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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. virtuallyme

    Steve Martin was born a poor black child

    December 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rebecca

    y!."'Success'ful‘min'gle.."`.COMis a person'als place where you can meet success'ful rich
    men, classy mature women, rich women looking for marriage, or just meet beautiful

    friends and singles. Good luck! :)

    December 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bobby

    Old, tired, and worn out. Black people all over this country have grown up dirt poor and gone on to be millionaries. Of course, folks like the writer, likely also wealthy, want to retard the progress. It cannot be done, or the ones like him that do are "special" and "above" other black folks. Common sense. Look around. If 1 can, all can. Dude, you ain't no better than anyone else.

    December 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nathan

    What's perhaps most striking about this article are the double standards being applied. When someone wealthy and privileged attempts to offer some basically well-intentioned (even if condescending and over-simplistic) advice for the less privileged to better their opportunities, those who are less privileged feel its their place to lash back in spades with such a display of sarcastic bitterness and resentment that it's no better than the smugness exhibited by the over-privileged author. There's no lack of foolishness and hypocrisy on either side of the debate.

    December 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      By far one of the most rational posts I've read all night. I too tried to give well-intentioned feedback, mind you I'm from a very poor background, and got called arrogant and ungrateful.

      December 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. pros_1

    Wow, your one little racist d-bag uh?. I can't believe how many pathetic angry little wieners the internet forums can bring out from under a rock. Americans who spew this rhetoric are useless, and sadly they are so many hiding out there.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mike

    YOUR POST = RACE CARD. You are a loser, standard lib trash.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tristan

    If I was a poor black kid, I know how I would get rich. I'd write books and then blog on websites about being a poor black kid to keep the race card paycheck rolling in!

    December 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Micktoria

      touche

      December 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Baratunde is Right

    Post my comment CNN

    December 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Max

    It's crazy that people come onto a website that is supposed to enlighten us just to spout off ignorance. If you generalize people by race, class, gender, etc. You're ALWAYS going to be wrong. That being said, it does not mean that those distinctions have no impact on the trajectory of opportunities available. All of the arguments in the comments are just retreaded statements from a never ending PR battle. No one is going to change their whole life view from a comment on a CNN story.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • MAgishan

      I'm curious. Just HOW many ways can you stereotype, when you use the phrase, 'poor black kids'? Does such a thing not exist? What should we file that description under, so we don't to be so 'racist'? Schmuck.

      December 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mandingo

    Saying white women prefer the satisfaction of a black penis makes me a racist. Saying Black people are lazy makes you not racist. Either way I'm tearing your wife up.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • crumblinempire

      Moron... lol

      December 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmhuber1

      Cool. I'm paintin mine black. Thanks

      December 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • appapo

      Your life must be sooooo boring!!!!

      December 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sarahH

    I was a poor white kid living in a neighborhood of both poor white and black kids. I do agree that education is key but hope is in short supply especially when everyone on the outside believes that you are inferior. They think you don't work hard enough, that you should be cleaning toilets, that you shouldn't have nice things, that even though poverty might last your entire childhood... eating anything but mac&cheese is a sin. After all that kicking around by the "higher classes" what makes you think people living in poverty want to be like you? That they need to strive to be more like you? This is especially hard for black kids who get the sense that they will never belong to that elite class. They want to be better than that. They don't want their life's goal to be turning into a middle-aged white guy. Live the dream eh? It's far better to encourage a child as if that child were your own. Not... "go clean toilets", "pretend you don't like watching TV', "do without a birthday cake", "study day and night" and so on. If you can't accept the idea that a poor child is just as deserving of luxuries and play time as your own, then just shut up. You're doing more harm than good. You're becoming someone to despise, not look up to and not follow in the footsteps in. Children instinctively know when someone looks down on them. They understand when they're being treated unfairly. They know the truth and you're making the situation worse.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArmyCSM

      Thank you SarahH. Right to the point!

      December 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • prettyface0118

      Sarah, I agree with you. I am white and I also was raised as a child of the welfare system. There were not a lot of opportunities available for us to move up in the food chain, if that is a good way to put it. I had to put in the work myself and believe me, it was not easy. I still struggle to not follow the circle and I have managed to not have to be on welfare and work a pretty decent job so I can support my family. If I was to follow the destiny that seemed intended for me, I would either be a drug addict, in jail, have 8 million kids on welfare or even dead. It is hard to get out of this life. People who are poor have limited access to the internet much less a computer. How about even a phone line? It is not these children's fault that they were born in poverty but yet are looked down upon as if they don't deserve better. I totally understand the thinking of earning your own and being able to keep your own but has anyone ever thought of maybe sharing some of the wealth so every person can live a happy, prosperous life? What ever happened to being our brothers keeper? I may not have a lot but I always make sure I give back to where I came from because I was on the receiving end and I know how it feels to be a kids and not have the same as the other kids at school. To be blesed with free lunch because that might be the only meal I eat for the day. It si hard for not only black kids, but all children in poverty and I think it is our job to uplift them. Instead of chastising them ,help give them opportunity because these wil be the same people who will be running this country when we get old so why don't we all start investing in everyone's future now?

      December 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • kenny

      Hi ,gays i am from china ,maybe i have no qualification to argue this with you.But i just want to show my point out.SaraH, i feel so piety about your experience ,as people usualy said: life is just unfair ,someone is born with gold,someone is born with stone .I hope you do not complain so much ,jus be youself and do whatever you want to do.You are living for youself not others ,i am sure you can creat a blue sky for your future

      December 16, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. juaninamillion

    Why does the black culture purpetuate poverty by single women unemployed and unskilled having multiple children? Why are they blaming everybody else??

    December 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      Good question, I notice with them its always someone elses fault.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. redhead

    If I were a poor black kid I would try to find out how Colin Powell, Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas, Condeleeza Rice, Herman Cain, Oprah Winfrey, and on and on and on, all became successful.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mandingo

      I wrote an article called if "If I WERE (correct grammar) a Rich White Guy." It's only one sentence long. The sentence is "I would have tiny penis and a wife that sleeps with black men to find satisfaction."

      December 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      Until they realize that what the secret to success is modeling yourself after other successful people they will continue to always blame others. no different that the other liberal trash like the OWS losers.

      December 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Poor White Guy

    uggmugg–Oh they do do they? IS your child named in the same line of wierdness or is it a traditional name. I bet it is a traditional name!

    December 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. something

    why r u only talking about black people. There r some white pepole that r poor too u know

    December 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • crumblinempire

      Some? Try MORE poor whites than blacks.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • sarahH

      It's true there are a lot of poor whites. At any given time, someone has just lost their job, gotten a divorce, had a family member fall sick and so on. As there are more whites than blacks, that number of people is naturally going to be higher among white people.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        "It's true there are a lot of poor whites. "

        Not "a lot." MORE.

        "As there are more whites than blacks, that number of people is naturally going to be higher among white people."

        "Naturally going to be higher"? Not necessarily. I sounds like you're trying to justify the number. I making special point that there are more poor whites than blacks because much of the white population believe in cutting or even abolishing public aid to the poor hinges on their misconception that poverty is a minority problem, not a white problem. The thought of poor whites outnumbering blacks seem to be too unsettling for many whites, maybe even for you ("a lot of poor whites," "naturally going to be higher").

        December 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • sarahH

        Oh I know that people equate being poor as a "minority" problem. I don't think anyone who is poor is lazy or stupid or that it has anything to do with race. On average, poverty lasts about a year although the climb back up can keep people near that line for much longer. Being on the edge like that means that you don't have much time to look for better opportunities or save money quickly and any negative fluctuation in the economy puts you at risk for falling back down the ladder. The poor aren't the problem. The problem is the economy and too many have strayed from that fact.

        December 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Karen Lewdowski

    Dear Mr. Gene,

    WOW! What an inspiring article. But you realty don’t have the authority on this issue.

    After you’ve gone through some of the problems list below then you have the authority to talk about BEING A POOR KID (NOT JUST BLACK):

    After you’ve gone -
    To school hungry,
    or slept under a bridge, in a car or on the couches of several relatives/neighbors,
    or you cant breath or concentrate during class because of an untreated asthmas,
    or having a school computer lab without computers,
    or being in a school district with outdated textbooks,
    or going to school and being treated like an inmate instead of a student/child,
    or applying to some of the charter or magnet schools you mentioned but not being accepted because they’ve already reached their brochure capacity for ” minority students”,
    or taking three or sometimes four buses to get to school,
    or not having money to take the bus to school,
    or entering a local library or books and having people follow you because they think you’re there to steal something,
    or being scared that you might get shot on your way to by stray bullets,
    or missing school because you have to take care of your little sister/brother while your mother is at one of her two jobs.

    Its not that they don’t want to take advantage of the many advantages/advice that you ever so generous offered but there are A LOT OF OBTACLES WE AS “POOR KIDS” have to overcome.

    Sincerely,
    Karen

    December 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      Hey Karen,

      I'm Hispanic. I went to a rough inner city school in the Bronx 1987 – 1989 (8th and 9th grade respectively). I got straight A's. I was poor. My mother was separated and received welfare and food stamps. After school I went straight home. My grades got me into a minority program to go to a prestigious boarding school in New Jersey. I graduated college and now make 6 figure salary. What do you think the differentiating factor was? I did have parents that cared and even though they only made it to grade school, they instilled in our 6 their kids the importance of school. All my siblings have similar background and are professionals, no problem with the law, etc... I could find a dozen reasons to not succeed: in retrospect some teachers were incompetent, though some truly cared, there was violence in this school, I was once victim of such violence – a gang of students whom I had never even seen before attacked me for no reason and broke my arm on a Friday, next Monday I was back in school. Other kids in the same school had the *same* resources I had. How come some of them did not make it? Again the only difference I can think is perhaps that I had parents that cared, though I never visited those students' homes to know for sure.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        Yes, you are smart and studious, have caring parents but you left out one important factor... you were also LUCKY. You're just one of the fortunate bright underprivileged children who managed to not get sucked down by their condition. Oh... I forgot to mention your other traits... You're arrogant and ungrateful.

        December 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        Yes, you are smart and studious, have caring parents but you left out one important factor... you were also LUCKY. You're just one of the fortunate bright underprivileged children with caring parents who managed to not get sucked down by their condition. Oh... I forgot to mention your other traits... You're arrogant and ungrateful.

        December 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • Julie

        I'm not sure why anyone would call you arrogant and ungrateful. I think it is precisely what you said. The thing that set you apart from your classmates was the fact that you were lucky enough to be born into a family that valued education and set high expectations for you. If only all children were so lucky.

        December 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        "Julie-I'm not sure why anyone would call you arrogant and ungrateful. I think it is precisely what you said. The thing that set you apart from your classmates was the fact that you were lucky enough to be born into a family that valued education and set high expectations for you. If only all children were so lucky."

        Interesting. So if a kid doesn't so-called "make it," I guess by you and Jose reasoning it automatically means the kid's family doesn't value education and has low expectations. So how does this work in your arrogant world? For example, hypothetically speaking, Jose gets laid off from his high-powered six-figure job and after a frustrating year and a half search for another six-figure job, he has to settle for a job paying 40 percentage less in order to keep his home and feed his family. Does it mean that he's now a loser with low expectations? After all, he's not "making it" now. There are others who didn't lose their six-figure job therefore it automatically means it's HIS fault.

        December 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        "Julie-I'm not sure why anyone would call you arrogant and ungrateful. I think it is precisely what you said. The thing that set you apart from your classmates was the fact that you were lucky enough to be born into a family that valued education and set high expectations for you. If only all children were so lucky."

        Interesting. So if a kid doesn't so-called "make it," I guess by you and Jose's reasoning it automatically means the kid's family doesn't value education and has low expectations. So how does this work in your arrogant world? For example, hypothetically speaking, Jose gets laid off from his high-powered six-figure job and after a frustrating year and a half search for another six-figure job, he has to settle for a job paying 40 percent less in order to keep his home and feed his family. Does it mean that he's now a loser with low expectations? After all, he's not "making it" now. There are others who didn't lose their six-figure job therefore it automatically means it's HIS fault.

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

        @crumblinempire: In mention of salary I did not mean to come across as arrogant. I was trying to drive my point across that I came from nothing. I wasn't trying to flaunt anything. I'm affected no less by the fluctuations of the job market. I got laid off shortly after 9/11 and could only find a job busing tables at a restaurant. It took me 15 months to find employment in IT again. The point I was trying to get across is the erroneous notion that you have to stay poor your whole life and there are no options. I too must save money, or can end up with nothing, especially if I make bad decisions. In fact I'm still making it. I owe bills and have to think of retirement and have nothing saved for that yet, but that's a story for later. But through making good decisions and perhaps a little luck on my side at least I have a chance. And by luck I literally mean not having gotten shot or something like that. Everything I have, even the "high-powered 6 figure salary" was through hard work; I've earned every bit.

        December 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        "Jose--@crumblinempire: In mention of salary I did not mean to come across as arrogant. I was trying to drive my point across that I came from nothing. I wasn't trying to flaunt anything. I'm affected no less by the fluctuations of the job market. I got laid off shortly after 9/11 and could only find a job busing tables at a restaurant. It took me 15 months to find employment in IT again. The point I was trying to get across is the erroneous notion that you have to stay poor your whole life and there are no options. I too must save money, or can end up with nothing, especially if I make bad decisions. In fact I'm still making it. I owe bills and have to think of retirement and have nothing saved for that yet, but that's a story for later. But through making good decisions and perhaps a little luck on my side at least I have a chance. And by luck I literally mean not having gotten shot or something like that. Everything I have, even the "high-powered 6 figure salary" was through hard work; I've earned every bit."

        " I got laid off shortly after 9/11 and could only find a job busing tables at a restaurant. It took me 15 months to find employment in IT again."

        Then I would think that you, of all people, wouldn't be so quick to make a snap judgment about a person's character based on their success. I guarantee there were at least of few people at the tables you were busing were making a snap judgment about you, and they weren't thinking, "Oh, he's probably just an IT professional temporarily laid off and making ends meet until he gets back on his feet."

        "The point I was trying to get across is the erroneous notion that you have to stay poor your whole life and there are no options. "

        Well, I agree with you here. There are always some options, even if they are not great options. But options doesn't guarantee success and that's the point I'm trying to make.

        "Everything I have, even the "high-powered 6 figure salary" was through hard work; I've earned every bit."

        Obviously. No company pays an idler a "high-powered 6 figure salary." I see no fault in being proud of working hard and reaping the rewards. It's just a shame that so many from humble beginnings who are doing great now quickly look down in disdain at the people they once were themselves. It takes just one cruel twist of fate to turn a potential success story into a tragedy.

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

      @crumblinempire Excuse me but why do you say I'm arrogant and ungrateful?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        Jose,

        I agree with your sentiment. Parents that care and push their children to greater heights are the key to a child's success. I did not find anything you said to be arrogant or ungrateful. Growing up in the Philippines, in a severely impoverished family (we finally acquired enough wealth in 1989 to cement the dirt floor of our two room home) and neighborhood, the one thing my parents always pushed was education. You can have absolutely nothing, but still have your mind and knowledge and no one can take that away.

        With that, I also grew up with families in Manila who did not instill the same value on education in their children as my parents did. What happened to them? They did not want better for themselves, and chose to perpetuate their poverty. I have also seen this in Appalachia, where I have worked as a mining engineer. Life is simple and people are content. And they choose to continue such lifestyle, while in American standards they live in poverty.

        Successful people have successful influences. For you and I, Jose, it was our parents. Perhaps few are lucky for that, though I hate to use the term "lucky" after all the hardships my family endured. And it's not arrogant or ungrateful to compare these humble beginnings with our current success. It took hard work and dedication to achieve this. So, if a poor child from the Philippines who grew up wearing only flip flops until 18 years of age can create a wonderful life in America, so can anyone else.

        December 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  17. uggmugg

    So let's see here.... Why are blacks so different from everyone else?

    December 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjack

      http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/08/09/study-black-man-and-white-felon-same-chances-for-hire/

      December 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Daniel

    The lead-in to this article is misleading. I highly doubt this "letter" from a cynical jerk could possibly be better than the original article. I know he's being sarcastic, but he's just admitting defeat on the issue. If a poor black kid, from ANY environment, actually wanted to land a good job and be successful, they can. Maybe not through technology and private school tuitions, but through learning. But good luck trying to find a poor kid (black or not) trying to read a book and better themselves. They're few and far between...but those that do actually DO become successful citizens. Step 1). want it, step 2). learn how to get it. Too few of black kids even want it, much less actually go to step 2.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • TELawrence

      "Too few black kids want it"!?! OH? How many have you studied and how? It must have been HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS and your methods must have been totally above question for you to make such a Self-Righteous blanket statement!

      YOU MUST BE AN ACTUAL MIND READER OF MOST ALL BLACK KIDS IN AMERICA! There is no other possible way you could make such a statement.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Eiljah34

    The Lord Jesus said that I have come to give you life, and to give it to you more abundantly. Why worry about the nonsense of this world that is gone to pass away. While you guys were fussing about this and that, The Lord Jesus and I just passed you by. Since the Lord gave me that peace that surpasses all understanding, I do not worry about things of no concern. Do not be conformed to the things of this world. All those that call on the name of the Lord Jesus, will be saved!

    December 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  20. redhead

    His rebuttal article (Thurston's) proves that no matter how well intentioned one may be, others will interpret through their own biases. Mark's article was positive in that he mentions it is possible to succeed, but also mentions it will be hard, This is true whether you are white, black, oriental, hispanic,etc. Only a handful can become successful without hard work, and in fact, many children who come from rich,successful families, unfortunately end up at the other end of the spectrum.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • TELawrence

      The sarcasm stems from the fact that the original had so very many 'buried assumptions' about what is The Proper Way and what black kids do or do not know; how they act, etc. Assumptions that are most often wrong and assume that acting like Privileged White Kids is THE way to success. Why should it be? What about that behavior is The Best in-and-of itself?

      Plus the fact that so many who do succeed today do so because they were given much help and support by family and friends and professional contacts. They stood on someone else's shoulders and did NOT accomplish everything by themselves or by 'pulling themselves up by bootstraps' – they were "Born on 3rd Base and think they hit a Triple".

      December 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • sarahH

      And millions toil just above the poverty line for all of their lives. Most people who start off poor know that this is reality. Saying they "didn't work hard enough" or that "they must not have wanted it" is closing your eyes to the truth. Life is unfair. Blaming people for failing to make that lucky connection that pulls them out of poverty is unfair and your ticket from feeling guilty about it. It's not just hard work, its a great deal of luck. Anyone can do it, but anyone can also win the lottery. Those who start off with more, have better opportunities. Those are the facts. I can't imagine it being much worse than struggling all your life to get out of poverty and hearing people who have no clue about it call you lazy.

      December 15, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  21. crumblinempire

    "jdog–Poor is poor and this world will never get past racial lines if we keep treating issues in a racial manner – why not "letter's fro a poor kid" and level color out of it – there are poor Asians, poor Muslims, poor Whites and as a journalist you are doing more harm than good by using race in your article. We are in crisis in this country as we are all around the world – please let's keep our non-racial eye on the ball and work the problem not add to it."

    He's right. Case in point: They always frame the poverty rate by the percentage of poor per race and not by the number of people. It gives the illusion that there are more poor black people, for example, than white people. Just do the math: There are roughly 300 million Americans and 75 percentage are white. That comes to about 225 million. Even if you don't count Hispanic whites, for whatever reason, the number is about 200 million strong. There are about 40 million blacks in America. The poverty rate for whites is 9 percent which comes out to 18 million poor whites. 25 percent of blacks are poor which comes to 10 million poor blacks. There are more poor whites than blacks and more whites receiving public aid than blacks. THIS IS A FACT. The numbers don't lie. But it's harder to scapegoat minorities using these numbers so that's why they don't use them.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      crumblinempire: "Yes, you are smart and studious, have caring parents but you left out one important factor... you were also LUCKY. You're just one of the fortunate bright underprivileged children who managed to not get sucked down by their condition. Oh... I forgot to mention your other traits... You're arrogant and ungrateful."

      I guess I was lucky: I didn't get shot, etc... I'm just not sure whom or what I should be grateful to. Everything I have I've earned. I've made mistakes in life, and lost as a result of those mistakes. Not sure also what makes you say I'm arrogant. Am I being blamed because I worked hard?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        "Am I being blamed because I worked hard?"

        No. Accusing others who don't "make it" as essentially slackers, having uncaring parents, etc. Passing judgment without knowing the facts is the definition of arrogance. News flash: Just because you don't "make it" it means that you're not hard working, smart or even educated for that matter. Perhaps you'll get the point if you lose your six-figured salary and have to pound the pavement again for a job (ANY job) in this weak economy. Who am I kidding... you probably still won't get the point.

        December 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jose

        Actually perhaps you equate human worth with achievement. I went from 6 figures to busying tables at a restaurant (during dot com bust shortly after 9/11 got laid off and couldn't find IT work again for 15 months), and will do that again if I have to. I lost *everything* I had including home, had to move in with relatives, living off coins I saved in piggy bank.
        I was genuinely asking for help understanding why some poor people are able to improve the quality of their lives while others do not. If you cannot understand that that's your problem. I don't need lessons in humility. And by no means do I claim I have "made it" in America. I still have to worry about putting 3 kids to college, saving for retirement, etc.. Perhaps I'll start a business, or go back to college, etc... Wait perhaps you're the one who won't get it.

        December 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • crumblinempire

        "Jose-Actually perhaps you equate human worth with achievement. I went from 6 figures to busying tables at a restaurant (during dot com bust shortly after 9/11 got laid off and couldn't find IT work again for 15 months), and will do that again if I have to. I lost *everything* I had including home, had to move in with relatives, living off coins I saved in piggy bank.
        I was genuinely asking for help understanding why some poor people are able to improve the quality of their lives while others do not. If you cannot understand that that's your problem. I don't need lessons in humility. And by no means do I claim I have "made it" in America. I still have to worry about putting 3 kids to college, saving for retirement, etc.. Perhaps I'll start a business, or go back to college, etc... Wait perhaps you're the one who won't get it."

        "Actually perhaps you equate human worth with achievement. "

        Oh, give me a break... The old switch-a-roo? You can do better than that, can't you? YOU'RE the one prattling on about your "achievements" and how others had the same opportunities but squandered their opportunities because of bad decisions, poor parenting, etc. It's YOU who equates self-worth and character solely with academic and career achievement.

        "I was genuinely asking for help understanding why some poor people are able to improve the quality of their lives while others do not."

        Oh my... now you're just being disingenuous. You already sharply expressed your views in previous posts about why some people are NOT able to improve the quality of their lives.

        "And by no means do I claim I have "made it" in America."

        Now, I'm disappointed. Don't backpedal. It's unbecoming. "Make it" are YOUR words, not mine.

        "I don't need lessons in humility."

        LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, buddy boy, you got me there. That ship has long sailed. You're a lost cause! LOL

        December 16, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  22. NSC Los Angeles

    Why is this framed as a race issue? Poverty affects all races. As for the rebuttal to the original article, what a bunch of whiny, hard-left nonsense. Stupid parents plop out stupid children and the cycle continues.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  23. crumblinempire

    "jdog--Poor is poor and this world will never get past racial lines if we keep treating issues in a racial manner – why not "letter's fro a poor kid" and level color out of it – there are poor Asians, poor Muslims, poor Whites and as a journalist you are doing more harm than good by using race in your article. We are in crisis in this country as we are all around the world – please let's keep our non-racial eye on the ball and work the problem not add to it."

    He's right. Case in point: They always frame the poverty rate by the percentage of poor per race and not by the number of people. It gives the illusion that there are more poor black people, for example, than white people. Just do the math: There are roughly 300 million Americans and 75 percentage are white. That comes to about 225 million. Even if you don't count Hispanic whites, for whatever reason, the number is about 200 million strong. There's are about 40 million blacks in America. The poverty rate for whites is 9 percent which comes out to 18 million poor whites. 25 percent of blacks are poor which comes to 10 million poor blacks. There are more poor whites than blacks and more whites receiving public aid than blacks. THIS IS A FACT. The numbers don't lie. But it's harder to scapegoat minorities using these numbers so that's why they don't use them.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  24. TBone

    Actually being black worked pretty well for this guy – Mr. Thurston. He rode the black train all the way – he even has a book about how to be black. Wow – a story on being black in America. Never seen this one before – what a great idea!

    December 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  25. william

    If only your government spends more time and money on you, rather than diverting all the time and money to create wars outside, your lives would be better.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  26. uggmugg

    Actually, only 1% of blacks are capable of doing better than they do already.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  27. damien williams

    The racism is out of control. So much anger towards african americans.. Some of the comments have Nothing to do with the article. lol Im not here to call out names and ask "why do you feel how you do?" I dont care. MY ISSUE IS THAT I THINK MANY PEOPLE FEEL THAT THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN TO PLAY THE RACE CARD, OR THROW A PITTY PARTY. I UNDERSTOOD THIS TO BE A BLACK MAN THAT WAS UPSET WITH A WHITE MAN EXHORTING HIS SOLUTION TO BLACK POVERTY. THAT IS ALL.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  28. F. Daniel Gray

    Well, I didn't care all that much about Mr. Thurston's bite back. After all C. Wright Mills blasted that away in 1957, "The Power Elite." He reminded the West, headed by us, There are lots of those dynamic industry leaders (Steve Jobs, anyone?) who could become "successful." They are walking behind a workhorse, etc., guiding a plow, in Asia, and Africa. Their brilliancy will not get them out from behind that animal. Blacks don't have to raise the race/racism issue, Its always there and protected by Supreme Court justice Roger Taney's edict in 1857. "the... has no rights a.... is bound to respect." It's the hypocrisy, stupid. The Jack Nicholson character in "A Few Good Men," "the truth, you can't handle the truth."

    December 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  29. uggmugg

    If you think it's not so bad being black, just spend time with the hatred within an average black family.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      Oh no, only white people can be hateful. Remember: hate only exists if it has a "historical basis". All those horrible whites of the past oppressed everyone, so hating whites is justified. Just ask your local leftist fruitcake lunatic.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lakabee

        I agree. I think White devils are responsible for all the evil in the world.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • TELawrence

        SO – HOW did you get so much background knowledge of a this Culture? What is the basis of your Knowledge and Authority for your statement? OH – it is Talk Radio? No actual PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE!?!

        OK, I think we all know who tells you what to think. Try finding out for yourself next time – you will have more credibility.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • TELawrence

      SO – WITH HOW MANY 'AVERAGE BLACK FAMILIES' HAVE YOU SPENT ADEQUATE TIME in order to make such an unqualified assertion?

      You MUST have spent time at the homes of hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of "average black families"!?! You see, THAT would be the only way you could make such a statement (and it still would be a statement of mere Opinion without a heck of a lot more back up, without proving all buried assumptions you make, without proving out all conclusions to which you jump all BEFORE you even begin your little Study of Average Black Families).

      Let's not jump to conclusions or try and find anything to support conclusions to which you have already jumped, support for all the assumptions you already have and back up for Opinions that are deep within you. IF you are going to claim Knowledge of ann issue on that level, you need to do a heck of a lot more home work.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • me

        I was a social worker in the inner city for several years. That was what snapped me out of my hippie stupor.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • uggmugg

        Yes, indeed I have.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Lakabee

    Funny and Great Article! LOL! Its amazing from the comments how angry and venomous White devils become when an article is written where the subject matter pertains to Blacks. Also, its unbelievable how much 'great advice' White devils have for Black people even though most live in their own White worlds and l have rarely spent a single day in the life of a Black person. I suspect forums like this give many closeted racist White devils an opportunity to anonymously vent and express their narrow minded thoughts.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ....

      Then your right since white people could never understand black culture they should just ignore it. Sound good?

      December 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      We have a right to be angry when we're being used as scapegoats for blacks' failures and cultural problems.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • BigChimpin

        Funny as **** bro, that bout made me fall out tha welfare line for realz!

        December 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Labas

      You prove all these peoples points by calling them white devils. If I wrote a comment calling all the blacks black demons, you would be on me immediately. But no, since you are black it is ok. Look at the facts, instead of trying to say how blacks are better, work harder to get them on the same statistical level as whites or asians. You can't argue with test scores and statistics, you racist ba*****

      December 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • uggmugg

        white devils... black demons.... I say a little resegregation would fix that problem.

        December 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah Kinsley

      "White Devils" is an old fashioned NOI term

      I do think that article was a little patronizing, though. But not all White people are bad. We don't bite :)

      December 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  31. HAHA

    This is hilarious, I lived in Guatemala a 3rd world country and have seen what growing up without opporunities is, the fact is these children have access to computers...and electricity! So don't give me all of this BS, he wrote a truthful not even condescending article, and your being rude and ignorant. I especially enjoyed the private school part because the fact of the matter people (even the 1%) are literally throwing opportunities at inner city black kids

    December 15, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mattix

      I think you summed it up nicely in your comment that you are a racist yourself.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jgraham

      You may have lived in Guatemala, but you obviously have spent 0 minutes in an inner city

      December 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  32. me

    Leftist race card propaganda.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Area Mann

    pathetic response. not clever. and this guy works for the Onion?

    December 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy Bob

      the onion hired him b/c of affirmative action

      December 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Bob

    Things I have learned about black folks in the past week:

    1) Most black people, especially inner city kids, have enormous numbers of role models and most poor people have several jobs, working hundreds of hours per week. Newt don't know black people. Black kids don't need no jobs no how. Ax anyone.

    2) Successful people like this Marks character should ignore the problems in the black community. Act like there are no problems at all!!! Or at least admit that any teenie tiny little problems that do exist are beyond fixing.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      Actually Bob, ignoring problems that other people create for themselves IS a good idea.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Nate

    This "letter" is all over the place. I get that you are trying to be sarcastic, but you come off as a grown man throwing a tilted fit which makes for a really painful read.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Doug Burton

    Commenting about a sarcastic article written by a hypothetical person is rather difficult. First off, I hope the author continues to lob snarky nonsense like this into publication more often. It only shows how little substance he has to offer. I would dare the author to write a competing article advising 'poor black kids' how to succeed in America. Clearly, this Baratunde believes such a topic is a joke, and that only certain people are qualified to speak meaningfully about solutions.

    Enlighten us, please.

    You found the Forbes article to be out of touch, Well, what is the right advice then? Please, Baratunde, tell poor black kids everywhere how to make it in America. I am assuming you made it out of abject poverty. How? Do YOU believe that poor black kids can strive to be exceptional? It sounds like you don't. Provide us with the substantive article you so demand.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Melissa

    Here's a much better response at GOOD magazine: http://www.good.is/post/an-ode-to-a-poor-black-kid-i-never-knew-how-forbes-gets-it-wrong/

    December 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  38. uggmugg

    Why are blacks still here? Shouldn't we have all killed ourselves by now? Let's face it, nobody wants a black person.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lifeislikeafreckle

      You're wrong! Your comment should be removed!

      December 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Frank

    Wow, another "poor me" I'm black and everyone is against me article. I could either go through life being a leech off of society and blame it all on my skin color or go to that black only college and get a black only grant to pay for it because things are so unequal. I might even join a black only group that identifies how unfair things are and get even more help for advancement. Might as well take that promotion through affirmative action even though there are others more qualified and sit at home relaxing watching the black only tv channel or a black only movie. Life is so discriminitive. Poor me :(

    December 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • uggmugg

      Sorry blacks really aren't smart enough to do all those things you said. We don't have what it takes to live among everyone else. Everyone else needs to just accept that and move on.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lifeislikeafreckle

        Your brain seriously need to be taken look at!

        December 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      It's a good thing you are black then, Frank, because a poor white kid doesn't have any of that!

      December 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Chris John

    Black people are simply pathetic wallowing up in their sorry excuses ridden mulch. And the next generation gets no respite. Yeah, it's the jungles fault that the chimp isn't using his brains.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • OnePercent

      Watch it John Boy. I carry two advanced degrees and enough money to buy you, your wife, mother and daughter and sell all of you to headhunters at a loss...and I am a good looking Black man!

      Don't be too quick to judge/stereotype an entire race, you can get served. $$$$$$$

      December 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Max

    Gene Marks' is right. Poor black kids need to realize that they aren't living in urban island of poverty in the richest country in the history of the world as the result of hundred of years of exploitation (slavery, red-lining, etc.). It is because these kids did not want to succeed in the first place. They love going to underfunded school. And until they realize that they will all have to be the most ambitious pre-adolescents to grace ever grace the planet Earth, they will end up in the same cycle of crushing poverty that their ancestors loved so much, they took Carnival cruises from Africa to experience it.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Many blacks will do whatever they can not to work or succeed. Their whole culture is built on baby momma and senseless violence. Asians were slaves, Irish were virtual slaves etc...yet blacks are the only ones who continue to not succeed in America. They rather play the excuse card and collect that free check!

      December 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Alicia

        Right you are, Truth. Easier to sit on your butt and whine, then wait for your handout

        December 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • Max

        I do not think that Black people are more violent than any other culture. I mean Western culture spawned two World Wars for god sakes (all in the name of nationalism or racism– how senseless is that!!). I have never met one person who would be happy to sit around all day, who has no desire to accomplish anything meaningful, just to receive $250 a month of food stamps for a family of four. Unfortunately these kind of assumptions allow people to distance themselves from this country's history specifically terrorizing and exploiting black people.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Poor White Guy

        Truth, I'd be willing to bet that you know just as many white people who fall into the same categories that you put black people in. Why is it that there are always people who say black people this, and black people that,... What? You have NEVER seen a white rapist, drug addict, welfare recipient, white baby momma drama, white laziness, white janitor, white-man-with-a-sign-needing money, etc, etc, The word "white trash" probably convers all of those. I bet you have some in your family, those white N's! Yeah, you're thinking about them right now!!

        December 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh

      they were sent on those cruises by other africans.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Max

        They were but they did not do it to their own families, villages or ethnic groups. They did it to people who were as different from them as the Europeans were. If a Mexican person sold you to a Chinese person, the Chinese person would say essentially the same thing, "We did not do anything wrong... another North American sold you to us."

        December 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Really?

    Says the guy who's either currently working or parents are currently working in a soup kitchen, sweat shop, lives and drives with a minimum 10 people, who works for .14 a day lives off corona or rice, and refuses to learn the language of the country in which they are staying illegally!... smh

    December 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  43. SB

    Everything is great. Just remove the word "Black" this may happen to every one on the planet.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Anita

    Hilarious and right on point!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRB

      You're right Anita! Black kids should just give up!

      December 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • jedi1040

        You would think this "Poor Black Kid" lived through the holocost or something. Grow up and stop playing the race card. The original article was merely trying to help people who cannot seem to help themselves.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Carmen

    And how is the poor black kid able to afford this wonderful technology? Poor by definition means you have no money. . .sigh

    December 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • jedi1040

      I can't believe you accused a black person of not being poor. I think that is a hate crime. You must be a racists.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Diana

        Wow. You can't read, and you can't write. You're clearly utterly illiterate. And you feel superior to African Americans. Why? Just because, I suppose.

        Guess what, Opie? You are a living example of racism.

        December 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Diana

        "You must be a racists." LOL

        December 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • TOMCAT

      people should drive out of the big citys and see a place called Appalachian Mountains .Some places there are worse than a lot of third world co.And there are both black are white liveing this way.But you dont hear much about it becase both black and white are to proud to ask for hand outs from any one.They mostly live on side of a mountain in a shack and try to keep food on the table.There are no gang wars and not much stealing or things like that.Becase for the most part they all live the same way.And for the most part none of the schools get the funding that large citys do .Ask them who has it best black or white.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  46. jlg

    I think everyone on this planet had better realize that we are all 1 race – the human race. All of us have choices on how we lead our lives, how successful or unsuccessful we are – that's from within and nobody's fault or success but our own. And we all have the choice to treat our other human beings they way we would like to be treated.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • uggmugg

      I'll be glad when scientist figure out and admit that we are not all of the human race.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lifeislikeafreckle

        You must be underage 18 or younger...

        December 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Vaikunthanath Kaviraj

        Uggmugg, I bet you count yourself as non-human then.

        December 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  47. V

    I work with a white woman who son and daughter never finished HS. I told her I was on my way the next day to my son's graduation from college and she said to me, how did you get your sons to go to college and I couldn't bet mines to finish HS. I wanted to tell her they didn't have a choice, because an uneducated black man didn't have a chance in this world. His first strike was the color of his skin. This is what I told my sons and the all are college graduates. I told her they didn't have a choice,because if you wasn't going to college then you had to get the "H" out of my house.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • TOMCAT

      How much help did you have

      December 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Pedro

    Nothing like an absurd amount of cynicism when responding to a reasoned, logical and prescient article like Marks'. Way to take a stand, Baratunde.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jedi1040

      I cannot believe you publicly called a black person absurd and cynical. That is a hate crime. You should be ashamed you racists white devil.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bill

        Jedi- get off your star wars watching ass and get a life.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnJohn

      The original article might be logical and prescient in a White Republican fantasyland but it bears little relation to reality. Praising it for being helpful is like praising someone's fan fiction as the solution to terrorism.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Bob

    Here we go again. Why doesn't CNN do a story about poor Mexican Americans or poor Native Americans??? The people at CNN, and all the media outlets for that matter, are always playing the black race card. There are lots of poor people out there. Why even play the race card? Just more proof that the US media is run by a bunch of Black Supremacists.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      Times are a changin...

      December 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Find the Forbes article that discusses those cultures, then you can write the response article and submit it to CNN. Until then, understand that the sarcasm, although pointed, displays cultural ignorance. Or did you somehow miss the point.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • soniekiss

      that was one of the most absurd statements i have heard EVER! lol

      December 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Bob- you need to read more carefully you ignorant idiot. This is an opinion article (at the bottom it states that the views expressed in the piece do not reflect CNN's views) written in response to an article written by a white person about poor blacks. Maybe you should write your own opinion piece about Latinos and Native Americans instead of wasting time writing useless comments.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Derrick, Atlanta

    I've often heard that the best asset a child has growing up is a clever choice of parents. It's hard to play the game with a crappy hand, let alone win.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRB

      The best asset is a set of parents who care, clever or not.

      I would love to see the correlation between dropout rates and single parent homes, I'm sure it's much stronger than economics or race, but of course that puts the blame on the parents, not "the system".

      December 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • uggmugg

      If black kids could choose their parents at birth, they wouldn't choose black parents.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Brian

    I am sorry, but as a liberal and a supporter of our president I found this response to Mr. Marks article very cynical at best. Maybe he should not have worded it the way he did but was simply trying to make a point that there are tools for success out there. I feel like you have take the whole article out of context because of an emotional reaction.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Anna

    To Sam Timm and Darwin making ignorant comments about the author's name: Baratunde is an Nigerian name from the Yoruba ethnic group.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  53. No Validation Needed

    Many black people are too concerned with the opinions of others.

    We care too much about other blacks calling us "sell outs" when we try to study or act appropriately. We also care too much about white people staring when we go to places where there aren't a lot of blacks. We whine about not feeling accepted by society. We don't go places because "There might not be many black people there."

    Dumb!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  54. LOL

    you are a dummy!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  55. D

    If I were a poor black kid.. I'd wanna know why all my siblings have different last names, and why Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton never talk about that...

    December 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • MDX

      Since the divorce rate has gone up for ALL AMERICANS, I guess black siblings are not the only ones with different last names. Read a book and do some research before making an ass of yourself and showing the world just how bigoted you are.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • steve

        this is america people can be who they want
        racist, bigoted etc
        deal with it!

        December 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • Nicecatch

        You are right, this is America and if you post idiotic bigoted comments expect to be called a bigot. DEAL WITH IT!

        December 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • PMB

      Dear, D. i am not sure if you can spell racist much less know what it means. i was apoor black kid who grew up with 7 siblings all with the same last name, and all have found success. By the way racist is when ignorant people like yourself prejudge a whole group of people base don race as if they all were the same.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carmen

      If i was a poor white kid I guess i would want to know the same thing

      December 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Lulu15

    Sad, just plain sad.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Lulu15

    That is immature.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Chris

    Do you have a point, or just a whine? Mr. Marks makes the very valid point that technology is the ultimate equalizer. Anyone with an internet connection has the same resources as any other.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Technology is the great equalizer?? Fool. In my part of the ghetto NOBODY owns a computer.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jimbo

        Except for Lisa.

        December 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Shad

        What are you writing on? An etch-a-sketch.

        Every public library in America has computer access for anyone. Stop says "can't" and start saying "can".

        December 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Realist

        I agree Lisa. And JIMBO you should be DUMBO.

        December 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • David

        Why not? They are cheaper than fancy rims. Your neighborhood has plenty of those I bet. It is all about priorities. You can get a used laptop for $200, and go to a place with free wireless. There are tons of free educational websites. You can buy used kids books at garage sales and they are free at the library. Be a doer, not a complainer. Reply on yourself, not others. Children can accomplish so much, but it all based on the expectations of their parents and those around them.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      Chris,

      What you fail to realize is that the internet IS NOT provided to ALL inner city schools and homes. Also, the library can only accommodate so many students (if indeed the library has internet connections). Now tell me your next smart solution...

      December 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jomo

        books, if the kid is in the library and the computers are all taken up then they could go read a book. That's what a library is for

        December 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • BRB

        Free wifi at McDonalds (and many other places). Getting a used notebook for $200 (or less) is easy, look on Craigslist. Probably be a Win XP though, not a flashy MacBook.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • uggmugg

        $200 notebook? No black person would spend more than 5 dollars for a computer.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poor White Guy

      "Anyone with an internet connection"? How about if you could even afford a computer, and then the support to understand and use it? Obviously another clue-less white guy,...

      December 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • David

        All I hear are excuses. Books are free at the library, and you can check out 50 at a time. Books have been teaching people amazing things for many years. You can do anything you really want to.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • BRB

        White guys must not be all that clueless, if they've got all the computers...Oh, wait a minute, you mean clueless because we can't solve your problem for you.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carmen

      Yes and buying the computer is half the battle

      December 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      Right, because spending money on a laptop and wifi is of a higher priority than where my next meal is going to come from.

      Sincerely,

      Poor kid

      December 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Are You Kidding Me?

    I cannot believe how racist some people are! It's very sad. Grow up people!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • volkan 2

      They're not racist. They've had a bad day and feel like venting. Thats what these forums are for. Venting.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • jedi1040

        I agree, this "poor black kid's" article is racists and absurd. American black people do not know what poor is. Take a trip to Africa or Haiti and stop whining, start working and stop playing the race card.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • uggmugg

      blacks just can't think up anything to say back because they know it's all true.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  60. angryblkman

    A huge part of many social problems in this country for all people is children having children. A 15 year old girl does not have the parenting skills nor the financial foundation to take on the responsibility of a new baby. WAIT UNTILL you are an adult to have children. This one step would have a positive inpact in society. This is a problem for all races, but is especially a problem with blacks. My people need to try harder!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • volkan 2

      We need to teach kids what authority means. I mean, ALL kids. Once we let them know who is really in charge, then many (AND I MEAN MANY) of our problems will be under control in less than 10 years.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  61. TAWAUNE

    W.... TRASH

    December 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Papagino

      How do you know he's "W"?

      December 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  62. No Validation Needed

    Slave labor helped the United States become the great country that it is. That's an undisputable fact. Why would I leave a country that my ancestors helped to build? Certainly not because someone told me to. Not going to happen.

    I'm having a great life. No complaints from me. I'm not a victim, not angry, haven't committed any crimes, and have lots of friends of all races. Have a great day everyone.

    Happy Black Man :)

    December 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • volkan 2

      Its about time someone said something sincerely optimistic on these forums. If we cannot just be regular normal people, how do we think our children are going to turn out?

      December 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • angryblkman

      entrepreneurship, the pioneering spirit, and the countless inventions and advancements in science, medicine, aviation, an much more is what made America great.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      yeah just imagine if blacks were left in Africa
      not much hope there

      December 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • SayIt

      "Why would I leave a country that my ancestors helped to build?" Hmm... Religious persecution, starvation, utopian ideals ... just throwing some ideas out there off the top of my head. Totally brainstorming here.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • uggmugg

      slave labor ruined America

      December 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Phillip

    why? Why APES?
    Why is this a joke?
    He is right....

    America the land of the FREE?

    December 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  64. angryblkman

    I was a poor black kid years ago. I worked very hard in school, but watched others around me ignore homework, and behave disruptive in class. I studied after school while others did not. I found out what was needed to get into college, but at the same time others around me did nothing. I rarely went out to party while working and going to college, while so many others in my age group were avoiding work and spending their time on the streets doing nothing productive. I did not do drugs and didn’t break the law, however I would witness others in my neighborhood using and selling drugs and building up arrest records.

    Today I have a good job and own a nice home. And I see those other guys complaining the system is against them. All of us are free to succeed with perseverance and hard work. However we are also free to fail. And if we do, we have only ourselves to blame!

    Baratunde, How about you stop making excuses, this only encourages people to be lazy and dependant on government. Give self reliance a chance!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Hey, I may not be black, but my story is exactly the same as yours. Being LD (learning disabled) caused a lot of pain, but one has to choose to be greater than what others think they are.
      Stay angry and keep telling it the way it really is.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MDX

      Don't use yourself as an example because one example cannot be extrapolated and applied broadly to all poor black people which is the whole point Baratunde is making. Can a black kid somewhere do what was said in the article and succeed? Yes. Does it work all the time? No. A huge part of success is not just your technical know-how but the relationships you have. That is why rich white kids can ignore homework, make poor grades, smoke pot and still be successful in America. There are several examples of that one being George Bush. The issue that people have with the article is that working hard, getting good grades and having an education is just one part of the equation. There are a lot of other factors that determines success and it is rather insulting to all the poor black kids who have tried hard and have been met with obstacles to suggest that all they need to do is pull themselves by their bootstrap. Oh by the way, I am an ivy league educated black woman.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • ShadesofGrey

      Thank you AngryBlkMan!

      December 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  65. volkan 2

    If I were a poor black kid, I would not want

    1. People telling me I need help.
    2. People telling me that I should vote for them because "they are the only way".
    3. People using me for THEIR political and monetary gain.
    4. People telling me I'm too stupid to build my own self up.
    5.People telling me that the world is somehow out to get me.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  66. You call this complaining???

    You call this complaining? How about 19% unemployment among black men (that's 1 out of 5) compared to about 9% for he rest of America. How about daily harassment by police which often end in unnecessary arrests compared to white kids who usually get a slap on the wrist? How about constant ridicule and derision by the media, conservatives, and everyone else? I'm surprised every time I see a "poor black kid" make into law school, medical school, or becomes a school teacher since there are so be forces stacked against him. All the whites and Asians who grew up in middle and upper class homes and then choose to voice their discontent with the black man's "complaints" can KMA. The problems are real.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lulu15

      LOL

      December 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • URARacist

      As offensive as your comment is, it's a fair summary of the article.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  67. IRISH!

    CNN,...The 50's called,...they want their race relations back.
    Grow up, join the 21st century, and move on FFS

    December 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANGYBLKMN

      Well said, brother

      December 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Mike

    Who is paying you? MediaMatters? MoveOn?

    December 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Judger333

    Author sang the low notes in the choir.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  70. David

    This was the best read I've had in a long time!

    Way to go, Baratunde!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Might I suggest the Screwtape Letters then. The scathing, brilliant sarcasm CS Lewis attributes to the devil and his nephew are superior to this "letter". While I can only imagine what the dumb idea Forbes author was trying to convey, the response by this author is just another example of how sad fire with fire is. Too bad he didn't take the opportunity to say something helpful. A fallen world full of deception needs help, not more impressive, brilliant nastiness.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • SayIt

        This article contained sarcasm? I don't see it.

        December 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  71. T

    Of course this article ridicules the original as not providing answers to the social issues that do exist. However he himself does not address these issues at all. Maybe if Al and Jesse NAACP were actually teaching how to overcome those obstacles rather than turning every situation into a race issue more would get accomplished. But then what would they complain about?

    December 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Lisa

    Well I'm not a poor black kid , I am a middle aged woman who went to college, knows a great deal of tecnoogy and am STILL living below the poverty level. Kudos to you Mr. Thurston, if we all followed Mr Marks advice I guess we'd all be in that 1% now wouldnt we??

    December 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Evaluating oneself using labels (black, white, women, poor, college, etc) is unlikely to uncover accurate analysis as to why you are living below the poverty line. What was your major in college? Are you lazy or do you work hard? Do you have attention to detail? Do you have any real accomplishments? Do you blame others for your lot in life, or do you have the mental stamina to keep trying no matter what? Do you waste money, time, energy? Do you eat crap, are you fat? Do you party too much? Do you take good risks or bad ones? Answer those questions honestly, not sarcastically, and you may find some answers.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • Elizabeth

        Unfortunately, those "labals" are all anyone cares about. We have to fill out race on job applications, college applications, student loan applications, surveys, some school tests, etc. When I worked for a retail company, as a manager I was required to consider race quotas when hiring to make sure we had enough of "every type of person" represented in the store, regardless of the quality of the worker. In an attempt to be fair to everyone, it seems that race is the most important while factors such as strong work ethic, better grades/test scores, etc, play second fiddle.

        December 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Thank you for your response. It actually appears that you have the abiity to see that proverty is a problem that effects so many Americans and not just "poor Black kids". Though the author of the original article may have thought he was providing insight into a social problem and ways to address that problem, the fact that he chose to single out poor black kids caused his article, in my opinion to come accross as condescending. As a Black man, I feel it would be a little presumptious of me to write an article addressing the ills of poor white kids or the poor white community in general. Yet, if anyone has any doupts it, in America, that community does exist as well.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  73. DB

    Wow...

    Some of you need to take a step back. The overt racism here is of great concern.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • anony

      Its sad isnt it DB. But what is sadder is to really stop and think how that disdain is what is really in (seemingly) so many people's hearts. They really dont realize their predicament. That while they are at their private home behind, their computer, that is what comes out. It really is sad.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • TOMCAT

      i love to screw black women to

      December 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  74. anony

    It is sooooooooo sad that you dont realize how sick you are

    December 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  75. arkiemom

    Thanks for the chuckle Sam Timn. Hopefully, you do know the difference between "there" and "they're". Sorry to disappoint, but numbers don't lie, just people who don't bother to research before commenting. I'll be glad to discuss statistics with you when you get your ED.S degree.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Sam Timn

    Розы красные,
    Фиалки синие,
    В Советской России,
    ВЫБОРЫ ГОЛОСОВ ВАС!

    So we can call us white,
    but not them black?

    December 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  77. ChestnutMay

    This is disgusting and should be reported as abuse.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Bozobub

    "Sensible advice"? When there is NO funding anywhere for the very technology you claim these kids need? Delusional much?

    December 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  79. BlackDynamiteNYC

    A novel idea would be for white people to stop acting like they know anything about black people and the black experience. You couldn't relate if you tried.

    You have a black friend, so know you know everything black people should do?
    Great......
    BD

    December 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      So then can we say that you have no business telling "the rich" what their "fair share" is? I mean, you're not rich, are you?

      December 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bozobub

        Fail. No one gets to determine what is "fair" for oneself, silly git. That's society's job.

        December 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • BlackDynamiteNYC

        What the funk are you babbling about?
        BD

        December 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      No matter how deplorable the hand you've been dealt, it's always easier to focus on the negative (path of least resistance), than to focus on the positive (path of greatest resistance).

      December 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JH

      BlackDynamiteNYC,

      Can I just call you an American. I am part White/Spanish/Italian. I try not to see color, and I have raised my kids that way. Some daughters have black boyfriends, Puerto Rican, and white. One of my son's is dating a Korean. I really get tired hearing people tell me that they do not understand them. We are humans and Americans. All males have a penis, and all females V. We all like to dance, sing, try to take care of our families, and our society. We all want the world a better place for our future generations. I welcome my children and grandchildren playing with yours. I coach a soccer team that has Russian, Italian, Black, Spanish, Hispanic, white, and a mixture of others. They all get 100% of my effort. Please America let us stop the racism and get along.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • BlackDynamiteNYC

        No one is arguing that.

        This guy Marks went out of his way to call out black children, and parents.
        That's the problem.
        Where does he get off doing that?

        Just another self-indulgent rant from some guy who doesn't like black people, doesn't relate to black people, and thinks he's better than black people.

        We'll all get along when white people don't act like they're better than everybody.
        That will be a nice place to start, don't you think?
        BD

        December 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • Insmalle

        Amen! I cannot wait till obama and his POS racists AG starts prosecuting black on white hate crime...oh wait...you DONT want that...that'd be RACIST of course.....

        December 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • MDX

      Obviously none of you responding are black. Because if you were, you would know better. As a black woman, it is hard for me to relay my personal experience as a black woman in this country to people that are not black. I have had the privilege of living in other countries and there are countries in this world were race doesn't matter, however, that is not the case in America. You would not believe how much race determines what your experiences are in America except of course you were black. No one would ever have the guts to tell a Jewish person to get over the holocaust yet they would admonish black people to get over it. Newsflash, we can't get over it because it is not over and you won't get it except you have walked a mile in our shoes.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • greg

        Yes, race does matter in America. If you are a minority, you get loans you are not qualified for, college acceptances that your grades are not good enough for, business loans that you are not qualified for, and get hired for jobs you are not qualified for because of quotas. You are correct, race does matter. Minorities have tons of unfair advantages and somehow, in spite of them, most still find excuses for failure.

        December 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • uggmugg

        blacks aren't qualified to do anything and yet they remain in our faces all hours of the day just to make things equal.

        December 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Jose

    In some instances it's also a matter of luck. Students living in the worst of conditions can someone meet a friendly human who does have access to technology, and that could prove to be that child's break into a brighter future. Not all children will make it unfortunately. But perhaps if we all do a little effort we can start to make a difference and perhaps more children will make it. In my case I grew up poor but had all the basic necessities. The most important necessity was parents that pushed me to get good grades even though they themselves did not graduate grade school! Had they been drug addicts or irresponsible parents then my odds would have been seriously compromised I guess. So yeah it's tru not all kids will make it because they lack the resources at home. But maybe one of *us* could be the little opening they need to eventually let more light in the room.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Richard

    The guy (Thurston) proves he is a stupi-d as perceived. Histrionics are the weapon of choice for m-orons who think they are being clever.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      it seems to me that YOU are the one who proved that YOU are stewpid

      December 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Paris Htlon

    Charity starts in our hearts. Join me in this noble cause. Save women and Children dying to have water http://goo.gl/9s6Gr

    December 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Sam Timn

    In communist Russia, Rights get Black Kid!

    December 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  84. arkiemom

    Apparently jdurand1970 was the only one that took time to read both articles. Some of these responses were not only bigoted, but had little to do with the article at hand. As an educator, I appreciated the sarcasm as well. By the way Bob, research has shown that low test scores are not related to race, but rather to low socio-economic status.It just happens to be synonomous in too many communities.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam Timn

      Stop lying, there related to race.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • Educated.

        It is they are or they're, not there.

        December 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      Only in that we tend to relegate certain races disproportionately to terrible economic conditions. Yes, in fact, it has been PROVEN that white kids are pretty dumb, when they aren't fed or taught well. Durr?

      December 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Darwin

    Brilliant! I'll have to add "BARATUNDE" to my list of over 700 ridiculous and embarassing Black given names that I've collected, such as Gonarethia (what was the mother ever thinking!), Bamboy, Dremius, Ka'Taria, Kwanzeeta, Lavaranues, Nijoku, Pon'Ray, etc. etc. You can just imagine how "easy" it would be for some of these people to get hired at, say, a doctor's office, where they would have to answer the phone as, "Gonarethia here", and the patient says, "No, I don't want a diagnosis, I want the receptionist." If Black mothers demand the freedom to name their kids absurd and impossible to remember or spell names, then businesses have the right to not hire them, because business is about relationships, and you can't have a relationship with someone whose name you can't pronounce or remember!

    December 15, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam Timn

      Don't forget Jahayla, DiAngelo, and dante

      December 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lady Esquire

      I am going to step out on a limb and say that his name is of African origin.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sam Timn

        Hmmm, yah sure about that one?

        December 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      yup
      what a web some of us weave!
      and it bites us in the rearend many times!

      December 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poor White Guy

      Uh, black folk aren't the only people with odd ball names,... Let's take a look! "Keanu" Reeevs, "Apple" Fiona, "River" Phoenix, "Kal-El" Cage, "Fifi" (isn't that the name of a barking rat?)) Trixibelle, "Pilot Inspektor", "Coco" Arquette, Sage Moonblood, (Really,...?), Memphis Eve, Paris Hilton (!), Audio Science (please Google), Moon Unit Zappa, Tu Morrow (gimme' a break, huh!?), "Rocket" Rodriguez.
      The list is endless, so, when someone calls you doctors office, and the secretary answers, "Hello, Dr. Moonblood's office, Mrs. Trixibelle speaking, may I help you?",...don't hang up, it's just a name.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • uggmugg

        All those "white" names sound beautiful compared to shinequa and dominiqua

        December 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lisa

        @ uggmugg, I'd rather be shaniqua or domeniqua than apple (really, who names their kid apple and their last name is martin?) just because i can always shorten my name to nikki. apple can't do a thing but change her name when she turns 18. but only black people give their children stupid names, right?

        December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • Banny Mellweather

        But there are lots of black people who have the names Sarah, Jessica, Marcus, Malcolm, John, etc. – I think some people emphasize names like "Shaniqua" too much

        December 16, 2011 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Banny Mellweather

      But I think you are emphasizing it too much – and it's a common racist trope to tell stories about people trying to give "fancy sounding" names only for it to fall in one's face – you do not want to be in that company

      December 16, 2011 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
  86. kude

    why would a testosterone filled black kid choose to work, when he could go on the streets, join a gang, enjoy themselves for a little while, then get shot? Truthfully, while I think they should try working, any teen would choose the same life in it was handed to them... that's why all other teens pretend they are "gangsta".

    December 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      And most DO try to better themselves, silly git. Your white sheet is showing. Not everyone is allowed to improve their station in life.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • kude

        my grandfather immigrated to this country with $1.35 cents in his pocket fifty years ago. Now, he has millions. Anyone who tries can improve their life. Anyone who does things for themselves, instead of blaming millionaires for their problems. Instead of blaming millionaires, and begging them for money, go get a job.

        December 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Alex

        @kude Blah blah blah, I bet your grandfather wasn't Black. 50 years ago, blacks could barely vote and segregation was legal. Lynching and bombings against blacks were still widespread.

        That was only FIFTY years ago.

        December 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jose

        Blah, blah, blah, whine, whine whine, How's that keeping you oppressed today?

        December 19, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
      • Lena

        @ Alex, not even 50 years ago. In Texas they just executed a white supremacist who dragged another man to death a few years back. What was the victim doing to "deserve" it? He happened to be an African-American in Texas.

        December 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  87. kude

    ... I feel like you're just making fun of black people with this article... when reading it, I couldn't help but notice a certain... sarcastic overtone.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  88. jedi1040

    Im tired of black people complaining. Go back to Africa. America would be much better without all the ignorant black people that pull the race card to get what they want. Im over it and pretty much fed up with the black mentality in the U.S.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lady Esquire

      "Go back to Africa" yes because all black people hopped on those boats and came here willingly!

      December 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yup

      Never been to Africa; you going back to Europe or Asia? Didn't think so...thanks for the advice, though!

      December 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      Or for that matter, as if any significant portion were born in Africa. "Go back to Africa"? Fine. Just after all us white folks go back to Europe. Oops! Bigot fail.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjkirk23

      Let me say this, I am a 30 year old black man and I don't complain about me being black and I LOVE MY RACE. People keep saying go back to Africa, if you read your history books we never asked to come over here. Also these same people that say this,I don't see offereing any money to fund this trip. I don't agree with this letter completely but this letter and the letter in Forbes make good points. Every opportunity I have been granted I have taken advantage of. I graduated from High School, college and getting my MBA in June (Yes I have a job and never been unemployed just like the other poor black friends I have). I came from a poor family and my family like other black families taught me the meaning of work and the value of a dollar.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
      • Fritz

        Good response cjkirk, I'm a 68 year-old white man and feel the same as you describe. I am comfortable being who and what I am. Some people see my name and try to blame me personally for the Jewish Holacaust, but they are on the same level as those who tell you to "Go back to Africa." They are ususally just a minor irritation, except for some who have affected my success. The biggest problem I have with such people is deciding how to respond to bigots. I can ignore those who are anti-kraut, no big deal, but those who are anti-black require a response from me, or I am assumed to agree with them, and I am quite slow with the quick and witty responses. By the time you reach my age I hope you are so far ahead of them that you can't even remember them, Fritz

        December 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • KhalidX

      The “Go back to Africa” argument says that if black people do not like it in America, they should go back to Africa. Mostly it is not an argument about Africa but about the kindness of white people. It makes the point that White Americans have been nicer to black people than anyone else in the world, even nicer than black Africans would be.Where to begin?

      First, it assumes that blacks are richer in America because White Americans have been kinder to them than Africans would be. Wrong: blacks are richer in America because America is richer.

      The pie is so big in America that even when it is divided unjustly, as it is, it still leaves most people with more pie than any ordinary person would get in the Third World. Which is why people from the Third World come to America: poverty is worse than racism. But that does not excuse racism.

      The argument also overlooks how Africa got to be so poor and screwed up. It turns a blind eye to the effect of the Atlantic slave trade on Africa and the effect of white rule, both direct (colonial empires) and indirect (banana republics).

      And like the Arab trader argument it makes whites look good by comparing them to someone else.

      But the worst thing about this argument is that it is such a huge lie.

      Whites pretty much let blacks twist in the wind, like we saw on television right after Katrina. Blacks are like unwanted stepchildren in America. Whatever blacks have achieved has been in spite of whites for the most part. Most whites were quite fine with Jim Crow, if you remember. And even now most seem to be quite fine with failing black schools, black ghettos and high rates of black unemployment and crime (so long as it is not in their neighbourhood). Thus the kindness of white people.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • KhalidX

      Slavery built this country . You leave and go back to the Caucus Mountains

      December 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzfan1992

      Go to back to Africa? How original. Did you know most Blacks in America Can trace their roots in this country back 200 years at a minimum? It is odd that the same people that cry about others pulling the race card invented the game! Issues of race will always exist as long as this country is here. How about this, let me violate your wife, for 20 years while you watch, and raise all the kids I have with her and then I'll give her back to you, battered mentally and physically.

      This is why your dream is to live in a world free balcks because you destoryed the dark side. Good one Jedi not!

      December 15, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poor White Guy

      I'll tell you what, let black people go back to Africa, and in the process, make all white people go back to Europe. Fair is fair right? Unless of course you are American Indian.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  89. jedi1040

    If I were a poor black kid, I would stop blaming everyone else for my problems and either get some work ethic and morals or move back to Africa because America is the land of the free and the brave not the government dependent and lazy immoral cowards that are afraid to contribute to humanity. The truth hurts but until black people start working and stop commiting crimes and contribute to America as a general group then they will always be "victims" of their own demise.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rorien

      Amen!!

      December 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • anony

      spoken like a true idiot...

      December 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      I was trying to resist the urge to respond to a buffoon, but, at this point I had to. Let me make one thing completely clear to all of you closed minded, racist, rednecks who not to my surprise in the 21st century still consider yourselves to be the inferior race to all minorities. Number one blacks are as smart as any other race, Number two, smarter, than you of course, neanderthal, Number three we have many blacks that have graduated from college and went on to have great jobs with benefits and some have started their own companies. Number four America is a melting pot full of opportunities for every one. This country has finally elected a president who represent a nation of equal opportunity. Did I mention he is black? Number five your image of success is probably coming home from the still mill kicking off you black combat boots, rushing to the fridge and grabbing a cold Budweiser, telling your wife to put her flip flops on and grabbing baby number 5 out of the playpen and making him or her watch baby number 4. You will probably proceed to grab a Winston cigarette butt you found under the sofa turn on you flat screen that you borrowed from your uncle Billy from the pawn shop and complain how unfair life is because everyone is succeeding in life but you and hick town friends. Get a personality, and quit hay riding with your cousin-wife having a hoe-down in the back of the barn, you nit-wit.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jimbo

        You know what is almost as ignorant as Jedi's comment above? You thinking only redneck hick's are racists.

        December 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      I hope for the sake of our country, that you are just trolling. If not, you have to be one of the most ignorant, narrow-minded, totally-have-no-grasp-of-reality, backwoods, redneck, bigots I have ever had the displeasure of being aware of. I have no idea where the rest of your inbred family may have come from, but my suggestion is that you would follow your own advice, and return there.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Master D

    If I was a poor black kid I would be smart and round up all them bums, give them each some rocks and have them go sell them to those crack heads, they would bring the money back to me and I would throw them each a 20 spot, that way I would be rich and not get caught.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Jazzsinger72

    Yeah, poor Oprah, Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice, Herman Cain, Michael Jordan, Beyonce, and thousands of other highly successful, powerful, and rich people who are surely inferior to the likes of you.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  92. oh those lions

    dear lion in a cage:

    how could you be so stupid? you have claws and teeth! look around you and see how green the grass is. how blue is the sky! reach for it! look at this video of other lions in the wild... doesn't it motivate you to be like them? don't you want to be free and roam the earth? why do you just sit there and snap at everyone that comes to see you? you get food you don't hunt or pay for from the zoo... free healthcare... what else can we offer you to succeed? we've given you everything. oh, you poor dumb lion, i think you just don't want to be free. we've given you all you need, and STILL, you want to live in your cage. here... let me toss you another steak through those thick bars and see if that helps. i just can't keep giving and giving, lion, it's not fair that i have to wake up early in the morning, come work at this zoo everyday, feed you, break my back laboring 8 hours a day, just to watch you sleep and do nothing all day. do something! be a lion like god intended you to be! stop wasting the zoo's food and hunt for yourself! read Nature and National Geographic. educate yourself on the ways of the lion. Stop wasting the zoo's money!

    December 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • ROck

      You over looked one thing....the cage door is open.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • oh those lions

        if the cage were open, neither of those two articles would have been written, my friend.

        December 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  93. American Citizen

    I believe in fairness.

    I believe in equality.

    But, I cannot take another "poor black kid" story from anyone. This is because my family was deliberately blocked, discriminated against and oppressed for generations here in the United States. That was in New England. Despite this, they remarkably pulled together and cooperated. In my estimation, they the finest family that ever lived in the United States. None of you knows who they are and will never know because you pay far too much attention to "poor black kids" who often do not know why you do – because you do nothing to improve the status of their lives either.

    Understand?

    You don't care – but it's a subject to write on and make some quick cash. How do I know? I am a reporter. The money is relatively easy, isn't it.

    And...I just busted you.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Bob

    I love it when people say we need to drop the "race card" or "lift yourself up by your bootstraps and work hard"...

    We are a product of our system, and the US system teaches us that the Civil Rights Movement helped end discrimination and inequality. The US system showed us that if we work hard then the benefits will follow...

    Not to mention everyone is debating about the "poor black kid" and how poverty and his environment is holding him down... when in fact the poorest white kid (on average) scores better on standardized tests than the upper/middle class black student...its not just a poor black kid issue, its a systemic race issue.

    Go look at the statistics, we live in a SYSTEMICALLY racist society. Schools, Prisons, Health Care, the list goes on and on. But White people are too afraid to admit this reality because it would then mean we are beneficiaries of this system. White Privilege.

    But I'm sure many of you will discard this and look for the logical justification so you don't have to feel guilty that over the past 500 years we have benefited from a system that was created by White Males (whom I'm guessing are most of the respondents of this article)...

    December 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      What are you trying to insinuate with your statement of "in fact the poorest white kid (on average) scores better on standardized tests than the upper/middle class black student". You're comparing an underprivileged (I'm assuming) white children to black children whose families' have financial resources to utilize for their education. Would it be a matter of school systems? Not likely. If these black families were so well to do, they would not have their children in a poor education system. While only generalizations can be made here because every situation is unique, could it be that black children who are financially stable, or even considered wealthy, lose that lack of drive once they are conformable? It could just be that poor white children are motivated by themselves but most likely their parents or other guiding figure to succeed.

      Their may be racism in this world. The society we live in isn't perfect and will never be unless people change their focus from bettering themselves at the cost of putting another down. This doesn't justify these generalizations of the white man as being the root source of problems. I agree that the 1% do make a lot of money but people's focus should be: if they broke any laws, bring it to light. Their fight isn't realistic, no drastic measures will be taken. What people should focus on is not cutting back the money of one person, but pushing to make themselves better. Hard work is the backbone of the American society. If it isn't obvious already, if you're not at the goals you strive for, it's not going to be handed to you, you must take action.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  95. jdurand1970

    So, I read the original article by Gene Marks and then read this response by Baratunde Thurston. I agree that Mr. Marks' approach is too simplistic, more than a little condescending (though I don't thing it was intended to be) and it didn't address many of the realities that make life in poor, inner-city communities such a challenging existence. And, really, who was he expecting the target audience to be???

    However, I think Mr. Marks does make some good points and offers some sound advice. I wish Mr. Thurston would have at least acknowledged that. It seems Mr. Thurston's solutions all involve long-term investment in changing communities. This is a great goal and, if successful, will help future children who live in those communities, but the kind of changes Mr. Thurston is talking about could very easily take years, if not decades to come to fruition. They offer little for the children who are currently living in those communities.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jdurand1970

      I must add that I did thoroughly appreciate the biting sarcasm and humor in this response, though.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Yes, it takes time which is unfortunate in this day and age when everyone wants a quick fix.

      Everyone has obstacles in life, some more than others but if you are not willing to work hard at overcoming those obstacles then you wont. If you spend too much time complaining about those obstacles you will never overcome them.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Both columns, in my non-young, impoverished, black boy opinion, had something useful to offer. Mark's piece emphasized (to Forbes readers) the free or low cost resources that are available to those who don't have the world at their fingertips. While Thurston's piece emphasized the barriers that make even free and low cost resources either out-of-reach or unsustainable.

      Mark's target's the exceptions to the rule. The Cain's, so to speak. And Thurston's challenges those exceptions (and everyone else) to SEE. If every 'exception' to the rule, committed to regularly spending time at their alma mater to teach young people how to talk about the issues they face, to brainstorm together and to put together a project and see it through... it could be a game changer.

      People who are exceptions got lucky. And found ways to capitalize on that luck and sustain thr effort. And that is worth sharing. Perhaps even, needs to be shared. The only way to work towards something unimaginable is to have proof that it's possible.

      December 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Rabbit One

    I invite both Thurston and Marks to commit a full year to serving in either the school systems or after school education programs of underserved communities. This banter on their parts could be better expressed with real action that places real educational resources in the hands of underserved young people. I serve in this sector every single day.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  97. M. Montaigne

    That's nonsense. I'm an Indian-American, and I'm certainly in the minority. Anyone who plays the minority card is being dishonest with themselves about the reality of things. If anything, things are a lot easier for minorities than for the rest.

    My wife came from a very poor white family. She joined the Navy, worked hard, and is now a graduate student at Harvard. Between the GI Bill and her savings, she managed to make it in life. If anything, being white made it difficult for her to make it because she was not eligible for the any number of handouts.

    I came to the US as a student, from a middle class Indian family (from the country India that is). I lived on a $550/month scholarship and worked my ass off during college and grad school. As a "privileged minority", I had a harder time than black or hispanic kids in getting scholarships. The reason? There are plenty of Whites, Asians, and Indians in higher education. So, you don't really fall under the minority for admissions, even if you are an ethnic minority. Even more, you are compared to other Indians and Asians who have insanely high academic achievements, making it all the more difficult. I had a near perfect score in GRE and a perfect GPA, and still had trouble getting a scholarship.

    Today, I work 60-80 hours a week as an executive and my wife is a grad student at Harvard - and we save all our money. We have decided to have just one kid, because that kid will have the best education and resources that we can provide. And my kid will still be at a disadvantage because s/he will not be a "minority" with things being handed down on a platter.

    Kids like mine will need higher grades because they do not belong to a "minority" for college admissions. They will be economically too well off for any handouts. And they won't have the benefit of playing the race card, no matter what their color.

    Mr. Thurston, can you please be sarcastic about that? About how my poor parents from a third world country managed to send me (by borrowing, no less) to the US for education? How they managed to be fiscally frugal by having only one kid? About how my wife sacrificed several years of her life because she wanted to go to school? About how we do not have a television and drive a decade old car even though we are making over $250k a year?

    What people need to be taught is responsibility. People like you aren't helping that – you are only providing more ammo for those that seek excuses over ownership. Own up, Mr. Thurston.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • mjennifer19

      You hit the nail right on the head. Until the whole black culture changes their views on what is right and what is wrong, they will always be the minority. Anybody in this country can achieve whatever they want. It adds up to hard work, not handouts. That is where the cultures differ. Blacks still think we as a society owe them something for slavery that happened 200 years ago. If its that bad here, go back to Africa. I'll pay your ticket if you refuse to be a functioning member of society. And I have to add, living in a city where it's 70% black, 30% white, the blacks are WAY more racist towards the whites than the other way around.

      December 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  98. inclwyr

    Its amazing how all the slugs come out on anonymous threads on email speaking how brutal one race is but completely forgetting the Child killers like Susan Anthony (white) and many many others. It would be so much nicer if THEY were placed on an island and faded away cause while the rest of the world has evolved, these slugs remain stuck in the 50's. What low-lifes

    December 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  99. ERIC

    here's my response: yes mr marks you are right about what you said. poor black kids
    should learn to read and get good grades, which will give them a better chance to
    succeed in life. but will you now turn around and tell the racist white people to
    stop being racist so that the kids who do learn to read and get good grades wont
    be discriminated against when they go looking for a job. tell those whites to
    be just as wiling to help the black succeed on the job as they are with other
    whites. will you tell whites to train those kids properly when they are on the
    job and not sabotage them. and tell the whites to stop getting mad when they have a black
    boss who tells them what to do. and to be cooperative with the black boss and not
    resentful just because he is black.
    youre telling the blacks what they need to do. now turn around and tell the white racist
    what they need to stop doing.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  100. BlackDynamiteNYC

    I'm waiting for Gene Marks' next article "How To Be a Better Illegal Immigrant in the 21st Century!"

    Followed by "Forbes Has Straightened Out Black and Latino Problems, so what do we do with the GOP?"
    BD

    December 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
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