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Opinion: Letter from a poor black kid: Baratunde Thurston responds to Forbes' Gene Marks
"With that one article, you solved the problems of millions," Baratunde Thurston writes. "Please don't stop with poor black kids!"
December 14th, 2011
07:04 PM ET

Opinion: Letter from a poor black kid: Baratunde Thurston responds to Forbes' Gene Marks

Editor's note: Baratunde Thurston is a comedian, writer, co-founder of the black political blog, Jack and Jill Politics and director of digital for The Onion. His first book, “How To Be Black,” will be published in February 2012 by Harper Collins.

"Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley" airs at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on December 18 on CNN.

UPDATE: Read Gene Marks' response to Baratunde Thurston.

By Baratunde Thurston, Special to CNN

The following letter is a response from a hypothetical child to Gene Marks' article in Forbes, titled "If I Were A Poor Black Kid." While completely fabricated, the letter below has a stronger basis in reality than does Marks'. In his article, Marks, a business and technology contributor to Forbes, argues poorly that poor black children should use technology to improve their station in life. The article is terrible.

Dear Mr. Gene Marks,

I am a poor black kid. I don't have great parental or educational resources. I'm not as smart as your kids. These are facts. In 2011.

The one smart thing I do everyday is read Forbes. It's what all us poor black kids do. Forbes is constantly reporting on issues of relevance to me and my community. This week, I found your article "If I Were A Poor Black Kid" printed out and slid under my door like all Forbes articles.

Thank you Mr. Marks. You have changed everything about my life. Thanks to your article, I worked to make sure I got the best grades, made reading my number one priority and created better paths for myself. If only someone had suggested this earlier.

But that was just the beginning of how your exceptionally relevant, grounded and experience-based advice changed my life. Thanks only to your article, I discovered technology.

Why did my teachers not teach this? Why isn't this technology mentioned anywhere in popular culture? I don't understand, but you do.

You listed so many different websites and resources, at first it was overwhelming. But I didn't let that deter me. I thought to myself, "If a successful, caring, complicated, intelligent man like Gene Marks says to do it, then I'd better head over to rentcalculators.org right now!"

I did not stop there. I became an expert at the CIA World Factbook, started using Evernote and made it my goal to get into one of those private schools you wrote about. Before your article, I never wanted anything more for myself. I used Google (thanks for the tip!), found the names and addresses of the school admissions officers, and showed up outside of their homes. It's like they were waiting for me. They smiled, waved and immediately told me about their secret scholarship programs.

Private school was exactly like you said it would be. I went straight to the guidance counselor, and I said, "You know everything there is to know about financial aid, grants, minority programs and the like."

And she said, "I sure do! And even though I don't know your name, I'm going to help you get summer employment at a law firm or a business owned by the 1% where you could meet people and show off your stuff." I love showing off my stuff, sir. You have no idea.

I took more of your advice. I got "technical." I had no idea I could get technical. I learned software!

From there it was just a quick hop to a top college, marketable skills and an immediate job offer from a businessman starved for talent. Did someone say recession? I can't see it!

The amazing part is that I did all of this in two days! All thanks to your article!

TIME: If I were a middle class white guy writing about being a poor black kid

I didn't know any of these opportunities existed. My parents and I were too tired. We were all ignorant, and quite frankly, I could have figured it out sooner on my own if I'd had the brains to do so. Your article provided those brains. It wasn't about my parents or ways to improve the school system or how to empower the community. It had nothing to do with history or accumulated privilege or social psychology. No, I simply needed to want success more and combine that with technology. You taught me that I can do all this by myself, and I have!

With that one article, you solved the problems of millions. Imagine the good you could do with three or four articles! Please don't stop with poor black kids! What about children trapped in sex trafficking? How about undocumented migrant workers? And of course, there's women. Have you ever wondered why there aren't more women CEOs? I'm sure you have. You've thought about everything and figured everything out. You are a great man. Thanks again for teaching me about technology.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Baratunde Thurston.

soundoff (1,063 Responses)
  1. capnmike

    Sorry to tell y'all this, but Blacks aren't the only poor people in America...There's a lot of poor white people too.

    December 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mel

    Black people make up 11% of the population and declining. Only CNN is obsessed with them. I ignore them. Eventually they will disappear.

    December 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Banks

      Actually, Mel, you're obsessed with us, too. That's why you read this article, and probably the article that Marks wrote, and then took the time to make the stupid comment on this article about Black people. But you're ignoring us...

      December 24, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Fayeh

      Mel if you ignore us then why did you read the article? CNN has other articles you can read about but you chose to read this one so that you can leave a comment. You said we will eventually disappear, we are the least of your worries, the Mexican population will out number you one day and you will be picking fruit for a living.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bianca

      Not hardly, dearie. I'm sure you wish. Remember the Bible's Last Days? What's up will be down, what's down will be up, what's white will be black, what's black will be white, etc . . .

      January 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MJ

    Speaking as a foreign born African who got a partial academic scholarship for undergrad and a full fellowship for grad school in the US, I can say that WE are not given the same treatment as African-Americans. I have been here about 10 years and have learnt quite a bit about the history of oppression that have kept this minority group down.

    It is not about being brainwashed...I believe everyone given the opportunity, right environment and mentors can thrive and succeed in any endevour. Most Africans (including Obama's father) come to the US on scholarships. These are normally, the children of the elite, rich or upper middle class – at least the ones who succeed academically and later professionally. They have seen parents who have 'white collar' jobs (no pun intended) and so to them it is not something out of the ordinary. Others come on athletics scholarship. However, that does not mean that they have it easy. Some of us still have to deal with rejection in some companies, industries and jobs OR getting paid less with no benefits, AND other social & economic inequalities that seem to be as a related to our skin color.

    Remember that Africans were also colonized – which is another form of slavery – in their lands. The idea of the masters was to give a few 'blacks' power over other blacks either to insulate themselves from the 'dirty work' or to fool the rest that there were 'equal opportunities' if you just worked harder.Some Africans were given priviledges – just like the slave drivers in the plantations. These Africans or their kids are now the elite or ruling class. Divide and conquer is one way making people feel that they are sole cause of the problems. The TRUTH is that one's history shapes their success or lack there of...or at least explains it. The fruit does not fall far from the tree.

    December 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jon C.

    If you read the Marks article and thought it was expected to be a panacea for all the ills of black poverty, then you are pretty ignorant and fall in line with the cabal of folks who can't seem to do anything more than blame anyone and everyone, instead of developing pragmatic solutions.

    Angela, I think you are on point an pretty much rock with your comments.

    December 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vito

    I would like to post a comment regarding all this racism. I think it's important to remember that racism, and in particular all these racist acts, are just another form of bullying. They are in fact one and the same. A bully seeks to pick on some they feel in defenseless, helpless, ostracized from the community and different. Because of these differences, and the fact that the majority of the community ignores that isolated person, a bully feels free to humiliate, abuse and exploit that person. These racist comments on here are no different. Realize that you are being bullied by all these racist comments and be done with it. Excel in everything you do and ignore all these bigots. That's really all there is to it. White people are not evil. Black people are not evil. People are evil.

    December 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharon Cullars

      Great observation Vito. Bullies do come in all colors.

      January 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AP

    Gene Marks is a jerk, a person without class or a sense of self. I guess it's his job to tell people what to do, but honestly I don't want to hear advise from a middle class anyone. I have ideas too, I'm middle class, probably more successful than Mr. Marks, but I know that I don't have the answer to any complicated problem in which I do not have a background. Shame on us for reading his columns, I know I won't be making the same mistake twice.

    December 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DeeDee

    Mr. C. your point is so valid. I'm a social worker and that's exactly what I was thinking. People forget that it takes a support network to help one succeed. Those individuals who aren't lifted out of poverty don't stay there for lack of desire or lack of work ethic. There are plenty of youth who lack the emotional support they need to overcome obstancles. Everything isn't so cut and dry. Those who have found success should not judge but try to be active in uplifting the community.

    December 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Another American

    There is no color. Only Jerks.

    December 19, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Diyogee

    Dear Mr. Baratunde Thurston,

    I read Mr. Gene Marks' blog in Forbes a few days ago, and my first reaction was wow, this guy might be on to something. Then, I read the comments that followed. As you probably already know, they were overwhelmingly negative. Most along the lines of: How dare this balding, middle-aged white man presume that he knows the solution to a poor black kid's problems. So,wondering why I had a positive reaction to Mr. Marks, and most others didn't, I read his post again. And you know what? I still liked it! I read your post a couple of times as well; and you know what? Like most of those who posted negative comments, you offered no solutions of your own. Nope, not one! So, I'm asking you Mr. Thurston, What should a poor black kid do to help himself? I await your response.

    Regards,

    A Poor Black Kid

    December 19, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Lena

      "How dare this balding, middle-aged white man presume that he knows the solution to a poor black kid's problems."

      Exactly right. Having once lived in a Midwestern major city in which African-Americans were largely impoverished, lived in crime-ridden areas, attended sub-standard schools and were blatantly discriminated against as adults, I can say that Mr. Marks has absolutely no idea of what he is talking about. And I'm white.

      December 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. White Male

    White privilege is very real. Even those of us whites who do not have a college education, a fancy car or come from powerful families, we still have fewer relatives in prison (cops don't bother us as much), tend to live in areas where we will get better insurance rates, and tend to have more friends in general who are employed (and can help us get jobs) or if we're self employed we have friends with more money who can buy our products and services. Fellow whites, we're just not living in a world where we are self-made successes; so how can we demand this of anyone else?

    There are huge amounts of untapped talent in black America. I would suggest to my fellow whites to "get connected" while you can; you never know when things will be reversed and you'll be the one needing a friend. And it wouldn't be much use to you to just be told to "get your stuff together and be a self made man like me", would it?

    December 19, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • yefrill

      Not sure how you mean that.I was just spirused to find out that we really don't have a very ethnically diverse community.

      February 14, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dodger300

    If I was [sic] a poor black kid, Plan A would be to study hard and win a Rhodes scholarship.

    Plan B would be to clean toilets in the school for 50 cents an hour, just like Uncle Newt suggested.

    December 19, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. SweetHoney

    For all the "usual" brainwashed people who responses have been "Stop being a victim and step up." and "Foreign-born black people coming to the US haven't been brainwashed to think they are oppressed and abused, so they succeed", it is amazing to me how many opinions flood the internet about what African American "need" to do by so many non-African Americans and/or African Americans. I'm going to work a little backwards here so follow me if you can. To the latter, if at any point you think you made your success alllll on your own need to learn some of you African American history. If it wasn't for the action of African Americans who stood up and fought for the end of slavery, equal rights in education and in the work place, and also the rights to live, eat, the rights to walk down the street without getting lynched because some racist got a wild hair up their butt, the rights to live in our own homes without crosses being burned on our property or with them getting burned down all together and praying to God to get everyone out alive, the rights to not be spit upon the hallways of schools where we are the minority, the rights to just simply live in peace like every other person in this county, you wouldn't have the nice things you can sit back and relax and have today. Don't you ever think that whatever you have accomplished in your short life is not in great part to the hell that your ancestors had no choice but to go through so that their children and their children's children and so on and so forth would be able to have what they did not have then. This in no way mean the struggle is over. It has just taken a different form and shape. Now, to the "Stop being a victim and step up people. I will not go as far as to say that no one knows what struggle is because I don't know you nor do I know what it's like to walk in your shoes. Having said that, there is no possible way on God's green earth that you would know one iota about what African Americans in this country have had to endure let alone what Africans from Africa's experience is, has been or will be. How dare you. How dare you sit on whatever high horse you think that you are on and pass judgement over a whole race of people. Get a clue you dim whited idiot. I am so completely done with people who do know their butt from a hole in the ground sit online and be so willing to say the same bull jargon they see on these racist cable news shows that are on there just to get ratings so they can line their fat cat pockets through idiots like you. I blindly thought at one point in my life that this country was full of people who stood up for what was right and who were hard to be lead around by their noses. But all I see on t.v, at work, and on the internet are sheep just baying for the next same lie soaked bail of hay. Talk about being "brainwashed". You all are just a bunch of trolls. A bunch of sheep and trolls willing to swallow up any new buzz word or phrase so you can feel like you belong, I don't care what you say or what you think and if you don't like it, I'm not one of these arm chair bullies that go on blogs and say some bull just to get people riled. But I will speak the truth. I challenge you to challenge ME. We can even exchange emails so that this could REALLY get interesting. But if you don't respond, then I know you're just another troll, arm chair chicken who only gets brave typing on a faceless computer. As for all the other trolls, get a life. Then we can really talk.

    December 19, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • David Johansson

      So to distill your comments, you're saying that blacks are ignorant and lazy?

      December 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SweetHoney

    For all the "usual" brainwashed people who responses have been "Stop being a victim and step up." and "Foreign-born black people coming to the US haven't been brainwashed to think they are oppressed and abused, so they succeed", it is amazing to me how many opinions flood the internet about what African American "need" to do by so many non-African Americans and/or African Americans. I'm going to work a little backwards here so follow me if you can. To the latter, if at any point you think you made your success alllll on your own need to learn some of you African American history. If it wasn't for the action of African Americans who stood up and fought for the end of slavery, equal rights in education and in the work place, and also the rights to live, eat, the rights to walk down the street without getting lynched because some racist got a wild hair up their butt, the rights to live in our own homes without crosses being burned on our property or with them getting burned down all together and praying to God to get everyone out alive, the rights to not be spit upon the hallways of schools where we are the minority, the rights to just simply live in peace like every other person in this county, you wouldn't have the nice things you can sit back and relax and have today. Don't you ever think that whatever you have accomplished in your short life is not in great part to the hell that your ancestors had no choice but to go through so that their children and their children's children and so on and so forth would be able to have what they did not have then. This in no way mean the struggle is over. It has just taken a different form and shape. Now, to the "Stop being a victim and step up people. I will not go as far as to say that no one knows what struggle is because I don't know you nor do I know what it's like to walk in your shoes. Having said that, there is no possible way on God's green earth that you would know one iota about what African Americans in this country have had to endure let alone what Africans from Africa's experience is, has been or will be. How dare you. How dare you sit on whatever high horse you think that you are on and pass judgement over a whole race of people. Get a clue you dim whited idiot. I am so completely done with people who do know their butt from a hole in the ground sit online and be so willing to say the same bull jargon they see on these racist cable news shows that are on there just to get ratings so they can line their fat cat pockets through idiots like you. I blindly thought at one point in my life that this country was full of people who stood up for what was right and who were hard to be lead around by their noses. But all I see on t.v, at work, and on the internet are sheep just baying for the next same lie soaked bail of hay. Talk about being "brainwashed". You all are just a bunch of trolls. A bunch of sheep and trolls willing to swallow up any new buzz word or phrase so you can feel like you belong, I don't care what you say or what you think and if you don't like it, I'm not one of these arm chair bullies that go on blogs and say some bull just to get people riled. But I will speak the truth. I challenge you to challenge ME. We can even exchange emails so that this could REALLY get interesting. But if you don't respond, then I know you're just another troll, arm chair chicken who only gets brave typing on a faceless computer. As for all the other trolls, get a life. Then we can really talk.

    December 19, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      A great deal of white people also gave their lives for you to have those rights.

      December 19, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
      • claire

        only a white person would read that entire post and still have to include credit to your people, even when it had nothing to do with YOUR rights. Black people were enslaved because of white people and you want us to give credit to the very few that lost their lives helping them. How about you switch your priorities and give credit to all the BLACK people that lost their lives because aren't they the real heroes?

        December 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • David

        Well my friend, I am white and therefor probably unable to think in any other manner. In my white mind a hero is anyone willing to stand up for what is right (that is obviously an over simplification), but I am proud of my heritage and the history of my people. Why is that bad? Why can't we give credit to all those who gave their lives for the greater good? And you say the "few" white people who gave their lives... The civil war was the bloodiest war in US history! Consider me racist if you would like, but I will continue holding my glass high to all of our countries hero's, whether black, white, brown or red. I think the problem you had with my earlier statement is likely due to the fact that you're a racist.

        December 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Alicia Pinkney

        After reading all of this, I'm embarrassed to be from America. God forgive us all....

        December 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      I never once denigrated what my ancestors went through. Not once. I know for a fact that where I am today is due to their struggles, as well as what my own mother did. It's also due to all the white people who want to stamp our bigotry, who went in front of Congress when we weren't able to and argued on our behalf, who died by the thousands in the Civil War to ensure our freedom. (That needed cleared up. I'm not a fan revisionist history.)

      I'm not passing judgment. I'm calling out to my people (African AMERICANS) and begging them to step up. I'm telling them -they- have the power to improve their own lives. I'm sharing my story of success so people can see it's possible. What are you doing to help? It sounds to me like you are arguing we shouldn't step up, we shouldn't try to better ourselves, all because our ancestors were mistreated. Who's brainwashed again?

      December 19, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jae

    Fantastic!!

    December 18, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ronnie Brockway

    I guess we all take offense when someone else opines on what they would do if they were in my shoes. Of course our shoes are molded by millions of factors, not just race or economic status. For these reasons I silently scream whenever political commenters start great thoughts with " ________ think or want blah, blah". They are only voicing their own prejudice , they have no insight on what anyone else truly thinks or believes! Speak only for yourself, and say what you truly believe!

    December 18, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  16. robopanda

    This article is beyond awesome.

    December 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  17. tom london england

    Great article. Had me chuckling through out.

    December 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  18. nicole

    I LOVE THIS ARTICLE

    December 17, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  19. Angela

    I find it sadly indicative of the reality of "racism" and "white oppression" in America that people who have actually lived through being a poor black child agree with Gene Marks. Foreign-born black people coming to the US haven't been brainwashed to think they are oppressed and abused, so they succeed. They have a work ethic. On the other hand, you get white people and privileged black people saying "you can't possibly understand, you haven't been there." And you have? You are making just as many assumptions as you say he does.

    I am American, not foreign born. My mother was a strong woman who kicked out her abusive partner when I was a toddler and moved back in with her mom. She raised my two sisters and me with the help of my grandmother. She worked odd jobs when she could find them, and refused to go on welfare out of pride. We lived on the kindness of neighbors and out of Dumpsters for much of my childhood. In addition, she took us out of public school because she was afraid my father would abduct us. We were "home schooled," which basically consisted of checking out library books and her spending as much time as she could with us every day (sometimes half an hour, sometimes up to three hours when she was between jobs and not hunting for work).

    I went back to public school in high school because I didn't want the stigma of a GED. I worked my butt off, ignored the social pressure against being a geek, dealt with having no social life, and graduated as the valedictorian. I earned a full ride scholarship with stipend, worked part time to pay for everything the stipend didn't, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in technical writing. I'm not wealthy now. I'm not part of the 1%. But I have a house, a car, and a family, and I support my family with a middle-class income.

    I expect many people will say, "You're just an exception, not everyone can do what you did." I say, why not? It's sad that I -am- the exception. The difference between people who succeed in life, regardless of skin color, is they believe they can.

    December 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ubong Ikpe

      Read and Pass along Compelling response by Poor black kid from West Philadelphia http://thesquabbleroom.blogspot.com/

      December 17, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Angelica

      It's not that foreign borned blacks haven't been brainwashed into believing they've been oppressed generation after generation. It's that they actually haven't been because they just got here.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
      • Ubong Ikpe

        But they don't hear you though, Angelica. Poor Black kid from West Philadelphia speaks out to Forbes contributor http://thesquabbleroom.blogspot.com/

        December 17, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
      • Angela

        So fix it, Angelica. If I did it, so can you. So can anyone. Stop being a victim and step up. Take control of your own life and stop whining about how unfair everything is.

        December 17, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mr. C

      Angelica ...you had help (your mother and grandmother) so do not try and act as though you were able to overcome the odds without support. Not ever inner city black person are afforded those variables. I used to work as a case manager in a group home in Atlanta GA. A lot of the kids who came there were abused, raped, and abandoned by their parents or guardians. One of the most startling stories I have ever heard was when one of the kids at the program described his life. He never knew his father and his mother was a crack fiend. One day his mother high on drugs sold is baby sister to a crack dealer to score more crack. Once she came off the high she had to sleep with the dealer to get the kid back. He was 15years old when this happened and not to talk about what he went through prior to those years. How do you expect someone with no support and living in those conditions on a daily bases to go out and be somebody? Also they do not have role models or someone to turn to show them the way thus they become a product of their environment. Maybe they should all do as Mr. Thurston wrote and get technical. After all we are all competing on the same level with the same rules and tools to survive in this world. EVERYONE who makes it in this world has gotten help from somewhere. No one can make it on their own without help and if someone tells you that then their fooling themselves. So please stop with if I can do it so can you(by the way your situation as you discribe it was not that bad anyway) because everyone is not dealt the same cards in life. Yes your cards were not that great however you had a hand to play with. Be thankful

      December 18, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carlos

      So what are you doing to help those that could not get out Angela. I hope you do realize that just because you might be a minority, not every single thing that happens to us affects us in the same way. Two brothers can see their father beating their mother up and suffer quite different effects in the same way that your determination and obvious maturity at a young age allowed you to succeed in life. Now that you've succeeded, can you acknowledge it and go back and help others?

      December 20, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  20. David

    I don't understand how everything today is perceived as racism. I am white and live in a predominantly white area, yet I am aware of no secret organizations designed to keep the black man down. Why is it that educated Asians, Arabs and Latinos can move to this country and prosper, meanwhile African Americans continue to blame white people for all of their problems. I have news for everyone; white people have problems too! However, white people don't have the good fortune of blame anyone else for their problems. The world was not handed to us on a silver platter. I will admit that white people have an advantage, but when is the African American community going to stop blaming everyone else for their problems and start taking action to change their situation? There are plenty of successful African Americans in this country and I doubt they got to where they are by blaming other people for the difficulties they had to overcome! Also, in case no one has notice, the current president is African American... The only way he could have been elected is with a considerable portion of the white vote! Is that racism?
    African Americans have a write to be active in shaping this country, they have a right to quality education and they have a right to fair and equal treatment and economic opportunities. But I don't think this will be achieved by blaming white people for every difficulty they face in life. This only further drives the wedge between black and white.
    Gene probably shouldn't have written that article, it does show his ignorance, but I don't think there was anything racist about his intent. However, I do feel that Baratunde's reply was full of racist language directed toward white people. I don't consider Baratunde a racist, I just think he was offended by Gene's ignorance and inadvertently stereotyped all white people as being privileged and middle class. It just goes to show Baratunde's ignorance to life as a white man, of which he has never been...

    December 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  21. RegularJoe

    Point taken, Mr. Thurston. But I was disappointed that your criticism ultimately lead to nothing constructive. Why waste your time tearing down wobbly foundations if you're not planning to re-build?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Kia

    I am sorry the reason for all the hostility is because of how completely RIDICULOUS this guys suggestions were. Do you know how many POOR households actually have a COMPUTER much less the Internet in America. I actually am on the opposite end of this trend. I am a middle to upper middle class black woman surrounded by poor white families in Springfield, Missouri. My husband who is also black is a programmer with CarFax.... I see a MARKED difference in the resources granted to the POOR WHITE COMMUNITIES vs the BLACK POOR COMMUNITIES. Example, we are living here just long enough for my husband to graduate from the local university after he left the military, my husband is from DC, I am from Chicago; the schools in the poor communities did not have computers or hardly any technology that the students could use much less after school programs or access to the Internet. The poor school districts in many cases didn't have the resources to hold school for a full day either, there was one school that cut all the way back to the basic classes, math, science, english, etc. The kids were out of school by 12pm. At the "poor" school in the poor white neighborhood which ironically my kids attend as there is no school in our middle class neighborhood in the school district, the kids are CONSTANTLY being showered with resources by the large local employers here like JP Morgan Chase, provides Christmas presents, one on one tutors volunteers for the children, sponsors the school's field day, etc. In the classrooms the kids have smart boards, in the upper grades the kids have computers IN CLASSROOM, one computer for every child, there is also a computer lab for the entire school in which every student again gets use of their own computer. There are tutoring programs after school, the kids have field trips to corporate settings like the Chase building to see what it is like working for a major company as well as fun field trips too, going to places like farms. The children have access to food via the free lunch program, and it is hot cooked food, breakfast and lunch. In addition to that the kids are provided with "food bags" weekly to bring home to make sure they have food at home. Parents are given incentive to send their kids to tutoring which in a way is FREE child care two days a week until 5:20 pm, every 5 times they are picked up on time the parents receive a free $10 gas card. I could go on all day listing the benefits the the children receive at this school in a white poor neighborhood in which a household with mother and father working makes about $30,000 A YEAR! Oh wait there is more, the elementary school is a NICE building, comfortable with heat and air conditioning too. The kids are also afforded a QUALITY education, however because of the environment at home once most of these kids reach their teenage years they drop out of school. Less than 50% of the kids around here graduate high school by the time they get to the senior class. So despite all the opportunity these kids have they walk away from it. Kids in the poor black communities especially those who want to learn and stay out of trouble would dive in head first into these opportunities, being away from "the hood" and in a safe learning environment that provides heat and air conditioning, food, opportunities to advance, TECHNOLOGY, is what is LACKING. So again given the difference in the poor white neighborhood vs poor black neighborhoods it makes the original writer look like a complete ass because he is going off of what he saw is available to the POOR WHITE COMMUNITY not what is available for children in the poor black communities. It is comparing apples and oranges. Let's speak again when corporate America is jumping through it's behind to provide technology, opportunities, and much needed resources to the schools in the poor black part of town!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Sara Green

    I love this dialogue – now my challenge would be partner with schools in lower-income neighborhoods and ask the kids there to write their own responses to the original posting in Forbes. I'd love to see what real kids in real situations would say after reading this article. It's such an opportunity to find out what is really going through the minds of these kids and figure out what we can all do – as a community – to help them get the best education and most opportunities possible.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jgraham

      ONE comment that might point the way to making a difference! Thank you Sara.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Brian

    So what is the solution / solutions? Who is working towards the solution / solutions? What are you doing to help? What is anyone doing to help? It is clear that help is needed – how do we bring it? Let's look for real answers and help each other. When MORE people do well in this country then the country will do well. Help your fellow man, help your neighbor. Don't leave it to government or your place of worship. Take part.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  25. Dan110

    First, I'm Black ... first generation Jamaican-American. I grew up poor in the Detroit.

    Second, this article shows why African-Americans in this country will never get their snit together. Growing up we had very little, we went to less than stellar schools, and were in a very rough and tumble neighborhood. However, my mother ingrained in us the importance of education, staying out of trouble, and having ambition. Most importantly, she taught us that nothing, absolutely nothing of value will be given to you. You must earn it through hard work and dedication. It was not about the money in our pockets. It was about the character in our hearts that would get us to where we needed to go. Now, I work in science and technology for the Federal Government, live in the burbs, have a beautiful family, and teach my own children those same values.

    There is nothing racist about what the Forbes writer wrote. In fact, he's right on the target. The internet and technology are color blind. Anyone with half a brain can get on the internet and learn a skill. There are libraries in the hood with internet access are there not? Can't afford college? There's always a tech school like Devry or the military that will give you a skill and pay for college during and after your service. This is how I paid for both a BS and MS from Tier 1 schools! Yes, someone paid for my entire education as long as I kept my grades up and worked hard at the job they gave me. Crazy talk, huh?

    It seems that if a white person says anything close to stop whining, learn a skill, and make your own way, theres a outcry of racism. As long as any minority subscribes to this mentality, they'll never amount to anything. Period. Full stop.

    So, to the author of this article, please stop working so hard to promote this kind of "victim" mentality. If anything, you should try to collaborate with the Forbes writer to work on solutions to get more poor black kids into tech with the limited resources that they have. Its as simple as learning and working hard.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott Hampel

      Interesting point of view Dan110. I think most of us commentators figured that Marks was just being ignorant because we really don't know what it is like.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • tratt

      VERY well said. And thank you.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • jgraham

        Dan110, I encourage you to examine how your (immigrant) mother raised you, and compare it to how most inner city children are raised. Note that most inner city children are being raised by mothers that had their first child as teenagers. And have been on their own since having that first child. Compare the two and show how you expect these teenage moms to raise their children the way your mother did.

        December 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • DTM

      First -You were lucky to have parents that stressed education. Many children Black, white or Hispanic are not. I am Black and my parents also stressed education but knew kids who had parents, grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, cousins etc who never had an education and could not convey the importance of one

      Second – Are you saying that all African -Americans are ignorant? Are there no ignorant people in the country you came from? You are an exception in your country and in the USA. Unfortunately it is not possible for the majority regardless of race to get the education that I have or that you apparently have.

      Third -Your reply denigrates an entire race in a country that you are a part of. Wake up and understand that everyone does not have the privileges that you had. I know many who don't have your Mother (who apparently had to take you out of your country to be able to move up). I did and instead of looking down on others, I try to help them by giving them and their parent(s) a different view and a better way of looking at life. What are you doibng to help?

      December 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pupplius

      Like you mentioned you had a mother in the home that made education and success a must! I had a similar upbringing with a Jamaican mother, got a full scholarship and I am an entrepreneur that spends a lot of time working with kids. The problem is while you and I were poor we still had someone in our lives that would not allow us to fail and exposed us to a life and goals outside of our economic situations. Many kids that I meet, work with and talk to don't have that. You can give them a computer right now with the websites Marks mentioned and they would have no clue what to do with it. Even worst they don't know how to read it breaks my heart and these aren't 5 year olds these are 12th graders that I work with to help them become entrepreneurs.  
      Although  its upsetting that Marks generalized all black people and then all the responses are doing the same thing. I agree with a lot of what he said we all need to be more responsible and personally accountable.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      Totally agree, Dan! Based on what I've seen in the comments, the common thread between people who fail to improve is they don't believe they can. You had a mom you believed in education and hard work and instilled it into you; so did I. I've certainly been challenged by bigotry, but I've never been held back by it. All these people whining about racism need to look at the real problem: they are oppressing themselves by saying "It's out of our hands. We can't do anything to fix our situation because we are so oppressed. Someone fix it for us." Let's break the cycle. We can do it if we stop believing we are disadvantaged. I did.

      December 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Dale N.M.

    The majority of kids today before they even start school they are brainwashed, because of dysfunctional family lifestyle. From day one when they first go home they have all of these different negative influences, they hear this brain rambling Boom Boom HATE RAP gangsters that they idolize at a young age, and then they have family members that are gangs that wear their colors and tattoos gang language and hand signs and they idolize that, when the kid goes to school the key is already brainwashed.

    And one other thing they hear the gunshots outside they hear someone being shot and killed it gets to the point where it's just routine another day, when they grow up they do the same thing of vicious circle.

    And the black community leaders wonder why there's a problem good grief.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  27. Andrew

    I would like somebody to explain the racism in Mark's article. Everybody seems to call it racist, yet I see no racism in it at all And those who call it racist will not point out the sentences or paragraphs that are racist, they just want to pain the man as racist. That's part of the problem with black people, lefty's give them so many excuses, and if things aren't going well, do as the posters on here do, and yell racism.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  28. Andrew

    All the lefty's here won't discuss the real problems, when the real problems are brought up, they just yell racism. How is that going to solve anything. Get real. Most people yelling racism on here are part of the problem. Your giving excuses. By yelling racism your just shutting down debate on this, and it also assumes whites are racist, which is, racist isn't it.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  29. hawkechik

    This article was rather snarky.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  30. Scott Hampel

    Mr. Thurston,

    I was greatly disappointed with after reading your article. I agree that Mr. Marks does not understand how things really are, but you utterly failed on countering his ideas. You had a chance to write a great article and educate Mr. Marks and the rest of the world on how things really are for a poor black child. Instead you wrote a pompous article that offered no real insight. Many other writers have also responded to Mr. Marks article and have articulately pointed out how he was wrong and have given suggestions. Nope, you decided to just mock someone who doesn't understand what an actual poor child goes through. Congratulations! You understand how to be sarcastic but this kind of trash has no place at CNN.

    December 16, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott Hampel

      My proofreading skill is amazing. Me grammar gud.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • BJ

      Oh Scott, do us all a favor and take the stick out of your butt...

      December 16, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  31. Alex

    Mr. Thurston,

    This was good.. like really, REALLY good. Thanks for writing a great response. Some your commenters on here though, seriously need to chill...anger is one thing, but we can do without the nasty.

    December 16, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  32. Ed

    EXCELLENT RESPONSE MR. THURSTON!!!

    December 16, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Wiw

      You guys are falling over each other to suck this guys d$&@! Jesus he's so raciest it's not even funny!

      December 16, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
      • LP

        He's 'racist?' And it's not racist to give condescending 'advice' to a group of people who are living with just about insurmountable odds of poverty, a government-created drug culture, generationally poor educational system, and a country who really doesn't give a rat's behind, because they'd rather say it's your fault that you were born into an abominable system and couldn't figure out how to get out of it?

        December 16, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
      • Andrew

        Yep, very racist man, but at CNN or the New York times its acceptable to be a black man who hates white people. In fact it seems to be encouraged. What a racist article. How about you can't be a Cancer oncologist unless you had cancer. Sounds like the same thing he's saying.

        December 16, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  33. thinking

    How about instead of pointing fingers. Be a leader, teacher, tutor, coach, mentor, inspirator, cheerer, involved community member, fellow human, shoulder to lean on, or big brother/sister. Anything other than another person listing excuses, blaming, and not offering up solution or help.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  34. Jennifer

    Wow. I've never read the section where people make comments after reading articles before. It's not a very nice place. Being anonymous and not having a face-to-face conversation seems like it makes it much easier for people to say strange, unsupportable-by-logic, rude things to each other. Some people are speaking to others as if they were human beings that they respect as human beings even if they don't agree with them, but many are not. It's disheartening.
    All I wanted to say was, "Thanks, Baratunde, for making a response to such a thoughtless piece of writing in a funny
    way that highlights the hypocrisy of presuming to preach to people about whose lives you have no earthly idea and probably never will. Somebody needs to say out loud that it is mean-spirited and ignorant, and I thank you for doing it."
    I'm going to leave this on-line forum now and never return. Very likely I will be insulted and put down by someone for having an opinion and perspective different from theirs and God knows our planet doesn't need any more negativity on it and I don't either. I will pray for us all before I go to sleep tonight that as humans we can rise above the fear, insecurity, and anger that we are currently engulfed in. Whether we like to admit it or not, the fact is that 3/4 of the world lives in poverty and it's not because they're lazy. But I don't think we are going to figure out what to do about it on this forum. Oh, well. Bless you all, and me, too.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
    • coffegirl

      I agree whole heartedly Jennifer. I wish I knew where the magic came from that has made millions of people believe that 3/4 of the people in the world are just lazy slobs, unable to learn and unable to acquire success in this world...Heck, it must be easy since 1% were able to do it, all on their own I'm sure, you know without inheritances or knowing the right people. In this world and in this country, we are all born with the same opportunities. All treated equally and looked at as equals.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
      • Wisdom

        Hi Coffeegirl, The downturn of the economy and 1% of the population points to one thing " People for years have been apathetic to politics and therefore have voted for a party that is too friendly with Corporations whose sole aim is to exploit
        working people with poor pay check and maxiimize excessively profits for their share holders. That is not capitalism. It is exploitation-modern day mass slavery.
        If you listen to Rush and all those Conservative talk radio then you will understand. Our schools a poorly funded and we continue to vote for the same school board members. Our county government ignore the "poor areas which is full of talented kids I term the human minerals and we still continue to vote for the same leaders. It is time to start looking at Independent candidates. It is time to rise up and change the direction this country is heading in this class and racial divide. Get involved. The rich are rich because of the poor and vunerable people. When the poor gets wiser that will be their doom.

        December 16, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  35. DB

    Gene Marks is paid by the page hit. So he's sitting back and laughing at everybody who's reading his BS article.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      No he's not you knob.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
      • Scott Hampel

        Andrew, he actually is getting paid per page hit. If you read the Forbes Editors response on the Marks page, the editor explains that he does get paid per page hit.

        December 16, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  36. Alerrt1

    Martin Luther King would have been proud of this Black Nation, although things look difficult now, times were a lot worse then... I am 54 and white, that is what Mr. King was all about, a peaceful struggle through life together, a life rewarded with special gifts for one another. Yes God Blesses People everyday, and blesses you with the power to change yourselves. Its entirely up to you what direction you must go. The true road is a foundation of knowledge. Stay in school...then teach others. LEARN ALL YOU CAN AND THEN SOME....... Thank you for Listening.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  37. Alerrt1

    What about those video games? Grand Thief Auto, War games, Cop and Robbers...the real bad ones, do you think hook on video phonics really works? How much do the games influence the developing minds of the young?

    December 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      What the heck are you talking about? A game system and controllers is like $350. Only middle class kids have them, not the underprivileged.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  38. Alerrt1

    Merry Christmas Everyone...

    December 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miguel

      Yay, merry x-mas to you and yours :)

      December 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • crumblinempire

      ...and God bless everyone!

      December 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy Anderson

      Thanks, and Io Saturnalia to you!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  39. F. Daniel Gray

    So much misinformation in the posts here. It's happened before. I get the feeling most whites don't want to face the reality of history. They coined the term race, and different groups, without consulting the rest of the world where most people do and did live. Then, decided that only they can determine who is or is not in what group. Are the Jews a race? Is Alberto Fujimori, the former president of Peru, a latino? To what "race" do the peoples of the Pacific belong? Despite the fact that the people living on this continent for over 15 thousand years before the "white" Europeans "discovered" it, the Europeans told them their names for themselves were irrelevant, and they were "Indians." It's just one more racist term coined by "whites." And it is racist. For they are seen as inferior human beings. The Canadian Parliament, at the urging of the Inuits, has decided to use the term First Nations peoples. After all they preceded the American nations.

    There is no such person as a 'white" person; or "black." So the discussion is pointless. Is the president "white?" His mother was. However the "white" majority population, using the "one drop" rule, has decided he is "black."

    A good self examination, as to integrity. Women comprise a bit more than half the population. Yet in the governing infrastructure, corporations, police departments, legislatures, the military, etc., they are grossly under represented statistically. And, it was not that long ago, when men forbid them entrance. Now, it's just by agreement. Surely no one by now thinks they just don't qualify, or are "lazy," etc. Get the picture? It's not about hate, etc., it's about hypocrisy.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather Christenson-Reeves

      Beautiful. Many salient and deeply thought points that I myself have contemplated.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Banny Mellweather

      He;s Latino AND Asian – Latino refers to cultural background, and it usually isn't supposed to be taken as a race – But many states count Latino as a race in school enrollment figures

      December 16, 2011 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      You sound very uneducated to say such things. You say, "They coined the term race" You have no idea how languages evolve do you. Nobody say down and decided this is the way it is. Should they have consulted the rest of the world on the term race. You do know this stuff happens at the local level hundreds of years ago. You have a very dark view of the world, and i can tell you, it won't work out for you.

      You clearly don't have any idea how the English language evolved. You sound like you think it was made by a couple of white guys in an office tower. You couldn't be any further from reality.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      You sound very hateful and misinformed about you history. Why do you see things in such an antagonistic way. I fyou actually think what you say in this post, your the racist one honey. And you lack knowlege to make a informed argument. Some of what you say is true, but its also littered with racist assumptions, wrong ideas about how cultures and languages evolve. Stay in school.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Whites coined the term race, so is that evil, it a word that people needed to communicate, we speak english, which was developed by white people. Do they not have the term race in French, or Swahili.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • ooga booga

      "the Europeans told them their names for themselves were irrelevant, and they were "Indians." It's just one more racist term coined by "whites." "

      are you daft? the original settlers thought they hit India, hence why they though the people they encountered were Indians. It's not like they had a map, or the other knowledge we have today which they didnt then.

      do yourself a favor and read a book sometime...

      December 16, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
      • Vaikunthanath Kaviraj

        Reading a book? Follow your own advise. Of course they had maps!
        Never heard of Piri Reis? He had such an accurate map of the eastern American seaboard, running from the far north of the Bering Strait to the deep south of the Magellaen Strait.
        Columbus had that map, bought in Constantinopel. He first went to the Venetians, who like their contemporary blinds, did not even want to let the light shine on it. He then went to the King of Spain, who also refused, but whose wife the queen, financed the entire expedition.
        Thinking he had reached the East coast of India, he called the locals Indians – indeed a white man's name.
        It is also perfectly true that the word race is a white invention, but it does not make the word itself evil – solely its use as a means of exclusion can qualify as racist in the negative sense.
        Just like the n-word is considered off limits, some want the same for racist, racism and its other connotations. I think that is foolish. It is the discriminatory use of "race" that is the issue. That works both ways. To define yourself or be defined as black or white is based on perception, rather than skin colour.
        For the rest, the "white" man is green with envy, red with anger, pink with shame, blue with indignation and yellow with jaundiced views of the world. And they dare to tell other people coloured?

        December 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  40. tde1975

    Typical racist BS rant by a CNN contributor! There are plenty of poor people of all races and backgrounds who take the opportunity given to them to better themselves! Why must you ALWAYS play the race card. You yourself are an ignorant racist!

    December 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy Anderson

      You're a dick. Check your privilege.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Gabriel

      For Oprah to even acknowledge male vicitms is a huge step in the right direction. But no, I didn't see it. Even so, I'm glad she did it, just as I was glad when Tyra Banks did an episode on male vicitms of domestic violence and even had some of the female batterers on the show. She wasn't nice or sympathetic to the women who abused their men, either, which was a real surprise.

      August 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Jimmy

    I do laugh at all the excuses for blacks from some of the posters in here.

    Can you tell us which group has more males in prison, on probation, or on some kinds of restriction than in college?

    Can you tell us who kills, robs, shots other blacks?

    Can you tell us who would you see hanging out with homies when you stop at a liquor store at da hood?

    Do you want me to go on?

    Answer = blacks.

    One more thing. If America is such a racist bad place, then why the poor Asians who come here and after a few years, finish school, then college, and then become productive members of society? Must be because of all the racists that kept the blacks down and not them, right? LOL.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Be careful, stating the facts can get you banned on CNN or labeled a racist! I'm sure many of us are tired of being the scape goats for their self inflicted problems.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        Surprise, surprise... another bigoted dick.

        December 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • lionofnarnia

        Buy *not* made in China this holiday season.

        December 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
      • Andrew

        Speaking the truth on CNN will get the witch hunters out calling you a racist. Its so frustrating how black people seem to be able to chalk anything up to racism. Asians, East Indian, they say they experience racism too, but yet they succeed. Maybe stop making excuses, and black parents don't let your kids get to into rap and hip hop, because if you complaining about no role models, that's your kids role models. Their role models should be academics, not rappers. It hurts to hear the truth, but I've seen so many black people who haven't succeeded blame racism that it sickens me.

        December 16, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • crumblinempire

      You're a worthless dick. Only a cretinous slime bucket worm would hide behind the anonymity of a blog to spew their bigoted hatred.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Andrew

        You seem like the name calling bigot to me. What did you read a post that spoke truth you don't want to hear so you call it racist.

        December 16, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • frank

      I am not exactly sure what your point is. The most educated ethnic in American is Nigerians. And yes, they are immigrants and equally blacks.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy you can't even begin to see the point! Looks like the brain wash took!

      December 16, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  42. Jamar

    Mr.'s Thurston and Marks,

    I find both of your articles quite offensive, because, you see, I was a poor black kid. In fact, the only thing thats changed is that I am now an adult. If you walked through my home you wouldn't think I was poor, or that I was ever poor, but the reality is that when I was growing up my family was just a hair above the poverty line. Yes I grew up with a computer in my house, but that is thanks to the government and my mother's tax return, by the way I forgot to mention that I grew up in a single parent household. I didn't have many opportunities growing up, in all honesty, I realized very young that life would be hard and I would have to strive to get anything I wanted, so that's what I did. I went to inner city schools for my entire mandatory educational life. The only thing that separated me and a lot of the people I knew, that are now either dead or in jail, is that I wanted to learn. My role models growing up were my favorite teachers, because they let me read the books that I found interesting and they let me just sit there and do my work. I can't speak for every poor black kid out there, but the fact of the matter is if you want to do well, if you want to learn, if you want to go to college, you will. It's not about "social psychology," I'm living proof of that, it's not about the school's failing, it's not even about the parents; it's about the students not wanting to succeed.

    When I was in high school, I knew alot of people that would say they don't do well in school because they're black, and the school system is designed to benefit white students. That's a fallacy, the school system is designed to benefit hard working students. Don't misunderstand, I did have it easier than most other students I knew, regardless of ethnicity or income. That was only because I've always been smart and have always gone out of my way to learn and absorb information, regardless of the immediate usefulness. I know several students that worked as hard as they could to get good grades, because they wanted a better life for themselves and the children they wanted in the future. One of my close friends, who was a latina, lived in one of the worst areas of San Diego, CA, and still managed to become valedictorian and aqurie the Gates Millenium Scholarship, she is now almost finished getting her Bachelor's Degree.

    Both articles do make valid points, the schools do need to be reformed, because the funds are dolled out unilaterally. However, the blame cannot just be placed on the schools, it's also on the students themselves. Some of my teachers argued that the parents were to blame and parents argue the opposite, but no matter what you do or say, if your child doesn't want to learn, they won't.

    I do apologize if this response seems incoherent or crooked, but I have not written any rough draft and I have not proof read this. I only hope that you read this and understand that a hypothetical article where the writer admits to having no experience doesn't deserved to be belittled, he doesn't know what it's like to be poor, but he admitted it; and as for the hypothetical letter, if you had grown up poor it wouldn't need to be hypothetical, you should realize that all the facts and statistics and all the other reasearch is done by people who have never known what its like to look in your fridge and the only food in it is what you'll have for dinner for the next five days. Neither of you should be trying to fix a problem you could never understand.

    Cordially,

    Jamar

    December 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larissa Barnes

      Well said:)

      December 16, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  43. Miguel

    Dear, cnn my name is Miguel I came to this country at age 8. I remember having to walk for miles in the Aizona desert. I was placed in a car and brought to phoenix. I enrolled in school, learned English then graduated middle school then high school. I came to learn that I cannot attend college because I'm what my.mother says an illegal. I met a young beautiful woman who married me despite my inability to legally work. I'm unable to go anywhere because I don't have a license and have to ride the bus on a daily basis. My mother always told me to keep my head down, avoid trouble, be good and get good grades. Unfortunately now I'm an adult and wish to work, own a home and provide for my loved ones. I wish above else, wish the natives quit whining. Nothings is as bad as someone denying you your right to work. when it rains it pours.

    December 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • sambo

      Am I hearing whining. Your mom broke the law when she came here. Now you must go back and apply for legal status. We want educated people here. Good luck

      December 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • Miguel

        Sorry Sambo no such luck. Went and married a White Citizen and now I'm a permanent resident. Love my wife to death and we have 2 beautiful babies.

        December 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jamar

        @sambo That's kind of offensive, he doesn't have to leave to apply for legal citizenship, in fact he can just because he married a citizen, but it costs like $2000 and you have to pass the test and everything. On the flip side @miguel you can't complain about not being able to legally work when you did break the law, and now you are complaing about it instead of doing something to fix the problem.

        December 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • Miguel

        Hey Sambo it was more like 2k for immi. fees on top of 2k for attorneys fees. I do however take offense when you say that I broke the law. I was 8 and had no control over what my folks did. However, I don't have any regrets. In fact if I could I'd do it all over again. I don't like natives who like to whine all day and night that they can't get out of the hole. Well try getting out when you can't legally work.

        December 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  44. sambo

    you're right, this letter is a hypothetical letter from a poor black kid.........................or adult

    December 15, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
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