Northern Discomfort

Today I began working once again for the Mission Hill After School Program (MHASP), one of PBHA‘s myriad after school programs that draws its kids almost exclusively from the Alice Taylor and Mission Main public housing developments (pro-jects) in Roxbury’s Mission Hill neighborhood. Oh, how I missed the hood. I am there far too rarely. Growing up, besides a week I would spend at a Baptist camp in rural New Jersey (Lebanon, NJ to be exact) every year, I spent no time out of the hood. It was where my house, school, and church were and it was the only environment I felt comfortable in. To a large extent, this persists to this day as I have tried and tried to get used to living at Harvard and socializing with princesses and 20 year-old scholars, but I can’t. Last year, the Harvard Black Men’s Forum (BMF) invited former Black Panther and convicted terrorist Kazi Toure to come speak to the overwhelmingly middle-class, White suburban dwelling Black men of Harvard. Yo…big shout out to whoever put that together. He shook up the monotony of BMF Meetings and list debates in a meaningful and personally impactful way. One thing he said to me that will forever stick with me is a question that he posed: “Do you all feel more comfortable in Harvard Square or in Roxbury?” Most of the individuals in the room kept quiet but, to no one in particular, I said “Roxbury, of course.” Why is this? Why after two years is Harvard still a place that I feel like I’m visiting (as oppose to actually living at and being involved in campus happenings) ? Why? Because too many people here, most angrily minorities, are disappointments to myself and society both individually and collectively. (more in expanded post)
Few things get me angrier than investment bankers. I-banking is the ultimate tool job. Undergrads slice each other’s throats to get these positions and are worked to the bone for hours on end. Usually people defend their status as cogs in the wheel of capitalism and global oppression in capitalist terms, “At least they paid me well.” Dummy. You’re like the dog at the side of the table that is ever thankful for the sloppy, fattening scraps that your master throws to you. No matter how many zeros were at the end of your checks, you were making chump change. You know it and I know it. I say this as a self-identifying public servant who makes even less during my summer’s off from school. Nevertheless, I can walk through a community of people of my race such as Mission Hill and not get robbed by my own brothers and sisters. Let me see Goldman Sachs train you on how to stay in touch with the majority of your people. Whoops, only assimilation into greater wealthy White society’s taught there. Blackness revoked!

The purpose of I-banking is to increase the ready capital of one’s clients and therefore perpetuate the unequal and harmful distribution of wealth currently in existence in the U.S. The overwhelming wealth of America ($12 trillion GDP…over 7.5 times that of the combined GDP of the 54 countries that make up Africa) is sickening at times. Most people at Harvard do not care about these facts because they have little or no personal experience with poverty, racism, or related issues. They have never attended a majority Black public school where you enter with nearly 1,000 peers though graduate with only 350. They have never had to restrain their illiterate grandmother from going outside for a walk around the neighborhood due to excessive violence there. They have never had to wait in large rooms with others on public assistance in the basement of their city hall to receive medical care. Nope. Never.

Whether Blacks in Nigeria or Blacks in Newtowne Courts (one of Cambridge’s public housing developments), many are dumbfounded when they hear that Black students attend Harvard University. The combined astonishment, excitement, and inspiration that they feel is remarkable. Just today one of the kids I work with in the aforementioned after school program told me that she wanted to go to Harvard. That’s wassup. So many Blacks the world over are depending on individuals such as myself who are Black, from humble beginnings and “down” to show them the way to equality and freedom that it’s staggering. Sadly, many of these Blacks the world over falsely feel that all Blacks at Harvard are “down”. If they only knew that most Blacks at Harvard are not only complacent in their social and economic positions gained while at (or through) Harvard or innately through parents before coming to this University but many actively seek to enter jobs that will serve to further oppress them, they would cry rivers. Aren’t we supposed to be that “Talented Tenth” that Du Bois talked about over a century ago in The Souls of Black Folk? Aren’t we supposed to bind with our brothers and sisters at Yale, Princeton, Stanford and the like along with those at Howard, Morehouse, and Hampton and attend to the immense task of the upliftment of our roughly one billion person race? Yeah, but who wants to do this when you can work 80 hours a week for Lehman Brothers (and never make partner), live in Brooklyn Heights (and never have a BBQ), and send your kids to Collegiate (and never place them in an environment where they’re remotely accepted)?

Getting back to my original point–my discomfort at Harvard–this discomfort lies in my struggle to find a community I feel fully at home in. The Blacks at Harvard are not like the Blacks that I grew up with in Trenton. These two groups of people have no basis for a present day relationship. Their relationship would be one based on history only (“we’ve both been categorized as Black”…”we’re both derived from Southern slave families”…etc.). At the same time, I’m clearly not comfortable in the greater community at Harvard that is White, grew up with two parents, and from “oh, just twenty minutes outside” some city. For these reasons, I find myself regressing more and more into the social justice community. This community is a rainbow coalition of sorts that draws its members from many different populations on campus, even some previously ridiculed or highlighted in this very blog (paragraph at that). These individuals and I get down on the same issues–the liberation of oppressed groups. Whether this oppressed group be women, homosexuals, the poor, Blacks (oh yeah), or whoever else this is what they ride for. That’s why I’m a feminist. That’s why you may catch me at a BGLTSA meeting sometime before I graduate (shout out to Mischa). That’s why you can catch me in the hood in Mission Hill on a regular chilling with people that, not jokingly, have to work to be considered poor.

I recognize my membership and role in a social and economic group that I MUST work to better. If only more people here did instead of, when soliciting recruiters, bringing I-bankers; financial consultants; and violent, imperialist government-supporting U.S. Department of Defense reps to come and make their PR ratings go up then Harvard and the world would be a much better place for it. I bet you they’ll send the Black guy, once again into a social situation at a different institution that he is uncomfortable in. Karma…gotta love it.

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17 responses to “Northern Discomfort

  1. “Folk.” Not “Folks.”

  2. we can learn from people like kazi. most harvard students are too big headed to realize that their whole perspective is corrupted from being who they are.

  3. Quite. Taking off the veil of privelege is difficult for anyone, let alone students that are frequently and fervently drilled with the belief that they’re going to run the world one day. Yeah, right.

  4. Disparaging harvard as “princesses and 20-year-old scholars” neglects the fact that even in a diversity-challenged place like harvard there are people committed to all kinds of honorable ends. Stereotyping your peers and presenting yourself as the messiah of salvation for us all is more than a little disingenuous. Writing us off as “disappointments to..society both individually and collectively” means you haven’t been looking very hard.

    Further, writing off investment banking as “the ultimate tool job” neglects the fact that one of the most serious problems facing communities of color is access to capital. Only people of color institutions like Harvard can gain access to these means to capital, and only by working very, very hard for a few years can they accumulate enough of that capital to even begin to reinvest it in the community. Yes, it’s “chump change” compared to what their bosses make but their bosses had to put in the time to get there. It’s not Goldman Sach’s job to increase an individual’s “blackness quotient”–or “whiteness quotient” for that matter. That is a job for families and the cultural groups you’ve already written off as worthless.

    The purpose of I-banking is only “to perpetuate the unequal and harmful distribution of wealth currently inexistence in the US” if people of color do not join that community (unless by unequal you mean just plain not the same, in which case the only answer is socialism, which is unacceptable for other reasons).

    The project of uplift that you decry as neglected by an elite that’s not “down” enough for you is itself an elitist project– the most elite, the most erudite, shall appoint themselves the guardians of black virtue, as many who followed DuBois pointed out.

    Working at Lehman is not diametrically opposed to uplift and is in fact an integral part of that uplift.

    Writing off the black community is a matter of ideology, not a matter of the failings of the black community. Just because the black community is not “into” social justice in the same way that you are, does not mean the black community does not care about social justice. (For example, the BGLTSA you point out as an exemplar has often been decried for being an organization that only addresses the concerns of white homosexuals. The feminist movement was founded by a group of women who advocated abortion in order to prevent the inordinate reproduction of communities of color. Nobody, in other words, is innocent.)

    In short, Chimaobi, a Black person only fulfills their duty if they do like you, and not like they find their destiny calling them to do. Allowing only one road, the Chimaobi road, to uplift ensures that this project is in fact impossible, because one day you’ll get tired, and then it will have all failed.

  5. My comments about “princesses and 20 year-old scholars” was not disparaging at all. I said that I’m trying (and in my opinion failing) to get used to socializing with them. You interpreted it as if I said I don’t WANT to socialize with them. I did not. Yes, many at Harvard are committed to “honorable ends” (so ambiguous) but even more are not. This is obviously a subjective assessment and, in my opinion, “honorable ends” do not include the perpetuation of familial wealth, the perpetuation and furthering of corporate wealth, nor 2 hours of community service every week teaching Black kids just to place it on your UBS app. Also, I don’t consider myself the “messiah of salvation” by ANY means. I’m a cog in the wheel as well but the wheel I’m turning is going in the opposite direction than most people here at Harvard.

    My critique of investment banking and its practitioners runs far deeper than you see it (and maybe as I said in my post) and gets at fundamental issues such as the existence of capital in today’s world along with its accruement and distribution (or lack thereof). What are realistic ways for communities of color to obtain capital? The most oft-used means is through selling their labor. Most often this takes the form of working a menial or middle-level job for a large corporation or government agency (such as Harvard’s janitors, kitchen personnel, or others) where the people of color that work for these groups will still struggle to make ends meet especially in relation to basic things such as housing and health care. The second way for communities of color to gain capital is through the exploitation of whatever resources or cultural capital they have or control. An example of this, looking internationally, is the oil of the Niger delta region in Nigeria. Through selling oil the Nigerian government has received billions of dollars in revenue from global titans in oil, most notably Shell. Nevertheless, the Western ideal of capitalism has so deeply infected the brains of Nigeria’s political and economic leaders that they neglect to share the possible societal plusses to be gained from dispersing that wealth throughout the population (through social, educational, health, etc. programs) within the 130 million-person country. Capitalism is a lose-lose situation for many of the world’s colored populations since, as I have stated, these colored peoples can either have their labor exploited for their entire lives (and STILL probably remain financially impoverished) or their cultural and natural resources extracted (and become culturally, morally, or residentially impoverished). Tough choice.

    What cultural group did I write off as worthless? Blacks at Harvard? Nah, I’m part of that community and I’m not self-hating. I aim to be self-bettering as well as better communities that I’m a part of including the Black community at Harvard and the general population at Harvard.

    Reinvesting in communities of color does not always take money. It takes devotion, it takes education, it takes understanding. This is not to say that if someone built a community center in Trenton for teenagers to receive REAL educations at on things that closely effect them it would be a bad thing. We just don’t need anymore soul food spots or pawn stores in Trenton.

    You never finished your thought where you said “if people of color do not join that community…” in speaking of the i-banking community.

    The majority of Blacks (or students, for that matter) at Harvard don’t understand the Black community in real life terms. They understand readings. They understand sections. They understand the purpose of PBHA. But they don’t understand the lives that the majority of America and the world’s Blacks lead which is one where they are poor, politically marginalized, AND socially isolated. Being “down” involves gaining entry to communities where these types of individuals dwell, working to build understandings of these communities, and then learning to address the problems in these communities whether this involves taking a leading role as the Talented Tenth or taking a backseat role and helping to FACILITATE leadership and autonomy development in the individuals in these communities.

    I honestly do feel that the Black community cares about social justice at Harvard. Honestly. I just feel that it too often gets placed on the back burner after parties and such. Say the average Black student at Harvard parties eight hours per week (four on Friday evening and four on Saturday evening, perhaps). This in relation to the theoretical and average two hours a week doing service shows where priorities are placed. Will the partying go on the resume to get that job with Lehman Brothers? Of course not. But I bet that “mentoring” program you do will. Too many Blacks feel that social justice is something to be done in their spare time after partying and academics whereas I, quite frankly, enjoy working for social justice more aggressively and partying or doing academics (sorry Mom) in my spare time. People don’t have to devote dozens of hours to PBHA and PSN and whatnot. People need to have the mission of PBHA and other such social justice groups in the forefront of their minds, however, and apply whatever talents they have or are developing to the betterment of domestic and global society whether through education, law, medicine, or business. Nevertheless, it IS an ideological thing and social justice and capitalism are mutually exclusive.

    Black people shouldn’t be like me. They should be better than me. Destiny calls people to various things, yes, but the theoretical realm that is “destiny” can be and is often psychologically developed by an individual over time. Living in America, absorbing hip hop culture, and attending Harvard may very well have you believe that your destiny lies in getting money, getting a car, and getting the heck out of dodge. I, however, have had experiences and absorbed things that make me feel differently. That’s just me, however. Do as you like.

  6. Wow, this conversation really resonates with me, so I feel compelled to comment briefly on two particular issues raised here that stand out to me.

    Number one, I think it is fair to say that black people working very hard to ‘make it’ in the I-banking industry do oftentimes become whitened precisely because the very concepts of work ethic and class are racialized. Good work ethic and middle-to-upperclass status (or aspirations) are epitomized in a white male image. Laziness and parasitic poverty, on the other hand, are epitomized in black female imagery (think of the stereotypical ‘welfare queen’). Since black=poor (not to mention criminal) and rich=white in the mainstream American psyche, in order to ease cognitive dissonance in themselves and among their peers, black people trying to get rich (or powerful, in the traditional sense) face enormous pressure to somehow become more ‘white.’ Some give in to this pressure; others withstand it; still others overcompensate by embracing a commodified, caricaturized version of blackness. We need only look around within the black community at harvard to find examples of each.

    Secondly, for me this discussion highlights the need for all of us–both within the black harvard community (myself included) and in the general student body–to periodically take long, hard looks in the mirror and ask ourselves, among other questions, why we’re here at harvard, what we are trying to accomplish by being here, and whether our very presence and participation in this institution are undermining our values and ultimate aims.

  7. Mission love!! :-) I remember when I used to walk down the street in Alice Taylor in broad frickin daylight and feel nervous. Now it’s like home.

    Peace,
    George

  8. Hi Jersey Slugger, honestly I feel this post shows that you fit in quite well as part of Harvard. It is preachy and unfair.

    How can you devalue the experience of working at an investment bank when you yourself have not experienced it? You readily deride blacks from suburbia for having an opinion on the black experience when they didn’t grow up in the “hood”. So what right do you have to make an opinion on those who chose to work at an investment bank?

    Admittedly I intensely disliked my 2.5yrs in investment banking, and the money did not make it worthwhile (I left more money than I care to think about on the table by not finishing the last year). But I would still do the time I did over again for what it taught me and also the opportunity to develop, mentor and befriend someone similar to you from the “hood” in New Jersey. Personally I find it great that he’s by far considered one of the best analysts in his year and will have the career to support his new wife and future children. He plays the game while he’s in the office, but you’d find that he’s not a “sell-out”.

    And towards the end of your post where you go into the whole “social justice” and “rainbow coalition of sorts”, I wasn’t able to make the connection with what you were saying above. Well it’s a “connection” in the sense that the causes the Democratic Party supports are supposedly “connected”. Hmm.. I wonder if that’s the reason why most of America finds the Democratic platform flimsy and poorly thought out.

  9. What you are all failing to do in responding to Chip’s post is address the very bases of his critique. First, that people have responsibilities to each other (black or otherwise) and second, that ibanking is, in fact, more than “just a job”. This means two things: they have a responsibility to help and they have a responsibility not to hurt. I would argue that going into ibanking, or a similarly non-socially conscious finance job, both hurts people and fails to help them.

    It hurts them for two reasons. First, in the case of the black community or other systematically oppressed peoples, it removes those students who do come from extreme underprivileged backgrounds (and no offense, but I don’t think rich black Americans and African royalty, a good percentage of the black community at Harvard, count in this part of this category) from their neighborhoods and communities and places them into cultures and communities of excess, materialism and privilege, in which only those most vigilant will be able to maintain their connections to home and share the wealth they accumulate. Chimaobi was speaking to this trend above. In the process of doing so, the psuedo-meritocracy convinces these individuals that they are helping their people through their personal material success, which can be true but remains symbolic progress unless other people actually share in the money (see the first point). Second, ibanking etc. helps concentrate and expand the wealth of those with capital and power, which further isolates poor and working class communities while enabling their economic exploitation. By economic expolotation, I do not mean some sort of malevolent system, but rather simply the ability of capital to rule over labor, of unions to be destroyed and wages to go down, of jobs to go overseas and the materialist culture to expand. To argue that ibanking or consulting helps working people is the moral and economic equivalent of tax cuts for the rich or Reagan’s trickle-down economics.

    The rare occassions when it does help them- i.e. when there is capital transferred to a new black millionaire class, for instance, that goes, through philanthropy, into poor black communities- are rarer than people think. Until they have experienced the extreme materialist culture of New York Upper Class, of expensive bars and expensive clothes, of doormen and bell-hops, of cocaine and models (and, having experienced some of this, I think only the last two are the rarer extreme, but they still exist in quantity, especially amongst the young Harvard elite there), I’m not sure people are able to conceptualize how difficult maintaining a selfless worldview might be. However, even in those occassions when people do maintain their selfless and non-hypermaterialist values, the good they do in transferring wealth has to be weighed against the hurt they cause in concentrating it at the same time (a calculation that I honestly wouldn’t know how to make). For those who are so set in their value system that they believe that they can maintain said values, and honestly believe that the transfer of capital will outweigh the concentration that it is based on, I can understand that choice. Some probably have made this calculation and decision. I hope they are right. I would guess, however, that many have not, which I find scary.

  10. By the way, I think this same calculation needs to be made by all students, not just those from “underprivileged backgrounds,” because we all have responsibilities to each other simply as human beings, regardless of our background, ethno-racial block, nationality, or economic background.

  11. To the 12:31 a.m. Anonymous Poster: “Most people at Harvard” and a “black student at Harvard” are different people. I am sure that nearly every Black person at Harvard has experienced racism at some point in their lives but not every Harvard student has. Additionally, most Harvard students (and Blacks) DON’T have personal experience with poverty. Let’s be real.

    Andrew has wonderfully stated how i-banking is not “just a job”. If it was “just a job” people would not overcrowd the recruiting/info sessions of UBS, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. If it was “just a job” investment bankers wouldn’t make about $1 million after 10 years of work (http://www.uatonyc.com/iber.htm). If it was “just a job”, frankly, I wouldn’t write about it. It is THE JOB that students at Harvard and other students at elite educational institutions look to enter in large numbers and it concentrates and augments wealth that is already in the hands of those who possess it in large quantities.

    To address your question on how i-banking oppresses people in Nigeria, here it is: most of the people in Nigeria live on less than one dollar a day (http://earthtrends.wri.org/searchable_db/index.cfm?step=countries&ccID=3&cID=137&allcountries=checkbox&theme=5&variable_id=359&action=select_years). This shows an immense concentration of poverty spurred on by i-banking. I-banking contributes to the polarization of wealth internationally because most clients of i-bankers–whether they be corporations or individuals–do not solely operate domestically. Take for instance Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (Shell Oil’s parent company). This company’s operations in Nigeria’s Delta region have been the cause of violent domestic disputes since their first exploration into the oil-rich region. Local peoples living on the aforementioned $1 a day see billions of dollars flowing out of their region into the coffers of one of the world’s largest corporations while returning more environmental waste than social benefits to the Niger-Delta’s inhabitants. Investment bankers increases Royal Dutch’s capacity to expand in the Niger-Delta area, increase crude oil production, and pay their Nigerian workers less (due to increased competition for jobs) through their work investing Royal Dutch’s profit. It’s that simple.

    Raise your kids wherever you want, but be mindful of the culture that they will most likely absorb in that environment. Raising your kids in the U.S.A’s minority-filled, lower-income inner-city “hoods” (such as Harlem) will have hip hop culture, crime, drugs, and violence become an explicit part of their everyday understanding of residential life in this country. This is a warped picture of life. Raising your kids in the secluded suburbs of, for instance, Mt.Vernon around hip hop culture (largely behind closed doors), crime (largely behind closed doors), drugs (largely behind closed doors), and violence (largely behind closed doors) will give them another warped view of domestic residential life. Pick your poison or pull a Thoreau.

    Your last paragraph doesn’t warrant a long response. Although Harvard IS moderately diverse on many fronts (racially, geographically, linguistically, etc.) understand that Harvard’s largest area lacking of diversity is in the class arena. No matter what people say, middle to upper-class Blacks aren’t the AVERAGE representatives of their race. In reference to class, if Harvard mimicked the world’s class distribution over 50% of Harvard’s students would on less than $2 a day and about 21% would only live on $1 a day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty). That’s like everybody in the Quad, Dunster, Adams, Dudley, and all freshmen living on what Larry Summers makes in two weeks.

    To the 2:23 a.m. Anonymous Poster: My opinion on ivestment banking is an outsider’s one seeing as how I’ve never done i-banking myself, true. The comparison with being Black and not from the “hood” differs, however. Through dialogue with i-bankers and private research I have come to a general though still external opinion on i-banking. This shows an interest in actually gaining perspective into a population of individuals and an occupation that I know little about. This is a conscious and active decision that I have made. I would argue that most suburbia-dwelling Blacks (esp. that attend Harvard) have not made such first hand attempts to gain understanding. Additionally, I don’t have to be an i-banker to know that helping rich people and corporations become richer while fully realizing that I’m doing nothing to better society is wrong. Come on now. That’s like Richard Nixon having to be a drug dealer to know that it is wrong before he launched his War on Drugs. Things that harm small or large segments of society are wrong and even individuals who are not doing the harming can recognize certain actions as such.

    I commend you on mentoring someone from the “hood” in Jersey. That’s great. What’s not great is being proud of the fact that your kid is now one of the best analysts in his year. “Playing the game” while he’s in the office isn’t cool. What game is he playing? How does he differ inside and outside of the office? *the rest of my writing about this individual runs off of occupational and personality assumptions and generalizations, but understand its context* Does he wear a fitted cap and mentor another young poor kid from two zip codes away outside of the office but support the capitalist institution where he is employed while there at work? I think so. One is done is his spare time (a hobby) and one is done full-time (a career). Yes he will support his wife and child but this will be done with a constant surplus of money that will most likely go to superficial things such as (more lavish) vacations, cars, and clothing. Also, it will most likely be done outside of the type of neighborhood he grew up in thus removing himself from having the opportunity to be a VISIBLE “positive” role model to kids in communities like his to contrast the drug dealers and gang bangers in neighborhoods like mines. He sold out as soon as he took his brains away from the hood and sold them to his analyst firm. That’s Black people’s domestic brain drain (more on the Diasporic one in a future post).

  12. dag…this was an interesting read. umm…t-town 4 life!!
    hold it down chip. (david)

  13. this was a mad interesting conversation. i agree. i started out comin on here cuz i had somethin to say to chip, but after reading everyone else, now i got a few things to say to a bunch of other people too. but lemme address chip.

    so basically, the main thing i have a problem with in your post and in your responses is that you expect people to not only dedicate their lives to social justice, but also to do it in such a way that makes it virtually impossible to get anything substantial done. i’m sure all of us (and by all of us, i mean very few of us, but at least me and you) would love to spend their lives working for some non-profit or ngo somewhere and spending all their time helping people, or get a job i-banking and be the one who stands up and says “no i will not do this because it perpetuates the extreme poverty that so many people in our world live in,” but the fact is that the former is a frustrating life in which you often feel like you’ll never find a solution, and the latter will get you fired. so i mean it’s all well and good to say that people are selling out, or that people don’t understand, and i would agree with you that in a lot of cases that’s true. but you have to also remember that even though we’re here at harvard, we also live in this fucked up world, and we have to play by its rules too. you’re not going to end poverty by keeping it real when you’re in your first year i-banking, you’ll do it by rising up in the ranks until you OWN the company, and then changing the damn policies. if there’s one thing that black people truly lack in this society, it’s power, and until we get some of that, we can yell and scream all we want but we’ll still get left in new orleans to die when a hurricane rolls through. i would say let people go be i-bankers, and in 20 years if they’re sitting all comfortable in their house in the suburbs and doing nothing that they said they would, condemn them. but don’t assume that just because someone is trying to get ahead now they don’t have a purpose behind it.

    by the same token, all you people who were criticising before need to stop being so defensive and realize that the majority of people who go into i-banking, consulting, etc. ARE just doing it b/c they want to get ahead for themselves and are never gonna look back. so don’t try to pretend like everyone who goes into i-banking is doing it for the betterment of the race. cuz that’s some bullshit too.

    peace out. :-)

    -k

  14. Kaya, you’re correct in that it’s unrealistic for all people to dedicate their lives to social justice but being the dreamer that I am I’d like to imagine the sort of place where people did. If (at least enough) people were organized in different fields (i.e. medicine, education, government, etc.) with similar utilitarian focuses then substantial change could and most likely WOULD happen.

    I really don’t agree with you that since we live IN this world we have to be OF this world and play by its rules. The world is what we make it. For now, that’s what Western nations and capitalism has made it. Just like other dominant world regions and ideologies, these will fall in time.

    In i-banking rising up the ranks to the top after 20 years or so until “you OWN the company” isn’t realistic. I guess you mean being the chief executive or head of an i-banking firm but that doesn’t make you its Fidel Castro with absolute rule. Take for example Morgan Stanley. A number of its biggest stakeholders (its top ten, actually) are global investment management and investment banking firms including Barclays, JP Morgan, and Citigroup (http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=MWD). The Board of Directors of Morgan Stanley (who are elected by representatives from these investment firms at their stockholder meetings) controls and elects the President and CEO. The “head” of Morgan Stanley would bare one of these two titles and, even if it was a Black person after 20 years of arduous and evil work, would still have to answer to the Board of Directors who answer to the stakeholders. All are players in this game. If the chief executives or the Board of Directors do not fulfill their duties and pursue the mission of the corporation they will be terminated. Morgan Stanley’s purpose as stated in its Certificate of Incorporation (http://www.morganstanley.com/about/inside/governance/certcomp.html?page=about) is:

    The purpose of the Corporation shall be to engage in any lawful act or activity for which corporations may be organized and incorporated under the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware.

    These “lawful acts” include the adamant and fervent pursuit of the concentration of financial capital in the hands of the few. The gap between the world’s richest and poorest countries has doubled in the last 50 years. It was 3:1 in 1820, 11:1 in 1913, 35:1 in 1950 and 72:1 in the nineties (http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/gandhi/Lectures/2001-Meer.htm). Any person that KNOWINGLY and WILLINGLY plays an active role in this should hang their heads in shame, especially when doing this screws over the overwhelming majority of their people (i.e. Blacks).

  15. 2:23am poster again

    I’m just wondering if you haven’t heard about Stan O’Neal, CEO of Merrill Lynch, and the work he’s done in helping minorities? Or about Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (http://www.seo-ny.org) and their amazing work which has opened up the avenue to finance for blacks and other minorities for this “brain drain” to happen. (And for the record SEO remains predominantly focused on helping average high-school blacks in getting to college, using the funds they get from the investment banks for this purpose.)

    Yes there is danger that once in that environment people may choose to stay in that environment and disconnect from their previous upbringing. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s in anyone’s right to make a value judgement on that as it is an individual decision. However do you not think that for those who do come back, they come back with training and skills they would not have gotten elsewhere?

    I am defensive because by painting over the entire investment banking community with such broad strokes, you also insult the intelligence of some of the good people working within it. Do you really think that everyone is just a blind cog in the machine? That they don’t realize the compromises they make in their situation?

    By what authority, on who’s behalf, do you speak for when making these value judgements? How are you judging right and wrong? Is it based on things relative to each other or is it based on absolutes?

  16. I’m a bit familiar with Stan O’Neal, graduate from the B-School (Harvard Business School) class of 1978. Despite his sidework helping minorities, again, the majority of his time is focused on helping Merrill Lynch maintain its status as one of the world’s premier i-banking and brokerage firms and bringing back the highest returns as possible for the $1,800,000,000,000 (that’s $1.8 trillion!)–equal to about 15% of the U.S.A.’s GDP–that Merrill Lynch manages for its clients. As for the SEO, using the (again) chump change the investment banks throw at them doesn’t make ivestment banks good institutions. It just shows that they’re wealthy enough to throw a little money at a problem (the paucity of Blacks in higher education ESPECIALLY at highly selective schools) and go about their hoarding of wealth with a cleansed soul. Also, the SEO’s Board of Directors is overwhelmingly made up of high-level minorities from investment banking firms (a.k.a. those who seek to cleanse their racial, cultural, AND financial souls).

    What “training and skills” does i-banking teach you that can be applied to solving the social, economic, and political problems of the world that cannot be gained elsewhere?

    Being a “blind cog” in a wheel is different from simply being a “cog”. Being a “blind cog” means that you don’t have the foreSIGHT to SEE what you’re doing professionally and the impact you’re having domestically and internationally. Being a regular “cog” assumes that you’re fully knowledgeful of the effect you’re having but continue to do it either out of disregard, uninterest, malevolence, or something else. It’s like the difference between reckless manslaughter and first-degree murder: mistake versus purposeful, no intent versus malintent, 20 years in jail versus a possible death penalty. Which is worse?

    The fact that I’m one of only a small minority of Blacks at Harvard that has grown up surrounded by people of my race and lower socioeconomic class makes me a spokesperson for them. I must speak out on their behalf since they weren’t all as fortunate as I in gaining access to this world-class, powerful, nearly $26 billion-having, traditionally White/male/Judeo-Christian/Northeastern, higher educational institution. If I don’t rep, who will?

  17. “Mission love!! :-)” (George)

    “dag…this was an interesting read. umm…t-town 4 life!! hold it down chip. (david)”

    Haha what’s good David. Your brother was saying today we have similar minds because our posts were kind of the same.

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