As I read more and more rhetoric in the news about everything from about the state of inner-city youth to the Obamas, I constantly think back to my upbringing. Here's why:
I am grateful that I grew up in a solid working-class home, raised by a set of parents who deeply loved me and my brother and loved each other. I think that is the reason I rarely missed what we didn't have.
I am happy to be a born and bred New Yorker who can give most southerners a run for their money with my knowledge of life below the Mason Dixon line. (Spending summers in Chatham County, North Carolina made me well-rounded in that regard.)
I am thankful that I've attended both private and public school in New York City and can say without a shadow of a doubt that either can help a student to flourish or fail.
I am honored to have received a stellar education from Allen Christian School (an all-Black school with an all-Black staff in an all-Black neighborhood). Yep, it is indeed possible.
I am so glad my parents encouraged me to join the Girl Scouts, take piano, clarinet, ballet and swimming lessons...and practically every other extra-curricular activity they had access to/could afford for me to participate in although neither of them did any of those things during their childhood.
I am downright estatic that my adolescent ears heard Aretha Franklin's gospel and The Last Poet's spoken word, in some cases back-to-back on our living room record player on a regular basis while growing up. It gave me a good ear for quality soul music in all it's variations.
I am so overjoyed that I got to witness how clean my maternal Grandma kept her home and everything in it. I almost told a former coworker off who claimed that "poor" people live in dirty conditions because they just don't know any better. My grandmother was "poor" and you could eat off of her floor.
I am humored that I have partied in the former Jamaica, Queens establishment, the Q-Club, but have also had tea at The Plaza Hotel. How many people can say that?
I cherish memories of Kool-Aid, Shake and Bake and 75 cent slices of pizza.
I love that my parents raised me to always remember: You are no better than anyone else and no one else is any better than you.
Now, I know you've got some too. Please share!