Sunday, October 14, 2007

Our own soft racism

This post is going to piss off some of you black folks, but as usual, I really don't give a f**k.

I am going to use a sports analogy with this one so stay with me.
When the Phillies clinched the National League East division championship, the folks here lost their freaking minds. You would have thought we won the World Series or some shit. The folks here are so starved for a championship that we  acted as if just winning the division was the championship. Wall to wall celebrations and damn near rioting in the streets.

Of course, the Phillies then went out and promptly lost three in a row to the Colorado Rockies. Bye bye championship.
Now for my analogy: Earlier this summer I was in a restaurant with some friends when in walked a family of my cousins. They were upbeat and excited and from the looks of things, in full celebration mode. I noticed that two of the young people with the family were still wearing their high school graduation gowns, as well as their graduation caps. The other members of the family were taking picture after picture and relishing in the young people's achievement. "So field what's wrong with that?" Nothing, and the family should have been proud. But let's stay with my Phillies analogy a little bit. They should have been proud, but like the Phillies, these young people did not win the World Series, all they had just won was the divisional championship. There were other steps to go, other educational goals to achieve, but the way this family was acting you would think that this was it; that they had reached the pinnacle. Sadly for them, --and the statistics here in Philly and other places will confirm this-- they probably had. More than likely both of those young people would not be going on to college or furthering their education. This was it for them, and damn it, the family was going to let it all hang out on this grand occasion.
Folks, this might be the first and last time you will hear me say that the frat boy was right about something. But he was right about the "soft racism of low expectations." It's there and it's real, and our own families are sometimes guilty of perpetrating it. We don't help by treating the first step in a long process as if it's the end. It's not the end. Getting your high school diploma is something you are supposed to do, and it should be expected, not celebrated.
Honestly, I don't even think my father went to my high school graduation, because there was never any doubt that my ass was going to college. The celebration could wait for bigger things. To him, a high school diploma was a right of passage, something akin to getting a driver's license. I thought about that as I watched this family celebrating like there was no tomorrow, and showering the new graduates with unbridled adoration. "But field what if they are the first in their families to graduate high school, what if it is a big deal to this family." I know, and that's the really sad part of this conundrum isn't it. The fact that there are so many families out here where this might be true, and, like the Phillies, their celebration will be short lived.


Anonymous said...

While I wholeheartedly agree with your post, Field, I gotta tell you, it felt damn good celebrating that high school graduation. Unfortunately, for my family and so many others, we don't have examples of many people going to college and getting out of it for that matter. I was the first generation of kids to go to college in my family and graduate. Everyone fully expected that I'd make it and then graduate, but the celebration, similar to the Phillies win, was one of longing, because it had been so long since they've seen anyone come up from seemingly insurmountable odds to make it that far. Not to say that college is the pinnacle of society, but after all those years, it was only a matter of time.


Unknown said...

Field, I totally understand where you are coming from. Where I come from, there are no caps and gowns for high school students. They are only worn by university graduates. If you go to a technical college (devry type of college) you don't even get the cap,just the gown. I wish american kids would realize how lucky they are to have free education all the way through high school. It is simply unforgivable not to finish high school.

what was on meet the press this morning? Well a whole hour of 'the crisis in the black community'. A whole hour. wow!

Brown Love said...

I battle the "soft racism of low expectations" daily. I agree that high school graduation should be an expectation, and I also think that it should be a celebrated rite of passage.

In order to get to the root of this problem, we must first be honest about the cause. I mean, when did having low expectations become acceptable in our community?? I contend that these low expectations rode into our homes on the saddle of a horse called integration of the public school system.

Your post didn't piss me off, but I suspect the comment I just made might piss some folks off. . . but, let's see. . . how was it you put it? . . . "I really don't give a f**k."

T. S. Snowden said...

This post didnt piss me off at all! I just read Bill Cosby's book and it read exactly like this post(and was a welcome change from the Clarence Thomas memoir I read last week---dont ask).
you and Cosby hit the nail on the head--Our expectations are too low, period. High-school is free damn-it,the least we can do expect our kids to finish!
Hell when I graduated high-school I knew there was no money for me to go to college but I was still expected to go and I did. I got a job(every scholarship I could get and loans) and paid for school. When did the bare minimum become the maximum in our community?

plez... said...


i'm with you 100% on this one. my parents came to my graduation and then we all went home. i think my mother cooked dinner (as usual) and i was given a leather briefcase with a graduation card in it. no restaurants! no elaborate graduation gifts or parties!

when i graduated from high school, my 2 oldest brothers had already graduated from college and my 3rd brother was in Medical School at Penn... my little diploma was as you said "a rite of passage," it was no shining achievement... it was just one small step towards getting the hell outta my parent's house and on my own. i was heading to Georgia Tech on a full scholarship to study engineering in a few months.

neither of my parents were college educated, but they ALWAYS expected all four of my siblings and me to go to college and graduate. we need to stop celebrating what we are supposed to do (raise our children, get good educations, provide for our families, etc.)... and find ways to uplift the race!

to be honest, i haven't seen much to celebrate lately!

Anonymous said...

Great post. Really really good stuff.

Blinders Off said...

Why get pissed off at the TRUTH? Bravo!

field negro said...

"High-school is free damn-it,the least we can do expect our kids to finish!"

Ain't that the truth. And if we put a little effort into it, there is help forcollege too.

August, thanks for that update on MTP. But an entire hour? WTF? I am going to have to do my "on demand" for that bad boy and watch it. Yep, crisis mode folks, and as pLez wrote, there "hasn't been much to celebrate lately" :(

Anonymous said...

Yes Field, check out MTP asap. Please let us know what you thought. I'm eager to get your response.

And how are you going to watch that on demand. Do tell. If ComCast has a way I can watch it again, I need to know.


Unknown said...


Sounds like one of those cases that transcends race...we both had the same Dad. Mine made it known from day one that I was off to college, and if I got any funny ideas of not doing so there would be a Dad sized boot in my posterior.

Lemme guess, gruff and a bit aloof, but would be the first help out if he knew you were giving it 100%?

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...


I'll just ask a question here: who's fault is it for kids today to have low expectations of themselves? Is it the parents' fault for not teaching them that there was more than just finishing high school?

Was it some racist high school counselor who was feeding them that low expectation bullshyt while they were still in school?

Was it the government, who facilitated actions and activities and programs that created a dependency on them for survival, as opposed to encouraging kids to strive for more because there is more to life than life in the projects?

You tell me, because except for my parents, I never would have thought about going to college and furthering my education.

My parents lived through the civil rights movement. When it came time for me to start school, Pops hauled out that G.I. bill he got from his military service and bought a house in a good section of town, with good public schools. There was no doubt that my brother and I was not only going to finish high school, but college would be the next step in the equation for supporting ourselves and getting the jobs and careers our parents' couldn't.

Now, if I'd listened to a racist school counselor who told me, even looking at transcripts that sported a 3.70 GPA (with college prep classes, no less), that my ass needed to go to community college, that might have stopped me. Because I had parents who had higher expectations of me than just merely finishing high school, I left that counselor's office, strolled down the hall to the Principal's office (a brotha with a PhD in Education, mind you), related my meeting with the counselor and was told I'd have a new counselor by second period class the next day.

My new counselor was a sista that had application brochures from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, as well as U. C. Berkeley, and my first choice, Saint Mary's.

I was accepted to all except Stanford. Must have had something to do with Condoleezza being there in charge of Affirmative Action, LOL.

And while I was in college, Reagan cut off the grant money for kids in school. But Saint Mary's increased my scholorship dollars and I was able to pay back my undergrad loans within two years because they were so low.

I think I left school with high expectations of myself, because my parents had those high expectations themselves. From the day I started kindergarten, my father was mumbling about how he was going to have to increase his hustle to make sure when the time came, college wasn't going to be a problem. My only sadness is that he didn't live to see that seed he planted in me.

It can be one or all of the above questions I asked. The point is when a child believes in themselves and are encouraged to strive for higher goals by their families, they will overcome any obstacle placed before them to succeed.

Francis Holland said...

Field, I understand where you're coming from. I think it's basically the parents who convey expectations to their children. But, as the Christian Progressive Liberal said above, the parents have to be very determined in a society that sends the opposite message to Black children, constantly telling us that even from the best of us very little is expected.

My mother told me that my grandmother, who was a teacher from the island of Jamaica, always made it clear to my mother that she would be going to college. The only question what what college she would attend and what she would study, which was a decision that my mother made.

My mother became a college professor and spent her evenings at home counseling neighborhood youths and adults about how to go to college, even if they were seventy-two years old, in one case. So, there was no doubt what her aspirations were for us. Similar with my father, who also was a sometime college professor, except that the force of alcoholism watered down his message.

One thing we can all do about this is to mentor young people with talent who may not have thought about going to college. When my cousin was 14 years old, I brought her to spend a day with me at my law office. Last year she graduated from Harvard Law School.

Anonymous said...

I teach in Upward Bound. Kids who are from low-income families and will be (if they go) first generation college students.

They take exra math, English and foreign language courses (among other things). I am their foreign language teacher (Japanese).

These kids, right off the bat, talk about what they cann't learn. I gave them a chance to choose how many Japanese alphabet they would be tested on. They of course tried to make it as low as possible.

I let them know, the worst thing they (or anyone) could do to them is have low expectations for themselves.

Its patronizing and setting them up for failure. People tell them to learn at level 5 and when they do it pat them on the head making them feel like they've accomplished something. But across town (and across the country) other kids aren't at level 10.

One of the kids told me I would be a good teacher because in 20 minutes he understood the Japanese sentence structure and he still didn't know how to translate properly in Spanish.

I let them know they needed to do their homework but grades wouldn't be counted off if they got them wrong but I want them to try (and its their first time). He told me not only was he going to di it but he was going to get them all right.

These are kids that a lot of people doubt but after two classes and pronounce Japanese words, know some vocabulary and can construct a sentence.

John I had the same situation. My guidance counselor didn't do any counseling and probably was shocked I was still in school despite my A's, honors and AP workload. He didn't educate me on a damn thing. There are so many opportunities (that I had no way of knowing about) that I missed out on.

Low expectations is a sad thing and I don't put them on my kids.

Anonymous said...

That was CPL with the guidance counselor not John, sorry.

And right on Francis. We need to expose kids to the possibilties beyond a walking distance of where they live.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Field. I'm torn.

As a believer in home and in the workplace, I shout a hearty "exactly!" to my screen.

Graduating from high school was just a rite of passage, and the most important thing was staying out of trouble because I knew that I had college and graduate school looming ahead of me.

Things were different for one of my relatives. At 22 years old, he finally finished high school. He didn't take any breaks, he worked day and night. His high school diploma was hard won, and cause for great celebration.

His younger brother? Just a rite of passage, it went almost without mentioning.

Personally I'm torn, I think a shift in expectations is the key to a shift in quality of life. However, I can't be so quick to judge what is worthy of one family's celebration.

Brian said...

You scared the heck out of me with this post Field. I read the opening remarks and said "Oh ----". lol here we go...

Because I thought this was going to be strike 3 after the last two silly, f---ed up posts that you made regarding interracial dating...picking on the same blogger who misguided Black "Afrosphere" bloggers have been attacking for the past year. This was one of the reasons why I left those folks alone.

Honestly, I was going to cut you loose if this post was more bull----.

But the more I read, the more relieved I became.

Thank you sir.

Brian said...

Now if I can just get you to see the light on Juan Williams.

Leave Juan alone!

Anonymous said...

Ive had wonky guidance counselors when I went to high school as well. This white douche bag asks me if I am pregnant when I tell him that I am not feeling well. As if it couldnt be the gross ass school lunch. I didnt pay that sucker any mind and never went to see him again. I knew that I was going to college because everyone else in my family did. And besides I wanted to go.

I think it starts with encouraging our children and letting them know that they can be and do anything in this world. Everyday my daughter wants to do something different and I tell her you can do it and you have my support.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...


You know where and how I was able to maintain that 3.70 GPA and get into college?

A lil' program started by the Dept. of Education under Jimmy Carter, called Upward Bound. That program, on top of my parents, fueled that determination to get into college.

We are supposed to celebrate the right of passage which is graduating high school, because it is just that; a RITE OF PASSAGE.

It means "welcome to the world" and that the door on the last of childhood - proms, school dances, high school football games, cheerleading, grad night trips to Disney Land, and all that fun stuff, is over. It means you've grown up to take that next step, which is usually college.

Our parents had to do more with less, and I think most of us on this board, came out fine. Why?

Our parents were smart enough not to listen to the government's facilitation of low expectations of us. And thank God, we listened to our parents' voicing their hopes and dreams for us, rather than Reagan calling us "Welfare Queens", and cutting off every facet that would have given us a leg up on anything.

Our race has taken everything that can be thrown at it to destroy us, and guess what? We're STILL HERE.
We not only survive, but THRIVE, especially in times of adversity, cause that brings out the most determination, and the best fighting we will ever do in this life. Raise your expectations, if you haven't, and be proud that we continue to survive.

Or, as Beyonce would say, "YOU MUST NOT KNOW 'BOUT ME..."

Liz Dwyer said...

Don't you know about parents wanting to celebrate their child's success? My family had a HUGE high school graduation party for me. Relatives traveled from out of town for it and got a whole lotta cash that I used to buy books at college. And I don't think my family was wrong to do it. My parents were genuinely thrilled for me and yes, I should have graduated, but that doesn't mean it isn't something to celebrate. Now, I didn't get a car or a trip to Europe like the wealthy white kids I knew did...

I get that what you're saying is that people think high school is the end, they think that's it and they're just relieved their kid made it that far. It's like guys I've known who've gone all out on their 25th birthday because they're still alive and beat a statistic. Our society is designed so that everyone won't go to college. Yes, there are low expectations (an educational concept that Bush didn't invent) but folks in power have a vested interest in keeping it that way because otherwise, who would keep the prison industrial complex in business and who would park their cars at the valet? Are college grads gonna do that?

Me? I'm gonna have a huge party for my sons when they graduate from high school and then another one when they graduate from undergrad. By the time grad school hits...we might have to shut down the block!

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

I think perhaps blacks here are beginning to taste class privilege, apparent by this post and some if not most of the comments. I am a first generation college student and it took me twenty years to get a lousy B.A. It was exhausting the whole ride. Not only that, the whole high school thing was exhausting, grueling. Every fucking day I was hungry, flat out hungry do you hear me, hungry. Every day I had to worry about what clothes I was going to wear, not if they were fashionable but if there was a hole in the ass that I could not repair, if my clothes dried on time because it was cold outside and we had no dryer, if my mother was going to be so fucking fed up with our life that she would leave again, run up to her people 1000 miles away just to get a break, just to reenergized herself to come back and face it all again. My father would work when he had work. He did not chase women, did not gamble, etc, but there was never enough. Someone was always in our pockets. We didn’t get any handouts because we made too much money, but not enough to pay the electricity. Each day was a worry, will the lights be cut off, will the furniture be repossessed, etc. Every fucking day. The winters were cold. The summers were hot. People were bitter and angry and the whole fucking inner city neighborhood seemed to have the same harshness, the same bitterness. If one person looked like they had something, got something, ranks were closed and they were talked about or ran out of town. Boys always, always trying to fuck with somebody. A girl was whore before she knew what the word meant. Hell, I was told by this hating ass woman around the corner that I had already had three abortions when I had not even had sex before and had to ask my mama what was an abortion and then she popped me in my mouth for saying the word. None of my brothers or sisters graduated on time. I did in fact graduate the year I was supposed to graduate. Instead of praised I was treated as I was going to run off and leave them behind, so I was talked about. Therefore, when I did graduate, when all of that mess was over, I was fucking exhausted. I wanted to exhale. There was such a burden placed on my shoulders because I did in fact graduate from high school, something my mother nor my father or my older brothers had did up to that point, that I could not go to college. It was too much for me to handle. I had to get a job, make some money, feel what it was like to have my belly full for once, feel what it was like to wear some clothes that I did not have to sweat. I needed those five six, seven years before my mind was ready to go to college. And believe it or not, there were many, MANY people who had it so much worse than we did. So much worse. I go back to the old neighborhood when I am in town and I see the same people, growing old, still talking about trying to get on with the light company, the post office, the Gas Company, etc. But they never will, because it is easier said than done. It is easy to have goals and motivations when the basic necessities of life are covered. It is easy to want more when others around you already have. But when you tired, exhausted and don’t see any signs of things changing, it is hard to go to college. I’m not excusing folks, but class privilege is really making some people snobs. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” Who said that?

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps blacks here are beginning to taste class privilege, apparent by this post and some if not most of the comments.

I think we care enough that we won't give excuses. You're not the only one that didn't have it easy. I do know I wouldn't be where I am (which ain't all that to begin with) if I didn't have tough love.

I don't think anyone on here felt like dismissing black folk who haven't achieved. More than a couple of us work directly with kids, specifically black kids. So I don't think there is too much snobbiness going on.

For those who are full of themselves with their noses in the air I don't think they would be on this particular blog.

There is nothing wrong with the truth. For too many of our kids a high diploma is a crowning achievement. But there are a lot of our kids where that HS diploma should just be the starting point not the ending point.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

I agree Symphony and not trying to say it to that extent. I am saying however, that some people need to remember it is not as easy said as done. It is not. And tough love in my opinion is different than tough circumstances. Tough love is what I have to do with my adult daughter. Not give her everything at the asking. Tough love suggests that there basic necessities are covered and one needs to be checked before he or she becomes lazy or self-entitled. That is different in my book than having it tough to the point of thinking just surviving is being successful. And I did say there were many, many people who had it far worse than we did. It is hard for me to forget those people because I remember every day how hard it was for me to make it, and I was one of the one's considered to be focused. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

I agree mediocrity is the worst form of racism, and often times we as minorities do it to ourselves. We should always EXPECT Excellence from our children and mediocrity is never to celebrated. I Agree with you on this one field... And as for the frat boy..A broken clock is still right twice a day.

Foofa said...

While working with DCFS youth in Chicago I was amazed at the prevalence of 8th grade graduation parties. I had never even heard of this being seen as something for a family to truly celebrate. The sad reality of was that for many of these kids 8th grade graduation would be the last celebration. After being faced with those parties, high school graduation parties seem very reasonable to me.

For me, who always was expected to go to college, the High School graduation celebration was a way to get money from family friends to help send me on my way and to say goodbye to many people who I had come to know so well over the years but would soon be leaving behind.

I guess what I am saying is that I don't see anything wrong with a celebration as long as it is understood that this won't be the last achievement celebrated and is just one small thing in a life full of accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

"Personally I'm torn, I think a shift in expectations is the key to a shift in quality of life. However, I can't be so quick to judge what is worthy of one family's celebration."

I agree with this. There's a difference between low expectations and recognizing you can't judge someone else's situation and what they "should be" achieving. Low expectations is a form of racism and I appreciate you and everyone who commented for addressing it but I also don't think this translates into making claims for other people...I think it's a matter of "you CAN achieve this" not "you should have been able to"...the possibility is always there and it's a problem when people are made to believe that they're incapable, that it's not possible, that they shouldn't even try...but it can be just as suffocating to have "shoulds" imposed that seem unable to acknowledge the difficulties faced (or just brush them away with "i faced difficulties and i did such and such...")...

anyway. random other thought - it was funny to me when August said american kids should be grateful to get a free high school education. i actually think THATS a case of LOW EXPECTATIONS. In many countries college is free, (ha, health insurance is free and i could go on and on...), military recruiters don't prey on poor students of color and convince them there are no other options, etc...why don't we expect that of this country?


P. Maestro said...

Totally agree with you- and makes me rethink high school graduations a whole different way, lol

but yeah, it really is just one phase of a longer process

Melissa said...

The problem isn't the celebration -- it's the mindset that's wrong. Graduating high school shouldn't be celebrated because it's an END, but because it's a beginning... of going to college, of getting a good job, etc. There's nothing wrong with praise and celebration if the MINDSET is OK -- that this is just the first step on the path.

DJ said...

Field, are you sure they weren't just happy that they graduated for the sake of being happy? White parents go nuts over it, too.:)

Blinders Off said...

The truth I was speaking of was in reference to FN: But he was right about the "soft racism of low expectations."

There is nothing wrong in celebrating any accomplishment of a child, but while we are celebrating the small accomplishment we must continue to encourage them to go further. There are many people in our race who had/have parents that did not finish grade school or high school because of their economic situation. Because of their lack of education it is a pivotal and proud moment when their child/children complete high school. Unfortunately, they did not have the wherewithal to guide their child beyond completing high school. Soft racism of low expectations mostly comes from school counselors and soft racism also comes within our own race.

The above is my story. My parents were hard workers and did not receive government assistance. Hell, I never thought of us being poor growing up. My father always stressed getting our education because he did not have that luxury. His father was a sharecropper and my father had to work in the fields when it was harvest time. Although, he never had a formal education he had mother wit. I remember the day when my father asked me to teach him how to read. I also remember the embarrassment on his face when he explained to me why he did not know how to read.

Because of grace I did not fall in the pit most young blacks do when they are the product of parents who did not receive a formal education. The worst soft racism of low expectations comes from many educated blacks who look down on other blacks. Instead of sharing their knowledge of the system they rather snub their own race. My only regret in life is I have yet to obtain my BA, but I am continuing to work towards that goal. To make up for not having my BA early in life, I obtained professional licenses in Real Estate, Tax Preparation, and Emergency Telecommunication. Having a professional license for me is not the same as having my BA, therefore, I am pressing towards that goal for myself. Kitty Glendower CONGRATULATIONS! If it makes you feel better I thought I would have mine by now, but LIFE is unpredictable.

As a parent IT IS imperative to stress the importance of an education beyond high school for the very reason stated by comments on this post. I made it a point to guide MY daughters from the mistakes I made and instill in them the importance of a higher education and I can proudly say, "Mission accomplished. I came from meager and humble beginnings and I had many blessings in my life, I will never turn my nose up at another human being. My goal in life now is to reach as many young and old people as possible with the knowledge I have obtained over the years and show them the way.

CPL said it best: "Our race has taken everything that can be thrown at it to destroy us, and guess what? We're STILL HERE.”

We are still here because many people care and are not giving up on our race. There are many in our race that is not reachable, but there are just as many who are reachable.

field negro said...

"We are still here because many people care and are not giving up on our race. There are many in our race that is not reachable, but there are just as many who are reachable."

Now that shit was profound! Thanks
for that blinders off, and your personal story. Kitty, thanks for yours too.

But the truth of the matter is; for every hardship and hard luck story you have I can tell you of people (particularly in Third World countries) who had it worse. At least you had electricity. What about the people who grew up without it in poorer countries? At least you had furniture? What about the people who had to use discarded boxes and milk cases for furniture? Yep I have seen em. (Volunteered in rural Jamaica doing National Youth Service as a teacher right out of high school) And you know what, some of those kids actually made it. Now that's real poverty.

Most of the people commenting here had good parents who stressed education-I can tell from the comments-so in a sense, i am preaching to the choir. That is most often the case when I post here, because the people who come here are pretty like minded. (Although we jump on each other at times)

But as someone posting above said; no one who comes to this site is bougie, or thinks they have arrived and can leave other black folks behind. If that's what you want there are some other black sites I can suggest......a few come to mind, but I am not going to go there. And I am sure those folks don't come to the fields too often. if they do, it's to lurk and send me bullshit e-mails full of hateration :)

But honestly, this is why I love blogging, because some of the shit other folks bring to the table is incredible. Someone was posting about about teaching their dad to read and that shit had me damn near tearing up. If I wasn't at the plantation I probably would have. I learn from folks like Jose who is actually teaching these kids out here, and natalie, who works in the social services in one of our large cities. (The 8th grader celebration is priceless. I almost forgot about that one)

But I can understand how some people are torn with this issue. Because on some levels you do want families to revel in their children's achievements especially when they didn't have the same chances because of racism and all the other f***%d up stuff that happened to them along the way.

So i understand that point of view. But sorry, I still see too many of our people settling, and not encouraging our kids to do better with their lives.

Hey, unless they have a hell of jump shot, can run a 10.0 hundred,or can act their asses off, education is pretty much it when it comes to a better life in this country. And that's something I think we can all agree on.

Sorry about all the bad spelling, i am still at the plantation, and rushing this post.

rikyrah said...


The High School Graduations don't upset me.

The RENTING OF THE LIMO FOR EIGHTH GRADE Graduation just makes my eyes bug out.

Yes, I said it..

8th grade.

Son of Baldwin said...

Chris Rock said something very similiar during his stand up.

The Urban Scientist said...

Umm, I'm with rikyrah!! Celebrate high school. That is great. And though I can be an academic snob (I have 3 degrees myself), college isn't for everyone. Post-secondary education should be a norm.
But it's the "fool acting" at promotion exercises that break my heart. At my younger siblings 6th grade promotion (elementary ends and junior high begins at grade 7), mommas and ma-dears were were plum excited. There were ballons and bull horns, even limos.

Now that's celebrating too soon and settign soem VERY LOW expectations for your children. Oh, and I didn't have to say it, but these antics were most often demonstrated for sons, not daughters. Another sad commentary.

Hathor said...

The thing is, one should be educated when they graduate high school. I recently saw an eight grade exam from the 19th century, I doubt that most urban graduates could pass it.
High school graduates need to able to think creatively and learn skills quickly, so that they will be able to work. A college education may not be economically feasible or a tech school may be a better fit for that persons talents. Yes have goals, but be realistic. One has to learn to survive with what they have. Having a work ethic is very important, whether college is a destination for that person or not. Hopefully a good education in high school would enable a person to mature. What I would want of a high school graduate would be for that person to have confidence, maturity, knowledge, and capable if being a good citizen, making decisions and the right choices.

That would be worthy of celebrating.

Angela L. Braden, Writer, Speaker, Professor said...

This subject makes me feel a little light headed. So that I can make sure that I won't ramble on and on, I'll make sure that I will only leave a quick comment.

So many of the stories above touched me. CPL and Kitty comes to mind. Great, real life stories.

I was much like CPL. I was smart, but the guidance counselors wanted to guide my a$$ right to community college. They said I would never make it in a 4-year university. (I had to deal with people having low expectations for me for triple reasons: race, gender, and disability.)

I'm so glad that I'm the daughter of a teacher. And I'm so glad that before I was even 8-years-old, I was determined to be a lawyer. I didn't quite make it to law school, but my determination to be college educated got me farther than where others would have expected me to go.

In December, I, Angela Braden, the blind one, will be the 1st on two sides of my family, to graduate with a masters degree. I'm glad I didn't listen to the racist, sexist school counselors that tried to hold me back. I'm glad that when it comes to my success, I'm a hardheaded sistah.

And BTW: There's nothing wrong with celebrating acomplishments. Graduating from high school is an accomplishment. And Field, if you don't think it's an accomplishment, you need to take a visit to the hood out here in Houston.

(Oops, I rambled. LOL)

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with people celebrating when someone graduates from highschool even though it should be expected. For me personally it was never about stopping at highschool because I knew better. I will be the third generation to attend college in my family. Most of my uncles and aunts are Doctors, lawyers and educators. Some of them have Masters. So for me it was just always expected.

By the way, it's not just the kids in the public schools acting up. It's the black kids in the private schools. I've been to both. Currently I am enrolled in a private school and I know some of the black kids there care a lot less and slack off more than some of the black kids in public schools. They think that daddy can buy their way out of everything.

just my two cents...

Oh, field you should do a post on the theory of the talented tenth. I would like to hear your opinion on it.

Anonymous said...

I do think it is nice to celebrate. For my PhD I felt a celebratory moment when the mother of a friend congratulated me, out of the blue, with great sincerity: "I know that took a lot of work and I am proud of you." I could hardly believe it - someone had finally congratulated me *without* saying in the same breath that what I had done was not enough. It was inspiring and strengthening.

However, re those parties: I've seen the 8th grade graduation limos too, and enormous and expensive goings-on for elementary school birthday parties. And then when you start seeing what happens in high school and how expensive it is, it is ridiculous ... hundreds of dollars just for prom *pictures,* never mind the actual clothes... this I think has got to stop. What is it, everyone thinks they have to be Lady Di or a TV star now?

Anonymous said...

P.S. Low expectations are bad, though. I've got kids in college who have the low expectations syndrome. I
could just strangle (well, not really) the people who have put those on them.

What is odd is that while they have low expectations of themselves, many of them still feel so entitled. Perhaps it is an effect of those overly opulent parties?

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of how, in high school, I'd hear some kids (black and white) talk about how their parents paid them when they got good grades. They'd get like $10 for an A and $7 for a B and so on. When I asked my parents to cut me a deal like that, they looked at me like I was nuts. They said I'm not paying you for something you're supposed to be doing. He cut me another kind of deal: as long as I kept getting good grades, I'd be allowed to stay in the house. I thought they were the meanest people in the world at the time, but now I realize the wisdom behind it.

Unknown said...

Kitty I agree with Field. There are always people out there that have it much worse than you do.
I was born and raised in a third world country. I did not expect my parents to afford to send me to an American university. So I went to the American center in my home town and I looked through huge volumes for colleges that offered financial aid to foreign students. Now, Americans do not realize how lucky they are. Why? You are eligible for grants and even loans. A foreign student cannot apply for such grants and or loans and guess what any scholarship that is awarded thro the govt I am not eligible for that either. OH did I tell you that I was not allowed to work off campus and if I had a job on campus I could only work for 20 hrs a week. Going through college was very tough. BTW I had to maintain a full load or my visa was going to be revoked. Immigration is rough on foreign students. If you look really hard there are schools willing to give you lots of money especially small private schools in the middle of nowhere. So do you see why I say its unforgivable for somebody to drop out of school. So for those who think college is expensive think twice. So to sum things up the only thing my family coughed up was a plane ticket and well wishes. So, a post graduate degree and a good job later I can finally celebrate.

Anonymous said...

FN, I understand where you're coming from, but think about this: Nowadays , an undergraduate degree is the equivalent of a high school
diploma. So, should we forego the college grad celebrations, because in this day and
age, ya need that grad school degree. It's not enough to have a bachelor's.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

How many times do I have to say that I know people have it worse than I had it? Really, we can say that about every single complaint every presented now can't we. So fucking dismissive. Here is my point, AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN, many have the road paved for them and many do not, period. I think in order for us to not lose empathy (if some even have it) stories must be told, because if not, then the whole ideology will be "they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps."

GOOD GAWD, THERE ARE OTHERS WHO HAD IT WORSE. DID I FINALLY SAY IT ENOUGH! There are people who have it worse than the JENA 6, so why bother with that story?

Anonymous said...

august, I see what you are saying but just b/c Americans can apply for grants and loans and scholarships still doesn't take away from the fact that college is expensive. Plus a lot of inner city kids don't know about all the scholarships and grants out there so they end up stuck at wendy's flippin burgers.

kaya said...

i mean honestly, no one over-celebrates high school graduation more than rich white folks. and i don't think that's a case of low expectations. i think thats a case of too much money. i say if black people want to celebrate graduating high school, go ahead. its an accomplishment these days to make it through high school as a black american. and to be perfectly honest, i think the "soft racism of low expectations" and the whole bill cosby sideshow is at best a distraction from the real issues at hand. black folk wouldn't have low expectations for their children if they didn't have to watch them struggle against all types of institutional racism just trying to make it to college. i get that having a positive attitude about your childrens future helps, but lets not act like that's the problem here because i think we all know its not.

Anonymous said...

You can get grants and so on if you know how to make a good application but very many do not, and do not have anyone to show them, and that includes their h.s. teachers and counselors.

Check out this website for the film "Left Behind," on the N.O. public school system.

A Black Panther Forever said...

Black people will always struggle in Amerikka. Being in an alien land we are always trying to define ourselves thru others eyes. I dont have to expound on that. As far as high school-- being in the first intregrated class, I had the false belief that my race was inferior to the whites. Coming from a poor but overachieving family we were pushed to excel and "beat the whites at their best"> The first years of integration- 1964-70, I feel that the Blacks were competitive, unfortunately we became the crop of the school system by means of sportws. When we were adored due to our prowness on the field and courts the class room became secondary. This game of "allowing" us to be loved by our physical attributes have taken away our motivation for academic excellance. I know a lot of people will say "bull", but I have lived in two Amerikkas and I KNOW what I have seen. Look at Amerikka today. The Black male is a crop for Amerikka, Either he he prime: the atheletes or entertainers, or he is scum- which the system use for the penal industry. Dont get mad at who tell you your shortcomings. Until we relly compete with the other races we will continue to celebrate short of the goal line. Field- let them celebrate, this may motivate some change. Still a Black Panther. Amerikka cant let you all succeed. Making wealth off you for 400+ years. We didnt listen in the 60s- therefor now we are still trying to motivate people for small steps.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this one. On one hand when I was a teacher's assistant (in philly) I had to take over the class and raise the expectations because the students were missing class, did not know what the point was...the teacher was plagiarizing their work, because she did not think that they would be able to finish...and not to sound arogant, but when I decided to take over, teach them how to write an essay, explained why it was important to analyze primary sources so that you do not have to hand over your intellectual autonomy to white people in power and showed them how to use computers to put together resumes...they not only all started attending class regularly, but that staid hours later to work on stuff.

There are a lot of anthropology and social science research that is quite fascinating about the power of expectations. A simple plastic surgery procedure on babies born with down syndrome, increase their IQ by something like 30% because people treated them like normal babies...they have had experiments where a principle would walk in two similar "troubled classes" and told one teacher that the class were of "genius" IQ and told the other teacher...uh oh...they are trouble makers...and the teachers worked harder and the students test scores were better...I lied to my students and tell them that I have received records that they are geniuses and tell them that I expect more out of is amazing...they think that they are geniuses and they act like it...

This reminds me of reading the autobiography of Malcom X and his reflection about a guy who was a genius in the numbers racket...and how he could calculate thousands of numbers and percentages at once...and he if he were allowed the opportunities...he could have been a genius on walstreet...

I feel like we are loosing our collective black intellectual capital because many children are not exposed to opportunities to show them what they are capable of doing. If someone could find this statistic please post it...but I recall reading somewhere where the majority of middle class white highschoolers with a C average go to college and the majority of minority students in the ghettos who get straight As never go to college.

When I was doing child welfare work in Philly, I went to various students in middle school and highscool and asked them if they wanted to go to college...a lot of them said taht they did, but said that they are too poor or too stupid...who tells our children this? I know despite getting top scores on tests, when I moved to I was placed in remedial classes and no one ever told me about honors classes...when I applied to colleges...I knew that because I was poor I could get full financial aid...but I am not even sure how I found out and the high school counselors made it a point to tell me about all the schools that I would not get into. Many kids do not know about fee waivers for college applications, fee waivers for private school financial aid applications, fee waivers for the SAT and some scholarships for SAT prep courses....

who is going to tell them? White teachers and counselors? The relatives who have high school education?

Also...even when you graduate is not like all these doors open up...a lot of my black male friends who graduated college, often got fired for "being to intimidating" a lot of us were either "over qualified" or "under experienced" A lot of us were unemployed or working $8 an hour jobs...if we did not science majors...College is not this rosy of a world...

the part that I am conflicted about is that sometimes i think that I am an academic snob...and taht I feel like there needs to be room to acknowledge that people can have meaningful productive lives without ever going to college...especially in the realm of business...I know it is cliche that bill gates dropped out of college...and warren buffet was looking for someone to replace him and they did not need a college education....there are tons of people who have sucessful careers in the construction and real estate business without a college degree...

and honestly...I do not think that I learned much of anything in college and that it was just a stepping stone to get a law degree...if you are not a science major it is tough to do something with your BA.

Anonymous said...

So Black parents celebrating the accomplishments of their kids is just another big WRONG by the Black community. Is there anything black people ever get right? Aren't you worried you're going to put some house negroes out of business?

There is rationality behind the high school graduation celebrations---ESPECIALLY for those grads headed to good colleges. These colleges tend to be away from home, and they, therefore, may not allow the same level of celebrations--in terms of numbers of relatives---and familiar venues.

I wish for just one time those things that black people are perceived to do differently from white people aren't condemned as proof positive of black dysfunction.

We can do things very different from White People and not be wrong. It can just be different.

Anonymous said...

Every kid--no matter the level of his or her accomplishments---deserve happy memories of being particularly celebrated. At the end of life, these are the moments that make a heart smile---recalling the happy beams of satisfaction in a hard-laboring parents' eyes. Why not more of that--not less?

In the kitchen of my childhood home in Detroit is a collage my mother made before she passed. The collage is comprised of the high school graduation photos of each of my parents five children--and that of an uncle my parents' raised. In each photo, the graduating one of of us is tightly wedged between my parents. My parents' eyes are happy and proud. Each of us is too. And although all of us went on to college, and three of us on to receive graduate degrees, these pictures capture very happy celebratory moments--that did not diminish one bit my very poor parents' expectations that we would all do more.

field negro said...

"So Black parents celebrating the accomplishments of their kids is just another big WRONG by the Black community. Is there anything black people ever get right? Aren't you worried you're going to put some house negroes out of business?"

Nope, the House Negro business is pretty good ;)

If you think it's cool for black families to act as if a HS diploma is the be all to end all, well, then, that's you. But sorry, I can't buy what you are selling on this one.

My experiences tell me that's counter productive. Why? because I live in Philly, and every day I look at the f*&**d up results of these failed families and I just can't turn a blind eye to that.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...


Allow me to add my congratulations to your accomplishment. I believe you're destined for bigger and better things, so don't give up, and to everyone else, it's not a competition to see how hard it was for anyone, or how bad anyone had it in life.


Now, Field, when I was a senior in high school, my boyfriend was giving me grief about hitting the sheets with him on prom night. Mind you it was MY prom he would be escorting me to. When I said I wasn't ready, he said he wasn't taking me to the prom if he was going to end up with Blue Balls at the end of the evening.

I'd pretty much decided I wouldn't go at that point. But my mother had other ideas.

She wanted me to experience everything about my senior year, including grad night, the prom, Senior Picnic...all of that shyt before going to college. This was in the midst of my losing my grandmother (my mom's mother, for whom I'm named) and my father - both within six months of one another.

Anyone else probably wouldn't have wanted to celebrate anything when you've lost two loved ones so close to graduation. As I said, my mother had other ideas.

She called up one of her friends, who had a son my age, and asked him to escort me to my prom. I was MORTIFIED until I met the brotha.

He was Blair Underwood fine, and I went to my prom in high style (back then, high style was getting your parent's car, especially if they had the latest Deuce & Quarter {Buick Electra 225) or an Cadillac Eldorado, which my prom date's mother owned, LOL).

I got to my prom, and everyone was expecting me to bring my loser boyfriend. Instead, thanks to my mom, I showed up with my own version of "McDreamy", and all my girlfriends asking him if he had any brothers or friends. He made my prom night very special, to the point, 25 years later, I still remember it.

I rambled all that to explain, in a sense, why our parents throw themselves whole hog into the accomplishment of graduating high school. I had reached those rites of passage, and my mother wanted, if not needed, something to celebrate (losing her mother so close to my prom and graduation was really difficult because my grandmother was so looking forward to seein me walk across that stage, even in her wheelchair - and I wanted to introduce my peeps to my grandmother, so they would know where I got my unusal first name).

That "something" to celebrate was my prom, with grad night and graduation following three weeks later.

While I do understand where you're coming from, I think most of us had parents like mine, and they want to be part of that celebration of the rites of passage when the time comes.

But, I'm also like Rikyrah on the 8th grade celebrations - WTH is up with renting limos for 8th graders? What are they going to do come prom time - rent a yacht?

Anonymous said...

Other examples: the Jews celebrate the 13th year. The Latinos celebrate the 15th year for their girls. What's wrong with Black celebrations?

Really (absolutely no offense intended at all) there is very little the Black immigrant can teach the domestic Black about suffering and scarcity. After all most--all--black immigrants come from countries run by people like them for them. American blacks live in a country bent on destroying them. In comparisons, the Black immigrant loves to emphasize perceived material differences. But what is that, really, after 18 years old--if anything before then? Who had a big screen television--who didn't.

The relevant comparison is in psychic harms, suffering. Immigrants are from places that affirm them. Domestic blacks are in a place that is built on destroying them. The battles domestic blacks fight are not won by securing a plane ticket, take a cab driver's job, and buying the biggest television set.

Thus, most apparent gains an immmigrant realizes are fairly immediate, temporary, and pyhric. After just two generations, oppression wreaks havoc with the Black immigrant's psyche as well, and he spends the rest of his time--like the domestic--groping for solutions.

I am really waiting for the day when the Black immigrant will finally take on appropriate responsibility and build a thriving country that Black Americans can look to with pride--and as leverage--against the United States government.

Rent Party said...

I echo Anonymous 1:53 AM.

Anonymous said...


You're a hater. Seriously.

Highschool graduations should be celebrated just like Middle-school graduations should be celebrated-- ANYTHING to give these kids the positive reinforcement needed to get to the next level.

My dad not showing up for my high school graduation would tell me that it doesn't matter much to him, one way or another-- so, if I find a benchmark in success, it doesn't matter.

Let some people celebrate, for God sake. Stop hating. Stop judging.

Anonymous said...

I get what you're saying, Field. There's nothing wrong with celebrating a graduation, but if you make too big a deal of it- make out like it's the be and end all as you said- you run the risk of making the young person think it's the culmination of something rather than the beginning. I've seen it happen.

field negro said...

"The relevant comparison is in psychic harms, suffering. Immigrants are from places that affirm them.."

Wrong raven! Many immigrants come from countries with caste systems and racism in place. They face prejudice and ignorance in their native countries as well. Many of them are from very poor families suffering from generational poverty. So sorry, many of these imigrants are ont from places that affirm them.

Sorry, but British colonialism was just as bad as American Jim Crow, and it's effects were just as devastating. What, you think the brutal treatment of blacks ended at the American shore? The last time I checked my ancestors were brought to the West on slave ships too.

I do agree with the last part of your comments though; I too long to see a strong black country, free of corruption with a strong economic base, and one that will rival all the First World powers.

"for God sake. Stop hating"

anon. 7:06 PM, I am really hating because YOU graduated high school....shhhhh. And people wonder why we are so fucked up as a race :(

Anonymous said...

You make my point, FN. If you challenge a superior-feeling black immigrant on how it is that he/she is in the U.S. sliding along the roads greased by the blood and suffering of domestic blacks--if he/she is all that, the immigrant will explain that he's here because of the suffering inflicted on him as a colonial black because he is a colonial black in some country far, far away.

But if America is so bad as to destroy all the chances for success for the immigrant black in his home country, what more the impositions and burdens placed on domestic blacks right up in the belly of the beast?

field negro said...

"what more the impositions and burdens placed on domestic blacks right up in the belly of the beast?"

No no no raven. You are approaching this debate with blinders on as an Af. American first and foremost. That's a non starter with any debate about the plight of black people with me.

I have said this a million times. I don't consider myself Af.Am, Jamaican, Jam-erican, or whatever. I am a "world citizen", a black man living in the world whose ancestors came from Africa.

I have argued with people like Cobb about this before. They are so caught up in being Af. American that they lose sight of the fact that they are a part of a much bigger race. That's backwards thinking as far as I am concerned.

Everyone is in the "belly of this beast" my brother. Everyone. Do you think, for instance, that some Haitian person who came over here on a raft, and who works as a domestic in South Florida-- hiding from the INS everyday, speaks not a lick of English, has it better than your avge Af. American? Come on, let's keep it 100%


Sorry, I am not going to make any apologies for who I am to anyone black or white.

If people have their own insecurities that's on them. And I won't buy into divisions among black people based on geography. Lord knows I get enough of white folks trying to divide us as it is.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Raven.

There is a vast difference from relatives who marry into my family from other countries and native blacks. For most black immigrants, unless you are a refugee, chances are you are from the middle and upper educated class. Or as I like to say, the oppressor class who benefits off or exploits the poor blacks in some fashion. In such black countries, middle class and upper class believe that the poor in their countries are poor because they are lazy and stupid. They fail to realize that most poor adults are born poor and most rich adults were born rich.

Then they come to the US and think that they are struggling with the poor blacks here because they realize that even though they were educated and had some resources in their home country, they are poor here. So they bring their oppressor attitude, compare themselves to poor blacks and say that they are lazy.

Anonymous said...

For my own education, where in black kingdom-dom are there "caste systems?" There is Sudan, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic--perhaps--but these aren't really caste systems.

field negro said...

You asked, so I will educate you. Don't take the word "caste" for its literal Hindu hereditary meaning. When I refer to caste, I am talking about what anon 9:29 PM above said: Privilege, and entititlement based on family status, skin tones etc. This is true in damn near every Third Worlf country on this earth--including the ones you mentioned.

So again, to get bak to my original premise. The blacks that you claim came here and had it so easy, because they didn't have to go through the psychological and physical oppression of American blacks does not exist. And if there is a percentage of them that does exist, it's no more than the blacks in this country with similar privileges.

Bob said...

You're right about low expectations, but so very wrong in the example you chose. I'm sorry if your dad didn't give a shit about your high school graduation. That must have hurt. He was wrong, & you don't have to be like him.

Anonymous said...


I think that one of the problems we face in this culture is the movement toward a credential based society.

People who are carpenters, plumbers, electricians, secretaries and factory workers have value as human beings.

High School graduation is a rite of passage that should be celebrated. Congratulations to those going on to college, good luck to those who will stop here for now.

Angela L. Braden, Writer, Speaker, Professor said...

Field, I'm kind of split on this one. I see your point, but I still think there is nothing wrong with congratulating each other for a job well done, especially when, for whatever reason, many are not getting the job done. And I think that anon above made a good point.

"People who are carpenters, plumbers, electricians, secretaries and factory workers have value as human beings."

I think that often times college graduates have the tendency to look down on individuals that chose to be apart of the very underpaid, but very necessary working class. My father is a plumber, and he made as much or more money than my mother, who was a veteran teacher.

I'm an advocate for post education. But I don't think it always has to come in the form of "a 4-year university." There are a lot of trades that our kids, especially the young men, are leaving on the shelf. Many of these trades pay good money and come with respect. You know it hurts my heart when I see how many white and mexican men work out at in Pasadena and at the Port of Houston making $70K and $80K doing manual labor work. But they got the training to do it. Not from a degree, but a technical program.

But with that being said, even in the working class jobs, many of the individuals that used to be able to get those jobs without college degrees are being passed over by folks that are just coming out of college. So many admin positions are being filled by recent grads rather than the girl that has no college hours.

I tell you all of this is so interesting and so complex.

One more thing, Field... Sadly, many of us make the mistake of using our parents reactions, actions, and behaviors as standards for life. Just because your father chose to not come to your graduation does not make your graduation any less important than the parents who chose to yell and clap histerically when their kid crossed the stage.

My nickel.

field negro said...

Angie and Bob, my father not coming to my graduation didn't scar me---far from it. I don't think he went to my sister's either. (Probably out of the country, because without getting into who or what he was; let's just say he was a very busy person at the time)But again, no one is knocking graduation, but we have to keep some perpective here. And yes, if the child goes on to become an electrician,plumber, carpenter...whatever (And they all make damn good money by the way)we should make a big deal of that as well. But I don't think that you folks realize that it's just as hard to get into one of these building trades as it is to college. So maybe getting into a well paying union job is worth celebrating. But sorry, not graduating H.S. I know some people don't like to hear that, but it's the truth.

I love my father to death ,and appreciate now the things that he did and didn't do. He didn't set low expectations for us, and I am a better person for it.

Guess what, if and when I do have kids, I am going to do the exact same thing. Treat H.S. graduation as a right of passage, not a cause for celebration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, FN. I see then. Black immigrants are simply making much of common circumstances when they talk of so-called caste systems of their society. Domestic blacks face that kind economic, light skin determinations without much of a comment--because it so pales in comparison to the restrictions that can and are commonly placed on us by white supremacy. Thus, if domestic blacks had the space to contemplate the kind of lower level oppression imposed on us because of class and skin color, we would have to talk of a triple layer of oppression--not the single oen faced by some black immigrants in some of their home countries.

So, again, no Black immigrant can tell a tale of woe remotely close to the one domestic blacks can tell--in psychological terms.

Moreover, in the countries most represented in the U.S.--Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya--there just isn't such a system--although, admittedly--Jamaicans seem to exalt their lighter skinned people-and embrace their merchant Indian class with great pride.

This is all I will say on this point. I will respect and await any further comment or clarification you might offer, FN.

field negro said...

raven, i really respect you my brother/sister (not sure) and you are obviously a very well read and deep thinker. I love how you challenge my ideals and perpective, and our back and forth is always civil and well reasoned.

But having said all of that; we are going to have to agree to disagree until you can come up with something else to show me how domestic blacks suffer more than immigrants in this country.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 8:39 has a very valid point: blue collar people are people, too!


On this:

"how domestic blacks suffer more than immigrants in this country" ... that is pretty broad question: all domestic Blacks vs. all immigrants? Which immigrants ... ones who walked here and cannot read, or ones who arrived without money but with a student visa and a college admission letter?

The first thing that pops into my mind is, immigrants are people who at least had the strength and resources to get here. Both abroad and here, I also know people who do not have the resources to get further than walking distance away from home.

The question also smacks to me of competitive misery - bickering over who suffers the most. I am not sure how really useful that is.

Neither am I convinced conditions for the miserable here are really *that* much better than those of the starving abroad. I've spent about half my life in 3d world countries and when I started doing that I would not have believed that those sorts of conditions existed in the U.S. But I only have to walk a few blocks from my house in Louisiana to find people living in wooden shacks with little to no indoor plumbing, no heat, no water heater, electricity *if* they can pay for it or pirate it but most often not, butane tanks for gas when they can fill them, no transportation, no food the second two weeks of the month, no furniture (you collect old clothes and sleep on them in piles), no school supplies, no school uniforms, etc. etc.

Now, these people nevertheless do not have stomachs swelled from starvation or from parasites and that is one way we could say they are privileged because they are Americans, and so on. They have access to relatively clean running water, and the wooden shacks they live in are at least not cardboard boxes or corrugated iron lean-tos.

'Be grateful you are not yet worse off' is really not the most appropriate thing to say to people in such a situation. Neither is 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps, get ye to college.'

Anonymous said...

I meant in that last paragraph: even to the extent that my massively underprivileged neighbors are up to a point better off than people elsewhere - access to relatively clean water is a *big* thing - college isn't really accessible and this *is* for reasons beyond their control ... and just college wouldn't fix the situation.

Gail said...

Can you stand one more comment? Celebrating graduation from high school is good and appropriate. You are marking an achievement, but no where does it mean it should be the final achievement. A high school graduate has earned the right to be congratulated, acknowledged, and then set off on his or her next goal, path, adventure, or whatever you'd care to call it. After all, we call it a commencement ceremony, don't we? We mark it as the starting point for the next level.

I'm thinking that if someone (his grandfather?) had congratulated Clarence Thomas on each of his achievements and steps, maybe he wouldn't have become such an isolated soul. (But, I'm no psychologist.)

On the Sports Analogy (you're going to groan), I was really thinking it was going to be the Padres who swept the Phillies. Afterall, as I write, Holliday has yet to touch home plate. I realize that adds nothing to your point.

I read about you in the LA Times. I'll check back!
Gambits from Gail

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

I walked away from this entry for a while, but I'm back to say thank you very much for the kind words blinders off and the christian progressive liberal . I appreciate it very much.

Unknown said...

I am a conscientious Canadian who has grown weary of American arrogance. I recently read the book American Bravado and think it should get widespread coverage. Finally, someone has the courage to tell the naked truth about the Ugly American.

Angela L. Braden, Writer, Speaker, Professor said...

Kitty, I failed to comment on your comment before now. But I wanted to tell you that your story is so common to the way many of the people in the area where you grew up were then and now are forced to live. As you were telling your story, I knew you weren't lying. I could see everything you were saying.

Kitty, I congratulate you for rising above the bull. Not many of the folks from that district can say they did the same.


Alex said...

Hey, every time I passed an exam or completed a paper on time I celebrated! A little encouragement goes a long way and besides, who said everyone has to go to college? Success comes in very many different shapes and sizes!

Unknown said...

Canada, please. No one is more arrogant than a Canadian--and far less reason. People rail against Mexican immigrants. I rail against Canadians immigrants. I want them out, out, out. No country has been given more and carried farther--and has done so little with the help. Canadians haven't invented much of anything. It has vast resources which it is too lazy to exploit--unless another country proposes to. Canadians celebrate their evolved political astuteness--but they their nobility is that of an aristocrat--oof privilege position--free of struggle. The U.S. pays the heavy price for Canada's magnaminity.

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