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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 22 2012

News Flash: Opportunity IS Guaranteed. I Guess I Can Quit My Job Now.

Two Weeks! Too Weak!!

Wow, I haven’t blogged in two weeks!! Crazy! One of the reasons for this is that I’ve been enjoying my new job, which at some point I’ll blog more about. The other reason for my infrequent blogging is that there’s far too much going on in the country, not just in education, but in politics as well that truly make me sick to my stomach. I get ill* reading about the various “-isms” increasingly coming into play as the election heats up. Generally, I avoid topics of politics, but my personal and professional interests extend beyond education- largely because education encompasses and is affected by many other aspects of society. I’ve avoided discussing the anti-democratic voter ID laws, the blatant financial corruption of the political process, the daily examples of southern racial tensions, and the total disregard for half our human population, but I can’t remain completely silent. [*So ill that I won't even provide links to this mess]

The Romney campaign wants you to meet Danny Vargas, who “grew up on welfare, yet eventually became a business executive and community leader.” Mr. Vargas, the self-made businessman that he is goes on to claim:

“In this country, the outcome may not be guaranteed, but the opportunity is.”**

Oh, okay then. Apparently, I can quit my day job. I suppose this means the Opportunity Nation Summit is going to be a celebration of a fulfilled mission. Good work guys!

Let’s be real for a second. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Vargas, and I am grateful for his service to the country (even though that wasn’t mentioned) but I have had my fill of misleading, obvious lies about the state of society.

“There’s been so many success stories since the Welfare Reform of the 90s”

  • highlighting people who rose up out of poverty against the odds DOES NOT change the odds in and of itself. For example, Oprah becoming a billionaire despite being born into poverty in Mississippi DOES NOT change the fact that this state remains at the bottom in rankings of education, economy, racial harmony, physical fitness, etc. Opportunity IS NOT guaranteed for African American girls.
  • I can’t stand such claims of token exceptionalism! As a black male, I’m part of the 4%… only 4% of college students are black males. Apparently, this statistic hasn’t changed since 1976. Now, simply because I went to Harvard does not give my the authority to claim that all other black males are lazy and need merely work harder to realize opportunity in America. I don’t make this claim, because I know better. Mr. Romney should too. Maybe he didn’t “spend enough time at Harvard“…
  • Also, how does Welfare Reform in the mid-Nineties have any effect on his parents who immigrated to the US in the 1950s? They saw the “light at the end of the tunnel?” Umm, wasn’t that light the original Great Society legislation without any of President Clinton’s reforms?  They must have been so industrious that they invented a time machine I must not know about. Given how much time the G.O.P. spends in the 19th Century, I bet they have developed a time machine. Who needs POP Secret when you just found out the GOP Secret!?

**To his credit, he makes a legitimate claim at the end of the video, but the campaign powers that be edited it to alter the message. He says:

“I know that if you are born in the Favelas^ outside of Rios or in the shanty towns outside of Caracas, if that’s where you’re born, typically that’s where you stay- there isn’t a whole lot of hope and opportunity to be able to get out of that environment. Here, the outcome may not be guaranteed, but the opportunity is.” 

  • He’s made an “impact in [his] community.” Yes, he has, and I applaud that. Please be real and be more transparent that you live in Fairfax County, VA (Perfect Opportunity Index Score) in a suburb of DC with a less than 5% poverty rate for families. You haven’t lived in the “rat-infested” Brooklyn apartment since the 80s from what I can tell. Ah, I see: GOP Time Machine strikes again!
  • I’m not faulting him for moving to a better place. From all accounts, he seems to be a genuine, smart guy; but please don’t act like opportunity exists in abundance everywhere. Go spend some time in Greenville, Mississippi or Dorchester, Massachusetts then tell me that the streets are lined with yellow and golden bricks of opportunity.

 No, Mr. Vargas, our work is not finished; and, for your information, “work” is not finished either. 

Watch the video “Only In America” –> here 

^”In the late 18th century, the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighbourhoods). This was the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived. Over the years, many freed black slaves moved in.” This could also describe certain counties in America, except our slaves weren’t freed until the 19th Century… #wellokthen

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