"Even the worst have their best": Forbes’ Gene Marks, the 1%, and the Luxury of Second Chances

“The very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities.”

“Is this easy? No it’s not. It’s hard. It takes a special kind of kid to succeed. And to succeed even with these tools is much harder for a black kid from West Philadelphia than a white kid from the suburbs. But it’s not impossible. The tools are there. The technology is there. And the opportunities (sic) there.”

“Technology can help these kids. But only if the kids want to be helped. Yes, there is much inequality. But the opportunity is still there in this country for those that are smart enough to go for it.”

“I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best.”

In response to President Obama’s speech about inequality in America, we have this essay by Gene Marks about how yes, there’s inequality in America, and it’s a terrible thing — but if you’re a Poor Black Kid from the Inner City (his terminology, not mine), you can still make it in America if you’re smart and hard-working. In Forbes Magazine. Pause for a moment to savor the irony.

Greg Laden at The X Blog has already taken this essay and shredded it into confetti. In his post, Forbes’ Gene Marks Needs To Check His Priv, he eloquently, vividly, thoroughly points out that these “opportunities” supposedly available to smart, hard-working poor kids are actually virtually non-existent, and are drying up fast. I pretty much just want to say, “Yes. This. Read this.”

But I want to add something as well.

Even in the most idealistic version of Gene Marks’s idealistic vision for Poor Black Kids from the Inner City? You have to be “the best” to even have a shot.

If you’re a child of the 1%, you don’t have to be extraordinary to be successful. If you’re a child of the 1%, and you’re just of average intelligence and average talent and average self-discipline, you’re probably going to do okay.

But if you’re one of Gene Marks’s Poor Black Kids from the Inner City, and you’re of average intelligence and average talent and average self-discipline, you’re almost certainly going to get sucked back down into the vicious circle.

If you’re in the 1%, you get lots of slack, lots of opportunities, lots of second chances. If you’re a Poor Black Kid from the Inner City, you get, at best, one shot to get it right. And you have to do everything perfectly. One screw-up, and you’re toast. And even then, even if you do everything perfectly, you might not get that shot. (Read Laden’s piece for a vivid exploration of that reality.)

And I’ll include myself in that privileged group. I’m very far from the 1%, but I was born into probably the top 30% — at a time in American history, very much unlike today, when being born into the top 30% meant you had a lot of opportunities. So I had the luxury of lots of second chances. I was a smart kid, and I was eager to please, and I worked pretty hard most of the time… but I was far from perfect. And I still did okay — because I had the luxury of second chances. I had the luxury of not getting straight A’s in high school and still getting into a good college, because my family could afford to send me there with only some loans and some financial aid. Once I got to college, I had the luxury of being able to occasionally skip classes, occasionally pull all-nighters and do a half-assed job, occasionally prioritize my romantic drama over my scholastic life, and still stay in college. I had the luxury of being able to live a low-rent Bohemian lifestyle for a decade or so after school, while I honed my writing skills and figured out my passions… because I had the luxury of a family with a little bit of a financial cushion: far from Wall Street, far from the 1%, but enough that they could bail me out if I was having a bad month financially and needed help with the rent. I had the luxury — and it makes me cringe that this is a luxury — of not having an arrest record based purely on the crime of Walking While Black.

I’m good at what I do. On good days, I even think I’m among the best. But I was certainly not the best in grade school, or high school, or college. I was good — but I wasn’t the best. And I didn’t have to be. I didn’t have to be an extraordinary child to have an okay life as an adult.

And that’s one of the most crucial ways we can see discrimination and oppression. Not by how well the best are doing — but by how well the average are doing, and the “reasonably good but not extraordinary,” and the “talented but haven’t yet found their feet.” If Rick Perry can get C’s and D’s at Texas A & M and still be governor of Texas, but a middle school kid in West Philadelphia can get A’s and B’s and still gets stuck in the shitty dead-end high school because the magnet school is only for the very very best… that is a world in which something is profoundly broken. And part of what is so profoundly broken is this idea that Poor Black Kids from the Inner City will do okay if they’re smart and hard-working… and that therefore, by implication, if their lives suck, it’s because they’re stupid and lazy.

So do not bloody well tell us that help is available for kids who “want to be helped.” That loads the blame exactly where it doesn’t belong — on the backs of children. A world in which children have to be perfect in order to have even an outside chance at not getting caught in a glue trap for the rest of their lives is freaking well not a world of “opportunity.”

{advertisement}
"Even the worst have their best": Forbes’ Gene Marks, the 1%, and the Luxury of Second Chances
{advertisement}
The Orbit is (STILL!) a defendant in a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

44 thoughts on “"Even the worst have their best": Forbes’ Gene Marks, the 1%, and the Luxury of Second Chances

  1. 1

    Rags-to-riches stories are to wealth inequality what cherry-picked testimonials are to alternative medicine: well-packaged and often fictional sales stories for bullshit.

    “If you are smart, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is what they tell you to justify enormous economic inequalities, “it worked for my friend’s sister’s dog” is what they tell you to justify passing homeopathic sugar pills off as medicine.

  2. 3

    Even in the most idealistic version of Gene Marks’s idealistic vision for Poor Black Kids from the Inner City? You have to be “the best” to even have a shot.

    If you’re a child of the 1%, you don’t have to be extraordinary to be successful. If you’re a child of the 1%, and you’re just of average intelligence and average talent and average self-discipline, you’re probably going to do okay.

    But if you’re one of Gene Marks’s Poor Black Kids from the Inner City, and you’re of average intelligence and average talent and average self-discipline, you’re almost certainly going to get sucked back down into the vicious circle.

    If you’re in the 1%, you get lots of slack, lots of opportunities, lots of second chances. If you’re a Poor Black Kid from the Inner City, you get, at best, one shot to get it right. And you have to do everything perfectly. One screw-up, and you’re toast. And even then, even if you do everything perfectly, you might not get that shot.

    This times infinity!

    Greta, I swear you must be reading my mind, because this is exactly what I think of whenever people talk about how there are plenty of opportunities for people who are poor if they just work hard enough.

    I consider myself very fortunate. My family isn’t rich or anything, but we’re middle class. Scholarships plus help from my parents are enough to cover my tuition, since I’m attending a state school rather than a private school, so I’m a member of the lucky group who (hopefully) won’t have to worry about college debt upon graduation, if things continue well.

    Compare me to someone else who worked just as hard in school, who got the same good grades, but whose family is poor. Their family may not be able to help them pay for college. They may have to take out lots of loans or might not be able to go to college at all.

    Where this really shows is if you compare two kids with average grades. The person who’s from a family with money can afford to go to college, whereas the person who’s from a family who has less money may not be able to afford it. Even though they both got the same exact grades.

  3. 4

    Something else I read somewhere: those born into wealth(ier) households have a different mental approach to money and success. As if they didn’t already have enough advantages, apparently growing up with a constant supply of cash gives one the confidence to believe cash is always readily available. This difference in mental outlook can give even those who lose everything (stock crash, divorce, death of meal-ticket) the confidence needed to shake themselves off, start again, and succeed. And we all know how much attitude can make or break a deal.

    So those of us who grow up counting pennies and worrying about how to buy holiday gifts for our loved ones are already at a disadvantage, because we KNOW money doesn’t grow on trees. Certainly not on my family tree…

  4. 5

    Clovis- Yes. I think that every person I’ve ever heard utter the tired line “Money doesn’t really matter to me” came from a filthy rich family.

  5. 6

    This is a clever distraction from the bigger, much more important issue: creating a world where being mediocre doesn’t mean you have to work three jobs just to feed your family and keep from living in your car. “Opportunity” is more than just being able to reach high levels of success, it is also being able to survive when your potential is pretty low no matter how hard you work. We’re always going to need laborers, and there will always be people who aren’t suited for much else. Those folks deserve a living wage too.

  6. 7

    I genuinely believe that Marks has his heart in the right place, but I also think he’s making a whole lot of assumptions. First, he talks a lot about how he would get good grades to help him succeed. The problem with this is twofold: for poor black kids, good grades are a way to get jumped and grades and college are no longer a path to a career. Maybe if he was writing this in 1976 it would mean something, but it honestly doesn’t today.

    He also said he would use technology, like what they have at the library, to find out how to get scholarships to good schools. Again, I point out that good schools aren’t necessarily smiled on in the inner city and being bused to a magnet is a surefire way to deny yourself the protection of numbers. Doesn’t help when your friends are all miles away. That’s assuming you can even get to the library and that it has working computers as opposed to being basically an underfunded book cemetery like so many libraries are these days.

    I could nitpick all day at his woeful assumptions, but they really all boil down to, “How do you plan to survive, get enough food to eat, maintain enough friendships to ensure protection, and basically live long enough to enact all of those ‘get out of the ghetto’ plans when they require ignoring more pressing concerns?”

    If Gene Marks were a poor black kid, he would likely be shot or beaten to death by his peers for not conforming to cultural norms based around food insecurity and herd mentality. On a certain level he seems to know that the inner city isn’t the setting for a Horatio Alger novel, but he doesn’t fully grasp that.

    Also, he’s “starved for smart, skilled people”? There are 14 million unemployed Americans and you’re telling me he can’t find a handful who are smart and skilled? I suspect Gene Marks isn’t looking very hard.

  7. 9

    My, how I despise assholes like this. I mean, I really hate these people–so much it scares me.

    If opportunity is there, why don’t more “inner city” people succeed? Why, it must be that they’re stupid and lazy! Why waste everyone’s time with an article at all? Why not just say “I’m a racist asshole. I’m wealthy, you’re not. Get over it. Screw. You.”

    I think the band Blood for Blood got it right with the song “Eulogy for a Dream”:

    What can we do?
    What can you do?
    In a world where no one cares at all
    Nobody cares at all
    Take a look around you, do you like what you see?
    What can we do?
    The world has gone completely mad, society’s diseased
    What can we do?
    The violence and the hate I’ve seen, it makes me want to puke
    What can I do?
    I can turn my back on this place ’cause nobody sees the truth!
    I spent so many years wondering why
    What could I do?
    I spent so many years with tears in my eyes
    What could I do?
    While the rich just get richer, my family cried
    In this society of lies and nobody cares at all!
    I turn my back!
    Nobody cares at all!
    I walk away!
    Nobody cares at all!
    I won’t listen to a word that they say, I spit on their way,
    ’cause nobody cares and they’ll never hear the cries and the prayers
    while my kind’s locked down by their lies!
    They lie…

    Alright, listen!
    The people on top and the powers that be
    Will never care about people like you and me
    We oughtta take ’em all out back, and shoot ’em in the head
    And bury ’em in a pile of their money
    I spit on their society!
    I spit on their system!

    There’s gotta be something me and you can do,
    ’cause brother I gotta tell ya’ shit’s lookin bad for me and you
    Goodbye America, we’ve dragged you straight to hell…
    Your people have gone completely insane and we’ve dragged you straight to hell…

    This one’s for all the forgotten innocents out there
    that are trapped by by circumstances outside of their control
    It sucks being poor, don’t it fellas?

  8. 10

    Also, he’s “starved for smart, skilled people”? There are 14 million unemployed Americans and you’re telling me he can’t find a handful who are smart and skilled? I suspect Gene Marks isn’t looking very hard.

    I suspect that there’s a clause that he left out of that sentence. It should read “starved for smart, skilled people willing to work for the pittance that I’m willing to pay and tolerate the working conditions I impose.”

  9. 12

    My, how I despise assholes like this. I mean, I really hate these people–so much it scares me.

    ditto. my ability to have humane emotions towards a certain demographic is wearing scarily thin. but then, I’ve never been a very empathic person; if I hadn’t ever fallen out of my cushy middle-class status, I’d probably ended up just like this asshole.

    Also, he’s “starved for smart, skilled people”? There are 14 million unemployed Americans and you’re telling me he can’t find a handful who are smart and skilled? I suspect Gene Marks isn’t looking very hard.

    what he means is that he wishes for smart and skilled* to grow on trees, because paying taxes to properly (re-)educate them is beyond his ability to imagine; and it would hurt his precious wallet too much.

    *in precisely the high-skill jobs he needs them to be skilled in, which probably changes every 3-6 years

  10. 13

    anyway, what I was actually trying to say is that even from a middle class position, it’s ridiculously difficult to see the advantages and second chances you have; unless, like me, you go effectively waste enough of them that you find yourself solidly among the working poor, and STILL have advantages left others don’t. in my case, those advantages are the extremely good schooling I received waaay back, which puts me ahead of even some college graduates in fact if not on paper; and a perpetual “plan B” that means that if my life goes too far to shit, I can call my mom and go live on her German, (upper) middle class couch until I fix whatever got so fucked up; oh, and I stand to inherit two fully paid-off condos (neither of my parents have any debts), plus one third of whatever my rather comfortably wealthy grandmother will leave me, should she actually die before me (shes got the genes from the long-lived part of the family; I’ve got genes from the short-lived part, and unlike her, I live in “screw the poor”-land), so it’s not like I’ll be homeless in my old age (should I ever reach it), no matter what I do.

    none of my peers down here among the working poor have any of that. they will remain poor, or get worse, no matter how clever and hardworking they are.

  11. 14

    Thank you to everyone who pointed out the flaw in my argument. I forgot that smart, skilled people might want to get paid to work! How recklessly foolish of me! This is why I’m just a serf and Mr. Marks is a Captain of Industry.

  12. 15

    Also, I think his editor may have cut out the line following, referring to his current employees and which I assume reads something to the effect of “Look at them, Smithers. Goldbrickers…. Layabouts…. Slug-a-beds! Little do they realise their days of suckling at my teat are numbered.” After all, he’s just inspired a Poor Black Kid from the Inner City to replace them all! Maniacal laugh.

  13. 16

    This reminds me of the snotty recent remarks by self-righteous and ignorant Republicans that those who are occupying areas of the country should go “get a job.”

    What hypocrit assholes! They revel in their prosperity and most have never done an honest day of labor in their privileged lives and are now drinking and eating from the public trough and teat. It looks really simple to them. Even if the unemployed masses were desperately willing to take the few jobs open (and not be told they were “overqualified or some other excuse), most of those jobs wouldn’t save their homes or feed themselves and/or their families, etc.

  14. 17

    @Jadehawk
    “unless, like me, you go effectively waste enough of them that you find yourself solidly among the working poor, and STILL have advantages left others don’t.”

    This is pretty much exactly what I was thinking. I’m right there with you – the wealth of opportunity I squandered when I was younger sometimes brings me near to tears. (Our culture does such a terrible job of teaching children about consequences.) But I still recognize how much more I had then and have now. I’m a heterosexual white male, and that means I would have to take a real shit on my life to force myself down to a standard of living that millions are trapped in because of the circumstances of their birth.

    This article left me shaking with rage. So if you just ignore your environment completely, dedicate yourself to leaving all of your friends and family behind, start doing these things of your own volition long before you can possibly be expected to be mature enough to value the results, take advantage of opportunities that may or may not even exist for you, be exceptionally good at something that happens to be commercially viable… Oh, and make sure you don’t have any pesky sick or dead parents, thus requiring you to drop out of school to take care of younger siblings!

    This guy has no fucking clue what he’s talking about. He’s SO clueless that he doesn’t even know that he doesn’t know.

  15. 20

    “But if you’re one of Gene Marks’s Poor Black Kids from the Inner City, and you’re of average intelligence and average talent and average self-discipline, you’re almost certainly going to get sucked back down into the vicious circle.”

    As an inner city kid myself I have not only used this argument but seen it first hand. Though I was by no means “poor”, there were plenty of people in my neighborhood that were or at least lower middle class. I saw so many people with even slightly above average intelligence from my old neighborhood struggle to get anything (where as an idiot like Paris Hilton has it all).

    I used to argue this with a conservative friend of mine and he said people could make it and would always say that he would read stories from people that made out of areas like this (like Star Parker) and that I should read her too. I told him she was a one a millions story and that I didn’t need to read it, I lived.

  16. 21

    President Obama gave an excellent speech last week in Kansas about inequality in America.

    “This is the defining issue of our time.” He said. “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.”

    He’s right. The spread between rich and poor has gotten wider over the decades. And the opportunities for the 99% have become harder to realize.

    The President’s speech got me thinking. My kids are no smarter than similar kids their age from the inner city. My kids have it much easier than their counterparts from West Philadelphia. The world is not fair to those kids mainly because they had the misfortune of being born two miles away into a more difficult part of the world and with a skin color that makes realizing the opportunities that the President spoke about that much harder. This is a fact. In 2011.

    I am not a poor black kid. I am a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background. So life was easier for me. But that doesn’t mean that the prospects are impossible for those kids from the inner city. It doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities for them. Or that the 1% control the world and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps left behind. I don’t believe that. I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed. Still. In 2011. Even a poor black kid in West Philadelphia.

    It takes brains. It takes hard work. It takes a little luck. And a little help from others. It takes the ability and the know-how to use the resources that are available. Like technology. As a person who sells and has worked with technology all my life I also know this.

    If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently. I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best. And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities. Getting good grades is the key to having more options. With good grades you can choose different, better paths. If you do poorly in school, particularly in a lousy school, you’re severely limiting the limited opportunities you have.

    And I would use the technology available to me as a student. I know a few school teachers and they tell me that many inner city parents usually have or can afford cheap computers and internet service nowadays. That because (and sadly) it’s oftentimes a necessary thing to keep their kids safe at home then on the streets. And libraries and schools have computers available too. Computers can be purchased cheaply at outlets like TigerDirect and Dell’s Outlet. Professional organizations like accountants and architects often offer used computers from their members, sometimes at no cost at all.

    If I was a poor black kid I’d use the free technology available to help me study. I’d become expert at Google Scholar. I’d visit study sites like SparkNotes and CliffsNotes to help me understand books. I’d watch relevant teachings on Academic Earth, TED and the Khan Academy. (I say relevant because some of these lectures may not be related to my work or too advanced for my age. But there are plenty of videos on these sites that are suitable to my studies and would help me stand out.) I would also, when possible, get my books for free at Project Gutenberg and learn how to do research at the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia to help me with my studies.

    I would use homework tools like Backpack, and Diigo to help me store and share my work with other classmates. I would use Skype to study with other students who also want to do well in my school. I would take advantage of study websites like Evernote, Study Rails, Flashcard Machine, Quizlet, and free online calculators.

    Is this easy? No it’s not. It’s hard. It takes a special kind of kid to succeed. And to succeed even with these tools is much harder for a black kid from West Philadelphia than a white kid from the suburbs. But it’s not impossible. The tools are there. The technology is there. And the opportunities there.

    In Philadelphia, there are nationally recognized magnet schools like Central, Girls High and Masterman. These schools are free. But they are hard to get in to. You need good grades and good test scores. And there are also other good magnet and charter schools in the city. You also need good grades to get into those. In a school system that is so broken these are bright spots. Getting into one of these schools opens up a world of opportunities. More than 90% of the kids that go to Central go on to college. I would use the internet to research each one of these schools so I could find out how I could be admitted. I would find out the names of the admissions people and go to meet with them. If I was a poor black kid I would make it my goal to get into one of these schools.

    Or even a private school. Most private schools I know are filled to the brim with the 1%. That’s because these schools are exclusive and expensive, costing anywhere between $20 and $50k per year. But there’s a secret about them. Most have scholarship programs. Most have boards of trustees that want to give opportunities to kids that can’t afford the tuition. Many would provide funding for not only tuition but also for transportation or even boarding. Trust me, they want to show diversity. They want to show smiling, smart kids of many different colors and races on their fundraising brochures. If I was a poor black kid I’d be using technology to research these schools on the internet, too, and making them know that I exist and that I get good grades and want to go to their school.

    And once admitted to one of these schools the first person I’d introduce myself to would be the school’s guidance counselor. This is the person who will one day help me go to a college. This is the person who knows everything there is to know about financial aid, grants, minority programs and the like. This is the person who may also know of job programs and co-op learning opportunities that I could participate in. This is the person who could help me get summer employment at a law firm or a business owned by the 1% where I could meet people and show off my stuff.

    If I was a poor black kid I would get technical. I would learn software. I would learn how to write code. I would seek out courses in my high school that teaches these skills or figure out where to learn more online. I would study on my own. I would make sure my writing and communication skills stay polished.

    Because a poor black kid who gets good grades, has a part time job and becomes proficient with a technical skill will go to college. There is financial aid available. There are programs available. And no matter what he or she majors in that person will have opportunities. They will find jobs in a country of business owners like me who are starved for smart, skilled people. They will succeed.

    President Obama was right in his speech last week. The division between rich and poor is a national problem. But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality. It’s ignorance. So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them. Many come from single-parent families whose mom or dad (or in many cases their grand mom) is working two jobs to survive and are just (understandably) too plain tired to do anything else in the few short hours they’re home. Many have teachers who are overburdened and too stressed to find the time to help every kid that needs it. Many of these kids don’t have the brains to figure this out themselves – like my kids. Except that my kids are just lucky enough to have parents and a well-funded school system around to push them in the right direction.

    Technology can help these kids. But only if the kids want to be helped. Yes, there is much inequality. But the opportunity is still there in this country for those that are smart enough to go for it.

  17. 22

    The saddest thing?

    It’s not just a matter of race anymore. Don’t get me wrong, racism is still a huge problem, and these problems definitely affect minorities much more. But it comes down to this.

    An education is simply not a golden ticket anymore.

    That’s the unfortunate reality, when you have vast numbers of educated individuals who are underemployed, and saddled with huge student loan debt…and they’re not even the worst off!

    The truth is that education is not a macro solution. It might be a good idea for individual circumstances, and certainly it’s something that’s good for society, but it’s no fix for widespread economic woes. All you’re doing is pushing the poverty around, basically.

  18. 23

    I’m amazed at the number of people either defending him, or softpedaling criticism. As I noted at Greg Laden’s post, it seems like this is another manifestation of privilege: when you’re part of a privileged group, people become so accustomed to showing you deference that even when you write things that are blisteringly stupid and astoundingly arrogant, many of them will still make excuses about how you “meant well” and “just don’t know the entire story.” >.>

  19. 24

    “If I was a poor black kid I would….”

    No he wouldn’t. If her were a poor black kid he would be a different person, in different circumstances with different surroundings.

    I think we need to stop identifying the absence of social/political pathology as ‘privilege.’

    Going to a school that is free from violence and agressive no-nothingism is NOT a privilege.

    Access to books is no more a privilege than access to decent food or the opportunity to sleep indoors.

    Being white and male is only a ‘privilege’ in contrast to the rights than non-white, non-male people have been deprived of. Not being molested as a child is not a privilege.
    Not being raised in a evangelical/wahhabi family is not a privilege.

    If we focus on the active wrongs, we are less likely to be distracted into resentment. The guillotine usually harvests the wrong heads.

  20. 25

    Of course, there is that small percentage of disadvantaged kids getting themselves into better positions. People like Marks can then use them as an example to say anyone should be able to do it.

    Of course, my experience is not ‘inner city, but a very rural farming and fishing community where some people had to check their snares to see if they were going to have meat for dinner. There were numerous classmates who couldn’t finish high school because they were needed on the farm or in the boat.

    Many of these came from Catholic families who still followed the church and had 12-15 siblings, which made the situation even worse.

    I came from a relatively ‘well off’ family, which meant we wore hand me down clothes, but always had lots to eat. Fortunately, university and college were also options for us.

  21. 26

    “If I Was a Poor Black Kid, I’d Make Sure to Be Exceptional!”

    Must be nice to be as smart and special and fluffy as Gene Marks. Everyone is above average in his happy world.

  22. 28

    If you’re a child of the 1%, you don’t have to be extraordinary to be successful. If you’re a child of the 1%, and you’re just of average intelligence and average talent and average self-discipline, you’re probably going to do okay.

    I feel like something of a tool for spelling out the implied punchline here, but: if you’re a child of the 1%, and even have no detectable intelligence, talent, or self-discipline, under the right circumstances, you can wind up the President of the fucking country.

  23. 29

    I tutored a student I’ll call ‘Jay’, who attended one of the worst public schools in Chicago. It was a misery to me to see how little he was being taught. Jay was an average kid, and what average kid do you know who does more homework than he’s assigned? So he got very little education.

    Then his mother got him into a magnet school, by lottery. A teacher there took him under his wing, and made him do a *lot* of extra work. When he finally got up to speed, he did very well in his new school. He’ll probably go on to college now – something that would have been impossible in his old school.

    Jay’s just an average kid. He’s no superstar. But now he can be a valuable member of society, rather than a drain.

    These are the people that Marks is ignoring. The middles, who can do well, but only if they’re in the right environment.

  24. 30

    I’m so glad to see how your privilege allowed you to all ignore my post, because you are all so wonderful and special. My concerns as part of the actual lower class can be easily, happily, and proudly be ignored… so give three cheers to yourselves!!!

    After all, your concern for the downtrodden is all about feeling good about yourselves, right?

  25. 31

    Jadehawk;

    The word ‘privilege’ implies some extra, unearned goodies: clergy discounts, preferential admission for alumni offspring etc. etc.

    Walking home without being harrased is a right, not a privilege. Access to competent education is a right, not a privilege. Build your own list.

  26. 32

    It is possible to mess up all of your chances even when you have a lot of them. I have a cousin who was born to one of the richest branches of the family (they were in the top 5%) and it would have been possible for her to live off her inheritence and never have a job … and she now lives in a trailer because that is all she can afford, and she needs occasional financial assistance from family to prevent a further fall into poverty (of course, the fact that she *has* family who can offer such assistance puts her in a better position than a lot of other people). One of the reasons for her fall in economic position was beyond her control (health issues), but mostly she made a number of spectacular mistakes with her money, and if she had managed her money as well as the average person, she would probably still be at least middle class.

    That said, I pretty much agree with what you say, Greta. There are too many people who are not getting the opportunities they deserve because of all kinds of social injustice, and it should be possible for typical people to have a decent life, not just for extraordinary people.

  27. 33

    The word ‘privilege’ implies some extra, unearned goodies: clergy discounts, preferential admission for alumni offspring etc. etc.

    only in the sense that the word ‘theory’ means wild guess.

    however, considering that the privilege of dominance is unearned, and is something that for many people simply isn’t part of their “normal”, it still fits.

  28. 34

    But if you’re one of Gene Marks’s Poor Black Kids from the Inner City, and you’re as mediocre a thinker and researcher as Gene Marks is, you’re almost certainly going to get sucked back down into the vicious circle.

    Thought you could use an edit, Greta.

  29. 35

    I’m so glad to see how your privilege allowed you to all ignore my post, because you are all so wonderful and special. My concerns as part of the actual lower class can be easily, happily, and proudly be ignored… so give three cheers to yourselves!!!

    After all, your concern for the downtrodden is all about feeling good about yourselves, right?

    What the fuck?

  30. 36

    Azkyroth said:

    What the fuck?

    We didn’t respond to his attempt to derail the thread, so he threw a temper tantrum.

    And well he should have. HE wanted to talk about something else on THIS thread! It’s not enough for all of us to already be talking elsewhere about the very thing he brought up. ALL conversations must be about this!

    /sarcasm

Comments are closed.