Watch the above video. It is short. Go ahead.
When I was growing up I lived in low-income housing. I didn’t know I was poor. My mother never let me know how little money we had. I grew up with my mom raising 4 kids by herself. I didn’t meet my dad until I was about 5 years old. He didn’t financially support us once he came back into our lives. My mom said it was ok because if he had to pay child support, I wouldn’t see him.
No one ever called it the projects, but it was. I had ‘government cheese’ and powdered milk. My mom got off of food stamps as soon as she could but we couldn’t get out of housing. She never drove so we had to live near where she could take the bus to work. I never felt like I did with out. I knew we didn’t have a car, nor a microwave nor a dryer for clothes but I never felt poor. It wasn’t until I had some different treatment at school and later on in public that I was treated differently.
I remember being in 4th grade when the teacher told me I deserved a “B” in math but she couldn’t give it to me because I was in the lower math class. Wow, talk about an impact. Later on it only occurred to me that this same teacher treated us Bunn’s Lane kids differently.
I remember going to Main Street to a department store and the woman at the counter wouldn’t wait on me. My mom said it would happen. I didn’t know why. I had money.
I remember starting to like this boy in HS and he drove me home from school. As we turned on the street, he said, “You live here????” I was mortified.
Even in college, I was part of the Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF) group. Yes most of my college undergraduate education was paid for by government money. My mom made 9K a year back in the 80s. That’s right, there are not zeros missing. I only knew because she had to fill out financial aid. As an EOF student I was accused of forging a doctor’s signature and told “you people try to get every thing for free.”
So I have some experience in the discrimination department. I know why people are defensive and paranoid about how people are going to treat them. I know what it is like to be turned away from service or be treated like I was unworthy.
Interesting, it still haunts me. I had a principal who was from the town where I grew up. I had to show my transcripts as part of the highly qualified matrix. He notice my address at the time. He made a comment about ‘that place’. I still hesitate to tell people that I am from Bunn’s Lane. Not because I feel bad about where I grew up, I feel like they will treat me differently.
I am so happy Dr. Tyson spoke on this. We can’t talk about genetic differences until people are all treated the same. Even though people can be taken out of their environment, the scars of how they have been treated are still there. You have no idea what experiences have made the person in front of you.