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.

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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 are magically 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. 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 in knowledge 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?"

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