HI there, I grew up in Cleveland, OH on the westside in Riverside Projects. Now, I don't know why it was called riverside because the only thing we were next to was an airport. Ok, not directly next to it, but planes would come so low overhead that I felt like I was going to be hit by one. I became so scared of a plane missing its landing and hitting our house that I started freaking out about death in general. I remember that I was more afraid of the plane hitting the house when I was in situations that I thought would be compromising. I really never wanted to be found on the toilet, dead, so I would get nervous when I went to the loo. That fear passed and would come back here and there. We lived at Riverside for 13 years.
When we finally moved out of Cleveland and out of the projects we went to North Carolina. We had high hopes to live in the house my mother was raised in, restore it, and live a life farming, loving each other and living dreams we hadn't dared to dream yet. When we arrived we were greeted with an unwelcoming committee (my mother's uncle who, like a lot of her family have a chip and are simply an unhappy lot). We moved into the projects of Dunn, NC and it started again; save for this time we were in 102 degree heat in the middle of a little town that wasn't at all familiar to me. I struggled through depression for years in NC. It was some of the darkest days (until my early 20's) that I had experienced.
During the time I spent in the projects, which was up until I was 14 basically, no one ever asked me if I was going to college or truly cared about what I would do with my life. It was assumed that life was pretty much decided for me… I would probably have babies early and repeat a cycle that I was actually not a part of, but believed to be because everyone is a fuck up in the projects living off of welfare, right? Well, my mother had me when she was 31 and grew up middle-class. She didn't finish college but she is off the charts IQ-wise and had a strong sense of self-worth. She had/has shitty taste in men (yep, my father is great in ways and not in others) and ended up raising her babies alone. It is not an easy thing, being a single parent, and so she lived where she could afford and did what she needed. I am glad because I am a badass because of it.
You never know what someone has gone through to get to where they are. You never know the journey it takes to live the life someone is living. We assume so many things about each other and never stop to ask questions, to be curious. I went to college and have traveled the world, I am able to relate to any and everyone because I am everyone. I see myself in the person on the street begging, the woman about to get her child that is crying after waking up from a nap, and the President of a Fortune 500 company. I know that the idea of separateness that we hold so dear and we believe keeps ups so safe actually does more harm than anything else. And, at the same time, without all of the rejection, discrimination and classism I have experienced I wouldn't be the compassionate soul that I am today.
Before you decide that you know something about someone you have never met or someone who you have; before you look at statistics instead of individual people; before you write someone off because they aren't familiar to you; before you get all f*cking judgmental think about me or someone else you know that defied odds, ignored statistics, who wouldn't quit. Maybe your kindness, your inspiration is just what they need to move forward. Then again, maybe your being an ass is what they need to move forward too. Either way, evolution, development and growth are happening for all of us at different rates in different ways. You don't have to be open to the variety of ways there are to get somewhere but life sure is more exciting when you do.
For my part, I am going to inspire. It is more fun. What are you going to do?