Eugene Robinson’s Washington Post column “The invisible underclass” describes the murder of four and wounding of five in Southeast Washington on March 30th. Robinson concludes that to prevent tragedies of this sort in cities across America, President Obama is “going to need the political will — and the clout — to implement policies that specifically target the African American underclass.”
Whether that can or will ever be done is unknown. There is, though, a new way that individuals can remove themselves from the underclass.
The most liberating aspect of mobiles (laptops, smartphones, iPads) is that they have evolved to be One-Web centered. There are proprietary education applications (apps) not available to all mobile owners — but this is a similar phase to what the internet did in the 1990s. Openness won with the internet because content atrophies behind walled gardens. For at least the past decade, a student could learn the content of any subject taught in K-20 openly online. The open content is 100% equal opportunity: everyone who visits it learns from the exact same page. Schools, meanwhile, have barely let students use the open internet, preferring to dole out knowledge grade-by-grade based on their expectations of students. We can be sure the doling and expectations have been very low in SE Washington.
Robinson reports tragically: “One of the shooting victims, 16-year-old Brishell Jones, wanted to become a chef. She just happened to go out last Tuesday night, and never made it home.”
Everything is in place for a youngster with an idea and a goal to study that subject on her mobile. Certainly the social ills described by Robinson would not all be solved, but one individual could learn enough to leave the underclass. The matter of race, culture, and geographical location are absent when she is studying online, because her mobile would have no clue whether she was in Washington’s Ward 8 or the suburban ivy covered walls where affluent students are encouraged and pampered.
Of course, if enough individuals remove themselves, the underclass is no more.