Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Update on Baltimore City Students Post

In a preivous post about Baltimore City students not getting into city schools, I had mentioned the cultural barriers that stand in the way of city students going to Maryland colleges. Well today, John Blake of CNN, who hails from West Baltimore, wrote an article about his favorite show, "The Wire," which depicted West Baltimore as well. In the article, Blake mentions his own difficulties growing up in West Baltimore and recalls a moment in the show about a cultural barrier that was similar to an expereince in his own life.

He states:

"Colvin helps run an experimental program for problem students at a local high school. One night, he decides to take three of a school's most disruptive students to a steakhouse in downtown Baltimore. The kids are loud and brash, but they're petrified when they have to sit down in a fancy restaurant filled with white people. They can't function and end up leaving the restaurant, still hungry and angry.

I could relate.

When I was asked in high school to join an academic team that would compete on television against elite, white high schools in Baltimore, I said no. When I attended my first year in college, I wouldn't speak in class and stopped going because I was so intimidated being around people who could actually speak proper English. I almost flunked out. I felt like an imposter.

Sometimes, it's not enough to give kids who come from a world like "The Wire" the chance to get out. They also have to be convinced that they deserve it.

I almost sabotaged myself because I wanted to go back to what was familiar. Even though the familiar was depressing, it was all I knew. Now I know something different because a lot of people convinced me that I deserved to be in that other world."

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