OK, folks. How come no one told me that it's Slander Poor Black Kids Month? 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 children don't know how to work. Donald Trump 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 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?"
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
Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.