First I want you to read this Twitter/FB post on the subject. Go on, click it. It's short.
I hate grit, and rigor, and no excuses doctrine. They're even ruining the word resilience. "They" are the organizations that come in to flip underperforming urban schools. The students usually being from low income households and/or black and brown families. It fetishizes and commercializes attempts to survive in an oppressive world. At worst, it tells you that you can overcome these systemic issues if you work hard and don’t roll around in the reasons you are downtrodden. That’s fucked up. Social mobility is a lie and a myth for a majority of the population. It’s part of the capitalist american dream propaganda that keeps people competing for top positions in an international pyramid scheme. It’s not happening beloved. There is research and data to support that. Type "social mobility is a lie" and you'll find plenty to verify this idea.
Articles I particularly enjoyed:
- This piece from The New Yorker, The Mobility Myth
- Here's a piece from The Brookings Institute, The Century Gap, Low economic mobility for black men, 150 years after the Civil War.
- Then there's this article from The Atlantic, How Black Middle Class Become Poor Adults
- Here's a research paper on it out of the Journal of Social Issues. Race, Class, and the Dilemmas of Upward Mobility for African Americans
- And then there's this Huffington Post piece, The American Myth of Social Mobility
They all pretty much say the same thing and reference the same study. So, so pick a couple to read. I say the best two are the New Yorker and Brookings Institute. I plan to read the research paper at some point. Might make another post that summarizes key points.
I usually wouldn't quote my Morehouse brother but Dr. King said “Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.”
Yeah, go ahead. Read it again.
The cult of grit and no excuses doesn’t spotlight institutional mechanisms that drive inequity yet it tells young people to study long and hard in order to overcome their class barriers. That’s bullshit. And it’s evil. Next, I want you to read this article on the Myth of Meritocracy that talks about what's at risk when we tell kids to just work hard.
2 lines from it that I want to echo:
“Students who are told that things are fair implode pretty quickly in middle school as self-doubt hits them,” he said, “and they begin to blame themselves for problems they can’t control.”
“Does [school] contribute further to our [students’] marginalization and oppression? Is it just about order, compliance, and white normative standards that marginalized young folks of color don’t measure up to because the structure never intended for them to measure up?”