Sunday, December 18, 2011

If I Were A Poor Black Kid Article from Forbes Magazine Writer

This is a very interesting article that, though hypothetical, may rub people the wrong way, especially since it comes from the thoughts of a middle aged white man who didn’t share the same experiences. I first must say that this article should be read in a manner of objectivity before personal afflictions become involved. He makes a valiant effort in trying to address the problems that impoverished blacks children are facing everyday. However, he falls short in assessing the fact that in order to help people (even if it is giving a little advice), he must understand a people (culture). Before supplanting the thoughts of people with solutions that seem elementary, a keen understanding of the everyday problems that people face must be addressed. This is something I, myself, struggle with and it is frustrating because I truly want to help people. I grew up not having much, and though I didn’t feel poor I was able to put enough scenarios together to conclude that we were poor.

The issue is that in many cases the problems are ingrained into the mindset. So, it can be easy to say that poor black kids, or any disadvantaged child, could do this or that. However, the problem with this is that if the struggle is with the mentality then these ideas just do not register. First, there must be a breaking of the chain that is wrapped around the minds of impoverished children, and show them that there is something out there for them. In order to do this, we as adults, mentors, and leaders must be willing to get our hands dirty and introduce these unknown variables into their young lives.

Newt Gingrich introduced, which to him seemed to be, a simple solution for solving the issues that poor children face. He said that schools should replace the janitors with poor children (under the supervision of a head custodian) and that should in turn allow them to appreciate the concept of learning to be punctual, punch a time clock and earn some money. But what happened to the concept of an education. I'm for teaching the basic issues of responsibilty and work but it doesn't tackle the poverty issue. It doesn't change status; not even a little. There are so many people with answers but these same people are not personally going in to these communities to make a difference. The idea of children working feeds into the lingering philosophy that poor people pass on generation after generation- the survival philosophy. It is disguised in all types of rhetoric; but even in sheep’s wool a wolf is a wolf and this idea in a way perpetuates that thought process.

Some of the ideas given in the article are great for anybody but how are children to have access to this information if they don’t have the necessary tools? How old are we expecting these kids to be before they start this process? I am learning everyday that before I can start imposing solutions, I must first work through the problem. There must be a strong base so we have something solid to work on.

Remove race from the equation for a second. It could be a poor white kid, a poor latino kid, a poor asian kid and even a poor native american kid; but if the tools are not available and the mentality is not set, you can put food in front of hungry people and if it not cooked right they won't eat. All of the ideas in the world won't help if the thought process is not right. This also applies to the rich black child, rich white, rich latino child, etc.

I truly believe that the problem is in first assessing and truly understanding the problem at hand, and the solution is actually in working through the problem. To change poor children and poor communities, we must change poor ideologies first. 

God Bless


  1. My initial reaction to reading this article is that although the author meant well, he's still desperately ignorant. Clueless even. I will write a more comprehensive response as soon as I get a chance. Smh

  2. The guy that wrote this article is an idiot. First, he completely ignores the fact that Philadelphia has the highest murder rate among young black kids in the country. How in the world is a 'poor black kid' supposed to navigate to do all these things in a war zone?! Second, the author ignores the fact that even if a student gets good grades, an inner city public school education IS NOT PREPARATION FOR COLLEGE and most public charter schools are getting shut down b/c of lack of funding.

    Furthermore, these 'poor black kids' often have to assume more adult responsibilities earlier in life because they are in single parent households. So instead of finding the time to get extra tutoring via Skype and YouTube as the author suggests, often they have to get a job or babysit family members.

    And how in the heck is a 'poor black kid' supposed to find the money to take public transportation to get to the places the author describes?! How are they supposed to use the internet and computer if their lights and electricity are getting cut off b/c their parents can't pay the bills?!

    I mean really, in my opinion this goes beyond access to technology to simple life and survival. In most inner cities, these 'black kids' are just trying to survive day to day, that's why education falls to the waste side. I believe many of the "poor black kids" are smart, gifted, and technologically savvy as most kids today are. But "poor black kids" are too busy trying to help their parents make ends meet or taking care of themselves to find the time for education.

    The author completely ignores the fact that no one, especially a kid, is going to take the time to invest in the future when they are trying to survive the here and now. He completely ignores the social and psychological effect that poverty, murder, and despair have on the mindset & development of a human being.

    The author assumes some type of "perfect ghetto world" where a "poor black kid" feels safe enough to hop on the bus or the subway to even go to the library or pick up a 'free computer,' without getting robbed on the way home.

    If I could speak to this guy I would suggest he take his 40-something White, middle class behind and take the West Philly city bus and subways to do the scholastic things he described, sit in a West Philly classroom, witness that these students don't have heat in school, don't have adequate books, and have teachers who really don't care if they succeed or not, and then spend the night in a West Philly rowhouse or housing projects and then see if he would write the same article. That article was the most blatant display of ignorance I've read in awhile, so in the words of Ed Lover C'MON SON GTFOHWTBS!!!

    I tutor in DC public schools and it is blatantly obvious to me that the odd are stacked against these children before they set foot in a classroom. My personal belief is that it is going to take a movement to really make things change for the better.

    I am stepping off my soap box now ;)

    God Bless & Merry Christmas.