Anyone interested in hearing an excellent and beautifully crafted case study in how systemic (capital-based) oppression in America exists and begins in childhood through disparity in education should listen to this week’s This American Life, “Three Miles.”
What I find so wonderful about Chana Jaffe-Walt’s story is that she never once calls out the education system or points a finger at 1% or government. She even shows the opportunities given to some of the poorest children in this country to escape their living conditions, go to college, etc. But what she discovers are the true stories of poor kids growing up in the South Bronx and what it’s like for them from the very beginning to consider their lives less meaningful. This story reveals the deeply held beliefs that mobility and cultivation of your personhood and mind are impossible if you are born into a certain place, a certain class, a certain skin.
I realize most people I know will think likewise with me, that these enshrined beliefs are part of a larger, institutional problem found in our nation. But I really encourage folks to share this with their people who think the poor should just be able to pull up their bootstraps and get to work to become middle class. Challenge those people to reflect on what it’s actually like to be a target for injustice.
There’s a program that brings together kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country’s poorest congressional district. The other is private and costs $43,000/year. They are three miles apart. The hope is that kids connect, but some of the public school kids just can’t get over the divide. We hear what happens when you get to see the other side and it looks a lot better.