Why Forbes’ Column Crossed the Line
Middle-class white guy writes about what he would do if he were a poor black kid. Craziness ensues.
OK, folks. How come no one told me that it’s Slander Poor Black KidsMonth? Was there a memo that went out? No one could send me a Facebook message about this?
If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about, let me enlighten you. First Newt Gingrich explained recently that poor black childrendon’t know how to work. DonaldTrump co-signed him. In the midst of this, a Forbes (!!!) writer, Gene Marks, steps in to help the troubled youths by explaining what he would do if he were a poor black child.
Seriously. Where was the flonkin’memo?
Now, admittedly Gingrich didn’t say poor black children at first, and I surely didn’t frame my argument around that when I responded. I tried to keep this fight color-neutral. Of course, when I read a follow-up from him after I wrote my article, I was enlightened. Gingrich said:
Look, at a time when you have up to 43 percent black teenage unemployment, you have entire communities that are devastated, you have neighborhoods where nobody has worked and nobody has any habit of work.
Now, in the midst of this overall attack on poor black children, Mr. Gene Marks comes along as an ignorant wolf wearing “I just want to help those poor Negroes!” clothing. Mr. Gene isn’t trying to be condescending or anything. He just wants to postulate the best way to fix poor Negro children, is all.
This isn’t him being an ass — this is simply what he might do as a middle-class, middle-aged white dude if all of a sudden he were attacked by Voldemort, a spell was cast and he was turned into a poor black child.
He just wants to give some advice to the poor black children … in Forbes magazine.
That’s reasonable, right?
We Negroes are familiar with this particular brand of help. The #WhiteLove™ style of caring. Movies love to show how, when a white person with an open mind shows up and deals with poor blacks, their lives aremagically changed. As I read this piece, I sighed to myself and mumbled, “White liberals.”
Please stop your furious typing. I’m not claiming that all white liberals are as completely clueless as Mr. Marks. I’m not even sure that Mr. Marks is, in fact, liberal — but this brand of “help” normally comes wrapped in an “I’m here with you, man! I understand your pain” bow that is purchased at your nearest “Awesome Liberals Totally Get It” gift shop. It’s the “Let me help you help you” brand of awesome.
Mr. Gene just wants to give us some of that patented #WhiteLove™ that he has laying around the house. With a healthy sprinkling, poor ignorant black children can rise above their station into the magical world of reasonable participation in society!
Mr. Marks has a step-by-step booklet for you to get your school game on track, not your wig pushed back … by poverty (bold emphasis is mine):
If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently. I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best. And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities. Getting good grades is the key to having more options. With good grades you can choose different, better paths. If you do poorly in school, particularly in a lousy school, you’re severely limiting the limited opportunities you have.
Wait — poor black kids should learn how to read? Get the eff out of here! Where was this man all these years?! Learn how to read? Now he tells us! Sir. If you’re going to hold these secrets and just spring them on us randomly like this, you’re going to have to give a warning so we can prepare for the sudden increase inknowledge our poor brains can’t handle, sir.
Knowledge. I need to print this article and do an airdrop over poor neighborhoods. Make it rain WhiteLove™ knowledge for those poor black children.
Sorry. I momentarily blacked out because of my own ridiculous amount of sarcasm.
But do you see where I’m going here?
Mr. Marks goes on with more clueless advice. Get a computer, use Skype and study with groups, get the best grades. Yes, because that’s all so simple. What digital divide? Just go on Google with your high-speed Internet and watch some Ted Talks.
I called my friend Dr. Blair L. Murphy Kelley at North Carolina State to talk about this nonsense, and I mentioned that I used technology to escape poverty (now I’m just sorta poor), but I also acknowledge that I got lucky. She said, “It’s called resilience. When you are faced with a bunch of nonsense and you make it out anyway. It’s resilience because most people don’t make it. What about an average black child?”
Why can’t some children just simply be average? How in the world can this man create this checklist of things and not realize that he’s requesting that kids do something extraordinary simply to not continue to be in poverty: forget their surroundings.
Forget any issues with their parents, the issues their parents might have, like perhaps not eating every night. Forget poor schools with overcrowded classrooms and teachers who can barely keep the class together. School systems that pass children along because they simply can’t keep them. Forget that white children can be the most average people around and end up being president.
Forget all of that.
“Go Google some stuff and be awesome.” —White guy writing at Forbes
EDITED TO ADD: PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CLICK THE LINK TOO AND COMMENT, TWEET, FACEBOOK. LET THE ROOT KNOW YOU WANT MORE OF THESE TYPES OF ARTICLES.
You find this sort of thing a lot among the white, moneyed, conservative set: “If only blacks and Latinos would work harder, they’d be fine.” I don’t think Marks and people who think like that are malicious, but I’d love to ask them how best to focus on your studies when all you can think about is the very real possibility that your mother is being assaulted in the bedroom where you’re supposed to find sanctuary at night. How best to prioritize learning to read rigorously over scheming to get home and be the man of the house in the stead of the father who left? How best to find joy in school with so much hate and bitterness poisoning the rest of your life?
That guy, Gene Marks, was a fucking asshole. Here’s a few other rebuttals:
As a Native American, I constantly come across pictures of non-natives dressed in “indian” face. Feathers or headdresses adorn their heads, “war” paint splattered across their cheeks, and looks of stoic impersionations. These non-natives romanticize a perceived understanding of Native Americans from Hollywood films that neglect to showcase the modern Native. The present-day Native American who does not go to the mall wearing buck-skin, a headdress and paint on their face.
Take a step back, do your homework. Enlighten yourself about cultures and the significance of a headdress, the sacredness of eagle feathers. Beat the stereotypes. Respect cultures.
Special thanks to Kathleen Franco for allowing me to make her a stereotype, ie. the “bad” guy. She’s a wonderful human being and a great actress. And to Khloe Keeler for being my authenticly modern Native. You ladies rock!
© 2011 William White II
Willi White Photography
Yeet go Willie!
Please apply this to everything tagged “gypsy”.
Ugh, ugh ugh.
Insane comment as to this being racist. As a sociology and culture student the fact that someone considers this racist blows my mind. It’s like me calling someone of native american heritage racist if they ever decided to wear a top hat because it was the clothing of my forefathers. It is a head dress which has become part of popular culture, something which is uncontrolable. Cultures have converged. This isn’t a statement as to the modern person of native american heritage looking remotely like this anyway. They’re just normal people. Like me. Or the girl in this photo. She’s simply wearing an item which has some historical symbology but once again- top hats. Or in fact the English Language we so happily write in. Culture fusion, it’s not a bad thing.
Even worse someone has the audacity to reblog it complaining about racism, alongside a gif singling out white people. You know something simple, want to stop racism? Stop identifying race in such a blunt way. We can’t be equal until we choose to be. Now I know there’s history but it’s a two way street. I may as well be blue for all I care. My race- human.
A top hat is not commonly known as a sacred item. Top Hats are hats. Headdresses/Warbonnets are sacred items with long histories behind them.
Culture Fusion would be wearing moccasins with jeans, two everyday wearable items mixing together! Not a sacred item that is still important in the many tribes that wore headdresses.
Jeepers, I’m scared that you’re a sociology/culture student and you’ve never heard of Cultural Appropriation.
I DON’T SEE IN COLOR U GUYS
I DON’T KNOW WHY EVERYONE’S MAD ‘CAUSE SHE’S NOT NATIVE AMERICAN. SHE’S JUST NORMAL, LIKE ME!
Racist sociology student is racist.
THIS SIMPLE BITCH IS NOT A SOCIOLOGIST!!!!!!!! FUCK THIS PERSON!!!!!! I say that as a sociologist with the cultural awareness to know that this shit is fucking wrong on several levels. It displays a fetishim for the “exotic” that is so fucking prevalent in the western, privileged social sciences and humanities at all higher education institutes. It also BLATANTLY DENIES ANY REAL HISTORY THAT PRETTY MUCH FUCKING EXPLAINS WHY THIS IS REALLY PROBLEMATIC. I mean, homie, really? Cultural Appropriation is a topic that is discussed in most 101 classes. How the fuck did you miss that lesson? Oh, you must be white. I can’t………..
Did this mothafucka really just argue that this is Cultural Fusion? Just shut the fuck up.
They must be giving out degrees with six proofs of purchase from boxes of Cheerios or something.
look they took intro to sociology and intermediate sociology ok
they are more than qualified to judge the racism in this image
STFU, Conservatives: Anonymous asked: Ron Paul is NOT racist, sexist or homophobic, please do some research. He's the only honest candidate...
Ron Paul wants to define life as starting at conception, build a fence along the US-Mexico border, prevent the Supreme Court from hearing cases on the Establishment Clause or the right to privacy, permitting the return of sodomy laws and the like (a bill which he…
FDR’s “2nd Bill of Rights” Speech
Had it not been for Michael Moore’s movie, I would have never have known it existed.
The right of every family to a decent home; The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.”
#h8 that people h8 u for the things they praise dudes for #’lol he’s so cute he’s so ~socially awkward~ he doesn’t like attention he avoids the limelight awwww how qt’ #but when it’s a lady? #’ugh she’s so rude ugh she doesn’t smile enough she’s not nice enough she doesn’t enjoy having cameras shoved in her face’ #i see you double-standard #i c u
Last Friday President Obama signed an executive order entitled Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities. The signing took place as part of the third White House Tribal Nations Conference and comes after a long campaign by tribal organizations and other advocacy groups, including theLinguistic Society of American Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation. The Order makes several explicit references to Native languages. I have highlighted some of these references below.
- “The Initiative shall help expand educational opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all American Indian / Alaska Native students, including opportunities to learn theirNative languages, cultures, and histories.”
- “the Initiative shall promote, encourage, and undertake efforts, consistent with applicable law, to … increasing the number and percentage of AI/AN children who enter kindergarten ready for success through improved access to high quality early learning programs and services, including Native language immersion programs…”
- “Each [federal] agency plan shall include: … the preservation and revitalization of tribal languages and cultural traditions.”
- “…encourage the private sector to … providing funds to support the preservation and revitalization of Native languages and cultures…”The signing of this Executive Order has been well received with many positive reactions over the weekend. For example, Alaska Senator Mark Begich noted that the Order will have repercussions for new legislation:
“Any new law must respect and embrace Alaska Native cultures and languages, as well as give educators the tools needed to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields. I am pleased to see a focus on improving educational outcomes and career opportunities.”
For the complete text of the Executive Order see the press release.
ShortFormBlog: Box office has worst weekend in three years — so, what’s to blame?
- $78 million the amount the entire box office made over the weekend, with the strongest movie being the objectively awful “New Year’s Eve”
- $68 million the amount the entire box office made on Labor Day weekend 2008, the last time the box office dipped this low source
» A bad crop of films, or something else? With a bunch of also-rans in the theater and two weak films — a movie that scored 7 percent on Rotten Tomatoes in the lead and a Jonah Hill vehicle, “The Sitter,” right behind — to hold up the box office, it may not have been the best week for films … but December is a very strange time of year for the box office to struggle like this. One analyst blames a lack of male-oriented films.* We blame a lack of exposure for Foozie Bear, who is by far the the best part of “The Muppets.”
* Are you fucking kidding me.