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.So when you poor black kids show up to school hungry and from a home without books and parents with little economic opportunity and a neighborhood with no public or private infrastructure and little public safety and 400 years of racism breathing down your little five-year-old necks, just suck it up, OK? Because we all know every five-year-old is cognitively capable of clearly seeing how his current actions affect his future, right?
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.Of course, "scholars" at wingnut-welfare think tanks will tell you that you aren't really poor anyway if you do buy this stuff.
We then get a laundry list of all the great, free* software out there on the interwebs that poor, black kids can use to overcome all of life's little obstacles. Of course, while they're doing that, the wealthier kids in the 'burbs will be going to modern schools with small classes and playing sports and going to scouts and taking music lessons and going to the orthodontist and getting paid tutoring and having dinner with their families because Mom and/or Dad don't have to work the night shift at Wendy's.
But Oprah's a billionaire, so obviously anyone can overcome all of this inequity - just keep dreamin' that dream!
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.See, if you just learn to consume enough of the right stuff, you'll live the American Dream too! Because that's what it's all about: consuming your way to success. Our country might not have been founded on the idea, and instead on quaint notions like brotherhood and equality and the rule of law. But don't worry; we've got plenty of folks around these days working to change that.
Once you've consumed enough, you can then escape poverty to become one of the digerati who live in total denial about how damn near impossible we've made it for kids living in chronic poverty to succeed. And you too can salve your guilty conscience by making a fetish of technology, as if it were a substitute for common human decency.
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.Got that right, chief.
* If it's supported by ads or a gateway to premium packages, it ain't free.