Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Lest We Pile On Too Much: What are Black Academics Doing to Help Poor Black Kids?
I try to engage in a bit of critical self-reflection whenever possible.
Gene Marks' exercise in white privilege and Internet trolling has been thoroughly demolished for its lazy thinking, arrogance, and deficit of empathy. But, in reading all of the rebuttals to the essay, I have been forced to ask myself a hard question: while it is easy to throw rocks at the town jester for his foibles, are those who are taking Gene Marks to the woodshed any better than he?
For example, I always try to reach out to first generation, low income students once they are in my classes. I have also devoted considerable professional time to grant funded programs which are tasked with improving the post-secondary and graduate school enrollment rates for first generation, low income, and under-represented students. But, is that enough?
The documentary Ebony Towers is a helpful entry point for this conversation. It deftly highlights the struggles to racially integrate colleges and universities in both the U.K. and the United States. While Ebony Towers does not sufficiently play up the role of organizations like the Ford Foundation in establishing Black Studies (a move that was part of a broader plan to deradicalize the remnants of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s), it is however quite sharp in highlighting how access to education has historically been a political act for black Americans.
While "Blackademics" and others are hating on Gene Marks for his piss poor article, what are they/we doing to improve the educational and professional opportunities for poor people of color in this country?
Yes, looking in the mirror can be hard; but, it ought not to be avoided for that reason.