[Clever Title Beginning with “If I . . . “]
If I were to write a blog post in response to Gene Marks’s blog post, then I’d be just like hundreds or even thousands of other bloggers out there, including one of my own blog co-authors, fivefifths. As if this topic hadn’t been commented-on to death at this point, we’ve seen new posts almost daily since the original, grammatically incorrect article “If I Was a Poor Black Kid.” Most of these blog posts have taken a pretty formulaic approach that generally follows this path: 1) Derision of Marks’s poor use of grammar in his title, 2) An anecdote about the upbringing of the reply article writer, 3) General “No-shit-Sherlock” responses about the failures and flawed assumptions in the Marks article, 4) General statement about how the Marks article exemplifies how out-of-touch Marks and other middle class White men are. In lieu of writing anything original or taking a new spin on the topic, I thought I would take the same path dozens of others have: following the same pattern that by this point you are tired of reading. Well, here we go.
All of a sudden, the blogosphere has become the arbiter of correct English grammar. It appeared that within hours of the publishing of the Marks article, thousands of blogger, Twitterers, and journalists professional and amateur [you grammar experts will recognize what I just did there was called a post-positive, you know, like “Attorney General”] highlighted the fault in the title of the article. As much as it delights me to bring to the attention of others that they are incorrectly using the subjunctive mood, I’ll let this one slips and give old Gene a pass. Many of you out there learned the subjunctive mood, and it is a mood and not a tense, in your Foreign Language studies in high school or college. I guess telling ol’ Gene he got it wrong was a small victory for the race. Well done, ya’ll.
2) From Whence We Came
Here, you’ll find my anecdote about growing up a poor black kid. Although, if I described myself in that way, it would be a bit disingenuous. I wasn’t ever wanting for food or shelter. My Mother has been constantly employed my entire life. We saw a few eviction notices on the door, but all-in-all . . .Look there, I’m making the same mistake. See, the thing is, me actually being Black and Marks not, has very little bearing on the quality of my opinion. If I actually grew up poor, maybe you’d empathize with my plight a bit more. Or, you might ask how I managed to make it this far despite all the odds stacked against me. That Gene Marks is a middle class white man may make you question his methodology, as a Black male, who has seen some struggle, I don’t think I could tell a poor black kid how to make it out very much better than Marks could. I could tell him to do exactly what I did, but that may not work for him. That’s the thing, Blacks have spoken out against the article, mostly because of the lack of racial congruity between the race of the writer and the race of the subject. Personal stories aside, no one owns the right to give advice. I don’t for a second think I can tell someone how to escape poverty if it really and truly pervades each and every one of there days. Who gives a damn how I grew up.
3) That’s where ya wrong AT!
If at this point I hadn’t gained credibility in the eyes of my reader, I’d rest on my recitation of my challenging, single-parent, lack-of-DSL-having upbringing to underscore where Marks went wrong. I’d talk about the lack of technology in inner city, minority neighborhoods. I’d tell Marks all about how he got it wrong, and how he should’t dare to impute his hypothetical, cross-racial, out-of-body musings on poor lil Black kids. Then I’d promptly dive head-first off of my high horse and realize that we know this already. If any of you out there did grow up as poor and Black, you can probably tell me just how many middle-class white men really “got” you. I think a phrase I use often is apropos here: “less than zero.” The corollary to the implication that Marks doesn’t know what he is talking about, is that somehow I know what I’m talking about. I must know all the solutions to the racial divide in America. I have to, I’m Black and Gene Marks isn’t. He is naive, and I, well I’m an expert in sociology, class, race, economics, the technology divide, and psychology. I got it all figured out, and how could this White man possibly dare try to offer solutions, however misguided.
4) Silly, Silly White People
Here I shall admit that many of the posts on this blog describe in great detail the fool-ass assumption of our White counterparts. Their assumptions are misguided. There worldview is based on their experience, much as our is based in our own. Where you lived, what ethnicity you were, and how much wealth your family had mold every fiber in your being. With that said, this is the point where I do what this blog and the response articles do best: Tell White people how out-of-touch they can sometimes be. We got it. It bear repeating though: white people can’t understand me because they are White and I am Black. Wait, I’m presuming that because someone is of a particular race, there are some things they cannot understand or simply should not do. That’s where I’m wrong AT.
I’m devoting all of my efforts into Google Scholar now.
Continue to Question the World Around You.