13 comments on “Being the Poor Black Kid You Aren’t

  1. The whole idea that America is a fountain of limitless opportunity if you would just get up off your butt and deserve it all is laughable. And cruel. The whole point of scholarships is to hand out assistance to a small subset of all deserving people and then just hope that everyone else magically becomes successful. Not only is the Forbes ‘poor black kid’ piece missing the contention that we have systemic effects to deal with and not individuals, it’s missing the notion that luck means there are five PBKids who won’t be successful for every winner.

  2. His whole silly argument is simply another method to pass out blame. “Pull yourself up by your bootsraps” and then be blamed when you can’t achieve the impossible. Trying to disguise this as advice is even sillier. I don’t buy it, and I’m sure millions of young, poor blacks aren’t buying it either.

  3. Oh, I get it now. Every single intelligent, wealthy white person (or even modestly middle class white people) were all somehow rich, right? No white person in this country ever grew up poor and penniless, right? Sheesh, all this complaining about how the system has failed makes me want to puke. Instead of playing the victim role, maybe more blacks (whites, hispanics, or whoever else) should focus more on self. Where’s the harm in a message like that? It’s truth.

  4. Maybe I’m just desensitized by all the statements and and articles written by people who were never in my situation (i.e. poor in the Hood), because I was not offended at all when I read Mr. Marks article.

    I understand the fact that if you don’t have someone (Parents, teachers, etc) to care enough to guide and nurture you to utilize all the things that Mr. Marks talked about, a child wouldn’t do those things; it wouldn’t work. That being said, I was amazed at all the FREE online help that was out there. I immediately started trying to flesh out a game plan for my nieces, nephews, cousins, whoever, that would allow them to take advantage of the resources I never had in order to help them close the education gap a bit.

    Yes, maybe there are some things he didn’t take into consideration, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

    • Only 30 percent of poor families in the US have internet access, and a large portion of that is through cell phones, not computers. So, there’s that.

  5. Hey Dre,
    Yet another example of a white person telling black people what they need to do to right themselves. If I’ve only learned one thing in my experiences, it’s that you can’t change other people-they have to do that themselves. Having said that, I’ll point out some of the problems I saw in the nearly all black schools I went to. I.E. Emerson jr. High and Northwestern High in Flint. The solutions will have to be yours. First, the victimization. I heard teachers telling black kids over and over that they will not succeed because whitey won’t have it. Second, every class was so undisciplined that you couldn’t learn if you tried. Kids ran amuck and played music in class. Teachers gave up and drank their coffee while the worst among the class ran it. If I had to point a finger at the core root problem it was discipline. No matter how much money you pump into the system, no matter how much new technology, no matter the books, supplies, class size, or pay of the teachers, your going to get the same results, as you have for the past 30 years, if you refuse to see it’s the destruction of the family structure that’s at the root of it all. Until then, expect the same results. you want a suggestion? Do what I did and get your kids out of the madness and into a school with as much discipline as possible. BTW, fathers have real value, it’s time we all stopped hiding from that fact in order to make ourselves feel better for our own bad choices

  6. I read this and was understand­ably angry at what seemed like blatant racism by Gene Marks, then I read Marks’ article and my anger vanished because he actually gave some good advice and insights that could be a recipe for success for some kids. The internet doesn’t level the playing field, but if you’re smart you could use if to drasticall­y up your chances.

  7. I’ll preface by stating that I’m a middle-cla­ss white mom. As such, I have seen the tremendous advantages my children have had in every aspect of their lives, since birth. There are actually places where children and teens have the expectatio­n that they will probably die by 18. Someone who has not lived in that culture and knows nothing about it other than what he or she may have read about in a publicatio­n like Forbes, cannot opine with condescend­ing authority about how those kids can try harder or utilize internet resources to make themselves better. The answer is much more complicate­d and difficult. The list of challenges they face is a long one, for example, poor kids start school with about 1/3 of the vocabulary as a child from a profession­al home. A good start to finding solutions to the challenge would be for those of us who didn’t grow up with that experience to learn about the experience­s of others and respectful­ly offer ideas rather than telling other people we don’t know what they can do to better themselves­. I’m not sure what the point of Marks’ article was anyway, since poor black kids don’t typically read Forbes.

  8. “I’m a middle-cla­ss white mom…” “Someone who has not lived in that culture and knows nothing about it other than what he or she may have read about in a publicatio­­n like Forbes, cannot opine with condescend­­ing authority about how those kids can try harder or utilize internet resources to make themselves better.”

    You DO realize the irony of your statements­, correct?

    • I’m not writing articles telling black kids what they can do to better themselves­. I did grow up poor, but I didn’t have the experience of being a poor black kid, and I wouldn’t dare write an article like Marks did. So no, I don’t see any irony there. I can speak up and tell other white middle-cla­ss people when they are being ignorant.

  9. Thank you for writing such an spot-on piece. I always find it interestin­g when people speak from perspectiv­es that they can’t possibly understand­. Hopefully, your article will enlighten Mr. Marks enough to not only “stay in his lane” but give him the ability to feel empathy for those less fortunate than him. Perhaps then he’ll be able to offer meaningful assistance and less “advice”?

  10. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. It is absolutely bizarre to me how often race is conflated with class in the national discussion. But then again, the idea of using race as a wedge to preserve class hegemony runs deep in this country. When the poor are the majority (and increasingly so), it’s a convenient red herring to keep everyone intent on faulting each other lest they work together to improve shared conditions. (Hello, Occupy).

    I don’t know if you saw this other unholy piece of s*** but maybe this is the poor white Maine corollary: http://thecollegeconservative.com/2011/12/13/my-time-at-walmart-why-we-need-serious-welfare-reform/ but it’s a pretty good example of how quickly some people are willing to a)judge and b) assume the worst about each other. If this little chicky’s so proud of herself for “toughing it out” working at Walmart I doubt she’ll ever understand that for some people just living day to day is a harder job than she’ll ever have.

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