Open Thread: “If I Were a Poor Black Kid”

So, on December 12, Gene Marks came out with “If I Were a Poor Black Kid,” the most incendiary education post of 2011. Which is no small feat, given that it’s almost Christmas. Here’s the link, if you haven’t seen it yet. And here’s a rebuttal, by Kelly Virella from Dominion of New York.

If you’d like to comment, please do. After your first comment is approved, you’ll be free to post at will. So you can use this space for longer form exchanges than you can have on Twitter.



7 Comments to “Open Thread: “If I Were a Poor Black Kid””

  1. If Gene Marks were a poor black kid he could just sprout a pair of magnificent rainbow colored wings and fly himself up out of the ghetto. Why don’t more poor black kids just do that? (his suggestion: ignorance and laziness).


  2. While there are many arguments against the essay upon which I could pontificate, I’ll just say one that I haven’t read yet . . .
    I can’t help but imagine all the brilliant children with learning differences like dyslexia or ADHD who struggle in school anyway, let alone in underfunded schools and impoverished homes with inadequate nutrition. Who is going to see their brilliance and help them understand how they learn differently? It’s not just a matter of will power as Marks would suggest, far from it. Sad. Very sad.

    I also think it’s inappropriate for Forbes to print such trash.


  3. Thanks, Edit. I hadn’t seen this yet. I winced all the way through his (Marks) post. Yikes.

    I’d love to hear the reaction of one of my favorite thinkers, Malcolm Gladwell.

    I always appreciate your thoughtful, and thought-provoking, posts.


  4. Probably the most distressing aspect of this rehash of the standard white supremacist “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” bleat is Marks’ audacious reference to the President’s speech to lull the reader into the belief that he really cares. He really doesn’t–and of course does not understand anything about what it means in America to be poor–whether you’re black or not.


  5. I liked the fact that the Kelly Virella article put the argument in context. It does a great job of showing a long line of ignorant thought. As if one Black successful person means all have made it. Just as people discussed America being “postracial”


  6. The fact that 100 people clicked on this today, and one left a comment, seems to prove that this post was all about page views. Stick an impossibly ignorant title on a lousy post and, presto, traffic.

    Here are some more links:

    “Fierce Reaction to ‘If I Were a Poor Black Kid” on NPR:

    Toure’s response in Time magazine:


  7. The thoughts expressed in this gentleman’s article is unfortunately the norm among both ‘privileged’ whites and upper-class blacks. Yes, I said it – upper middle to upper class Blacks. When a few Black people are ‘successful’ or a significant majority of whites are successful in some way shape or form, those numbers should not serve as an indicator of the potential success of, let’s say, an inner city Black youth. I believe this the article proves how out of touch those from the ‘other side of town’ really are and how many seem to confuse a successful drive and mindset with access to opportunities. What may seem a necessity to a middle class family could very well be viewed a luxury for many inner city poor Black families, i.e. a Dell computer v food/clothes for the family or an overdue bill. Until individuals like the author and others alike really understand the true definition of ‘poverty’ and truly recognizes and understands the restrictions placed upon the underprivileged faction of the Black community, people (both white and black) will continue to believe race is no longer an issue because, hey – we have a Black president…


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