Gene Marks’s widely panned Forbes article from earlier this month, If I Were a Poor Black Kid, was perhaps one of most egregious examples of myopic prejudice on the Internet in years. It was blind to reality and racist in ways both subtle and overt, and it deserved to be torn apart the way it was. But for all its flaws, there was a passage in Marks’s article that, small as it was, held a kernel of truth:
So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know [educational and scholarship opportunities] exist for them. Many come from single-parent families whose mom or dad (or in many cases their grandmom) 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.
This is in fact true. There are a great many African-American children who simply don’t know of the many ways they can benefit from the system to move ahead in education. This isn’t their own fault — cash-strapped schools can find it difficult to hire and retain college counselors and the like whose job it normally is to help students learn how to get ahead — but it does negatively impact them every day.
As a sort of public service, US News and World Report recently posted a list of organizations offering scholarships to African-American students studying in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM fields). Some of the scholarships are worth thousands of dollars, and the education they’d help provide is worth far more than that. “Like Latinos and women, African-Americans are underrepresented in STEM fields,” writes Jason Koebler. “If you're interested in studying for a STEM degree in college, there are several organizations out there willing to help you out financially.”
It’s a great and servicey bit of blogging designed to help out the Black community, and it’s nice to see in a publication like US News and World Report, which obviously doesn’t fancy itself an “ethnic” publication. But as nice as it is, it’s a shame it’s not also appearing in every Black publication in America, many of which frequently find stories about Atlanta housewives and Chris Brown preferable to things that are actually of help to the community.
Here’s hoping 2012 finds more Black publications unwilling to let US News be the go-to source for African-American education news.
The Scholarships List:
— Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals
— Gateway to Leadership Program
— Gates Millennium Scholars Program
— National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering
— National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates
— National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists
— National Society of Black Physicists
— National Society of Black Engineers
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