Skip to content

Why did this group invite him to speak[?]

Because they’re stupid?

Seriously, though, this shit is so 19th century it beggars belief. White people telling just-so stories wrapped in a layer of pseudo-science to make themselves feel better about fucking people over is the oldest story in the book.

Look, I’m having my morning coffee and will, in 90 minutes be standing in front of a classroom of privileged (mostly) white college kids. Some of them are doing very well, others are struggling. For the ones who struggle, we have abundant resources to help them. Academic counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists, tutors, etc. One student of mine in particular is having an emotional crisis and has all but checked out for the last 3 weeks. She’ll check back in next week, make up a bunch of work, and I’ll pass her. Her academic counselor has all but requested that I do so.

In 3 hours, by contrast, my wife will be tutoring a young black man in community college on the south side of Chicago. Unlike my students, this kid has nothing. What money rattles in his pockets comes from his “big homie,” the guy on the corner for whom he runs drugs. When my wife took him to register for classes at the community college, his “advisor” sized him up and said, “I know your type. Don’t register for any classes that start before noon.” Time and again, he was talked down to and mistreated as he ran a gauntlet of administrators and school officials. Over and over again, my wife had to intervene on his behalf because a white woman would at least be listened to with respect.

Is he kicking ass in school? Nope. Is this an afterschool special in the making? Sorry. He’s been cutting classes and smoking dope and will, if he’s lucky, squeak through the semester with a passing grade. The whole time, he keeps telling my wife how he knows he’s letting everyone down. But he can’t seem to conceptualize a life course other than the moderately successful one he’s on.

Contrast this guy with my student. She’s nervous and anxious as well. But if we catch up with her in 10 years, where do we expect her to be? At worst a white-collar job somewhere. At best, chasing her bliss and describing the malaise of her 20’s as a phase in her life that she’s overcome. The disparity could not be more striking. She has a safety net that makes the mistakes of her post-adolescence an indulgence. My wife’s friend has an iron set of constraints within which he operates. The moment he deviates from them, he winds up expelled, incarcerated or dead.

Fuck Derbyshire and fuck his tired old white man’s burden schtick. He should live six months in that kid’s shoes.

Published inTumblr