In the wake of Forbes contributor, Gene Marks, giving us an intimate view of his cozy cocoon of white privilege in the mind-numbingly dense column, “If I Were A Black Kid,” an outpouring of angry, insightful, cynical and humorous retaliatory articles have drowned the cybersphere with the crippling weight of the oppressive Black experience in America.

To give his condescension the ring of authenticity, Marks drags out a quote from President Barack “Stop grumblin’ and cryin’” Obama as his inspiration, in which the POTUS further proves that the GOP has him so afraid to claim a knowledge of kinship between “Black” and “poverty” that he probably wouldn’t order Roots on Netflix:

“This is the defining issue of our time,” said Obama.  “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class…”

It’s perfectly fine to say poor, Mr. President. It’s not contagious.

Initially, several sarcastic ideas floated through my mind in response.  I thought, maybe I should write an article entitled, “If I Were A Poor White Kid”? — or, better yet, “If I Were A Middle-Class White Guy.” After my instinctive anger faded, however, I realized one simple fact:

I could give less than a damn about what Gene Marks has to say.

HIV and AIDS are killing our ‘poor Black girls’ at a disproportionately higher rate than any other demographic around the globe; yet, what is supposed to be our media (*Kick rocks, BET*)promotes Chris Brown crooning that he’s going to make them “wet the bed.”

That was a problem long before Marks published his article on December 12, 2011.

The dismally low percentage of Black fathers in the home, and the subsequent ill effects, should cause many of us in heterosexual relationships to re-evaluate the dangerously unhealthy paradigm we’re passing down to our children; instead, we “honor” Lil Wayne at every single award show, who with four children by four different women, teaches our ‘poor black boys’ “how to love.”

That was a problem long before Marks published his article on December 12, 2011.

Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest public school district in the United States, has been found guilty of providing a sub-par education to Black students; but, through such “entertaining shows” as Basketball Wives and Love & Hip-Hop, our ‘poor Black kids’ are realizing that with big bank and a bigger ass, they, too, can run the world — or at least VH1.

That was a problem long before Marks published his article on December 12, 2011.

Living in a society where Tyler the Creator can boast about being a “Young Nigga” and Nicki Minaj can brag on being a plastic Barbie, Gene Marks probably thought he was doing us a solid.

Let’s be clear: The reflections of Black America that are scripted directly from misleading statistics are directly funded and promoted by wealthy white executives and mainstream media — we know this. For every absentee Black father, we all know one who goes over and beyond for his children; for every groupie, we all know an attorney; for every ‘poor Black kid,’ we all know one who grew up in a household that the Huxtables would envy.  However, the “upper-class” may be selling the worst that our culture has to offer, but we’re buying it with about as much concern for the ramifications as a diabetic eating a sugar cookie.

We could debate and argue the sheer audacity of Gene Marks’ Forbes spectacle; but the issue isn’t with his article, as least not for me. The issue is he only scratched the surface. When he cavalierly tossed out cliché anecdotes to every single economic ill that plague our ‘poor black kids,’ he didn’t have enough empathy to address the ingrained racist nature of the American judicial, economic and educational systems. He didn’t have enough awareness to understand that if it were that easy, if we didn’t have to start mid-race with physical, societal and psychological shackles strangling us, there would be more of our ‘poor black kids’ crossing the finish line.

With this piece, Marks has just added his name to a long list of self-entitled, patronizing plantation throwbacks, who wouldn’t understand the plight of a ‘poor black kid’ if he painted on black-face and walked through Compton.

The question should not be why Gene Marks would write such an insensitive article; the question is: what exactly did we expect from him?

From the sanctioned murder of Troy Davis and the flagrant slaying of Oscar Grant, to Marks voluntary assassination of our character, we, as a culture, have an unhealthy habit of waiting on white America to instigate injustice to mobilize the passionate protection of our collective self-worth. I think we can all agree that instead of ripping Marks’ ignorant article to shreds, our time and resources would be far better utilized creating our own plan to elevate the condition of our ‘poor Black kids’. Because at the end of the day, it’s inconsequential what some “Middle-class white guy” is saying to them.

What are we saying to them?

 

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  • Whatever

    I would also like to make a point about the pop culture stuff in the article. All these entertainers named are getting their checks cut by 1 of the 3 record companies. This is what they have decided to put out there. I am sure there are demos of people with real talent and maybe even some sort of conscious message behind their music that are currently in the dumpster out back.

    Oprah, another person who likes to spew “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” speeches (mixed in with some of her scientology ramblings) had the opportunity to shed light on this issue when she did her episode about hip hop. Instead of getting to the ROOT of the problem and calling out record execs, she just brought russell simmons on and a few rappers who are nothing more than employees for the record company. There was a much bigger question to be asked which she failed to do…. Why are these artists at the forefront and where are the people with the real talent?

    As for the VH1 reality shows, just like the music industry, there are some talented writers, directors and producers out there who i’m sure are pitching their hearts away from coast to coast. However, this is what is chosen. Henry Louis Gates did a piece on this subject a few years ago.

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  • Kirsten West Savali

    Thank you all for your feedback and both your comments and critiques…always appreciated. ;-)

    I’d like to take a brief moment to address this strident opposition to the word “we.”

    Should I begin prefacing all articles here with:

    There are Afro-Carribean, Afro-Latino, Black American of slave descent, first generation African-American, etc, we are all multi-faceted and diverse and can not be lumped into one group. “We” refers to circumstances that Black people in America (ethnicity) and African-Americans (nationality) and the Global Black community are disproportionately affected by, so if you want to opt out of the “we,” please know that this article is not referring to you?

    Would that help us stay on topic?

    Black people are not a monolith, we know that. Yet, we waste so much time trying to prove to each other and everyone else how un-alike we are. We get defensive and offensive, caught up in playing semantics rather than addressing the issues in our communities…wait, forgive me… for those who have a problem with “our,” what I mean is: rather than addressing the issues of some Black people in some neighborhoods in some parts of the country who have no kinship with you or anyone you know, just the fact that your great-great-great-great- grandfathers probably came over on slave ships together, but even then, Africa is so diverse, I’m sure they didn’t know each other or have anything in common.

    Better?

    I personally believe that there are some things that “we” as a collective should give a damn about. The state of mainstream urban music and programming and how it affects our children and how do we provide a platform that shows the diversity of our artistry; HIV and AIDS in the Global Black community; the negative role models that are taking the place of absentee parents, and the sub-par state of rural and inner-city schools. (To name a few).

    Common wisdom tells us that we are only as strong as our weakest link. So even if it doesn’t affect us individually, I think “we” all should be concerned. And if I’m wrong, I don’t want to be right.

    Pardon the interruption, just had to get that off of my chest. #Relaxrelaterelease

    Peace and light to all,

    K

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    • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      I appreciate you getting it off your chest, but it has not changed my mind. To me, it is racist to consistently assert everyone’s problem is my problem as long as we share a skin tone. I need someone to explain to me why the successes are never mine. Every success of black person is individual, but once fools with my skin tone 3,000 miles away shoots other people, it becomes a “we” problem.

      You guys can keep it. I am not interested in being part of the group. You can hold on to the black card while you are it. My blackness is not determined by a card, it is merely the color of my skin.

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    • Timcampi

      @TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      I totally agree!

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    • Kaya

      @thebestanonever. If that’s the case, why visit a website directed primarily at afro-woman? You do know websites like this generally aim at those who DO share a skin tone and the livelihood one might experience while in the shared skin tone….

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    • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      Kaya: Really? Please enlighten me on how the story on Kobe Bryant’s divorce ties into ‘he livelihood one might experience while in the shared skin tone’.

      Sometimes, I think people just sprout rubbish without clearing thinking about what they write.

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    • Timcampi

      @Kaya

      Site Description:

      Our Manifesto

      Smart is always sexy…
      Do it for yourself not someone else…
      Research is the key to a successful purchase…
      A girl should never leave home without her compact…
      Don’t be afraid to mix styles and colors…
      If he’s not into you…good…his loss…
      Living and learning are life’s best teachers…
      We dig men who recognize a mean shoe game..
      Staying involved in your community is essential…
      Diversity is what makes the world go round…
      Don’t date losers…pass them along to your enemies…
      The library is the hangout…
      Appearance is important…
      We live for good music and online shopping…
      We lead they follow…

      You were saying? Also in the site description “Clutch is for Black women” NOT Black-American women. It is aimed at whoever shares the same skin. A shared background is not required. I might add that there is no such thing as typical Black experience. Unless you’re going to come up with a list of stereotypes we should all adhere. Y’know to in order to become an acceptable amount of ‘Black’ for this site?

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    • Ravi

      Not sure how use of the word “we” leads to saying that every black person’s problem is your problem. I’m thinking people are reading a little too much into the use of the word and getting into pointless semantic battles. As with any identity, “we” is the proper term to use when referring to the group as a whole. It in no way implies that the members of the group are monolithic or even share any characteristics other than the identity itself. If I were to make a statement about humans in general, for example, I could say WE have major issues with war and poverty on our planet. This in no way suggests that humans are monolithic or that every person is affected by war or poverty.

      Assertion that use of the word “we”, in of itself, is racist just doesn’t make much sense. Whether people want to admit it or not, there is a black collective. It’s the same collective that helped make it possible for US to enjoy many of the rights that WE now enjoy. pointing this out isn’t racism, just proper use of English. Now, if anyone doesn’t want to be a part of the collective, that’s fine. I’m sure plenty of people want to be seen as an individual, and not as a member of a group. But for the rest of US, WE care about OUR oppressed people that are suffering regardless of which side of the country they are on. It’s funny that the people that empathize with and feel the need to do something about the plight of other black people that don’t live near them would be the racist ones.

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    • Whatever

      @Ravi

      Thank You!

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  • Kirsten West Savali

    @ TheBestAnonEver, Part 2:

    I’m not speaking of a “Black Card.” I think you have the wrong thread; and “racism” should be reserved for when it’s actually present, it loses it’s power when it’s thrown around like that.

    If you think, truly, that Black people in America of African slave descent share nothing but “skin tone,” if you honestly don’t see that our cultures of origin were stolen from us, and by default, being descendants of slaves has bonded us in both unhealthy and beautiful ways, shaping our collective in this country, even our global interactions with each other — even this conversation generations later that the two of us are engaged in over identity, if all you see is “skin tone,” then there’s really nothing else to add to this discussion and I wish you well on your individual journey.

    Thanks for reading and thank you for your feedback — always appreciated.

    K

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    • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      Kristen: Thank you. I have enjoyed and been very successful in my journey, but it has not been a singular journey. I have made the journey through life with my community. My community consisting of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other people I encounter daily. My community consist of those around me. I have no impact or influence on those not around me, and I would not take credit for their success nor accept collective blame for their failures. All those that scream the loudest about “our” problems, do the least. I know someone with very similar rhetoric to yours, but she cannot spare 4 hours a week to tutor grade 7 kids. She is too busy talking about the problems to bother working on any. I offer help within MY community to anyone that needs it – black, Hispanic, white, or Asian.

      FYI: Like most people, I was not using racist in the sociological definition, but the colloquial one as used by most people. If I replace it with bigoted will you address the issue I raised?

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  • HuesofHoney

    @TheBestAnonEver, Part 2 If you don’t want to be apart of a village….stop commenting. Who exactly asked you….who made you the head of the negro count..of how many “actual” black people would want to take responsibilty for OUR own. all this if you know Africa and it’s borders….shut up! sounds like a uppity lame excuse so you can have someone to act superior over!
    As I heard a older brother tell a younger brother security guard trying to flex his authority….That’s All You Got! Some of you cowardly negro’s That’s all you got…is how to say well I don’t care….So don’t ….You are not the keeper of black people’s concerns or will….and no one would ask you to…So, get on your spaceship and take off.

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    • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      I would like to respond, but have no idea what you are going on about.

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    • Socially Maladjusted

      @HuesofHoney

      Good comment and your message was very clear to me.

      It took me a while to understand why “post-racial” bl?cks detour off their individualistic, “I refuse to be defined by colour” – way, to go among blacks to preach the gospel of individualism.

      The reason they do it is as simple as you stated it, they need to flaunt their meagre accomplishments and snobbish pretentions around those deem they lesser than themselves. Without other black people to look down they aint s hit.

      With that diversion over, I think the writer of the peice makes the same mistake every other social commentor makes, of reducing the problems afflcting our youth down to the usual set of superficial “failings” internal to the black community.

      Taking the point made about the likes of lil Wayne and his baby mamas – somebody tell me how lil Wayne, who is just past his teenage years, influences an out of wedlock culture that was in full swing long before he was born? Didn’t we have out of wedlock children and multiple BABY MAMAS before before lil Wayne?

      Well I’m in the age group old enough to remember when most black children were born and raised in married two parent households, and young enough to have watched the transition from the two parent black family to the single mother family. When the first signs were coming (in the late seventies) that single mom about to replace mom & dad, there was no lil wayne in sight.

      This article contains the kind of witless junk analysis that has been circulated among blacks for so long that it’s now taken as absolute truth, and never questioned.

      Well I just questioned it and debunked it as nonsense. .

      If we’re really concerned about the effects of parental absenteeism on children then we’ll have look for clues to its cause elsewhere than lil wayne.

      Financial insecurity is probably the single most relevent factor in the disintegration of black families – not turgid nonsense claiming lil wayne teaches our poor black boys how to love”.

      But simple usensational truths like this are never mentioned in contoversy seeking articles written by pop-sociologists who treat serious social issues as mere pulp for their fictions.

      smh.

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    • edub

      “The reason they do it is as simple as you stated it, they need to flaunt their meagre accomplishments and snobbish pretentions around those deem they lesser than themselves. Without other black people to look down they aint s hit.”

      Projection? Is that you?

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    • Socially Maladjusted

      @edub

      Throw a stone at group of dogs and the one that barks . . . .

      LOL!

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    • Nina

      @ Socially Maladjusted

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    • Nina

      @Socially Maladjusted: You do the same thing you accuse others of doing.

      pop-culture is very important, especially where our kids are concerned…u might see that if u stepped out of the 70s. I bet u it’s more black kids singing ‘how to love’ than reading yr long ass post. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is obvious, can we address some of the symptoms now? Damn. The point is, there are other things that we could be debating instead of Gene Marks. But instead of that, “we” wanna bash each other, after “we” make sure everybody knows that black people are different. Damn, who are y’all performing for? The whlte folks trolling the site? Y’all negros are more concerned with showing how smart you are and how everybody else is wrong. Trying to tear down people who care just as much as you do. Pathetic and it makes me sick. How about “we” talk about that/ Crabs in a barrel ass negros.

      I love my people, but y’all do the MOST sometimes.

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    • Socially Maladjusted

      @Nina

      Wrong

      I’m not doing the same thing you or anyone else is doing, but you’re right to extent that I am criticizing the critics.

      The was nothing complicated or high faluted in anything I said, I simply challenged the authors nonsensical conclusions about causes of parental absenteeism in the BC.

      I disagreed with the idea that pop-culture personalities like lil wayne are the influence causing young people to have children out of wedlock, for the reasons I gave – namely that the babymama epidemic started years before lil wayne and gangsta rap were born, and way before blacks were as prominent in pop-culture as we are today.

      So I’m sorry but you’ll have to get over that hurdle first before I’ll take your lil wayne theory seriously.

      Also in your particular case, you have a further hurdle to jump for me to take anything you say seriously, since it’s obvious that you are an avid consumer of the very pop-culture output you decry, else why do you place it so highly as an influence on black children. Truth is, it is YOU who are influenced by pop-culture, and are projecting your weakness for it onto black youth.

      It’s adults like you who condition the taste pop-culture trash into our young. All of us whether adult or child are most influenced by what goes on in our immediate environment, not on tv. If mommy spends every evening watching crap on tv, little Johnny will too.

      Switch the damn thing off woman and read a quality book, maybe read to your children. That’s right I’m making assumptions about YOU – but mine are calculated assumptions gleaned from your failure to make a single pertinent point.

      LOL!

      Consuming quality information is clearly something you’re not accustomed to if my less than 500 word post is too “long ass” for you to bother with.

      LOL!

      Sup, can’t pull yourself away from pop-culture distractions for the minute or two it would have taken you to read my entire post and maybe learn something, or are you mad because you did learn something, didn’t like it because it trashes your assumptions, and you don’t have the education or raw brains to counter it.

      Crabs in barrel yourself.woman.

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    • Nina

      @ Socially Maladjusted:

      Wrong.

      Nobody said that Lil Wayne was THE reason, but ONE reason. It’s called an EXAMPLE…ever heard of those??? And yes, I pay attention to pop culture because I have two teenagers, a pre-teen, and a host of other kids I care about I will ALWAYS keep up with what’s going on and I will NEVER stick my head so far up my ass that I would rather insult someone who CARES than actually try to discuss things like adults.

      No one, not me, not this article, not in this thread, said that these things were not problems before the current crop of pop icons. What’s going on currently is a symptom of what’s gone on in generations past. Not the CAUSE of ORIGIN, but a SYMPTOM. And symptoms need to be treated too.

      You can sit here and talk about the problems from 1972 if you want to….context is everything. Gene Marks was addressing ‘poor black kids’ and people got mad. Pop culture sub-bing as parental supervision, poor education, AIDS are ALL affecting poor black kids; and it’s more important than Mr. Marks.

      Sorry that’s just so hard for you to understand.

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    • Nina

      @ Socially Maladjusted

      From the article:

      “…he didn’t have enough empathy to address the ingrained racist nature of the American judicial, economic and educational systems. He didn’t have enough awareness to understand that if it were that easy, if we didn’t have to start mid-race with physical, societal and psychological shackles strangling us, there would be more of our ‘poor black kids’ crossing the finish line.”

      ^^^ These are some of those bigger issues you’re talking about but because you stick your nose up at the mention of pop culture, you’d rather bitch about that than talk about the real issue at hand.

      Again; Pathetic.

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    • Socially Maladjusted

      @Nina

      Woman, I picked out the point made about the influence of celebrity culture on black children because it’s one of the lies most frequently trotted out by people who want to find fault in the youth themselves rather than in the problems they’re trying to cope with.

      This piece is just as lazy & indifferent (IMO) as the Gene Mars one, because it too is nothing more than the tired ‘take personal’ responsibility mantra that doesn’t offer any original or helpful insights into the problem.

      Only an idiot who had never given the matter any serious thought would subscribe to the notion that blacks are not forming stable families because they’re following the example of pop-culture personalities. How insulting for one thing.

      The best explaination for me, is the financial insecurity that is a persistent theme in black life and all the stresses it imposes that make black relationships more fragile and prone to fall apart. .

      How about one of you pop-sociology scholars address THAT? I notice that you haven’t even touched that suggestion.

      All you wanna do is tell me about myself rather than discuss the issue, and that’s no surprise because finding fault in PEOPLE is your MO.

      Black family disentegration started a long time before there was such a thing as pop-culture. It was the outcome of a number of reforms in the welfare system in marriage law, employment law and abortion “rights” law that helped women become less dependent on men and have more control of their lives. Changes in attitudes towards “illegitimacy” overcame the stigma of unwed childbirth.

      All changes that seemed to promise much, but with hindsight only turned out to be mostly superificial in terms of the material difference they made in the lives of black folks, and disastrous in their impact on the integrity of black families.

      Now before you jump up, I no longer see these changes as a bad thing. I think they were necesssary to improve the lives of women and children, however, what remained unchanged was the precarious economic position most blacks were confined in. (This is a problem we still have to get to grips with)

      We were still mostly poor and economically marginalized. Not the most fertile ground for the creation of stable families, and so it was inevitable that since they now had the option to go it alone, women would opt to live in welfare poverty, rather than in the even more risky husband dependent poverty.

      Absolutely nothing to do with lil wayne and pop-culture.

      kiss teet

      People need to take the PEOPLE BLAMING rhetoric out of their “analysis” and just look at the cold hard facts with objectivity, but we have too many who just want to blame and point fingers.

      Blame Slinging and Blame Slingers are the biggest problems in the black community.

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    • Nina

      @ Socially Maladjusted:

      “Woman, I picked out the point made about the influence of celebrity culture on black children because it’s one of the lies most frequently trotted out by people who want to find fault in the youth themselves rather than in the problems they’re trying to cope with.”

      ^^^^^^^ First of all, that is NOT a LIE! Do you know any teenagers AT ALL or are you just spouting out bullshit that you think sounds like it SHOULD be right???? CHILDREN are not in control of awards shows. BET is supposed to elevate Black America and entertain, yet they honor the worst of the worst every year. Talking about BET and the bullshit they push down our children’s throats is NOT blaming the children. It’s blaming the ADULTS!!!!!!

      FROM THE ARTICLE:

      “When he cavalierly tossed out cliché anecdotes to every single ECONOMIC (that’s what YOU SAID right Socially Maladjusted????) ill that plague our ‘poor black kids,’ he didn’t have enough empathy to address the ingrained racist nature of the American judicial, economic and educational systems. He didn’t have enough awareness to understand that if it were that easy, if we didn’t have to start mid-race with physical, societal and psychological shackles strangling us, there would be more of our ‘poor black kids’ crossing the finish line.”

      ^^^^^^^ Pop culture is ONE SYMPTOM not THE CAUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

      Make sense? No probably not. You’re a joke. But no one is “LOL” -ing but you.

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    • Socially Maladjusted

      @Nina

      So we’re hiding behind symptoms now right? ok but isn’t a symptom an outgrowth of a deeper problem? So why do people like you attach more importance to symptoms than cause?

      Why do you treat symptoms as though they were the same as cause? Why don’t you just address the cause?

      kiss teet

      Someone else will have to answer because you’re now repeating yourself which tells me you’re out of your depth woman.

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    • Nina

      “@Nina

      So we’re hiding behind symptoms now right? ok but isn’t a symptom an outgrowth of a deeper problem? So why do people like you attach more importance to symptoms than cause?”

      ^^^^^^^ WE’RE not hiding behind anything. I’M saying that symptoms are important. AIDS is incurable, but if you treat the symptoms you can live a long healthy life.

      “Why do you treat symptoms as though they were the same as cause? Why don’t you just address the cause?”

      ***************** THE CAUSE has been addressed!!!!! You’re trying to tear people down who address BOTH cause and symptoms. You see pop-culture and ignore the context of this conversation… which is Gene Marks is nothing, we have to take OUR communities back.

      You’re right. I AM repeating myself because you keep saying the same crap.

      I’m out.

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  • Jami

    “From the sanctioned murder of Troy Davis and the flagrant slaying of Oscar Grant, to Marks voluntary assassination of our character, we, as a culture, have an unhealthy habit of waiting on white America to instigate injustice to mobilize the passionate protection of our collective self-worth.”

    Yes!

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