Here’s Heather Ryan’s response to an on-line
Conversation about mob beating in Milwaukee, Dec., 2005.

RE: [bay_view_matters] Re: Mob Beating…

So much to reply to in this thread.

First, I come from a family that was poor and not too long ago. I grew up on Mitchell street in the 80′s. We were welfare(AFDC for those of you that remember that)/government cheese poor. I grew up in a home with drug and alcohol addiction. I hung out in the late 80′s at the Boys and Girls Club on Rogers and also with the Latin Kings. While I can’t say that I understand exactly what these kids are going through, each of them has their own set of circumstances, I do have an idea.

When you live in a poor neighborhood but more so when you live in a poor family, it is a different mind set. It is its own society within a larger society. When I was a kid, if you left your bike (or anything else) out on the lawn it was free game to be taken. If you were a guy, it was expected that you would spend some time in jail. It didn’t matter if you lived in a crappy bug infested home but you had better have decently trendy shoes and clothes. I’m not sure if this makes sense to the rest of you but is like living in a whole nother place with it’s own set of rules. For some reason it is hard to see beyond the circumstances that surround you. I have thought about that for a long time and have tried to figure out why I couldn’t see beyond my world till I was in my late teens. I’m sure I had adults that tried to tell me that there was more out there beyond what I could see but they never got through to me.

I was lucky to have a parent though that did stress education to me. I wasn’t sure where going to school would get me but I knew that I should do good in school. I was also lucky enough to have grandparents that were middle class. I say a small glimpse into a not so hard life but no one took the time to explain how to get there. It wasn’t till I was in my late teens that I put together the fact that good education = good job = better life. (Hell, you get a good enough education you can get a job that you can have a spouse and family and live well on one income) I know that sounds ridiculous but no one ever laid it out for me. I actually didn’t even realize that I needed to have a certain grade point through high school to get into college till I was a junior. Luckily I was paying attention at a school assembly at the beginning of junior year and this got through to me. Now, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that people hadn’t explained this to me before. I don’t remember anyone trying but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t try. Kids tune things out. But, my point is, they need to hear that there is a world of possibilities out there and that it takes a good education and some hard work. They need to hear this over and over and from as many people as they can. Then hopefully is they seem like they are listening one day, the person they are talking to will lay it out as to what it takes step by step. I know this should be the parents job but obviuosly it isn’t always happening there. How we change that is another discussion.

So, if you have actually read my long email to this point, you may be wondering what you can do. Talk to the kids in your neighborhood, talk to your kids friends, go volunteer at one of the schools or be a mentor http://www.milwaukeementors.org/ . I love this list but many of us spend an awful lot of time complaining and not so much time doing something about it.

Heather

Last edited by g.   Page last modified on January 01, 2006

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