Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wherein I Realize White America Still Thinks Of Us As Dumb Ni**ers

This post used to be a rant about an article I read online where a middle-aged, middle-class, privileged white man gave his opinion of what poor, black kids need to do to succeed in life. And it used to be filled with F-bombs and threats and posturing because his asinine solutions included the use of technology (which many poor families don't have access to) and public libraries (that are suffering budget cuts left and right) and Cliff's Notes. I kid you not. I was angry that he had the audacity to think that poor black kids could have been saved this whole time if they just went to the library and learned some programming software. That's all they need to get out of the ghetto, according to this "journalist".

So this post used to be my knee-jerk and infuriated reaction to his ignorance to the real plight of poor kids everywhere- not just black kids but especially black kids.

Sir, have you ever lived in the ghetto? Where fathers are scarce but drug dealers are plentiful and take their place? Where mom's have to borrow from Peter to pay Paul, and still it's not enough so she has to work long hours for low pay? Where bologna sandwiches or cans of no frills "pork food" are dinner? Where the parents are sometimes less educated than the kids? Where kids are unattended after school and often have the responsibilities at home that should be carried out by an adult? Where resources don't seem to reach?

The reality is no amount of computer classes can overcome hunger or fatigue or depression or a low self-esteem. When everything around you is bleak and dream-crushing all you can think about is getting out by any means necessary. Sometimes that means illegal activities. A lucky few may find a mentor at school. Others may chance it and persevere despite their environment. But sir, have you ever known that kind of desperation? That feeling that you had to get out or you'd die? Have you ever had that fight or flight instinct kick in on your way to buy milk at the bodega around the corner?

Sir, you don't know the ghetto. You don't know the plight of the poor, be they black, white, Latino, Asian or whatever. You don't know how they eat, breathe and dream their surroundings, and how that affects everything they do. Cliff's Notes won't change the fact that some poor kid in the ghetto didn't get enough sleep because there was a shoot-out on his block, or that he didn't get any breakfast at home because there simply wasn't any food to make. And sir, chances are, if some of the neighborhood kids saw him reading Cliff's Notes, they'd probably steal his book bag and toss it somewhere. Just for kicks.

This is the ghetto. This is why a lot of kids don't make it out and succeed. I'm not making excuses, sir, I'm stating the facts of the neighborhood I grew up in. I was lucky. I made it out by the skin of my nose. My mom was the rare mom that went the extra mile to get us into private schools and summer programs and kept us out off the block. But not everyone is my mom. Some mom's take up with abusive men or are hooked on that shit or just plumb don't give a rat's ass about their kids.

You can't just sit there from your ivory tower and claim to know what a poor black kid needs to succeed in life, sir, because you're not one. And you'll never know what it feels like to be born with so many strikes against you that any effort seems futile.

Don't presume to know what poor black kids needs, sir, and then proceed to write a bullshit article about it because when it comes down to it all ANY poor kid needs is for people like you and me to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. So what's it gonna be?

*smooches...saddened by the blatant racism that sparked that article*
I'm trying to decide if I prefer my klansmen covert or in my face...