I grew up in a suburb, and went to college in a farm town an hour west of where I grew up. I became friends with a pair of Black sisters, one of whom was in some of my classes. They stayed at my suburban house a few times, on their way either to or from the college, and I visited their home in a poverty-stricken area in Chicago. They lived in a high rise, so they'd send their 12-year-old brother down to accompany me up in the elevator. When it was broken, he'd walk with me up the stairs. I still remember the sights and smells of those stairways. And the unease I initially felt when I was there--a white girl out of my element. I grew to love their mom and siblings, as I did them. They came to my wedding a few years later. And my mom went with me to the baby shower for one of them.
So I know from personal experience that some people grow up in violent neighborhoods without the benefit of the white privilege that I had growing up in a leafy suburb, going to well-funded schools, and being safe to walk down my streets even at night. We all deserve a sense of peace in our own homes. And of opportunities to better our lives.
There are a lot of organizations and non-profits that try to help individual neighborhoods, but there was a need for some way to coordinate the needs with the help available. Doing some research, I found Thrive, a non-profit that accumulates data from around Chicago, then directs help to where it is most needed. They work with groups like The Obama Foundation's BAM--Become a Man. So I'm glad to choose them as my charity for this month's blog hop. More information can be found at: thrivechi.org. I will make a donation for every comment left here during this month, up $50.00. In these times of renewed civil unrest, when all of us are being forced to face the reality that my friends and others who are people of color have to deal with daily, it's up to everyone to make an attempt to understand and to help right the wrongs of our society.
Yuri's answering grin was amused. "You are precious. I am happily anticipating the many years I intend to spend, learning all there is to know about you. Not only are you intelligent beyond my imagining, but you have a quirky sense of humor. You can make even me laugh. Believe me, us Russians are by nature a pretty dour and pessimistic lot. I need someone like you to balance me with your optimism, and your laughter."
"You might be seeing in me what you want to see. I haven't had an easy life. It's hard to laugh when you are working twenty-four-seven on research you feel driven to complete."
"And why is that? What is the reason that you have been working so hard on discovering the root of intelligence? What's your personal connection?"
Keesha shrank down in her chair and frowned. "My past," she mumbled.
Yuri leaned forward and took her hand in his again, caressing her fingers.
"Don't!" she began. "I won't be able to think if you keep doing that."
"I'm only attempting to reassure you, while you think of, and talk about things that are unpleasant for you."
"I guess--okay." She sat up straighter. "I was born in the ghetto. My life almost seems like a cliché, even to me. Poor Black child gets multiple scholarships due to her scary-smartness, then earns multiple degrees. And what does she do with those degrees? She goes into a life of research, only to discover to her chagrin, that research scientists are the red-headed stepchildren of the science world. The respect and acclaim that I thought would be mine, has eluded me. I've barely made enough money to pay off all of my student loans. Meanwhile, my brothers and sisters are still mostly in the hood--the ones that aren't dead. Some got into drugs, either using or dealing or both. One brother is an alcoholic and keeps getting DUIs. It's only a matter of time before he kills someone--maybe even himself. I look at them all and wonder why am I not still there? The only difference I can see is that I was born with a bigger brain--with more of whatever it is that makes a person intelligent. Many of them are street-smart, with common-sense. But no one besides me had any ambition to use education as their stepping stone out of poverty."
Yuri's face reflected only compassion. "So you wanted to discover how to help them all, by synthesizing the brain chemicals that would make them more intelligent?"
"Yes! Is that really too much to ask? I look around these days at what the popular culture is fixated on, and I cringe with embarrassment and disgust! Folks used to value intelligence! Everyone used to at least pretend to be educated when they weren't, and everyone aimed to better themselves by reading and discussing things of value--ideas like freedom and equality. Now all anyone wants to talk about is which celebrity has a baby-bump, and who the daddy might be--or which celebrity clothing line or perfume is the next big thing. No one cares whether or not our country is going to hell in a hand-basket, because we've lost the drive that used to make us aim higher. And we've become too dogmatic in our acceptance of the myths that our ancestors made up to comfort themselves, when their fear of dying got too big. Along with that, we're intolerant of anyone else's myths, thinking that ours is the only right way. No one wants to head for the stars to live on other planets, because they're too busy surfing the net looking for extreme porn. We have all of the knowledge of humanity available at the click of a mouse, and instead we use the net to access social networks, so we can talk about each other, and cut each other down!"
Keesha was surprised to find that there were tears leaking out of her eyes.
Copyright 2020, Fiona McGier
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