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.


Barry Lane said...

So true Mark. The American Dream was subsidized by the American Wallet back then. My uncle went to City College in NYC for free. We incentivized education not ignorance. Capitalism did not have it's meat hooks into everything back then. I remember watching TV talk shows in the 60's and people would just come on and talk, even though they had no movie coming out. Every encounter was not a transaction. These are huge forces. We need to reclaim the space to live.

Jesse Turner said...

All the more for us old guys to fight harder for our younger brothers and sisters to have the same opportunities. Thank you Mark for caring enough not to just be one of those I've got mine-now go get yours people. We all were lifted by the sacrifices of others. So it is only natural that we lift our young one a little.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner