Thursday, July 5, 2012
Lucky to Be Born When and Where I Was
Although i dodged many bullets in my life ( in a few instances literally) i realize, talking not only to my students but to people 20 years younger than me, how lucky I was to be born when I was (1946) and where I was ( Brooklyn). Although I came of age in a working class neighborhood and had parents who grew up in extreme poverty, I went to public schools which had excellent teachers and were open every day 3-5 and 7-9 for supervised recreation, had access to free zoos and museums, could go anywhere in the city by bus and subway for 15 cents, and if I did well in school could go to college free. I lived in a city where the very rich were relatively small in number, where most working people were members of unions and were living a decent life,and where kids like me thought they had a great shot at going to college or getting a good job. Part time jobs were plentiful, we had amazing sports and music, and a great cause to fight for, civil rights, if we wanted to confront the racism that still deformed the society at every turn. Life was rougher, a lot rougher, if you were Black and Latino, sexism sharply limited women's opportunities, but wealth was distributed far more equally than it was to day, the economy was expanding at an unprecedented rate and everyone i knew had hope of living better than their parents. It all seems like a dream now when I look at what is out there today. The good things in life are increasingly reserved for the rich and young people in neighborhoods like mine face an economy that offers them few opportunities unless the jump through many hoops and overcome many obstacles.