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Old 12-16-2011, 01:51 AM   #1
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If I were a middle-aged white guy

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If I Were a Middle-Aged White Guy

Jim Windolf
The Atlantic
Dec 14, 2011

If I were a middle-aged white guy, I would lease a nice car. Having a nice car makes a nice impression on others. And I would keep the car pristine. Whenever I parked outside Walgreen's or Wal-Mart, I would straddle the painted white line and take up two spaces. That way, you don't get dings. I hate dings. Dings bring down the value of the vehicle.

If I happened to be making a quick stop at the 7-11, I would ease into the handicapped spot, because eighty percent of those people are faking it. This one guy I heard about had asthma. That's how he got the handicapped plate. I would leave the engine running, partly so it wouldn't get cold, and partly so that, if some actual, no-kidding-around handicapped person were to pull up in their specially made handicap-mobile, they would figure I was coming back shortly.

If I were a middle-aged white guy, I would work hard at my job. No one likes a lazy person. And I would smile at my coworkers, because no one likes a sourpuss. I would also be sure to ask my colleagues how their day was going, and I would talk about TV shows and football games with them, and I would perhaps mention that I hadn't seen them in church lately, which is a funny thing to say nowadays, when there are so many people who haven't accepted the Lord Jesus as our savior.

If I were to see a coworker slacking off, I might remark, in jest, "Some of us have work to do." And if they told me to fuck off, I would call human resources and report them, because middle-aged white guys should not have to be subjected to such abusive talk. I would also discuss the incident with my immediate boss, and if he were to tell me, "You just need to worry about your own work and let me take care of the rest of the floor," I would probably say, "It's funny how you asshole liberals are always talking about 'it takes a village,' but the minute someone steps up to point out that one of the 'villagers' is slacking off, you get nothing but shit for it." And if he were to reply, "Are we done here?", I would probably just say something like, "Yeah, I guess we are. I guess nothing's ever going to change around here," and then I would walk back to my desk, muttering to myself. For a little office humor I would make sure a coworker or two heard me use the word "shotgun."

If I were a middle-aged white guy, and my children were doing poorly in school, I would smash things in their rooms, the lamps and vacation souvenirs and such, and I would inform them that the stuff I had just broken to bits had been gained in exchange for a certain thing known as money, and you get money in this world because you have skills, like computer programming, and you acquire those skills only after you earn halfway decent grades in school, and then you offer those skills to an employer who will pay you for your services, even if they never take it seriously when you make the slightest remark about how you're the main guy pulling his weight.

If my kids were to start crying when I did my demonstration of the value of a good education, I would tell them to knock it off, unless they really wanted something to cry about, and then, if my wife comes into the room and asks me what the hell I'm doing here, when the court said I was to remain at least 500 feet from the place that I once called home, I would remind her that the man is king of the castle and, last I checked, I was the one whose salary had paid for this piss-poor, split-level excuse of a palace, even if I did happen to be behind on the payments, partly because Hooters gals expect gifts in addition to the tips, or else your basket of wings is going to have spit in it, although I probably wouldn't mention the Hooters thing to my wife, but would make my point all the same.

And then, if she turns to me and says, "I don't know what happened to you," I will say back to her, "This whole country is a bunch of freeloaders," and I will leave the house, allowing my wife and kids to put everything I had said into their pipes and smoke it.

Jim Windolf is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He's @jimwindolf on Twitter, where he co-writes @wise_kaplan and @CrankyKaplan.

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments or send an email to the author at jimwindolf@mac.com. You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.


If I Were a Middle-Aged White Guy - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:28 AM   #2
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I new a guy just like this. I guess that was the point though, that we have too many people like this.

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Old 12-19-2011, 01:39 AM   #3
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If I happened to be making a quick stop at the 7-11, I would ease into the handicapped spot, because eighty percent of those people are faking it. This one guy I heard about had asthma. That's how he got the handicapped plate. I would leave the engine running, partly so it wouldn't get cold, and partly so that, if some actual, no-kidding-around handicapped person were to pull up in their specially made handicap-mobile, they would figure I was coming back shortly.
but i would steal his car

seriously though, sounds like one or two men i know, sadly
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:27 AM   #4
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you know that the original post came up in response to this article at Forbes.com:

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If I Were A Poor Black Kid

President Obama gave an excellent speech last week in Kansas about inequality in America.

“This is the defining issue of our time.” He said. “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.”

He’s right. The spread between rich and poor has gotten wider over the decades. And the opportunities for the 99% have become harder to realize.

The President’s speech got me thinking. My kids are no smarter than similar kids their age from the inner city. My kids have it much easier than their counterparts from West Philadelphia. The world is not fair to those kids mainly because they had the misfortune of being born two miles away into a more difficult part of the world and with a skin color that makes realizing the opportunities that the President spoke about that much harder. This is a fact. In 2011.

I am not a poor black kid. I am a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background. So life was easier for me. But that doesn’t mean that the prospects are impossible for those kids from the inner city. It doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities for them. Or that the 1% control the world and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps left behind. I don’t believe that. I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed. Still. In 2011. Even a poor black kid in West Philadelphia.

It takes brains. It takes hard work. It takes a little luck. And a little help from others. It takes the ability and the know-how to use the resources that are available. Like technology. As a person who sells and has worked with technology all my life I also know this.

If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently. I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best. And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities. Getting good grades is the key to having more options. With good grades you can choose different, better paths. If you do poorly in school, particularly in a lousy school, you’re severely limiting the limited opportunities you have.

And I would use the technology available to me as a student. I know a few school teachers and they tell me that many inner city parents usually have or can afford cheap computers and internet service nowadays. That because (and sadly) it’s oftentimes a necessary thing to keep their kids safe at home than on the streets. And libraries and schools have computers available too. Computers can be purchased cheaply at outlets like TigerDirect and Dell’s Outlet. Professional organizations like accountants and architects often offer used computers from their members, sometimes at no cost at all.

If I was a poor black kid I’d use the free technology available to help me study. I’d become expert at Google Scholar. I’d visit study sites like SparkNotes and CliffsNotes to help me understand books. I’d watch relevant teachings on Academic Earth, TED and the Khan Academy. (I say relevant because some of these lectures may not be related to my work or too advanced for my age. But there are plenty of videos on these sites that are suitable to my studies and would help me stand out.) I would also, when possible, get my books for free at Project Gutenberg and learn how to do research at the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia to help me with my studies.

I would use homework tools like Backpack, and Diigo to help me store and share my work with other classmates. I would use Skype to study with other students who also want to do well in my school. I would take advantage of study websites like Evernote, Study Rails, Flashcard Machine, Quizlet, and free online calculators.

Is this easy? No it’s not. It’s hard. It takes a special kind of kid to succeed. And to succeed even with these tools is much harder for a black kid from West Philadelphia than a white kid from the suburbs. But it’s not impossible. The tools are there. The technology is there. And the opportunities there.

In Philadelphia, there are nationally recognized magnet schools like Central, Girls High and Masterman. These schools are free. But they are hard to get in to. You need good grades and good test scores. And there are also other good magnet and charter schools in the city. You also need good grades to get into those. In a school system that is so broken these are bright spots. Getting into one of these schools opens up a world of opportunities. More than 90% of the kids that go to Central go on to college. I would use the internet to research each one of these schools so I could find out how I could be admitted. I would find out the names of the admissions people and go to meet with them. If I was a poor black kid I would make it my goal to get into one of these schools.

Or even a private school. Most private schools I know are filled to the brim with the 1%. That’s because these schools are exclusive and expensive, costing anywhere between $20 and $50k per year. But there’s a secret about them. Most have scholarship programs. Most have boards of trustees that want to give opportunities to kids that can’t afford the tuition. Many would provide funding for not only tuition but also for transportation or even boarding. Trust me, they want to show diversity. They want to show smiling, smart kids of many different colors and races on their fundraising brochures. If I was a poor black kid I’d be using technology to research these schools on the internet, too, and making them know that I exist and that I get good grades and want to go to their school.

And once admitted to one of these schools the first person I’d introduce myself to would be the school’s guidance counselor. This is the person who will one day help me go to a college. This is the person who knows everything there is to know about financial aid, grants, minority programs and the like. This is the person who may also know of job programs and co-op learning opportunities that I could participate in. This is the person who could help me get summer employment at a law firm or a business owned by the 1% where I could meet people and show off my stuff.

If I was a poor black kid I would get technical. I would learn software. I would learn how to write code. I would seek out courses in my high school that teaches these skills or figure out where to learn more online. I would study on my own. I would make sure my writing and communication skills stay polished.

Because a poor black kid who gets good grades, has a part time job and becomes proficient with a technical skill will go to college. There is financial aid available. There are programs available. And no matter what he or she majors in that person will have opportunities. They will find jobs in a country of business owners like me who are starved for smart, skilled people. They will succeed.

President Obama was right in his speech last week. The division between rich and poor is a national problem. But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality. It’s ignorance. So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them. Many come from single-parent families whose mom or dad (or in many cases their grand mom) is working two jobs to survive and are just (understandably) too plain tired to do anything else in the few short hours they’re home. Many have teachers who are overburdened and too stressed to find the time to help every kid that needs it. Many of these kids don’t have the brains to figure this out themselves – like my kids. Except that my kids are just lucky enough to have parents and a well-funded school system around to push them in the right direction.

Technology can help these kids. But only if the kids want to be helped. Yes, there is much inequality. But the opportunity is still there in this country for those that are smart enough to go for it.

If I Were A Poor Black Kid - Forbes


obviously, this generated a lot of response. if you go to the original Forbes page, you can find several links addressing the article.

but the funniest one is this:

Poor Black Kid

sample:

Quote:
Hi poor black kid, I'm on a tight budget but I'm always hungry, do you have any easy recipes or hunger suppression methods that I could use?

Use Skype video to watch other people around the world eat food. You will fill your mind with global delicacies!
or

Quote:
As a poor black kid, I'm wondering what magazine you think every other poor black kid should be reading once they've finished their Forbes Magazine for the month?

Regardies. It was a Washington business magazine in the 1980s. It has been out of print for a decade, but don’t let that stop you from learning the relevant lessons it has for us poor black kids
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:39 PM   #5
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you know that the original post came up in response to this article at Forbes.com:


Thank you. When I read this last night I had no idea what the fuck I was looking at.
What a douchey original article
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:06 PM   #6
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thanks for posting the original article Irvine!

i am pretty certain kids in dire circumstances would need to have at least 36 hours in their day and special bionic powers to accomplish all that extra self-teaching on top of coping with general day-to-day struggles...

ahh it must be nice living in his little utopia
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:14 PM   #7
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At least he had sufficient self-awareness to acknowledge that his own kids rely on "parents and a well-funded school system," rather than "the brains to figure this out themselves," in order to head in "the right direction." He doesn't though seem to grasp the broader implication of that, which is that when all's said and done it's conditioned and regularly reinforced norms, not uniquely personal aspirations, that actually keep most of us chugging along through thick and thin as well (or badly) as we do. Even for 'successful,' 'ambitious' people, this is usually the case. Similarly, he recognizes in principle that one major problem underprivileged people face in navigating our educational system is 'simply' not understanding what resources are available to help them, yet fails to grasp that this in turn implies a broader mentality of, 'I'm just supposed to muddle through on my own and if I screw up, it's because I'm stupid and lazy,' rather than the savvy "And once admitted to one of these schools the first person I’d introduce myself to..." outlook he so casually recommends. I see the latter problem all the time in many of my own students.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:17 PM   #8
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i agree. i actually thought the original article was well-intended and sincere, it just came off so ... well, the mockery wasn't undeserved, but things Gingrich has said are far, far, far more stupid and offensive.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:33 PM   #9
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If someone can explain to me how exactly the things Gingrich said about poor children in America are offensive, I'd be grateful.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Caleb8844
If someone can explain to me how exactly the things Gingrich said about poor children in America are offensive, I'd be grateful.
are you trolling?
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Caleb8844
If someone can explain to me how exactly the things Gingrich said about poor children in America are offensive, I'd be grateful.
You don't find putting 10 year olds to work offensive? Really?
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:10 PM   #12
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You don't find putting 10 year olds to work offensive? Really?
And yet, it occurs all over the world, especially in the third world.

It's shocking for first world citizens but quite common and unoffensive for people in other parts of the world.
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:19 PM   #13
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He was more talking about 14 and 15 year olds as I recall, but anyway, suggesting that the way to give kids from underprivileged communities a 'work ethic' is to fire the sort of sniveling unionized adults (like, say, their parents or neighbors) who clean schools for a living and force 14 and 15 year olds to work with hazardous chemicals and heavy equipment instead is outright farcical if you ask me. What kind of conservative advocates a scheme like that?
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by yolland
He was more talking about 14 and 15 year olds as I recall, but anyway, suggesting that the way to give kids from underprivileged families a 'work ethic' is to fire the sort of sniveling unionized adults (like, say, their parents) who clean schools for a living and force 14 and 15 year olds to work with hazardous chemicals and heavy equipment instead is outright farcical if you ask me. What kind of conservative advocates a scheme like that?
Well the quote from the debate didn't specify age or school, just that child labor laws are"stupid".
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:26 PM   #15
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And yet, it occurs all over the world, especially in the third world.
Does that make it right?
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