I tutored rising high school juniors and seniors for the math portion of the SAT’s in addition to counseling and advising them on the many complexities that come with applying to college. One of my bosses played a Ted Talk for the kids during our break time, where a collegiate age young, African American man talked about his neighborhood in Baltimore, and what the future holds for neighborhoods of a similar nature.
I just spent the past year in Baltimore, as my school was located in the area (Loyola University Maryland- go greyhounds!) and even though I made the incredibly difficult decision to transfer colleges (now Fordham University- go rams!), I experienced Baltimore and all its true glory.
Clearly Baltimore has a lot of problems. Crime and drugs are rampant, the police department is on the forefront of police brutality cases, and many of the beautiful citizens live in poverty.
It is one of the greatest places I have been to, and I love it dearly, but there is undoubtedly an inordinate amount of suffering there.
The young man who did the Ted Talk, Elijah Miles, spoke about his neighborhood in Baltimore, and that it was rough. He would always hear that if he worked hard and focused in school, he would be able to succeed and ultimately leave the wretchedness that is Baltimore.
He mentioned, however, that abandoning these at-risk communities does nothing to help them. We cannot forget about the impoverished neighborhoods we come from- because if we do, the people who remain will be forgotten as well.
Succeeding means going back to where you started and paying your blessings forward, as Miles said.
This is a hard concept to explain, as success is rooted in not only monetary value and quality of possessions, but also where one lives.
I am not saying that one should never leave the neighborhood they were raised in, but we cannot forget about where we come from.