In an entry at her Angry Black Lady Chronicles blog, Imani Gandy lambastes Forbes Magazine for its decision to run the column “If I Were a Poor Black Kid,” written by a white, middle-aged man. She describes the effort as dripping with white privilege, among other things.
The white privilege wafting from this article is so thick it’s practically choking me. I grew up in Philadelphia. I attended Girls High (as did my mother and my grandmother; my grandfather and great-uncle attended Central, back when it was still an all boys school.) I applied to Masterman (I don’t think I got in, but I can’t really remember, actually.)
I was not a poor black kid — I was just a black kid. My father was a tenured professor at University of Pennsylvania and my mother was a copy editor for W.B. Saunders (Harcourt-Brace). I never went hungry, I never wanted for technology, and I studied — hard. I worked hard. My parents were both heavily involved in my education. You can imagine growing up the daughter of a professor and a copy editor (it’s the reason I can string two sentences together in a cogent manner). I was a straight A student. But it very easily could have turned out differently.
… Privilege and racism are embedded in the system, and grand statements like “Try harder! Get a computer (which a poor black kid likely can’t afford in the first instance)! Get into private school!” are offensive in their banality.
So Mr. Marks, the next time you want to opine about life as a poor black kid, just stop. You know nothing of growing up black. You know nothing of growing up poor. You know nothing of the systemic problems in education that result in many black kids, poor or otherwise, being left behind. It’s not a matter of just “trying super hard and really wanting to succeed.” Your assumptions are faulty, and frankly, you sound like a jackass. A well-meaning jackass, perhaps, but a jackass all the same.
So just stop.
Read Imani Gandy’s entire blog entry at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.