Joan and Stephen Baratz examine the underlying assumptions of intervention programs that tacitly label Negro behavior as pathological. They suggest that the failure to recognize and utilize existing cultural forms of the lower-class Negro community to teach new skills not only dooms intervention programs such as Head Start to failure, but also constitutes a form of institutional racism. An illustration of a pathological versus cultural interpretation of Negro behavior is presented when the Baratzes contrast the interventionists' statements that describe Negro children as verbally destitute and linguistically underdeveloped with current sociolinguistic data that indicate that Negro children speak a highly developed but different variety of English from that of the mainstream standard. The cultural difference model is presented as a viable alternative to the existing genetic inferiority and social pathology models, both of which share the view of the Negro as a "sick white man."

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