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An E-Mail for Gene Marks

December 13, 2011

From: The Human Spider
To: Gene Marks
Subject: If I Were A Black Kid Rebuttal

To Mr. Gene Marks:

I read your article on Forbes.com.  The one in regard to the poor black youth in America.  As a young man who was once a poor black youth, I found your article very interesting.

Speaking from experience, I can safely say that there is work that is needed on our part.

Yet as I finished reading the article, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Where does this guy get off?”

Where do you get off, sir?

As a “middle aged white man who comes from a middle-class white background” (your words, sir, not mine), I am certain that you cannot even fathom what we as “poor black kids” go through on a day-to-day basis.

If you ever get the chance, ask someone who came from a more humble upbringing than yourself the difficulty of being poor.

Then, listen to their stories.  The ones about sirens passing by every four seconds.  The ones about the addicts living at or around their neighborhood, willing to do anything for their next high.

Pay attention to those who have come from hardworking families that may not have been as well off as the families in your middle class community.  You will hear stories about being teased and ridiculed for the clothes they wear.  I wouldn’t expect you to imagine the stress of not being able to fit in with your peers, simply because your family has to budget to buy second-rate clothing.

The reason why they tell you that they are blessed, is because they came close to falling into the trap.  The one that says that “crime pays.”  So they can help take care of the family, because the light at the end of the tunnel may as well be the moon.

You say that there are computers for cheap on Tiger Beat and Dell.  As you have pointed out (a little too late), a lot of the young, black youth live in single-parent households with parents (or grandparents) that work two jobs to keep a roof over their head.  That work two jobs to pay for utilities.  That work two jobs to pay for food for everyone in the household.

By the time you factor the costs of food, shelter, and utilities, there is little to no money left over.  The cost of a computer runs approximately $300 and up.  That is simply for the computer: tie in the cost for a keyboard, mouse and a monitor, and the price increases.  In order to make that kind of purchase, something must be sacrificed.

I’m certain that as a middle-class citizen, that you have had to make some sacrifices, Mr. Marks.  I’m sure that those sacrifices have been of minor consequence, despite the wound being of major damage.

I challenge you to sacrifice your house.  Sacrifice your place of residence, and have your family bounce from house-to-house.  Try staying in a two bedroom apartment where the elder stays in one room while two adults and one teenager are forced to share a bed in the other room.  Have them eat dinner at one house, and have them walk a mile to sleep at another house.  Stay a few nights in a hotel room.  Bunk at a friend’s house for a few months, preferentially, a friend with kids.  All while your kids are still attending school.

Come back to me when you have done that.  Tell me how it went for your family, especially your children.  I’m fairly certain that school would have been the last thing they were thinking about.

Those schools ready and willing to add diversity into schools where the 1% are the majority?  With the scholarship programs?  They’re severely limited in the applicant-to-acceptance ratio.  The best way to get in?  Play sports.

Not too many good athletes make for good students, but a good athlete will usually be accepted over a good student.  There are exceptions, but they are few and far in between.

At least with the libraries have computers with the Internet where us poor black kids can research which private schools would be best to attend.  Which is filled with more poor black kids that cannot afford computers.  Meaning that time limits have to be enforced.  That’s not even counting the numerous “technical difficulties” that computers go through.  I’m sure that if you were a poor black kid, you would have thought through such minor instances, right?

Forget the poor black kids that have graduated from the lousy schools and have gone on to college.  Forget that some of those students from the lousy schools may have come from middle class backgrounds.

You are right, Mr. Marks, the biggest challenge we face isn’t equality, but ignorance.  When it is assumed that we have everything at the tip of our fingers, but cannot achieve it because we are not using our resources, it becomes a problem.

When it is assumed that all children can be taught the same way, even if teachers and schools have a heavy burden of a massive amount of students and a limited budget, it becomes a problem.

When a “middle aged white guy with a middle-class white background” decides to write an essay stating that he has found the cure to ending the poverty issues that have plagued poor black kids, I have a problem with that.  Especially as someone who has grown up in both poor and middle-class backgrounds, I take offense.

What Obama said last week in Kansas still rings true, this is “a defining issue” and truly a “make-or-break moment”.  In the war between those in middle class, and those trying to enter, I feel that this is the first shot.  As you get ready to pen your next piece, I hope you are looking at those applications.  I’m sure they have plenty of smart black young men that used to be poor black kids.  There’s a good chance that they may be inexperienced, but that shouldn’t concern you; you just make sure that you make good on your word.

You say you want more smart people working for you, then put your money where your mouth is.  Allow them into your company.  Groom them and give them the experience they need.  Otherwise, put down your ammunition of stones and step away from the glass house…

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2 Comments
  1. excellent.

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