“The Carlton Banks Syndrome” Are Privileged Black Kids Considered Less “Down” Than Inner City Black Kids?

Remember that episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Will and Carlton went through rush week for a college fraternity and the leader didn’t want to let Carlton in because he said he was a “sell out”? Is that a true, real life representation of how black people view each other based on financial status?

Black children that are raised in affluent neighborhoods, with successful neighbors and friends don’t have the same perception of the world as the black children that are raised in under-privileged neighborhoods, with drug dealers and single mothers as neighbors. How could they possibly relate as children?

These days, children, teens and adults alike will literally debate over who had it harder growing up. Who had to eat mayo sandwiches and drink sugar water for dinner. Who had to wear the same pair of shoes a whole school year, with holes in them. It seems as though the tougher your life was, the more respect you gain from the black community. It’s even in the music we listen to. Struggle builds character and it makes you appreciate life and the blessings you do have.

What about the black children that don’t see any of that adversity? They have two parent homes, go to excellent schools, live in nice homes with 3 home cooked meals a day and they might even receive an allowance. They don’t feel one bit of struggle, whether their parent’s endure the struggle behind the scenes or not, the children don’t feel any negative effects and they typically grow up with a “care free lifestyle”.

Can they relate? Absolutely! But where does the divide come from? Parents maybe? The parents are responsible for the way their children show respect to other people. It should start at home. Bullying is a result of the LACK of parental guidance when it comes to the Haves and the Have Nots. Teaching your children to respect the janitor the same as you respect the principal. Teaching your children that material things do not measure a person’s character. Lets take it back to Carlton and the Banks family again as an example.

Carlton was picked on (lovingly of course) but his cousin Will for the way he dressed, the way he talked, Barry Mannilow, all the things Will couldn’t understand because Will had never been exposed to those things coming from West Philly. And although he would get picked on by Will, Carlton tried many times to be more like Will. It’s almost like they secretly wanted each other’s lives. But Uncle Phil didn’t play that! He made sure to instill morals and respect in the children in his house, including Will. His success didn’t mean he didn’t come from struggle and although his kids will never have to face the same struggles, he made sure that they knew where they came from.

Carlton was called a “sell out” because he didn’t fit the narrative for the “true” African American way. Instead of being proud of a brother or sister and encouraging their growth as a black person, they get shunned away because once you’re deemed successful, they can’t relate to the struggle. Why is that?

Even with black celebrities today. Most times their children only associate with other’s of their caliber. They don’t hang out in the poor neighborhoods around the poor people. Think about it. They don’t view each other as equals. Despite coming from poverty, once the parent’s “make it”, that lifestyle is long gone and they make it their mission in life to ensure their kids don’t see or feel what they been through. Is that breaking the cycle or continuing the divide? Think about it.

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