Where do middle-aged white men get off telling poor black kids how to succeed in life?
Gene Marks, a Forbes contributor, stirred an internet controversy with the publication of his “If I Was A Poor Black Kid” article.
The article basically seeks to tell “poor black kids” that they too can succeed in America – if they use the technology available to them.
Yes, you read that right. The technology available to them.
How many of you grew up without adequate access to a computer? He’s clearly never walked through the hoods of West Philadelphia because I bet you…most of those children do not have computers.
In an environment where paying bills and putting food on the table is a struggle, a computer is a lofty goal.
However, Gene doesn’t think it’s so hard. He says:
And I would use the technology available to me as a student. I know a few school teachers and they tell me that many inner city parents usually have or can afford cheap computers and internet service nowadays. That because (and sadly) it’s oftentimes a necessary thing to keep their kids safe at home then on the streets. And libraries and schools have computers available too.
It’s also fairly easy to reach the top of your class when you’re in an under-performing school. How much can you learn to get ahead when you have inadequate resources and more often than not – parents who are too busy working to survive and don’t have time to worry about extra materials needed for school.
He makes it seem so easy for a kid in an under-performing school, with in-experienced teachers, to jump up and become a scholar. More often than not these kids are already two and sometimes three steps behind. They’ll be paying catch up for the rest of their education.
If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently. I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best. And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities.
Gene misses the mark; like many disillusioned middle-age white men who wouldn’t know how to survive as a “poor black kid” even if they tried. Let’s throw their children into the environments faced by “poor black kids” and see how well they do.
I’m sure only then…would he be singing a different tune.
Gene did get one thing right, most”poor black kids” have never even heard of the stuff he adamently thinks they should be using.
The division between rich and poor is a national problem. But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality. It’s ignorance. So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them.
And that’s the key issue. Besides, how many “poor black kids” are reading Forbes to take his advice?