Archive for education

For those who don’t think white priviledge is real

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 14, 2011 by klysha

I happened upon a tweet this morning that linked to this article on Forbes.com and I’m not sure why this article was the one that drew me out of my blogging hiatus and not any of the other ridiculous things I’ve read in the past year and a half. But alas I’m here. This article just rubbed me the wrong way for so many reasons that I couldn’t just let it slide. So let me try to summarize the points the author was trying to make and why his point of view just made me itch.

Let’s start with the title

If I were a Poor Black Kid

Why are you calling out black kids like poverty and lack of privilege only know one color? Nothing in his article even dealt with the factors that are tied to race specifically. Everything he called out was more or less  about economics and access.  Of course he would have likely been even more off base if he would have actually tried to tackle some racial factors because I doubt this guy would have had the subtlety to give the complex issue of race and privilege or lack there of its just due.  And I since I need to be writing a term paper not a blog post, I don’t have the time to give it its just due either. (Nothing like procrastination to get the wheels turning on something completely unrelated to what you’re supposed to be doing.)

It’s easy to say what you would do if you were born under completely different circumstances.  I can easily say if I were a billionaire I’d donate 75% of my money to starving kids all over the world and give scholarships to all the non-athletically inclined high school underachievers who were pretty smart but just needed a little push (These kids really do kind of get ignored.  Someone should do something about this because everyone isn’t gonna be in the top 1%, and if you think they can you probably need to sign up for a course in basic statistics.)  But the truth is I have no idea what I’d be like if I had billions of dollars at my disposal and I couldn’t be sure who was my friend because I’m infinitely awesome and who was just there hoping to be my plus one when I got invited to Barack and Michelle’s Easter brunch.  Until you walk in someone elses shoes you have no idea how they got that bunion on their pinky toe.

Now on to the finer points of his piece…

He goes on to list all the wonderful things he’d do if he were a poor black kid raised in West Philadelphia.  Because if f he were a poor black kid in West Philadelphia of course he wouldn’t be spending most of his days on the play ground, cooling out maxing, relaxing all cool and all or shooting bball outside of the school because of course that’s what kids from West Philadelphia do. TV taught me that. Ok where was I because you know I just sang the whole Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song in my head and lost my train of thought. Oh yea the finer points of his article.

He says he’d do the following:

Get the best grades possible

Make it his #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently

Use the technology available to him

Become an expert at Google Scholar

Visit study sites like Spark Notes and Cliff Notes to help him understand books

Watch relevant teachings on Academic Earth, TED, and Khan Academy

Get free books from Project Gutenberg

Learn to do research at the CIA World Fact Book and Wikipedia to help with his studies

Use homework tools like Backpack and Diigo to help him share work with classmates

Use Skype to study with other students

Take advantage of study websites like Evernote, Study Rails, Flashcard Machine, Quizlet, and other online calculators

Use the internet to better high schools and find out how he could get admitted, find out the names of the admissions person and make it his goal to get admitted to one of the good high schools

OR get a scholarship to a private school

Develop a relationship with the schools guidance counselor

Learn to write code

Make sure his writing skills stayed polished

Well Eureka! He’s totally figured it out! This is a great list of helpful websites. On the real I might see if some of these sites can help me pass this grad school class I’m taking right now.

But how many people reading this blog post, poor kid from West Philadelphia or not, have ever heard of all of the resources he cited? How many of you were that driven when you were between 14-18 years old to seek out that many resources if they would have existed back then? How many rich/privileged kids do you know who are driven enough to seek out that many resources to help them succeed? But this guy is saying that if he were born into the type of circumstances that often land a kid on the other side of the tracks that he would be a super star and seek out every single opportunity at his disposal and overcome all the hurdles that make even seeking these opportunities challenging. Minor distractions like any one of a multitude of bad family situations, poverty, crime, lack of someone who even knows about these opportunities there to tell him about them, not to mention the normal distractions like peer pressure that come with being a kid wouldn’t get in his way, not this guy. He spoke of the parents being able to afford a cheap computer and internet but if his parents couldn’t afford that surely he’d have time to take the bus to the library to use the internet and teach himself to write code, and research scholarships all while possibly working part time to help bring money into the house, and dodging violence just getting back and forth to school. Because if he were a poor black kid he’d be the most super poor black kid ever.

Maybe a poor black kid should write a response and say if I were a rich privileged white kid I’d get drunk and smoke pot every other weekend, blow my parents money on wild spring break vacations in college and still manage to get a decent job because my dad would of course be well connected.  It would have just as much, actually more, merit than this guys article.

Basically what I gathered from this article is what I already learned from Chris Rock which is the opposite of what I’m sure the author intended for me to get from this.  In one of his routines Chris talks about how got to his neighborhood by being one of the top comedians in the country while his neighbor got there by being a regular old dentist.  Yes there are opportunities out there for everyone. Success is possible regardless of the circumstances you were born into. It’s just that some people  have to jump through hoops and walk on fiery coals to get to where some privileged white kid can trip and fall and wind up.  And of course the guy who tripped and fell into success is going to look at the guy with his feet on fire jumping through hoops and ask them why it’s taking them so long to get to the promised land.

I don’t know anything about the author of that article so I have no idea how much work he had to do to achieve whatever it is that he’s achieved to make him think he’s qualified to tell someone how to overcome all the circumstances they were faced with.But it’s pretty clear based on the things he says that he’s writing from a place of white privilege.  He in no way manages to even scratch the surface about why economic inequality is a real problem and without intervention most poor underprivileged kids will remain poor and underprivileged.  I wonder how driven this guy actually was when he was a teenager. Did he take advantage of whatever the equivalent of all those resources was back in the dark ages when he was a teen? And I wonder how many high schools in West Philadelphia the author has visited to share his infinite wisdom on how he would make it out of West Philadelphia.

White privilege is real in America and it has real effects, like people writing articles telling us what they’d do if they were a poor black kid. And if white privilege is real then it’s converse is real and needs to be acknowledged. Sitting around blaming people because they didn’t jump through all the hoops or step on all the fiery coals when it is indeed possible to do so is not going to fix the problem. Or should we face the even uglier truth that most people who benefit from white and or economic privilege don’t really want the problem fixed.

Not surprisingly, someone wrote a response to that guys post already. There have probably been several already because, even though I’m sure that article was written to get a bunch of page views, the article was just that ridiculous.

More than just politically incorrect

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2010 by klysha

I was going to post about something totally different today but I just had to say something about the statements made by South Carolina’s Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, regarding giving

"underpriviledged kids, stray racoons....same thing"

out free lunches to underpriviledged children.

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

– Andre Bauer, lieutenant governor of South Carolina
and candidate for S.C. governor

So is he saying that if you feed poor children they will continue to breed? Or is he saying that if you starve poor children they’ll learn to not be poor? I’m confused. 

You just can’t make that kind of brilliance up. Don’t believe a Lt. Governor actually said that, here’s the actual audio so you don’t think I’m just taking a random statement out of context. It’s even better when it’s placed in context.

Now lets just take the political  incorectness of comparing underpriviledged children to stray animal out of the equation. I’m not a fan of masking the truth in political correctness either. (Although I am a fan of tact and there’s clearly none of that present in this statement either but for the sake of argument we’ll ignore that too)

He goes on to point out that if you look at the districts where they give out the most free lunches you’ll see the lowest achievement scores.  So based on his logic it’s clear that giving out free lunch is the problem. 

Mmm kay… let us just reflect for a moment here. Yes it may be true that the districts that give out the most free lunches also have the lowest achievement scores, but it’s also true that regions that spend more on snow removal tend to have more snow storms.  So  of course if you stop spending on snow removal it would help curb the snow storms right???? Or here’s another one, it’s probably also true that in regions where they give out the most free lunches they have the fewest water polo and lacrosse injuries.  So serving free lunch might also be correlated to water polo safety. Bauer should probably get a staff member on top of that right away.

Okay so there’s a good chance that critical thinking was not among the pearls bestowed upon Bauer by his dear grandmom.  

The plan that Bauer is suggesting is to require parents who’s children receive free lunch to attend parent teacher conferences. I actually admire the intent because I think all parents should be involved in their childrens education.  However this ignores the complex reasons that some of these kids are underpriviledged, and unfairly punishes the innocent victims some of whom are are already suffering enough.  What if the parents won’t come to the conferences, do the kids have to go hungry? How will hunger pains help improve their achievement scores?

Now I don’t live in South Carolina but I’ve lived in a place with a lot of poor people before. I remember being one of the few kids in my class who didn’t get free or reduced lunch when I was at my first elementary school. And even when I was in elementary school I had the common sense to know that it wasn’t the kids fault that they qualified for free lunch.  (Just like it might not be Bauer’s fault that the most valuable piece of wisdom he got from his grandmom is don’t feed stray animals) And while both of my parents worked hard,  for all I know we could have been a pink slip away from free lunch at any given moment ourselves.  At some point while I was still I child I learned that it’s important to have empathy, another thing Bauer’s grandmom must have forgotten to pass on to him.

I guess the points I’m trying to make here are:

1) Giving away free stuff doesn’t create poverty.  Poverty was here before free lunch programs were created.

2) Selfishness and a lack of empathy can sometimes make you look stupid.

3) Republicans make me itch.

Want to learn more about South Carolina’s hardest working politician (I got that from his website) go here. This is the guy who wants to replace their former governor Mark Sanford,  you know the one who kept us all entertained with the steamy details of his love affair with an Argentinian woman. It must be something to live in South Carolina.

Parents be warned…Your president wants your kids to succeed

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , on September 8, 2009 by klysha

Have you heard that Obama has the audacity to want to encourage kids to to take responsibility for their education, ObamaBarackpay attention in class, and God forbid… follow their dreams! He’s got a lot of nerve and some concerned parents aren’t going to take this lying down. No way they’ll be letting their kids get exposed to that garbage!  If their kids get wind of his socialist “education is important” propaganda their kids might actually get motivated or learn something or  maybe even become  critical thinkers and then their chances of becoming paranoid right wing nuts would be severely reduced. That would be a real travesty!

I mean get a load of this speech! If even a few kids take this message to heart all heck just might break loose. Who wants a bunch of kids running around feeling personal responsibility? That’s not even the American way!

Concerned parents take heed…your president wants your kids to try hard and do their part to help solve the nations ills one day. Attitudes like that could shake the very foundations this nation was built on so do your part to protect them because your inaction on this could have real consequences.

Be warned ...these could be your kids!

Be warned ...these could be your kids!