Dr. Boyce: Why All Poor Black Kids are Stupid

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black WorldScholarship in Action

I was born to a 17-year old single mother in a housing project in Louisville, Ky. I struggled through elementary, middle and high school. In fact, I rarely met a school book that I didn’t hate. I was, in the words of Forbes Magazine columnist Gene Marks, a “poor black kid.”

According to Marks, I was just ignorant, like all the other kids in my “predicament” (I didn’t learn to use words like that until I was 40). I didn’t know the value of this great country called “America” and all the wonderful opportunities that exist for those of us who are simply wise enough to see them. If only I’d been born a middle class white guy, then perhaps I might be able to see the world for what it really is.

Years later, after stumbling my way to a PhD, I figured a few things out. I realized that men like Marks are actually not much smarter than the rest of us, but that White Supremacy 101 teaches them that they are. You see, the best way to maintain the legitimacy of a two-tiered society which subjugates a minority group into the underclass is to get everyone involved (both you and the oppressed) to buy into the merits of the system. You don’t explain to poor black kids that the guns, drugs, horrible educational systems, undeniably biased justice systems and depleted family wealth levels are the reason they struggle: You convince them that they themselves are the problem and that their own inadequacies are the reason that they are having such a difficult time…..the same way I used to continuously change the rules of Monopoly to make my sister think she wasn’t very good.

No one can deny the value of personal responsibility. Any Baptist minister in any black neighborhood across America explains that one every Sunday. But for some reason, white guys like Marks are allowed to live with the luxury of not having their capabilities battle-tested like black kids from “the hood.” They start life on third base and think they hit a triple, sitting on top of a mountain after having been airlifted.  There’s nothing I love more than a paternalistic white dude who truly believes he’s helping black folks by “civilizing us savage negroes.”  From the elementary school teachers polite enough to tell me that I wasn’t as smart as the other kids, to my colleagues at Syracuse who’ve warned me not to ruin my career by doing “that black people stuff on CNN,” I’ve been dealing with this kind of thing for my entire life.

Marks has never known the experience of a kid in South Central Los Angeles, who dodges neighborhood bullies toting AK-47s on their hips. He will never know the experience of a kid who goes to school every day, makes good grades, and then graduates with a fifth-grade reading level. He will never know what it’s like to get into a little trouble as a black teenager who then experiences God-knows-what in jail because his family can’t afford a good attorney. He will never know what it’s like to live in a society where nearly every system and social construct is designed with a pre-built model for your destruction. Mr. Marks is no different from a Washington Bureaucrat, with no military experience, seeking to micromanage the activities of a soldier on the battlefield.

The stories that Marks tells in his column, about kids who study hard, make use of every opportunity and overcome every obstacle happen every single day. There are tens of thousands of youth (like myself when I turned 18) who find a way around their challenges and become successful. In fact, some of us can even be as great the middle class white guy who’s had his life handed to him on a silver platter. But the racism behind Mark’s words is communicated by the fact that he seems convinced that the answer to our society’s commitment to systematic racism is to somehow mandate that every black child turn into Superman. That’s no different from rigging a basketball game and telling the losing team that they should have simply hit 100% of their shots.

Sorry Mr. Marks, only deliberate and legislated changes to our society’s infrastructure will make our nation into the beautiful meritocracy that intellectual munchkins like you would like to believe that it is. It took a prolonged effort by our government to create the imbalanced society we have, so it will take an equally prolonged effort to achieve the balance that the founding fathers falsely claimed to create. This country has been cited by the United Nations for numerous human rights violations for maintaining a set of policies which relegate African Americans to the socio-economic basement in nearly every category. In other words, being a white guy has its advantages, and it sickens me when guys like you try to pretend that it does not.

Mr. Marks, stay in your lane. Your article is one of the most racist and silly pieces I’ve seen this year. But then again, because we live in America, you’ll surely be rewarded for your diatribe. Statistical data also indicate that the fact that you are a white male significantly increases the probability that you would be able to recite your ignorance in the pages of Forbes Magazine. You see? The game has always been rigged in your favor.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 

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131 responses to “Dr. Boyce: Why All Poor Black Kids are Stupid

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  15. Reuben K. Harpole

    Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays had it right in Ebony Magazine september 2004 in an article by Lerone Bennett,”Dr. Benjmin Mays,The Last Of The Great Educators” Refering to education Dr. Mays said”If you are ignorant the world will cheat you;if you are weak the world will kick you; and if yu are a coward the World will keep you running”. You and Ben Carson came from similar families. Ben and his brother grew up being encouraged by their mother to read even though she could not read. They did not find that out until after they both had graduated from college. Let us encorage our families to encourage their children to read. We can do it.

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  17. Born on third base……beautiful

  18. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I did address this article but only slightly using twitter, this is why I’m thrilled that you have an avenue to really address it fully, and you articulated it perfectly. Thank you Dr. Boyce.

  19. Pingback: We Know What Gene Marks Thinks of “Poor Black Kids”; Did You Know What He Thinks Of Women?

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  21. Charles McGee

    Remarkable. You described Barack Obama to a “T”- Marks and Obama never think that there was something fundamentally wrong with the 15th Amendment to a flawed document we call The United States Constitution.

  22. thank you so much, dr. Boyce! It’s because of great people like you, Leonard Pitts, Maxine Waters and others, our children have excellent role models to help them see a way out of no way.

  23. Osmond Mbaeri

    Great article! Dr. Boyce , I am a new subscriber to your articles and I appreciate you. We need more Black intellectuals like you to use their voices and speak up for our communities are dying due to lack of knowledge. God bless you!

  24. Abigail Laster

    Abigail
    This story goes on all the time. It’s too bad white people don’t think about what they are doing. I wonder how many little black children ended up pushing brooms when their true destiny may have been to be an engineer or a doctor, or some other kind of professional person if only the chance and a little encouragement had been there.

  25. I could have not said it any better! Great article!Right on target.

  26. I am going to share this story on Facebook and Twitter. Well, your article, anyways. I read that article earlier this week. I was pretty much floored by the assumptuous nature that the article was written in. This guy seriously thinks that students struggle because of “lack of effort”? He really think that, as a kid, he would be making these profound and sound decisions on his own?

    Balderdash. Pure foolery at its worst.

  27. ICADATRUTH

    Excellente!! I could not have put the pen to paper any better

  28. Pingback: Guy Who Wrote “Poor Black Kid” Article Also Has an Issue with Women | Your Black World

  29. Please write in black and white. This red text and its black background is not fit for reading.

  30. Brother Scholar,
    “The most dangerous thing in the world is sincere ignorance and conscientious studity” Martin Luther King, Jr.
    You hit the nail squarely on the head. He was born on third base, trying to convince me and you that he has hit a triple. What he really hates is the fact that I wasn’t even born near the baseball field. I hitched a ride down there, convince someone that I knew how to hit the ball and now I’m rounding second base. He’s downright pissed, perplexed even, (that’s a word I didn’t know until I was at least 30, lol) that we have accomplished what we have accomplished against such seemingly unsurmountable odds.
    Great article bro! Keep it pushing; I definitely will!

    Rodney D. Smith, Ed. D.

  31. So all intelligent, educated white guys were born on third base? Or the mountaintop? Tell that to the five year old who in 1960 had to scrounge through ditches for pop bottles just for a little snack money because there was not enough food at home. Tell it to that kindergardner, who as a latchkey kid, had to use public bathroom paper towels as scratch paper for arithmetic work because that was the only paper to be found. Tell it to him in 1965 when he’s hauling newspapers around on his back through feet of snow in sub-zero conditions in order to buy books. Tell it to the seventeen year old who decided to enlist in The Marines during the Vietnam conflict because that was probably the only way he could get a college education. Tell it to him, cuz I aint lislin

  32. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Why All Poor Black Kids are Stupid « The Industry Cosign

  33. texaspablo

    Gene Marks is a complete idiot. Just see what he wrote about women in the workplace. He seems to be confirming the “good ‘Ol Boy” mentality. I am sure he does not only apply his thinking to women either. http://www.forbes.com/sites/quickerbettertech/2011/10/31/why-most-women-will-never-become-ceo/
    Dr. Watkins, I am a mexican-american, and I appreciate your blog so much. All minorities share a lot in common. I am glad to learn more as I read your blog. THANK YOU!!! -texaspablo

  34. Jo Ann Henson

    Thank you so much for your statement about the article. I commented on it but not to the extent that you did. I was so angry when I read it. Your statement should be published in Forbes so that people can prepare the poor black kid against the privilged white kid and determine what makes sense..keep up the good work

  35. sunnysidelady

    The best response I’ve seen YET. Thanks again Dr. Boyce!

  36. D.a.g

    Incisive, direct, and dead on! This retort by Dr, Watkins to this faceless agent of institutional “whiteness” could stand as preface, or a foreword to the bill sponsored by Congressman John Conyers. Congressman Conyers sponsored a bill to study the effects of chattel slavery on the victims descendants. The has yet to be dividers. For how can it be when the Congress in the lower & upper sections are represented by the descendants of the benefitors of the wealth of free labor of chattel slavery; furthermore these “whites” are the benifactor’s of the concurrent
    Apartheid policies these United States clungto until 46 years ago!

  37. Our good white people are aware that they are borned on third base,but they think they belong there simply be of their whiteness.We as black people should work together to pull the white man back to home plate to start the equally.Having started the game equaly,he may or may not end on third base.Let us keep hope in ourselfs,and work for nothing but civil rights.

  38. Every baby born on this planet is a child of GOD endowed with a continuous series of brand new adventures awaiting every waking moment. In the Divine Manifestation of the Creator everything that is possible can be achieved. It is only within the perspectives of other humans that value and equity measurements are used subjectively to evaluate every one of our personal decisions. It is our belief structures that ultimately frame and structure the activities and goals of our being. Therefore if we harmonize a strong personal sense of the presence of the Creator within every experience of our daily lives, we will likewise be successful in every life experience.

  39. joey

    White who come here to post seem to have a difficult time realizing that there hard times as children growing up in poor homes, is still 5 times better than Black children growing up in poor homes and poor communities. I read one white readers comment, informing us of the hard times experienced by a young white kid in 1960, who had to sell pop bottles in order to get money for a snack. His coment is nothing more than white ignorance showing it’s ugly head, because if he knew anythin about the sixties he would know that the white kids having to sel pop bottles to be able to enter a store to buy a snack was still better then a black kid, who may or may not have had the money to buy a snack, yet still could not enter a store to buy a snack, because the white owner didn’t allow n!&&ers in his store.

  40. joey

    Please excuse the mistakes in my previous comment, but this topic really causes one to speak /write without considering the rules of grammar!

  41. Let the people say amen!!! and Amen again.
    During the sixties African- americans were defined by our parents , elders of “THe Community” the Pastor ,your neighboors your teachers and so and so.
    We knew we were somebody and it didn’t take Jesse Jackson to tell us. After that era with desergration we were allowing others to define us { socialists,Physicologists ,media and generally those who had no idea of our culture. The next generations have fullfilled the proficies of those who defined them.
    They have been defined with deficits,lacks and they have walked into
    that which has been said about who they are.
    We have pulled for values things and being liked and acepted by them.
    We have forgoten our roots and the values that made us apeople strong.
    How sad ,thanks Dr. Boyce

  42. Please excuse the mistakes of the previous coments but I was so very moved to respond with haste.

  43. Joey, I reckon you’re right, I was only a child and didn’t realize all that I do now. I do think as a society overall, we are getting better at race relations. I sometimes have an issue with Dr. Watkins when he seems to be some decisive.

  44. Fool! You want to pull others down? I’ll tell ya what: You’ll get kicked in the face! Fool

  45. Mr.Hart, I feel you,but let,s be civil in our responses,

  46. Tom d

    Dr. Boyce,
    Perhaps you could also consider this from the Marks article: There are whites in this country who you say started life on third base and think they hit a triple who look to the sidelines and ask why aren’t the young black men and women playing the game. We should all be running the bases. We should all be in the game. But countless young blacks act like they just don’t care and don’t want to play by the rules of the game. Did you ever stop to ask why Marks wrote this article? He wrote it because like other people, he cares about young black lives being wasted. People are SICK of young black lives being wasted, being scuttled. He tried to offer support, encouragement, ideas, suggestions. What do you do in response? You slap away his ideas and his support merely because it is coming from a white person. You are the one who brought conflict and division into the discussion. Marks said nothing negative or hurtful. You just don’t like this white Forbes writer talking about young black lives. And that sir, is where we all begin to go wrong. That is the sticking point, the great divide, the schism where we can never come together. It was your words sir which were hurtful and ignorant. Your words betrayed your sensitivities on this issue. You lashed out at Marks because you saw his article as a white man talking down to blacks. Who sir, is going to talk to young black children about their wasted lives? About their disinterest in running the bases, playing the game? If not you, then I will hear what Marks has to say. I see no black leaders addressing this issue, fighting to save young lives. We ALL need to bring these children up, and stop knocking down people when they are just trying to talk about the issue and offer hope and ideas. Third base, silver platters, rigged games? By you attacking and criticizing Marks, by you making assumptions of who is born on third base, by you excusing and justiifying behavior by blaming everyone and everything else for the plight of young black children, you are being ignorant of the facts and the realities that exist around you. If you did it, can anyone? That’s what Marks was trying to say. It can be done. But you don’t want to hear it. You don’t want to believe it. You just want to perpetuate the myth of a conspiracy that the white man is holding the black man down. You perpetuate this myth out of convenience and out of frustration because none of us really know why young black children are having such difficulties. We just don’t know for sure. So, obviously, it is the white man standing on third base, with his silver platter, with his conspiracies and designs to forever hold the black man down. Maybe it is the drugs, the senseless violence, the guns, the AK-47′s, the lack of fathers, the lack of food, money, shelter, a good night’s sleep, a lack of family, support network, social structure, role models, or just a lack of anyone in their lives to tell them they can do it, that my friend, cannot be blamed on the white man. There is much more going on socially to explain the black condition and it is not so easy to blame it on the color of someone else, or blame a writer like Marks who is bold enough to try to take on the issue, to try to offer ideas. You slap away his hand, slap away his support and castigate him as just another white man who should stay in HIS place, or rather, as you said, stay in his lane. Come on man, you can do better than this. People like Marks and others, including me, are speaking out because we CARE. We are all Americans. Write me back.

  47. Tom d

    Young black children don’t need to become Superman but they do need to believe that a black child can become super. Sadly, millions of young black children do not believe this. They don’t believe in themselves. They don’t believe in America. They don’t believe in the rules. They have been told their entire lives that they can’t succeed, that they’re being held down, held back, and that the game is fixed so why bother trying. Why bother listening to that teacher telling me to be quiet and sit down? She’s just part of the rigged system. Why should I listen to that cop or that judge telling me to stay out of trouble? They don’t care about me, they want me to fail. Screw them. That’s what the thinking is and that’s what needs to change. The game is not fixed. It’s just hard, unbalanced and uneven. But that is true for everyone of all colors. Everyone struggles and black children are no different. Is it almost impossible for a black child with poor self-esteem, surrounded by crack, guns, and violence to become super? Yes it is. But it is not the fault of the white man. And you Dr. Boyce should stop attacking whites for pointing that out. We need to work together to fix this, all of us, to make it better, to change those conditons, change that hopeless and destructive thinking. Dr. Boyce, please stop with the blame game. Stop with the negativity and think about trying to encourage and empower instead of perpetuating the failing thought process that exists. I can tell you that people are truly sick of the excuses and they want real change in the black community so we can save lives and improve these communities. There must be change, real, powerful, sweeping change. People who are failing themselves and others need a good kick in the ass instead of more excuses.

  48. Charles McGee

    Interesting. Violence as a solution I have come to know is not a solution but a cause to celebrate. When I earned my master’s degree I was feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof. Some 7 years later in relocated to Alaska and discovered that Eskimos did not believe anything I believed and needed nothing I had. They had their own set of responses to life’s situations. It was at that time that I discovered that I had been misled. I went to college assured that the world was waiting for me and what I world know.

    Black men need the respect of others and the compassion of a caring social system. To suggest that they need violence is what they know already. From 1880 to 1968 there were some 4700 Americans lynched. Of that group some 1250 were White, the others were Negroes. Tell that to the Black man who doubts what America is about, and what it is not.

  49. Tom d

    The expression “kick in the ass” is just that – a mere expression that I now regret using and retract because you have zeroed in on that thinking that I am implying violence is needed. Violence is not needed. Far too many young black men are murdering each other for nothing. And that is very sad. But perhaps I am not qualified to comment because I am not black, or do not have enough black genes in my blood to physically show that I appear to be black. We are all colors of verying degree are we not? My message can be boiled down to this: Until we all put the past behind us, stop talking about lynchings, stop feeling put upon and oppressed by fantastic and wild conspiracies, we, me, you, will never move forward and succeed. We will remain trapped and refuse to fully accept and believe and trust and live and prosper in this country and this society. Maybe not all black people can completely get over the history of their treatment in this country and that is completely understandable. I don’t think I could. I would remain royally pissed off and suspicious of this system. But at the same time, if there is nothing to believe in, accept, or trust, then far too many black men, not all, but too many, will remain where they are and sadly that is often nowhere. I would hope that I would be smart enough and perceptive enough to set aside my anger and suspicion to see through my own blindness, my own ignorance, my own set limitations, blame and excuses, real or perceived and find the strength and courage to move on and grow. I would do this to save myself and my family and my children coming up behind me. Standing still, standing on corners giving the finger to the man does nothing but hurt me. I want young black men to stop killing each other. I want them to succeed. I want these inner city, horrendous communities to become better for everyone. And, like it or not, we all have a say in this, white as well as black. Attacking whites for expressing their views of what they see every day has no value whatsoever. But unfortunately, if you cannot understand this, there is nothing to talk about.

  50. Tom d

    Dr. Boyce:
    From your article on not attending Dr. King’s memorial:
    “As it stands today, Black male unemployment is now over 40 percent in many urban areas, African Americans are being incarcerated at holocaust proportions, and inner city children are leaving school without even learning how to read. All the while, the political predators who care nothing for our issues are more than happy to stand and smile at the dedication ceremony for a man they would ignore and ridicule if he were alive right now. The truth is that they are glad to honor Dr. King with a memorial, as long as both he and his spirit remain in the grave.

    We commemorate the life of Dr. King without having the license to do so, like the pastor who recites the word of God as he molests his children and cheats on his wife. We don’t deserve Dr. King, and our decision to memorialize him while rejecting him is entirely reflective of the hypocrisy to which our nation has become accustomed. One must also wonder how Dr. King might feel about a country that continues to oppress the people he claimed to represent. We can’t profess to love a man and simultaneously destroy the people he cares about the most.”

    Couple of points of my own on your views:
    1. African-Americans are incarcerating themselves at holocaust proportions.
    2. Inner-city children are leaving school without learning how to read. Why?
    3. Politicians would ignore and redicule King today. What a huge, wild, generalized, simple, easy-out, prejudicial asumption.
    4. This country continues to oppress black people. No, blacks continue to oppress themselves and are failing to live up to King’s hopes and dreams.
    5. We are destroying black people. No, blacks are destroying themselves.

    Dr. Boyce, you need to hone and sharpen your skills and your message. You are making big mistakes by being so wild, loose, and irresponsible with your assumptions and your own prejudices. Tighten it up and be a little more professional. You really believe this country is oppressing black people? This is coming from a Syracuse University professor with a doctorate? Wow, you have really been oppressed. How did the man let you get so far? I had no idea who you were until yesterday but now I see you are an incendiary, intent on imflaming the issues and starting and fanning wild fires. I know what Dr. King would say today if he were alive. He would say black Americans are failing themselves, are failing their families, their communities, and failing their country….that’s right, their country. He would say we have come far together, black and white, but he would say that we all must stop looking at ourselves as victims, move forward with confidence, and take advantage of the changes and opportunities that people have fought and died for, including himself. Every lost young black man is another lost Dr. King, a loss of hope and promise.

  51. Charles McGee

    Ton D: I desperately wish that I could agree with you but I can not. If you had been in Baltimore for the Black Power Conference in the 1960s you would have heard a positive message about Blackness that Martin Luther King, Jr., rejected. From what I know King was interested is his share of the corruption running loose in America. Surely you know the American story.

    Google a story of “White Privilege” written by a person who identified himself as a White man. He said that the game is rigged in his favor. You do not have to believe him. Your argument must be with the purported writer. I would think that Dr. Watkins was not asking that you believe him. I am a Black Power advocate. I am interested in what Black men say about their travail. A hint of America might be found in John Howard Griffin’s legendary book, “Black Like Me.” The history of America is a ‘bell you can not un-ring.’ It is permanent. Thomas Jefferson said that
    we all inherit a government and we have to go forward from there. Hence any strategy must be based on the reality of that inherited world as you know it. Stay tuned.

  52. Charles McGee

    Anyone wishing to embellish their thought might want to read Peggy McIntosh’s paper: White and Male Privilege. Born out of the Women’s Studies program at Wellesley College the research (1988) ultimately saw that White privilege actually was forerunner to male privilege and that she, in fact, benefited from the structure of American society. There is not a debate here.

  53. Charles McGee

    Point: What do you mean by success. Your definition might be very different from mine.

  54. Patsy

    In Hawaii, the population never had a governor of Hawaiian origins. In the 70s they had someone from the Philipins and that’s it, never another minority! And we know it is not because they are not smart. The mainstream keep them at the bottom of the society like Black people. You will find below an excerpt (from the book Why We Want You To Be Rich (p. 167-168) by Donald Trump and Robert T. Kiyosaki) which explains what they do to the Natives over there (it is a narration from Kiyosaki who has hawaiian origins), they use the same tactics in America with black kids especially black boys (80% of the kids who are in special education programs are from the Black community!!!):

    ” My dad was a great man. Even as a child, I looked up to him and respected him. I was proud to be his son, and I wanted him to be proud of me. On the first day of school, teachers would read the class roster and every teacher would stop after calling out my name and say, “Is Ralph Kiyosaki your father?” My dad was the head of education for the state of Hawaii. He was tall for being Japanesem, about 6’3, so he stood out in more ways than one. He was known as a brilliant man and an independent thinker. He had graduated at the top of his class as valedictorian and was respected as a great educator in the school sysrem of Hawaii. Just before he passed away, he was recognized as one of the top two educators in Hawaii’s history. I remember him showing me the newspaper article about the award and he was crying. As the article said, he had dedicated his life to education and Hawaii’s children.

    My dad had originally planned on going to medical school. Our family for generations, had been medical doctors. But when he was in high school, on the island of Maui, he noticed that his classmates were rapidly disappearing from class. As student president of his class, he went to the principal to find out where the kids were going. At first, he got the runaround, but he finally learned the truth. He found out that the sugar plantation that most of the kids’ parents worked for had a standing order that 20 percent of the kids had to be failed, regardless of how they were doing in school. This was to ensure that the sugar plantation had enough uneducated laborers. My father learned that teachers, principals and people at all levels within the education system went along with that. It was then that my father decided against medical school and went to college to become a teacher to try to change the system. In addition, he fought to bring the best education possible to kids whose parents could not afford private schools – kids who had no choice but to depend on the public school system to work for them instead of against them. He fought that battle all his life.

    However, our country’s education system is just getting worse. America has one of the worst educational systems in the world, yet it spends more money on education than any other country does. As hard as my dad fought, the state of Hawaii continues to have one of the worst education sytems in America. The May 2006 issue of Honolulu Magazine ran a cover-page article grading public schools in Hawaii. The article stated that the National Education Association (NEA) rated Hawaii as number 43 out of the 50 states – in other words, the seventh lowest in the nation. It issued a D- in standards and accountability, an F for school climate, a D for improving teacher quality and a C in adequacy of school resources”.

    This excerpt says everything. The system where we live in is wicked.

  55. Patsy

    I want to add that in the job market, the mainstream plays the same game with us. They make sure that we are overworked, they can make your life a living hell at work because they don’t want you to stay. They brainwashed us by making us believe that we have to work more than them and our salaries are not that high regardless of the effort we put in anyway. Too many among us are underemployed. I don’t allow them to take my ideas and I am building my own enterprise. I will work harder for my own business but definitely not for theirs. We need to wake up!!!

  56. Patsy

    To finish, the drugs and other plight in the ghetto are the fault of the White men. They did the same thing with the Native by introducing alcohol in their community.

  57. Tom d

    Mr. McGee: I would first define success as fulfilling the sense of joy, hope, and promise that a mother has when she brings new life into the world. That joy, hope, and promise must not be in vain. It must not be wasted or thrown away. Success is never losing sight of that joy, hope, and promise, but remembering it, holding onto it, preserving it, cherishing it, and working each day to overcome the roadblocks and obstacles life puts in our way. Success is a young man or woman honoring their parents, honoring their gift of life, honoring and respecting themselves. Success is not winning or losing. It is trying. Success is looking at yourself in the mirror, liking and accepting yourself, and knowing you will do whatever you can to be a better person and make this a better world. Success is promising yourself that you will not be deterred or defeated but you will carry on no matter the burden. Success is knowing that there is no succeeding without some failing. Success is learning, adapting, changing, overcoming. Success is giving and giving thanks. Success is knowing that we are responsible for our decisions and choices. Success is accountability and not passing the buck. Success is knowing that nothing is perfect or perfectly fair. And success is passing this knowledge and experience on to those coming after us, who look to us as examples. If we succeed, if we live in succesful and honorable ways, we pass this success and honor on. Success does not start or end with us but we help grow it, help feed it, help nurture it. Success is life itself and to live without success, without honor, acceptance, and forgiveneess is not to live. Success is knowing simply, at the end of your life, that you fulfilled the joy, hope, and promise of your birth, that you fulfilled the promise and love of your parents, that you became the best person you could be, helped others, helped light the way, and helped make this a better world. Each one of us is striving to succeed, black and white alike, and all we really have to do is hold out our hand and smile in the knowledge that we are all on the same road.

  58. Tom d

    p.s. I am a white police officer who has worked in an inner city for more than 25 years. I have seen the lives wasted and I am just utterly sick of it…

  59. Tom d

    If Americans with darker colored skin continue to believe that Americans with lighter skin are part of a huge conspiracy to bring drugs into the inner cities to keep the darker skinned people down, then this country is hopelessly lost. But apparently, some of you with darker skin believe this. When I hear this, as Patsy said above, I feel like not even talking about these issues anymore. These wild fantasies are too hard and entrenched to overcome. So, if you believe this stuff, well, ok, but know this, you are driving people away, driving a wedge between people and perpetuating the conflicts.

  60. Charles McGee

    When I was in graduate school a case study was available that suggested the dilemma. It seems that a young man of 14 was confronted by someone as to his path. He said he wanted to be a musician. Someone said to him that he was loved and cared about, but that he was on the wrong path. The young man said that he was a musician and had no interest in engineering and such even though he was highly competent in science and mathematics. The concerned person told him that he could not embrace that path, that the resources available would not be released to him unless he changed his mind. The young man’s reply was that obviously he was not liked or respected because “he was his music and if you did not like his music you did not like him-that they are one in the same.

    Black men have been hearing this trash talking all their lives about what they should be doing. That is someone other person’s music. Hear them.
    There is nothing sacred about any culture as all are even. If I had to choose a path to recommend I would say to commit yourself to a mental institution rather than the United States armed forces to go kill people you do not know, who have done nothing to you. Do not waste your life on some
    other person’s journey. I did that, U S Army 1955-58, to my regret.

  61. Patsy

    For people who refuse to see things as they really are, I strongly suggest to read Tim Wise’s books that I consider like the modern John Brown. Too few people are White activists like him and as long as this will continue things will never get better. I am sick and tired of people who prefer to remain blind to benefit from White privilege!!!

  62. Tameka

    Dr. Boyce, you hit the nail on the head with your comment – “Years later, after stumbling my way to a PhD, I figured a few things out. I realized that men like Marks are actually not much smarter than the rest of us, but that White Supremacy 101 teaches them that they are. You see, the best way to maintain the legitimacy of a two-tiered society which subjugates a minority group into the underclass is to get everyone involved (both you and the oppressed) to buy into the merits of the system.”

  63. Roland Muskelly

    Props Dr. Boyce !! I read that article and couldn’t do anything but laugh at that fool. I’m glad there’s plenty of educated people putting that idiot in check.

  64. Dr. Boyce — Very well-done commentary. It’s so important for people to be exposed to truths that challenge mainstream explanations for the racial disparities in our country. Keep up the good work.

  65. Tom d

    Mr. McGee, it hurts to hear from such an experienced, knowledgeable veteran of this fight about how you feel, about how many blacks feel and about your regret at military service. All I know is this, the bond of brotherhood that exists among veterans, the sense of unity that exists when you share a front line, the sense of purpose, the sense of protection and love for one another – that is the real, bare-naked essence of what truly lies in the hearts of men for their fellow man,, black or white. Everything else is interference. We have come so far together, we have come far in fulfilling Dr. King’s dream and we will go further even still. In many ways, I am proud of what we have accomplished since the 60′s. People are much more aware. But many whites see young black men throwing their lives away, killing each other for no reason and that for everyone is extremely difficult to understand. Many whites say, if they’re not going to help themselves, then there is nothing we can do. It is a vicious cycle of attitudes and perceptions. I know this, any young person, black or white or other, who works hard and wants to participate in society and succeed, will succeed. There are so many opportunities now for everyone. For those who give up, for those who think everyone and everything is against them, they will fail. People need to try, need to become enaged, and need to participate.

  66. Tom d

    Patsy, it sounds to me that you, like many people, believe that there is a conspiracy against black people. It sounds like you believe that the white man brings the guns and drugs into the cities to hold black people down. I have worked as a police officer for over 25 yrs in an inner city. I see young black males engaging in extremely self-destructive behavior. There is no excuse for young black men to be killing each other over gangs and drugs. You can not blame this behavior on the white man. Everyone in the world pleads with them to stop killing each other but they just keep killing each other. Why? Where is their love and respect for each other? Has the white man taken away their love and respect for life? These young people are responsible for their own conduct and their own choices and it is an easy excuse to blame the white man and the system for their failure. If people keep believing in this conspiracy then we will never move any further down the road. We will be stuck in hopelessness. Every cop I have every worked with wants to help the young black man and help end the violence and make the cities better. We put on lives on the line for this. It is a slap in the face to suggest that there is a white conspiracy against blacks. It has been my life to make things better but you trounce that with your conspiracy theory. Believe me, white police officers, like black officers, want to help youn black men and women but we cannot help them if they don’t want to help themselves. I see their faces, their look of disdain and suspicion and hate for me as a white police officer. I see them roll their eyes, look past me as if I am not there. But I AM there, I am there to help them but they do not see it, they do not believe it, they do not want it. Why? Because they have beeen trained and indoctrinated to believe in these conspiracies that whites want to hold them down. They have been lied to and thus, they will not reach their full potential because they believe the game is rigged against them. And that is the irony and the tragedy – to live out your life believing a lie.

  67. I’m clapping now. Most people fail to see the reality of the injustice that black people go through on a daily bases. I am a professional black woman and I see it almost everyday. I just ignore them and prove them wrong.There is no real equality in America because its ran by big wigs with money which is kept amongst themselves thus hindering our people. No money invested in the community to help the.impoverished attain wealth. The plan is to keep them that way. Racism is still alive ,its just done in a.different way now. Can we just sit down and not do anything? No , try to get up and go against the odds. Creating personal satisfaction and the satisfaction of proving them wrong. The best revenge. Peace and blessings.

  68. Pingback: Dr. Boyce Watkins "Why all poor black kids are stupid" - Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President - City-Data Forum

  69. Tom d

    Is the plan also to keep poor white people that way ?

  70. Tom d

    All people experience forms of discrimination and prejudice for all kinds of reasons. Poor people, rich people, homeless people, red neck people, mentally ill people, homosexuals, women, heavy people, sick people, unemployed people, immigrants, people of color, white people. Black people have no corner on discrimination and prejudice. Tons and tons and tons of money is poured into inner cities to help people living there. Tons and tons and tons of money is poured into education. People have to want to help themselves too and they have to want to be engaged and participate. All the money in the world will not change apathetic and suspicious attitudes. Just look at the cities and you know this is true. I want these cities changed. I want these places to be safe and I want these young kids to grow up happy and believing in themselves. They cannot do this with chains of apathy and suspicion. My heroes are parents that inspire and motivate their children to believe in themselves and stop the blame game.

  71. Tom d

    If people on this blog really believe, and apparently you do, that the system in this country is set up to oppress and subjugate black people, then what is there to talk about? If this is your belief, then fine. Why then, I must ask, do you live in this country? Why do you live in a country that is working day in and day out to oppress you and keep you down? I would have left long ago. But yet, you stay here, you stay in a country that you believe is racist and is damaging and hurting you. You stay in a country that you believe is bringing guns and drugs into cities so you can destroy each other. I don’t get that. If all you say is true, then you should be running away from this assault upon you. But you stay where you are, never moving, never changing, raising your kids in the same stinking racist cesspool. Why? I think I know why. I think it is because deep down, you really don’t believe it, I mean way, way down, you don’t believe it, you don’t believe that this country is set up to make you fail. You know this is too wild of a conspiracy to possibly be true. This is why you stay. There is much more going on to explain social conditions then to simply say, it’s a set up. If it really was all a set up against you, there would be no point in staying here. I would go to Canada, unless Canada is also set up to make you fail. Let’s have just a little honesty here folks. If you want to keep breaking the barriers down, you have to give up just a little of the suspicion and mistrust. The guy who wrote the article, Marks, you laugh at him and slap away his attempt to offer ideas and suggestions. That’s the suspicion, mistrust and contempt you must keep in check.

  72. Tom d — You can’t lump all black people in the same category no more than you can lump all white or other people into the same ways of thinking. Do not assume that blacks donn’t support personal responsibility because most of us do. Do not act like white people are so pure either — they have bad attitudes, feel entitled,etc. You are correct that many people are discriminated against. Dr. Boyce’s view needs to be put in the public domain to balance the one-sided perspectives about racial issues that we often get from white male columnists in mainstream media. Yes, there is a middle ground — individuals must take responsibility for their lives and the society needs to not place too many barriers (or expect some people to be Superhuman) that prevent people from access to options and opportunities due to racism, sexism,etc.

  73. Jay

    I hate snobby white liberals as much as the next guy, but you ain’t much better. I see no message here. All I see is the dismissal of any advice, because advice is useless if nothing is ever your fault. It’s the fault of the white man. It’s the fault of the system. It’s the fault of the thugs with the AK47s.

    I have news for you my friend, the thugs with the AK47s are not white, they are the same poor black kids you are referring to.

    I didn’t like Mr. Mark’s article because it made many assumptions, such as the one that a poor black kid had ever heard of TigerDirect. His perspective is flawed. But his advice is not faulty because it is wrong, only because it is unrealistic.

    You are correct that Mr. Marks has no perspective. But I’d substitute his advice for your advice any day of the week. While practically useless, his advice is not counter productive. Yours is – it is the perpetuation of the victim mentality. No poor black kid ever got out of the ghetto on that.

  74. Richie Bickham

    Very good piece man! Thanks for being man enough to step up and say these things. As you stated this Ass has no idea about that which he is writing about.

  75. LETTLIVE

    Such a blessing to have you Dr.Boyce in the lives of young black men and young black women to hear you tell it can be done, anything you want to do to make life better, pray on it teach yourself claim it and it shall be yours!

  76. Tom d

    Thanks Fannie, you are right, we all must be careful about over-generalizations. Man, I just want change. I’m sick of the wasted lives. We’ve got to do better. Enough of the mediocrity.

  77. Patsy

    Tom d, it would be very interesting if you would decide one day to live the experience of John Griffin for at least three months. If after that you still feel the same way, well I guess that you have no empathy for Black people.

  78. Tom d — I hear you about the wasted lives. Many people of all races simply want to take the easy route. Laziness is not just about physical energy; it shows up in thinking as well — through pettiness and nonsense all rooted in a lack of discipline (and other spiritual principles). No race has a monopoly on the best or worse qualities among human beings, individually or collectively.

    I think the common enemy of all people is the Sociopath. Sociopaths have no conscience, and they come in all racial, gender and adult age groups. They feel superior, con, manipulate and create chaos among the masses to keep people who are oppressed fighting among themselves — it’s a way to distract folks from the real issues.

  79. Patsy

    In addition, for people who question why some Black people stay in America, let me remind you since you have amnesia that they kidnapped our ancestors. In the 20th century Marcus Garvey wanted us to go back to Africa. What happened? They imprisoned him and he had to leave after the country. If his movement had resistance, it is certainly not because White people loved us and wanted us to stay in America. It is because they need us to stay here to continue to exploit us economically like they always did. If the U.S. is a superpower, we all know it is because of free labor for centuries. Denying these facts is being super hypocrite or ignorant.

  80. Tom d

    Patsy, I would try to live that way to experience it. Yes, I would. We should all try to walk in each otther’s shoes, in each other’s skins. I would want to experience it for myself directly instead of living my life shaped and influenced by others telling me that the system is designed for me to fail so why bother trying. Like i said, living your life on a lie or being misled is a failed, wasted life. I want to know what the excuse is for the violence and killing in these cities. I want to know how black families explain or justify their sons and daughters being killed so senselessly. Being poor is no excuse for killing. Patsy, you say white people bring the drugs into the city. Are black people being forced to use and sell drugs and kill each other for them?

  81. Tom d

    Patsy, I am aware of what you are referring to, it was called slavery. Blacks were not allowed to leave then, unless they made their way to Northern states which is where I live. I’ve never lived in the South or owned a plantation. I have never owned slaves. I wouldn’t want to. A. Lincoln said he wouldn’t want to be a slavemaster because he wouldn’t want to be a slave. Great statement. But, I’m pretty sure if you wanted to leave now, if you packed your bags and went on a trip and never came back, you could do so now without being forced to stay here or being forced to return. I don’t need you to stay here, economically or otherwise. And I am white and part of the system I guess. So, if you would like, feel free to leave. But you won’t. You will stay in a system that oppresses and molests you as if you are still a slave. Patsy, if you want to still call yourself a slave, then go ahead. It’s your opinion of yourself, not mine. The tuth is, you are free to leave but you stay because deep down, you know it isn’t a conspiracy to keep you down, that’s just an easy excuse. Would you still call Dr. Boyce a slave? A slave with a Phd who is a professor at Syracuse? If you still consider Dr. Boyce a slave to the system, and appparently you do, then there is something much more serious going on here. Maybe we really haven’t gotten over slavery. Maybe many blacks still view themselves as being slaves and are waiting to be told what to do. If that is not true, then cease with the excuses. It is tiring.

  82. Patsy

    Tom d, we have no lessons to take from you and we don’t have time for people like you. We can imagine how many brothers you probably put behind bars. Honestly, it is scary to see how a cop thinks with your writing but it just confirms what we knew all along.

  83. Patsy

    In addition, we all know that you would be a coward to live the John Griffin experience because you wouldn’t have the choice to see that you are the one who lives a lie.

  84. Jay

    “Tom d, we have no lessons to take from you and we don’t have time for people like you. We can imagine how many brothers you probably put behind bars. Honestly, it is scary to see how a cop thinks with your writing but it just confirms what we knew all along.”

    Yes and I’m sure someone such as yourself will dismiss the illegal acts of those “brothers” because they were oppressed, or disadvantaged, or whatever the hell you want to call it. That is the victim mentality my friend.

    People like you do more damage to the community than any white racist ever could.

  85. Patsy

    This quote says everything:

    “If the Negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand
    that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong
    enough to get out of the ghetto.” Carter G. Woodson

  86. Jay, I think it’s a streth to say to Patsy that, “People like you do more damage to the community than any white racist ever could.” Come on…
    Please do not downplay the impact of racism — it is a dangerous system based on a false notion of white supremacy. Racism is a sociopathic element in the world (for the purpose of oppression) and criminals of all racial groups destroy communities. It’s not an either/or thing. There are many factors involved.

    I said it before that IMO, the common enemy of all people is the Sociopath — those who look like human beings but have no conscience — who are in different positions of power across this country and participate in the creation of systems and conditions to keep oppression in place. The masses are affected — currently half of Americans are low-income or in poverty as the middle class becomes decimated.

    Oppression is not just about physical slavery — black and white people need to wake up to how their thinking is distorted by the illusions of superiority and inferiority.

  87. Wow! Some really interesting reading here. A very thought provoking thread indeed. But I think I’ll just keep living and learning and interacting and where I can, teaching. On a person to person level here in my hometown.

  88. Tom d

    Patsy, I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay. But please know that the argument that white people are the cause of black people’s failure is wearing thin and really is the last wedge between the races. When people free themselves from the bonds of intellectual slavery and finally accept that they are more important and more capable than they think they are, we will finally come together as one people. But not before. As for your rude, racist statement about me putting brothers in jail, I am not hurt or offended. My philiosophy has always been to offer a hand up rather than hold someone down. The truth is that brothers, like all people, put themselves in jail. You attack a police officer who has come on here to participate in a discussion. You attack that police officer because he’s white and because he is a police officer. You immediately assume, prejudicially, that a police officer is bad and is out to put brothers in jail. That is all part of your distorted, warped view about the races. I have said nothing hateful or hurtful. Yet, you lash out like Dr. Boyce lashed out against the writer of the article Marks. Some blacks just don’t want to hear it, they just want to keep hearing how they are held down by the man. Maybe it makes you feel better Patsy, to feel that way. You are not a slave, yet you view yourself as a slave of the system. Think about it. I think you do have some lessons to learn, to open your eyes and associate with people other than other people who also view themselves as modern day slaves. Patsy, sharing is caring.

  89. Well said Tom D! I know that my young friends are happy just because I’m interacting with them, buying them books and reading to them, treating their mothers and aunties with respect. They don’t care that I’m white.

  90. Thank you all for a relatively civil and enlightening discussion. It’s back to work for me now (home-based office). I am appreciating this time of year with the lovely Christmas music and good cheer for the most part among people I interact with, and while out doing business errands. Happy Holidays and blessings to you….

  91. Tom d

    Thanks Jeffrey. It’s time to move forward and attain what we all have been trying to attain. I’m sick of empty promises and unfulfilled dreams. There is no denying racism exists. But also, we cannot deny that there are countless people trying to make things better, like you. Thanks for what you do.

    The idea or suggestion that the system is designed to hold black people down is an outright lie.

    “You can lead a boy to college, but you can’t make him think.”

  92. Patsy

    Tom d, for me it is unacceptable that you dismiss Dr. Watkins’ article and “this behavior” shows your prejudice views, your blindness and deafness. We are convinced if the article of Marks was addressed to Jewish people, you would have a complete another attitude. Please, Dr. Watkins continue to defend our community. You are among the most bold brothers, we love you! We need intellectuals like you.

  93. Tom d

    Fannie, thank you too, happy holidays, merry christmas, and happy new year to you too – God Bless

  94. Tom d

    Patsy, I’m on the same side as you but you’re trying to put a shank in my rear end.

  95. Rachel D

    Seems to me that Tom D is the only person on this blog with any common sense. How about people (and by people I mean all races) stop reproducing children that they cannot afford and maybe, just maybe they wont be stuck in the ghetto. If you are uneducated and living in poverty, no matter what your race then why would you keep having children and setting them up for failure? I didn’t come from much and I don’t have a fancy degree but I work very hard and I will not bring a child into the world until I know I can fianacially support my offspring and not raise them in the ghetto. How about people taking responsibility for their choices and raising their children to become better people instead of leaning on the “white man” to do it for them?

  96. Rachel, first you say Tom D is the only person on this blog with common sense. Strange coming from someone who describes herself as having “no fancy degree.” Given the range of intelligent comments I see here, you obviously are missing more than a college education — you sound simple-minded.
    You say, “How about people (and by people I mean all races) stop reproducing children they cannot afford”– but then you say, “How about people…raising their children to become better people instead of leaning on the “white man” to do it for them?
    Are you sure you were referring to all races? Or did you use that line to sound non-prejudiced — because it seems to me you’re really referring only to black people when you say “leaning on the white man.” Now THAT makes me wonder about your common sense! Do you know the majority of public assistance (welfare,etc) recipients in this country are white? Do you know that black and brown people also work and pay taxes?
    You said: “I didn’t come from much and I don’t have a fancy degree but I work very hard and I will not bring a child into the world until…” Yes, it shows you are not well educated, but good for you for working hard and waiting to have kids when you can afford them. Many women of all races do the same.
    By the way, I have a college degree, am a black woman and have one child. A white family, the Duggars, are famous and glorified by some white folks for having an Army of almost 20 kids. Are they ghetto too, based on your intellectual assessment? Just wondering….

  97. Tom d

    GemGirl: All Rachel is saying is that people, all people, should be better prepared when bringing children into the world so that their children are better prepared to deal with the world. If I really believed that the system was set up against me, I myself, would not want to participate. I wouldn’t give a damn if I felt that way. And I damn well wouldn’t subject children to the same oppressive system and have to endure what I had to endure. Why keep giving the man more children to enslave, oppress, and subjugate? It doesn’t make any sense. I can’t imagine having children that I couldn’t afford, and then having more of them, and then having more of them, and then telling these children in thought and deed that the system is against them, that the game is rigged, that they are being oppressed, that the white man is bringing in the guns and drugs, that the white man is keeping us down as slaves to the economic system, that whites are racist, that cops only throw brothers into jail. Why would I want to have children to only tell them this horrendously negative and self-destructive message? What’s the point? We need to start talking about what is really causing the oppression and failure that many black people people.

  98. Tom, you say: “We need to start talking about what is really causing the oppression and failure that many black people” experience.” That’s what I’ve been reading on this blog. I see a variety of good comments that make sense to me. It’s a combination of factors, but no explanation will ever fit for any entire group of people. Every group is diverse. How about let’s talk about why white males tend to kill their wives when they’re pregnant, why white women plot to kill their husbands for insurance or a new lover, and why some spoiled white kids kill their parents and entire family to inherit money..
    Stop trying to study and find a single answer to the issues affecting black people because there are no “one size fits all” explanations. White people can be ignorant, lazy, stupid too — if that’s what you’re trying to get someone to admit as the answer that will satisfy you about why some black people keep having kids when they can’t afford them. But don’t gloat…
    White people have shown they can be savages — anytime people justify violence against entire groups of people for no good reason. Please tell us why…
    Do you think racism is a mental disorder? How about telling us why some white people like to feel like they are “saviors” when they are no wiser nor do they know more than they think do in a lot of situations. Could it be they simply do not grasp the range of realities and experiences of other people who are non-white?

  99. Rachel D

    Gemgirl
    I’m happy to hear that you are an educated black women with one child. While your race and the fact that you have a child are irrelevant to me, for the sake of getting to know one another I will share the fact that I in fact am a young white woman who did not complete my degree who works for a major corporation and owns my own business on the side. Might I add that I am happily married to a black man. One who was not “born on 3rd base”. We as a couple decided that in fact it is common sense to not have children until we feel as though we can provide more to them then what we grew up with. As far as the leaning on ” the white man” I was simply referencing the fact that many people in this blog were saying that the white man is holding down the black man and basically saying the white man aka government/America isn’t helping black Americans when in fact it is the government and it’s funding helping all races who are in need. And to answer your question I am 100% sure I meant all races not just blacks. As far as the Duggar family you mentioned they are providing for their children and their children are not out committing crimes. They are teaching their children to become good members of society. And I did not call any one “ghetto”. I said if you are living in the ghetto in poverty on American’s dime why would you want to raise your child in that environment. Don’t we all want something better for our children?

  100. Tracey Jarmon- Woods

    Tom D, I am trying very hard to understand you and your point of view because you’ve taken so much time in articulating your argument and you say that you care but I have to disagree with you. I know that you wish that the issue of slavery would just go way but the damage that 400 years of dessimating a group of people’s history, family structure and culture takes more than 60 or so years (end of Jim Crow) to re-establish it. It isn’t as if this country smiled and handed over the new laws without a fight. This conspiracy theory that you speak of is evident in every aspect of the black experience. I worked as a tester for Fair Housing Administration where i went into a bank with the same credentials as my white counterpart and 90% of the time (90%) my rate came back higher. I walked into a store professionally dressed before my white counterpart dressed in jeans and while I was ignored she was fawned over. The same thing happened when we went to rent an apartment. Law suits resulted in all of these cases as a result. Is this my imagination or is something going on here? My son is a pilot but in Long Island he happened to be in the dreesing room with another black man (whom he didn”t know) and the store called the police and accused him of shiplifting. You said white men aren’t bringing drug into the community, well who is? There aren’t a lot of Black men with planes or submarines Why is there more jail building than school building? And why are major corporations investing in them? Because it is a way to have products made very cheaply (sound familiar) If the system isn’t rigged against people of color why isn’t the truth taught in all school systems? Everyone is from African descent. It is historically impossible that Jesus had blond hair and blue eyes.(The bible says that his skin was bronze and he had hair like sheeps wool. Colunbus didn’t discover America, he killed that people that taught him to survive here and ran them across the border. You say that you have served the community for 25 years. That doesn’t make you an expert. It makes you a little spot of paint on a very large canvas with the inablity to see the whole picture. If you truly want to help start by learning.

  101. Rachel, being married to a black man is not the same as having first-hand experience with being a black person in America. I, college-educated black woman, have dated men of different races. I have worked in major corporations. I know for a fact that all people are flawed and/or have issues — regardless of race. Some are more messed up than others, but no need to pick on the women who have children whom you think should not have so many children. They have their own consequences — probably lots of depression, anger and other issues to deal with as a result of poor choices. Maybe they feel having a child is the only way they feel worthy. Of course, it is not someone else’s responsibility to pay for or raise their kids, but just keep in mind that all people want to feel they have some value in this life.

  102. Rachel D

    And gemgirl you mentioned the “majority” of people receiving government funding are white. Where are you getting your stats from and are you also taking in account that usually those stats are based on percentage of people getting aid in that race group. Reminder: there are about 4x the amount of white people in the US than blacks so u cannot look at the number it’s self, you need to research further…..

  103. Tom d

    GemGirl: I like your points. This started because Dr. Boyce criticized that other writer Marks who was offering his views on what young black children could do to better their condition. Dr. Boyce and many others took exception to this because they felt Marks, as a white person, has no place offering suggestions on young black people. I responded because Marks shouldn’t be criticized for simply trying to offer suggestions and ideas. I know it’s true that white people can never know what it is to be black and poor and struggling in the ghetto and feel defeated by racism. Of course, racism does exist. I don’t know what it’s like to feel systematically oppressed. It’s a foreign feeling for me to think or feel that way. But that doesn’t mean we all can’t try to talk about it and try to help and support each other. Dr. Boyce criticized Marks and I felt that was wrong. You are absolutely right, it is so easy to get caught up in generalizations and maybe that’s where prejudice starts. We can see how easy it starts. I’m not looking for anyone to admit anything. I just want us to talk with respect. Patsy started in on me because I’m a white police officer. I care about this issue because I care about the wasted lives. I can’t understand it. honestly, I feel my life as a police officer is wasted when I see the continued violence, the killings, the utter contempt for life. And I know these kids, black and white are better than this, they’re capable of more, capable of succeeding and contributing. We will never come up with answers while we attack and criticize each other for merely trying to talk to each other. I don’t think racism is a mental disorder. I think racism is an easy out, an easy way to label or hurt someone when you’re frustrated and pissed off by someone who doesn’t look like you. I think whites who seem to act like saviors are well meaning, but they’re often confused themselves and feeling guilty and therefore go over the line with their attempts to help. But I like your points :)

  104. Rachel you said about the Duggar family that “they are providing for their children and their children are not out committing crimes. They are teaching their children to become good members of society.”

    How do you know all of this to be true? Maybe abuse is going on in their house behind closed doors. Do you just take everything in the media at face value? The Duggars are making money from having a bunch of kids — what else is their claim to fame? Why assume that poor black women are not providing for their children (many of them work two jobs sometimes) or that all their children are out committing crimes (maybe one or two of their kids have gotten in trouble but certainly not all for most families). My point is that poor women of color also are loving to their children and often do the best they can.

  105. Tom, I sense you do care and I applaud that. But there really are multiple reasons for why any situation exists.

    I am angry when young black men engage in senseless crime. I do my best to uplift others. I can work with people from all backgrounds. We share common concerns, no doubt.

    I think whites need to educate and challenge other white people about their role in all of this, and not go along with the status quo when they see people being mistreated due to race.Blacks need to hold themselves accountable for negative behaviors within their communities as well and not blame everything on racism.

  106. Rachel D

    Gemgirl: while you are correct in saying that I have not lived the life of an black American I have experienced racism for being in an interracial marriage- from blacks and whites. As far as women having children to feel worthy, maybe I just don’t understand how putting a child in a poverty stricken environment makes anyone feel worthy. I get that people want to feel valued and worthy but subjecting a helpless child to a life of hardship is not the answer. Selfworth is found when you raise above your situation and make yourself better before bring a child into it. Then maybe black, white, all children born in America have a fair shot. It’s up the the parents to try everything in their power to set their kids up for success. It sounds as though you have made good decisions for yourself by being educated and raising your gchild. I can’t see why you wouldn’t want that for all.

  107. Rachel D

    An Gemgirl you keep referring to what I replied to but you keep putting a racial spin. Why is that? Please point out to me where i said that black women dont love their kids or that I referenced black people to the only race in poverty? Help me understand how what I said means black people only?

  108. Tom d

    Tracey, good points. 25 years working with young people in the inner city has taught me a lot. No, I’m not an expert, I only know what I see and hear from interacting and talking to these kids. I see young black men and women who are royally pissed off at the system and look at me with disdain and hate. That is a huge problem. I don’t want to see these kids go to jail, I don’t want to hear mothers screaming when they’re told their child is dead. And I’m sick of this endless cycle that never seems to get any better. Many whites think that blacks have a chip on their shoulders. If they do, maybe it is because of the continued damage from the legacy of slavery. I have thought about that. How can black people pick up and carry on when they know they’re ancestors were enslaved by the country they live in? I don’t know if I could do it. So, maybe that’s what’s going on here. I just want to know because I’m curious and because I do care. I don’t like writing the words white and black. I don’t like the term African-Americans. I want us to get to the point that we are all simply and proudly Americans. As far as your experience with racism, I think maybe some of that is real and some of that can be a coincidence. When white people get bad treatment by a-holes, we just think the people are a-holes. When blacks get bad treatment, it’s pretty damn hard to not suspect it’s because you’re black. I don’t know how to get past that. Honestly, maybe we should take about 100 billion dollars and rebuild the inner cities, knock down the shit holes, rebuild the schools, help out the disadvantaged, and start this all over again. But at some point, we ALL have to care and say ok, let’s try and work and live and forgive each other.

  109. Rachel, I do want other people to give their children a fair shot. But since I don’t run the universe, I know my limits. I can see other people’s lives and say that is not what I want for myself, but who am I to decide how other people should live?

    I think you make a lot of good points for sure, and I applaud you and your husband for being thoughtful about when to bring children in the world. But respectiing diversity means that there are simply gonna be people who we “don’t get.”

    Just because I don’t “get ” someone else’s decisions or understand their logic doesn’t mean I know what they should or shouldn’t do. We all get direct consequences for whatever choices we make in life.

    And by the way, yes I have a college education but I also know for sure there are some brilliant young black men and women whose intelligence gets squashed due to oppression. Not all people have psychological strength to figure out how to overcome barriers, and many people do not get encouragement or support from others around them.

    My mother had eight children and we grew up in poverty but all of my siblings except one have become responsible adults.

  110. Tom d

    GemGirl: “Not all people have psychological strength to figure out how to overcome barriers, and many people do not get encouragement or support from others around them”

    I like this comment, makes a lot of sense and makes me think…that’s what I’m lookin for…some input

  111. Charles McGee

    There is one word that seems always to be missing-consensus. In my academic and professional career the approach I have heard is the ‘best and brightest.” That suggests to me that the same folks who have been making social decisions remain in power. That is the White power we know. In my years I have not known one policy objective that began with Black folks that became public policy. If you can cite one please do so. I recall that the late Whitney M. Young, President of National Urban League, suggested that America launch a Domestic Marshall Plan and he was laughed out of Washington. That initiative remains a need.

  112. Tom, for another good piece of input, go back to what Charles McGee wrote earlier today about the American story: “Google a story of “White Privilege” written by a person who identified himself as a White man. He said that the game is rigged in his favor…. A hint of America might be found in John Howard Griffin’s legendary book, “Black Like Me.” The history of America is a ‘bell you can not un-ring.’ It is permanent. Thomas Jefferson said that we all inherit a government and we have to go forward from there. Hence any strategy must be based on the reality of that inherited world as you know it. ”

    Black people lived the history of oppression — and all of its aftermath — and therefore know intimately what it means to be treated as if one is inferior when in fact we never were. We were enslaved due to violence and intimidation, propaganda and racism that enforced both physical and psychological bondage. Many of us have over time awakened — and that bell cannot be unrung either. We are conscious. We who are aware invest in honing our intelligence and do not buy into the nonsense that we are somehow less than based on color of skin. Many white people don’t seem to understand this at the same depth, so they think we don’t know our “place.” Many college-educated blacks have the benefit of knowing that many of our white peer are in fact mediocre and not as smart as “white supremacy” would imply. The whites who think they need to help save us from ourselves in fact need to work on ridding themselves of their own issues around race. And then there will be a better chance for true working together.

  113. Charles McGee

    Let’s clear the air. As best I can tell there has never been a definition of R-A-C-E that is applicable across the board. Ashley Montagu debunked the notion some 100 years ago. For the past 40 years I have asked scholars what they mean by race. No one has offered a definition that is workable. What has been offered is a statement about outcomes that suggest that race, the undefined term, is at play. No scholar would broach a question without offering a definition of terms so that we are talking about the same thing. I would think that this is a sound approach.

    Back a few years ago the Clinton Initiative on Race Committee was offered as a strategy to untangle this conundrum. I asked the committee to define for all what race means they never did. One member of the group rightly offered that the Committee was actually talking about culture.

    In social life, at that departure, the decision process is driven by the consensus model. You might know that since 1619 the cultural group typed as Negro/Colored/Black/African American has never been part of a fundamental decision in America. We have been an after thought.

  114. Charles McGee , yes indeed: As best as we all can tell, there has never been a definition of R-A-C-E that is applicable across the board.

    Color is a visible physical characteristic, and culture/race are social constructs used in part to justify racism ( a system of oppression for some and privilege for others). No wonder so many people are confused! Reality gets distorted (through many untruths and false assumptions, stereotypes,etc.) to maintain this system.

    Black people understand the dynamics of this social construct in such a way that we have developed a sense of “dual consciousness” (like knowing a second language) for the sake of survival. This dual consciousness allows us to co-exist (not always peacefully) with opposing ideas, illusory correlations made about race, while also knowing basic truths about ourselves and the human race in general.

    And on that note, it is getting late here, so I will say good night to all.

  115. Charles McGee

    Thanks. If the NAACP had followed Dr. Woodson strategy in 1917 much difference would have been evident in America.

  116. Tom d

    I sincerely appreciate and respect all your thoughts and viewpoints. Thank you for talking and thank you for what you do. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. Together we can.

  117. Charles McGee

    Thanks. Look for Jubilee 2012! in February.

  118. Charles McGee

    Thanks.. Look for Jubilee 2012 In February.

  119. Charles McGee

    It’s the cultural definitions that makes this blog event worthwhile. Social definitions must become consensus statements, not unilateral utterances.

  120. Evelyn Jackson

    How subtle racism slithers through America–A snake has many diguises, but it’s still a sanke

  121. Tracey Jarmon- Woods

    Tom D-
    I makes my heart sick to hear the stories of those mothers……. I am the mother of 2 boys and although we don’t live in the inner city, I am very aware that this doesn’t make them immune to the racism that is so rampant. You are right in the fact that we need to find solutions. I have had these kinds of conversations for years. There are many organization and programs that address this issue and fine men and women leading this struggle (Dr Boyce is among them) but more needs to be done. I know that this discussion has been about the poor but there are more non-poor blacks. Black people contribute 600 billion dollars to the US economy every year. The one billion that you speak of is a drop in a bucket relative to how much we spend. There is power in the dollar. In taking responsibilty for or community we should put our resources toward the problem. Each one reach one, each black give back. This is a concept that is not new to us. In is only since we’ve been here that the one was so much more important than the whole. People from all over support each other and pool resources to advance the whole. Civil Rights brought us to a point but didn’t have a plan of permanent progression and several of our youth have been lost in the gap. There is not one solution but there are things that we all can do. here are a few of my suggestions.
    From the top:
    There should be a govermental entity that deals directly with this issue with legislatures, lobbyist and experts that have the respect of the community. This group would define the whole problem from absence of history, public awareness, and promote a practice of zero tolerance when it comes to racism.
    In the middle:
    Black men and Black women of any means should help by using their personal resouces to reach out. If you are a consler, concil, if you are a writer, write. if you are a husband talk to a boy about the responsibities of being a husband and father. Black men should establish rites of passage programs that clearly describe the role of a man with encouragement, celebrating milestones and accomplishments. They should have a (batmistsfa?) of sorts to acknowledge manhood and the elders should pass down information pertinent to the life and struggle of a black man.
    We should boycott, resist, and stop supporting any and every platform that perpetuates our children as thugs and ho”s! We cannot put money behind any company that promotes such nonsense. Be it music or clothing or even manufactures that have unfair hiring practices or advertsing that promotes unhealty stereo types. We should call out every rapper that uses his art to hurt as opposed to uplifting and more importantly band the company that’s behind it. I could go on with this forever but I don’t have the time.
    In the end:
    White men could acknowledge that there is a problem that is out of control and use what ever influences you have to make a change. Speak within your own groups to shift the paradyms of your own friends and loved ones. Report and fight against the brutality that happens. Consider a child a child no matter what the skin tone is and treat them all the same. What would you do is it were your own son? How many resources would you pull if your kid was in trouble? How much talking would you do to get through to him or get a point across. Lastly don’t consider them “other” because we are all human. May God bless us all! Happy Holidays

  122. Charles McGee

    Tracey: Thanks. What I would offer is one small item. In the 1960s the late Whitney M. Young, president of the National Urban League, suggested a policy initiative. He thought that America could make a dent in the untenable urban life by launching a Domestic Marshall Plan. Recall that America launched the Marshall Plan following WWII to rebuild Europe and Japan. Young was laughed out of Washington-a joke. Some 50 years later the need remains. What could have happened is that urbanites, including those who embrace Blackness, would have been empowered. Young understood that, as did the members of our Congress.

    When people who are under stress are asked to embrace an initiative the most likely response is “What is in it for me.” Some would have thought that the National Urban League would be calling the shots. Maybe they would or maybe they would not. We will never know. What I do understand is that those who stridently opposed the idea could corral members of the oppressed community to not sign on. Even if the system of activity would have flowed through the National Urban League we would have been considerable better off. I say that because there are many who are not in the Urban League family and saw themselves as outside the benefit chain.
    Do not think that I am saying that some of the oppressed fall into the ‘crab syndrome.’ What I am saying is that everyone is not positioned to handle multi-million dollar action grants and might not benefit from training in organization development, community development and financial accountability. You know the drill, “They got a piece of money and now they have gone White.” Missed opportunity. We need a new initiative for 2012.

  123. Tom d

    Very good points Tracey, thank you, Merry Christmas…

  124. Civil Green

    The system certainly oppresses non-pigmented-skinned peoples, and so do the people who make up the system. Racism is like a sickness in hearts, mind’s & souls, and a mere change of rules and laws is not enough, but it might help a little. What is the solution that can change hearts and minds? Why dont we learn in school how to be caring & thoughtful, and what makes a human valuable, or worthless? It is the condition of his heart, and nothing else. Why don’t we learn that nations should treat one another with respect, and not invade, bully, undermine, exploit, and oppress non-white, or any other nation?
    Those who are currently in power, the shitstem, would not benefit, but for the survival of humankind, and for the happiness, prosperity and freedom of all of us, the 99% would benefit from a proper education and spiritual knowledge, but that won’t come from US gov-funded schools.
    My dear black brothers & sisters, you know, more than most, intimately, how thoroughly rotten to the core this oppressive system is. Now it is invading mother-Africa itself, openly, before the world, as if it was it’s benefactor, protecting Africa from it’s own peoples. You cannot shoot this idea down. It stands true and unbreakable on it’s own. The racist, priveledged, hand of power, stands with full force, subtle, and overt, ready to oppress all dare to stand up to the system and speak the truth. We need to destroy the disease of racial supremacy, even gene-supremacy. We are all humans. The heart is all that matters. Kindness is what matters. Those in power, with the guns, threatening, pillaging and killing people & nations based on skin-color are sick, insane even! Knowledge alone is not enough. How can these hearts be undone?

  125. Fifty Trillion Zimbawean dollars says you’re wrong.

  126. Once again, a white person with zero “Black Experience” is explaining what we should do as “poor black kids,” but he misses an important point that Dr. Watkins foregrounds: if we are ignorant as “poor black kids,” it is because society is designed this way to maintain the “two tiered” hierarchical system of wealth. My youth was just like Gene Marks describes. I came from a very poor family with a single mother without an education of her own struggling to make ends meet as head of the household. No father in sight, unless he came as a character from “The Color Purple” or “Precious.” While my mother insisted that we did homework, she didn’t actually help us get through it, but she did read to us and she saved her money for nearly two years to buy me my own set of World Book Encyclopedias at age eight. She did the best she could, but in the end, none of that mattered. Each of her children became victims of the streets: drugs, alcohol, violence, and ultimately, my mother’s abandonment of us, one by one, to homes or kiddie jail. We didn’t know that she expected more from us because of our bi-racial status and reacted to our being “black.” In other words, we all had to make it on our own. I stepped out the earliest. I was 15 when I had my own apartment rent to pay with the wages of a job at Wendy’s. Yet, despite being that “poor black kid” who actually followed the advice Marks suggests, I still didn’t get where I wanted to be. Sure I want to better schools, but the white girls called me nigger like it was my name and I went to kiddie jail for teaching them a lesson about that. Sure, I was an ‘A+’ student, but the white Vice Principle tried to strip search me in his office, and when I taught him a lesson about that, I went to kiddie jail again and was expelled from the entire school system, twice. No one listened and no one cared. This is the same problem black kids are having today. No one is listening. They assume what is and what should be. Unfortunately, that approach leaves the poor black kids wondering what they did wrong, what is wrong with them as human beings. It can destroy their self-esteem and leave them with nothing but a negative attitude and violent response to adults and authority. Once there, it is usually down hill from there and America has an adult prison waiting for them. However, despite being the “poor black kid” that Marks discusses, I was lucky. I wanted better and I did exactly what Marks suggests: I found an advocate, in the form of a probation officer, who helped me sue my mother and gain my emancipation, which I received at age 16. Yet, things remained hard, as there’s not much one can do with no marketable skill and a GED. To make things worse, I was diagnosed with a horrible brain disease at age 17 and without medical insurance and a pending morbidity rate, I gave up, early. However, after surviving instead of dying, I did exactly what Marks suggests: I got determined and I got busy, and in the end, with hard work, sacrifice, and damned good grades, I succeeded, despite the odds and the eleven year commitment I had to make. The point of this long story is that no matter where we begin, no matter the odds against us, whether they are familial or societal, economic or medical, we can achieve what we believe in if we really believe in those things. Thanks Dr. Watkins for again inspiring me to write! Happy New Year, and to all you “poor black kids” out there, especially in my town, Philly, you DO stand a chance in this world if you bum rush the show and earn that which will never be given freely. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” (Dr. Wayne Dyer, 2003).

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