Victimology and the Phony ‘Digital Divide’

John Bennett, American Thinker, January 3, 2012

Black people don’t have opportunities to benefit from technology, and it’s racist to suggest otherwise.  That is the only lesson to be drawn from the racially charged tempest unleashed by the infamous Forbes article “If I Were a Poor Black Kid.”

The author, Gene Marks, made the point that if he were a poor black kid, he’d be using the internet to learn more and find job opportunities.  For suggesting that poor black youth have the power to improve their own lives, Marks was treated like a villain by many liberals for lacking “empathy,” and worse.  Such is the wretched state of racial politics today.

The criticisms of Marks’s piece had two common themes: black kids are too poor to have computers or internet access, and Marks does not know what it’s like to be black.  These criticisms are misguided for two reasons.  First, 78% of black youths (8-18 years old) have internet access in their home, according to a recent Northwestern University report.  Second, it is absurd to say that you must share racial membership with a group in order to criticize that group’s behavior.

To begin with, there is no “digital divide.”  The notion that black youths generally do not have internet access is a myth.  In fact, if liberals really cared about the experience of young blacks, they would know that 89% of black youths have a computer in their home and that 78% have internet access.  That is only 10% less than white youth’s internet access, which is 88%.  Before you infer discrimination or disadvantage from that 10% disparity, consider something astonishing: 90% of black youths have cable/satellite TV in their homes, compared with 83% of whites.  Sixty-three percent of blacks have premium channels versus 43% of whites.  Thus, there is a 10% white advantage in internet access, but 20% more blacks have access to cable/premium channels.  Before we bemoan a lack of resources, we should consider how people are able to prioritize cable TV, even premium access, over internet access.

Following are other findings from the Northwestern study, which is probably the best factual basis for talking about what sort of technological access various racial groups have.  Consider these “advantages” that black youth have: blacks, on average, have more TVs, DVDs, VCRs, and videogame consoles in their homes than whites.  Whites have more computers, CD players, and radios.

The greatest refutation of the digital divide is found in young people’s bedrooms.  As stated in the study, black youths are more likely than any other racial group to have TVs in their bedrooms (84%), compared to whites and Asians (64%).  Incredibly, minority youths are more likely to have “cable and premium channels” in their bedroom (42% of blacks, 28% of Hispanics, 17% of whites, 14% of Asians).

In their bedrooms, black youths are also more likely to have DVD/VCR players, and more likely to have a videogame system than their white peers.  Black youths are twice as likely to have TiVo/DVR access as are whites (20% to 8%).  Black youths are more likely to have internet access in their bedroom than whites (33% versus 29%).  A slightly higher percentage of black children have a computer in their room compared to white children (34% of blacks, and 32% of whites).

When it comes to ownership, a higher percentage of black children (33%) have their own laptop than do white children (24%).  Seventy-two of black youth own a cell phone, versus 63% of whites.  Blacks have almost the exact same ownership rate of handheld game-players and iPods as do whites. {snip}

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The second criticism of Marks’ article is even more irrational than the first.  A typical perspective offered by black liberals is that Marks has “never known the experience of a kid” in the ghetto.  In other words, you have to share racial membership with a group in order to criticize that group.  But if you have to share racial membership with a group in order to criticize that group, then blacks should never be allowed to criticize whites.  Liberals don’t really mean that you have to have “known the experience” of the group that you criticize.  What liberals mean is that some groups are officially designated victim groups, to be excused for every failing, no matter how inexcusable their behavior—and inexcusable is the only way to describe the failure to graduate from high school in modern America.

Liberals want designated victim groups to be on a moral pedestal, immune from any criticism, while they blame “society” for their problems in life.  Black people are allowed to describe white people’s motives, attitudes, behavior, and institutions, but non-blacks are not allowed to return the favor. {snip}

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  • Sincerely Concerned

    Anyone with eyes or ears can see or hear “disadvantaged” people on their cell phones or iPods or both all the time.  Additionally, the ones they have are far nicer in quality than those that the “advantaged” use, much like their athletic shoes, car accessories, leather coats, millinery, etc. are newer and more expensive.

    Any money I earn goes toward paying the 100% value of my apartment’s rent, 100% of the price of groceries, 100% of the price of clothes, et al.  What’s left over gets me clothes from a thrift or consignment shop, sundries from discount chain stores, and a measly savings in case I run out of money due to illness or some other unforseen emergency.

    Yet, I am the “advantaged” one.

  • LibraryPatron1

    Black folks have access to the internet at the Public Libraries.

  • If he were a poor black kid, he would use the internet to find job opportunities

    The problem is, he is not a poor black kid, he is a triple digit IQ white man with a developed frontal lobe, so it occurs to him to use the internet to search Monster, Dice, Jobing, Career Builder.  But in reality, poor black kids are using their internet access to waste time, view porn, upload hip hop mixtapes and organize mahogany mobs.

    When the OLPC project delivered its first laptops to Africa, it was found that one of the first things the boys, er, young men, did with their new computers is to surf the porn sites.  After that, the MIT labs outfitted future OLPCs with anti-porn filters.  Ironically, MIT is closely associated with a law school (Harvard) that doesn’t want porn censorship anywhere any time.

    • “Mahogany mobs”. That’s a new one, paisan. I’ve never heard of it before.

      I like it.

      I too, am rather creative in verbal jargon. Rather than coming out and saying if a criminal was Bantu, I’ll say “their origins are south of Algeria”.

      Also, I’m so sick and tired of hearing people use the term “Lily-white” as a perjorative to describe an all-white school or neighborhood, that i came up with its counterpart:

      “Coal-black”.

      For example, “Damarcus and Jarquinius live in a coal-black section of Boston, known as Roxbury”. 

      • SBPDL (Paul Kersey) actually coined it.  The only verbal niceties I ever invented were “Occutard(s)” and referring to Rick Perry (and now Rick Santorum) as the “Rickroller.”  Not exactly as profound as inventing the wheel in a world without it.

  • Well, no wonder the black community has a disproportionate number of “zombies”–all that cable television.

  • Oil Can Harry

    LibraryPatron1, you should visit the libraries here in the Bronx!

    Every time I go inside one of them to track down a book I see all the computers occupied by black youths playing video games and watching porn.

  • Harold Peensapple

    Watch “Hardcore Pawn” sometime. You’ll never see so many diversities with so many Playstation 3’s

  • Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of access – it’s about what they do with that access. Blacks use the internet to watch street fight videos on YouTube and other similarly high-minded pursuits.

    As others have pointed out, public libraries offer and interesting insight into this topic. My parents have what is apparently one of the last internet-free homes in America and until recently I had to go the library to use one of their computers (thanks, McDonald’s, for the new free hotspot for my laptop!!!). Computer time is given out in 60 minute blocks but I only needed at most 10 to check and reply to emails. Every time I went, however, I had to wait for all of the, um, underprivileged kids to use up every single second of their allotted time looking at random idiot rap videos and World Star Hip Hop before I could use it. I’ve never seen a single kid doing anything that might possibly be some kind of homework or useful, constructive learning.

    And don’t get me started on how the quiet of the library is regularly broken by things like “Daaayyyyyuuum! Yo, Devontarius, come check this sh*t out!!!!!!”.

    • Anonymous

      At my public library, the only time I see blacks, guess where they are–at the computers.  I don’t recall ever having seen ANY actually looking for books. And I live in a predominantly White area.

      You’re absolutely right, Jack.  Access isn’t an issue.  How they use it, or if they even bother to use it, is.

  • Bardon Kaldian

    It is well known from child psychology that the best intelligence developing method is – reading.  The kids who read the most have the future advantage of more densely packed neural networks & other stuff that goes with, for wont of a better word, “enhanced mental/emotional power”. Also, research has shown that men/males tend to drop fiction when they’re in their late 30ies or early 40ies or so and continue to read fields like psychology, politics, theology, popular science, history, .., while women/females stick to fiction. It is established that, aesthetic pleasures aside, fiction- especially great one like Conrad, Tolstoy, Faulkner, Proust, Flaubert, James, Lawrence, Eliot,..- helps a young person  “navigate” in variegated social circumstances by broadening one’s perception & inscribing nuanced psycho-social dos and donts in a reader’s mind.

    And- TV and similar stuff ? They’re great down-dumbers. The data presented in the article clearly show that the more you watch TV- again, apart from valuable info- you’re more likely to become zombified passive welfare parasite.

  • Anonymous

    About 9 months ago our old computer gave out and breathed it’s final breath so when my nephew that I am raising had to do a Powerpoint slideshow for a school project we decided the closest, fastest place would be at the library just a few miles away and located in a mall parking lot. (that should have raised the red flag itself)
    Upon signing up for the use of a computer we were given a 2 1/2 hour waiting schedule and received one of those little vibrating alert gadgets you get when waiting for a table at a restaurant, and a stiff 5 minutes to respond or lose your turn.
    We waited 3 hours as people (blacks) were called ahead of us even though we signed in first then decided it to be quicker to go get the new computer that very night instead.
    This is the norm these days though in BRG.( Black Run Georgia)