African American...

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