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Black Wolf on Wallstreet

SergioDiaz's picture

I was speaking to a friend just yesterday about the missions of BSL and how they relate to commenting for a College Newspaper article about Haverford’s decision to change the name of Black History Month Dinner to Soul Food Dinner. Questions about whether or not to give a comment as the person doing the article was again going to misrepresent BSL and the opinion they held was a topic we covered in depth but this wasn’t what brought up questions for me and it’s not what I will be writing about. At a point in the conversation we began speaking about where inequities come from and how it has adversely affected people of color but people still miss the point just like the College Newspaper missed the point of the Blackout Board. Then something very interesting happened, my friend then opened up to me about how his own father has completely missed the point too, although he is a person of color.

Upon first hearing this I didn’t know what to make of it so, naturally, I further questioned him about his father’s development. He explained to me that his father came from a low-income community in the South where being one of the few Black people he was discriminated against for his race in various ways, including by his own mother-in-law, my friends grandmother, who was racist and homophobic. Escaping poverty and entering an elite college, he earned a degree in economics and through the help of a professor, he was able to get a job in an elite firm on Wall Street where he has a successful career. On the surface this story is a stereotypical rags-to-riches story where the underdog battles against all odds to make it through. It’s the type of story where you’d expect this guy to talk to students in low-income communities so that they too can be inspired to escape the poverty they have been circumstantially born into. Except, that’s not exactly what happens in this story.

Somewhere along the way his father developed a white-savior mentality and an overly critical opinion on lazy people of color, low-income people who “live off welfare,” and “victimized” poor and black people. In all ways he very well could have been just another Wall Street banker who was against all progressive measures taken for equality and I would consider him a strong classist. Although he lived through the inequities of living in a low-income community I was taken aback and somewhat disturbed how he could have been so blind to the historical causes of these inequities and turned his back to these communities after he made it out. He was a sell-out. A Black sell-out that escaped poverty and never looked back. His community outreach consists of helping privileged college-educated people of color get into Wall Street so that they too can assimilate into this Wall Street culture. Although he considers this to be reaching out, the fact that he works in a traditionally White establishment that required him to assimilate to the workplace in order to survive, in the process being turned against all people, including his own family, in low-income communities makes this “reach” only a justification for turning his back to the community he came from.

Many questions came up to me while thinking and talking about all of this like, what does it mean for someone to abandon their own race for their personal experiences? Does it mean all upwardly mobile people of color will be like this? What are some ways to avoid people of color and people from low-income communities from selling out once in a position of privilege? Why don’t White people have to worry about this? These are all questions that require deeper thought and study but for now all I could be certain of is that I don’t want anyone to end up abandoning their past experiences.