Who Gets to Be Smart: Privilege, Power and Knowledge by Bri Lee
‘Debate done with absolute verve, with eloquence and generosity’ CHRISTOS TSIOLKAS, author of Damascus
‘Fascinating, eye-opening . . . a sharp wake-up call’ FLEX MAMI / LILLIAN AHENKAN, author of The Success Experiment
‘Thoughtful, surprising and exquisitely written. Bri Lee once again challenges us to confront the structures that shape, and restrict, our understanding of the world.’ MADDISON CONNAUGHTON, editor of The Saturday Paper
In 2018 Bri Lee’s brilliant young friend Damian is named a Rhodes Scholar, an apex of academic achievement. When she goes to visit him and takes a tour of Oxford and Rhodes House, she begins questioning her belief in a system she has previously revered, as she learns the truth behind what Virginia Woolf described almost a century earlier as the ‘stream of gold and silver’ that flows through elite institutions and dictates decisions about who deserves to be educated there. The question that forms in her mind drives the following two years of conversations and investigations: who gets to be smart?
Interrogating the adage, ‘knowledge is power’, and calling institutional prejudice to account, Bri once again dives into her own privilege and presumptions to bring us the stark and confronting results. Far from offering any ‘equality of opportunity’, Australia’s education system exacerbates social stratification. The questions Bri asks of politics and society have their answers laid bare in the responses to the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, COVID-19, and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.