Bridging The Gap? Educated Blacks vs. Less Educated Blacks

18 Mar


Seth: I was having a recent conversation with a friend about “educated blacks,” their proclivities and preferences as related by a popular blog. It occurred to me during this discussion that “educated” black people are becoming the new black elite.

It seems that where in the past money was the distinguishing factor, it is now a matter of degrees that separate classes within the black community. Not only are degrees awarded by colleges and universities a factor, but the number and type are important as well. Just as money allowed access to new neighborhoods, friends, and leisure activities, a college education does the same. Not only in the sterile sense, but also in a negative sense that allows some blacks to look down their noses at their less-educated brothers and sisters.

What I think is the most pressing issue however, is the distance between the two communities. In our haste to “get out” are we forgetting where we come from? Are we giving back to the communities so that others can have similar opportunities for success? How do we prevent the “us” and “them” mentality while avoiding the feeling that caring about our communities and working to improve them is charity?

For me the solution is not to leave. It is important to note that I didn’t grow up in any ghetto, don’t live in one now, and don’t plan on moving to one. But wherever I am, whatever I am doing, it is important that in that space I find those places drowning in poverty, dismal educational prospects and overall sentiments of hopelessness, and adopt them as my own. Not in a super hero manner, but in a manner that says “these are my brothers, my sisters. My success is their success.” For me, that doesn’t mean giving back on the weekends. It’s working everyday, my 9-5 and beyond. That’s my solution.



Ray: I can definitely notice a disconnect between the “educated” blacks and the “less-educated” blacks. And I agree with you that there are certain educated blacks who tend to look down their nose at the lesser educated black folks. But I have to say that this divisive mentality is not one-sided.

I was just having a conversation with a friend about how our friends who didn’t go to college are quick to call us “white-washed” because of the way we speak. Not only do they not approve of our grammar and use of the English language as it was intended, but they often disapprove of various topics that we choose to speak about. We can talk about girls and sports all day, but they aint tryin to hear nothin about politics, economics, literature, or any of that crap we learn in college, nah mean?

Who cares about an interest rate? You heard that new Young Jeezy? Man, aint nobody tryin to go to school. We gotta get this paper so I can pay my cell phone bill, cop some sneaks, some rims, and make it rain at the club. We aint got time to read no books son. Word.

The gap is a reality and ignorance is its name.

What people need to understand is that America is an information driven enterprise. There is much less emphasis on building value by what you can do with your hands. Conversely, there is much greater emphasis on what you know and how others can benefit from your knowledge. Those who have the knowledge can build wealth and become the new aristocracy. In fact, that’s what I think we are seeing in America today.

It’s not so much an issue of black or white, rich or poor. It’s an issue of educated vs. non-educated. Where I think we can be most effective is by providing opportunities for more people to receive specialized knowledge. It’s important that as we climb to higher levels of education and financial status, we do what we can to provide a blue-print for others to do the same.

It is impossible to give someone success. That’s something that each individual has to decide to work for. At the same time, I know there are people who are willing to do what it takes to climb from the economic pits of society but aren’t sure how to do it. Everyone is not capable of overcoming every obstacle that’s inherited when born into poverty (something most Republicans just don’t understand). Our American brothers and sisters need help.

If you want to bridge a gap, then you need to build a bridge. We can build bridges by teaching others how to get to the next level. It doesn’t take a super-natural event or political policy to rid our society of ignorance (that’s essentially what we’re dealing with).

Start by teaching your little brother or sister about the benefits of going to college. Reach out to your cousin and help them fill out the financial aid paperwork. Encourage your aunts and uncles to read, vote, and pursue financial independence. Start a book club with your parents and friends and challenge each other to read as many different books as possible in year. And as the people around learn to do better, strongly encourage them to reach out to someone close to them and help them add value to their life.

Develop your own worth by learning things you didn’t know the day before. If you search for it, you will find life-changing information. A wise man once said that “You won’t be able to do all that you find out, but make sure that you find out all you can do.”

Finally, pass it on. Share your knowledge. Teach others how to better themselves the way you have. That’s how you bridge a gap. That’s how we all win.


2 Responses to “Bridging The Gap? Educated Blacks vs. Less Educated Blacks”

  1. Candace March 19, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    I don’t think most Educated Black People want to look down their noses at their less educated brothers and sisters. Most educated Black people that I know have done their share of giving back to and participating in the uplift of our community, both while in school and thereafter. I think the issue is possibly wrapped into what Ray said, “The gap is a reality and ignorance is its name.” It’s a matter of ignorance for some, if not many, less-educated brothers and sisters. Once some are made aware of the options available, the doors that can be opened and the ones that they can open for themselves, then they have the key. For others, you can provide all the tools and opportunities you want and they are too timid to take on the challenge of rising above the circumstances or too engulfed in a way of life to make any change for themselves or in the lives of others.

    I think it’s fair to say that most educated Black people weren’t handed their opportunities. They maximized what they had, earned what they didn’t, and are continuously striving to “make it”. Whether or not they’ve decided to, they have become some outsider’s positive example of what what can be. And it’s disheartening, to say the least, to see wasted potential in someone who looks like you, particularly when the waste is by choice. I think even in a case with your own people, it can somewhat harden your heart towards wanting to help someone else, when you’ve come across so many examples of people who don’t want to help themselves. A hardened heart can seem like a tilted nose, but sometimes it’s justified disapproval.

    Distancing yourself from your community isn’t the reaction that will evoke change, but we watch it happen everyday. People get tired. I don’t agree with that mentality, but I understand it.


  1. Bridging The Gap? Educated Blacks vs. Less Educated Blacks - March 18, 2008

    […] Ben Popken wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: