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View Diary: "If I Were a Poor Black Kid" BUT YOU'RE NOT!! (330 comments)

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  •  Several points of disagreement with this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Werewolf Prophet, SpamNunn

    Here, we have a white male who acknowleges that "life was easier for me" because he was white-- acknowledging white privilege-- but because he has the audacity to make true, if obvious, statements about what attitude a poor black kid should take with regards to their education to give themselves the best chances for success, you and Angry Black Lady rip him for "dripping with white privilege".  I think that's more than a bit unfair... you are acting like he hasn't even acknowledged his advantage in life at all.

    See, believe it or not, this white male probably understands that this poor black kid likely has a higher probability of being shot, or arrested unfairly, or having a parent indifferent to his or her education.  Stuff like that is probably why he says that "life was easier for me."  None of that makes trying hard to get good grades in school bad advice however, just in case you survive to adulthood as a free person-- and most will.

    I think the author of the article is also being misunderstood.  When the author says, "if I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible", I think he pretty clearly means that knowing what he knows now, that's what he would do.  Nowhere does he imply that he would, or should, know that automatically if he were born poor and black, but that seems the be how you have taken it.  In fact, I think that the author probably believes that the typical poor black kid probably needs to hear it-- often-- and that many probably are not hearing it enough.  

    Another problem I have: you seem to acknowledge that part of the disadvantage that a poor black kid is more likely to have than a middle class white kid is parents that do not have an appreciation or interest in his or her education.  Isn't it better, then, for a poor black kid who has this disadvantage to hear that education will be valuable to them from someone, even a white person, then to not hear it at all?  Or should we just tell them about how they are likely to get arrested for something they didn't do, or get shot, so why bother with school?

    Finally, let's be honest... all of this stuff is easy to say compared to actually doing something.  What Gene said maybe be easy to say, but it's just as easy for you to pick apart what he says or for me to pick apart what you say.

    •  Its not bad advice. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skymutt

      In WA if from 7th grade on a poor kid maintains a 2.0 gpa they will get their tuition to state schools covered (or if not at state school they get an equivalent scholarship payout).

      Life sucks. For some it sucks more. But maintaining a 2.0 in public school is one way to improve your situation.

      •  It's completely ignorant of the issues... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doroma, Lost and Found, XerTeacher

        ...I mean, do you really think think black kids don't have any idea, or have never heard, that they are better off getting good grades?

        Do you think their teachers have never expressed this thought?

        Do you think nobody has ever tried to educate them about working hard or trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps?

        Or that black kids don't (gasp!) already try to work hard and get the best grades they can?

        No... the issues are more complicated, and I'm pretty confident the piece was written with a white audience in mind.  

        •  When such advice comes from a white person ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... I imagine it's ignored or even berated. Come to think of it, rather like those commenters who dismiss anything a white person says that's not in keeping with the notion of "white privilege" ...

          A tumbrel remark is an unguarded comment by an uncontrollably rich person, of such crass insensitivity that it makes the workers and peasants think of lampposts and guillotines. ~ Christopher Hitchens

          by The Werewolf Prophet on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 11:12:47 PM PST

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          •  Are you saying white privilege doesn't exist? (0+ / 0-)

            Not sure if that's what you're suggesting or not. But yes, I would dismiss that.

            •  Not saying it doesn't exist, just challenging ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              hmi

              ... the presumption that no white person whatsoever can critique it simply because they're white. As long as the proponents insist the concept is falsifiable only by them, then its truth is in doubt.

              A tumbrel remark is an unguarded comment by an uncontrollably rich person, of such crass insensitivity that it makes the workers and peasants think of lampposts and guillotines. ~ Christopher Hitchens

              by The Werewolf Prophet on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 12:25:50 AM PST

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              •  I can't imagine... (0+ / 0-)

                a well-intended attempt or desire to "falsify" the concept of white privilege.

                •  You obviously don't understand ... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... falsifiability in relation to establishing the truth of a theory. Taking a cue from the "white privilege" proponents here on dKos, let's just say it's not my responsibility to teach you. Go educate yourself then we can discuss it.

                  A tumbrel remark is an unguarded comment by an uncontrollably rich person, of such crass insensitivity that it makes the workers and peasants think of lampposts and guillotines. ~ Christopher Hitchens

                  by The Werewolf Prophet on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 02:09:42 AM PST

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                  •  You obviously don't understand.. (0+ / 0-)

                    the difference between "human identity" and "scientific experimentation."

                    (Although I do think the existence white privilege is pretty damn well validated by statistical data.)

                    As a gay person, I would also expect respect for my belief that I did not "choose" same-sex attraction, although it seems under your paradigm it is unfalisifiable by straight people so therefore also suspicious.

                    •  A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (0+ / 0-)

                      You googled "falsifiability", noted from the search results that it's usually associated with experiments then leapt to the conclusion that it has has no bearing on "white privilege". Fact is, falsifiability is a component of the scientific method which absolutely should and is applied to ANY theory, even a social one.

                      Falsifiability is NOT about whether a theory is in fact true or false, it's about determining whether a theory can POSSIBLY be proven false.

                      In other words, if a theory is constructed & defended in such a way that it's not POSSIBLE to prove it FALSE, then it cannot be validly proven TRUE, either. So, when proponents of the theory of white privilege insist that NO white person can critique it, they've made it unfalsifiable and therefore unprovable.

                      Again, I'm not saying that white privilege does or does not exist, but rather that its proponents on dKos have implicitly defined it as unfalsifiable / unprovable. And insisting that it's true because they say so does nothing to change that.

                      A tumbrel remark is an unguarded comment by an uncontrollably rich person, of such crass insensitivity that it makes the workers and peasants think of lampposts and guillotines. ~ Christopher Hitchens

                      by The Werewolf Prophet on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 03:32:23 AM PST

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        •  If that's the case then (0+ / 0-)

          what is one more person doing the same thing.  You can't hold this guy accountable to that many issues.  We don't ask teachers to do it alone, why as this guy?

          On 9/26/11 at the end of his show Al Sharpton broke it down like it needed to be broken.

          by mim5677 on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 06:39:22 PM PST

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    •  "Dripping in white privilege" does not mean (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doroma

      you are unaware of white privilege; it is perfectly possible to acknowledge you have it and still use it, which the commentary does.

      I think this post is pretty obviously commenting on a recurring thing you hear in white peoples' personal or public commentary on black experiences, not this piece in isolation.

      •  re (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Werewolf Prophet
        "Dripping in white privilege" does not mean you are unaware of white privilege; it is perfectly possible to acknowledge you have it and still use it

        Possible to "use" white privilege, perhaps, but "dripping with white privilege"?  What room on the adjective scale is then left for, say, a white person who does not acknowledge their advantage, or one who thinks the poor black kid actually has an unfair advantage over them because of affirmative action?

        which the commentary does.

        Where?  The author admits his advantage, which implicitly recognizes the disadvantage of the poor black kid.  The rebuttal accuses the author of dripping with white privilege, and then this diarist, to make the case for that, mostly just lists some obvious likely disadvantages, as if the author had not considered them.

        •  His commentary reminded me of this line: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          XerTeacher, lcj98

          "I'm not a racist, but... [says something racist]"

          In this case, "racist" was not a word used by this diarist, the word was "white privilege."

          I see the expression of white privilege to be this:

          "I have no background or special insight into your situation to give you advice, but... [gives advice anyway, telling you a bunch of things you are already constantly hearing, assuming you have not heard them before.]"

          I could use a few analogies to express how frustrating this type of thing can be:

          Say that you are overweight, you have struggled and struggled to not be overweight, and people who have never dealt with the issue offer this unsolicited comment; "I have always found it easy to stay thin, but if I were you, I would just never buy junk food at all so you're never tempted with it." WOW GREAT INSIGHT.

          Say that you are unemployed, you have struggled and struggled to find a job, you are depressed, you have given up and wrestled yourself into trying hard again, then given up again and wrestled yourself into trying hard again, and somebody offers this unsolicited advice; "I have always found it easy to have a job, but if I were you applying for jobs would be like a full-time job." WOW NEVER HEARD THAT ONE, THANKS.

          I could go on and on, but I think all of these things end up producing the feeling that someone someone subtly rubbing their lack of ever having faced your challenge in your face.

          I see informing people of color of the "white perspective" on their experience, which they have assuredly already heard - society is saturated with the white perspective - to be a pretty classic example of white privilege.

          •  re (0+ / 0-)
            I see the expression of white privilege to be this:

            "I have no background or special insight into your situation to give you advice, but... [gives advice anyway, telling you a bunch of things you are already constantly hearing, assuming you have not heard them before.]"

            I'd argue that no special insight or background is really necessary for a well-intentioned adult who has lived and worked and seen what skills and knowledge are valuable in the workplace to counsel a child that it is worth it to apply themselves in school, or even to remind other adults of the importance of telling and demonstrating to children about the importance of applying themselves in school.  This would tend to be even more important for a disadvantaged kid who may be less likely to get that message at home, and more likely to believe that he doesn't have a chance in this society.

            Nor does advice have to be original or never heard before to be good advice.  In fact, I've taken advice before just because I was tired of hearing it... and it was good advice and served me well!

            Finally, we're just assuming that the man has no special insight or background here.  Maybe he does.

            I could go on and on, but I think all of these things end up producing the feeling that someone someone subtly rubbing their lack of ever having faced your challenge in your face.

            Your analogies may be examples of rubbing something in someone's face, but the author's essay is not similar to your analogies.  Again, the author is saying: you've had it much tougher than I had it or my children have it, for reasons that have nothing to do with our respective merits as people.  Do you dispute that?  If not, then where in your job-seeker analogy, for example, does the advisor acknowledge that he had it easier in his job search than the job-seeker for reasons other than his own merit?  

               

            •  More from the Forbes article in question: (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lcj98, mallyroyal

              (and apologies, this is gonna be a super-long comment.)

              President Obama was right in his speech last week.  The division between rich and poor is a national problem.  But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality.   It’s ignorance.  So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them.  

              ...

              Technology can help these kids.  But only if the kids want to be helped.  Yes, there is much inequality.  But the opportunity is still there in this country for those that are smart enough to go for it.

              It still seems to me that he's using sugar-coated language that still effectively tells black kids their problem is they aren't doing enough.

              A thread in Conservative thought  - and I don't know whether Marks identifies as conservative - says only individuals can solve their own problems and overcome their own adversities. That often conflicts with hard realities, of course.

              Here "black kids" are not regarded as individuals but as a group, in which case that conservative principle is actually useful: as a white person desiring to understand and positively weigh in on race members of the group, not me, who best understand the issue and should lead in articulating and expressing the issues at play.

              The way white people should get involved is by listening. Black people don't have to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" but they're the only ones who can tell us where their boots are; we can't tell them where their boots are.

              I can't see how anything in Marks' piece is helpful to a black kid; lack of initiative or hope is not why poverty continues. The attitude is actually part of the condescending systematic bias that undermines poor black communities' efforts to articulate their issues - in other words show the world where their boots are.  Marks' article doesn't demonstrate any awareness or acknowledgement whatsoever of any black person's commentary EXCEPT for President Obama, who Marks' actually said made a "great speech" but missed the mark.

              In other words, the one black person Marks mentioned doesn't understand the challenges black kids face as well as the author himself does.

              Yes, I think that is an expression of white privilege.

              So in this diary, the reaction is frustration and resentment at another manifestation of an all-to-common meme. Who am I to say "oh well good point but if only you didn't feel so upset about it or use such harsh language." I can accept why the writer would be so frustrated. Why the heck is this guy who doesn't know what he's talking about given a broader platform than most black people get when they talk about race?

              The phrase to describe all this is "White privilege," yes, that's accurate. It's not meant tomean "go f*ck yourself and die," or "you are a horrible human being." It's describing a real social phenomenon and attitude - in fact a social structure in itself.

              Ideally, white people will be able to hear feedback that they're using privilege or racism and not jump to think that their critics are jumping at reasons to attack them, but instead try to understand what the critics' concerns are - which often takes a lot of work, but is (in my personal experience being called out on white privilege) a very positive thing.

              The anger that comes with it might be jarring to Marks or to some white readers at Kos, but I think it's inevitable and understandable, so I'd rather focus on the underlying issue, which is who knows best about black issues - white people or black people - and how do we overcome society's resistance to answering that correctly?

            •  They match you up to a guidance counselor by (0+ / 0-)

              race these days, don't they?

              If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? - Psalms 11:3

              by SpamNunn on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 12:06:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

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