“If I were a poor black boy.” really?

          I read the article, I listened to the feedback online, and I gave myself time to consider Gene Marks’ arguments. I have a hard time swallowing the fact that his article is extremely lazy when considering the aspects of black poverty and inequality. My second problem is that he contradicts himself throughout the article. On one hand, he claims that this is not an “inequality” issue, but an “ignorance” issue. The next minute, he’s “commiserating” the poor, black kids who do not have the same opportunities and have to work twice as hard.

          People are saying, “Cut him some slack. He’s one of the only white men trying to empathize with blacks.” No. The “slack” is too thick with surface explanation and fraudulent compassion to "cut".  Contrary to popular belief, the problem IS inequality. The problem IS injustice. College is competitive. Even if the “poor black kids” can get a used, older computer… rich kids will have better software and even better technical skills. Five years from now, I can imagine Little Jovan typing up an exceptional personal statement on his used IMB while Little Bip turns in his personal statement and an imovie video on his macbook, giving him a competitive advantage. It’s about lack of “quality” resources for all people, not about distributing bootleg ones to the poor.

          So Gene Marks claims that poor, black kids can succeed …they simply have to “work harder”. True, Little Jovan from Long Beach can walk to the library after school and use the computers. Nevertheless, if the Rollin 20s Crips are asking him “where you from?” everyday after school, he decides to go straight home or miss school all together. True, Little Jovan can go to a nice, shiny private school through a scholarship – but who cares about homework when your stomach is growling in the morning? Who cares about times tables when your mother is crying about the eviction notice on her door?

          Plain and simple, Marks is a bit confused. Having to work harder and hoping for some luck is not okay. Lack of resources and personal investment can deter a kid’s progress from Kindergarten – hindering the rest of their academic career.  "In the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress — the massive, federally mandated report card on student performance, measured in grades 4, 8, and 12 — the reading scores of African-American boys in eighth grade were barely higher than the scores of white girls in fourth grade." Marks’ “technical advantage” advice is for the minute percentage of  teenage “poor black kids” who aren’t reading at a fourth grade level. A nine-year- old is not concerned with their college applications and to be quite frank, they should not have to be. Marks did not fully consider the psychological, emotional, and safety complications associated with poverty. I’m not giving him the benefit of the doubt. If he wants to get critical acclaim from controversial suggestions about MY PEOPLE, the least he could do is be more thoughtful- straight up.

          As for my fellow black people: we are entitled to our different feelings. Nevertheless, I find it extremely disheartening to see people who look like me, being so short-sided. I DO believe that parents and guardians need to invest more in their child's wellbeing. However, this ‘pull thyself up from ye own bootstraps’ approach is really easy to say from the comforts of our beautiful, paid off homes. Upper middle class &/or Upper class blacks need to show some compassion and look deeper into these welfare woes.  Yes, there are exceptional people who overcome poverty and prosper. My dad is a prime example – single mother, the youngest of seven boys, working to provide since he was a teenager. Nevertheless, if you ask my dad how he reached his success, he would not say, “The tools are there.  The technology is there.  And the opportunities there.” Instead, knowing that he should have been in a gang, in prison, or dead, he would say, “…Only by the Grace of God.”

link of statistics: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-widest-achievement-gap

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