Future 5 College Consultant
GIS Specialist, National Park Service
the full report
Hello everybody. Uh, my name’s Greg Olsen and you are here for civil conversations and our storytelling series. Um, really, I want to introduce, uh, the host of the show, which is Wayne Hare. Hey Wayne, how are you doing? I’m doing good. How are you, man? Good. Good. I am. I’m excited to have us together again and for another great night. And uh, so why don’t we just kick it off? I know we like to keep things a secret. That’s okay. Nancy, we’re going to give you an introduction here. Thanks for, uh, for everybody joining us. Hey, Wayne, why don’t you say hello to everybody, and then I want you to quickly do a quick introduction and we’ll turn it over to our guests.
sure. So, um, I’m Wayne here. I’m retired as a back country ranger from the national park service. Three years ago I got engaged. We good? Okay. I’m waiting here. Three years ago, I got involved in creating this project called the civil conversations project, trying to explain, you know, race and where we are with race to this country. Now, my goal really is to move people into a position where they’re not opposed to the country trying to achieve racial justice. I’ve had so many people say what racism, racism exist, it’s all been fixed. I’m the, I’m the founding director of this, not what to become a non-profit civil conversations project. With us today, Greg, our, Vanessa Glynn, I’ve known her since my days in the park service.
She’s many things that, that are, that are, um, admirable. But what I want to talk about her background is, from South Philly, which evidently is entirely different city than Philadelphia who knew. And she, she’s very proud of that. Sshe’s tough. So don’t make mistake of saying she’s from Philly, but she spent, she spent, I think a couple of years working in, I believe Northeast Philly, which is the, you know, the black section of Philadelphia and you know, so she came into that. She was teaching art. She came into that experience with, you know, with some sympathy for the black experience, but also with, you know, kind of standard American beliefs in meritocracy, you get born, you grow up, you work hard, you become successful. The only factor there really was working hard, if you did, you became successful. And she kind of went into that experience. Also thinking there, there are poor people across the color spectrum kind of equally divided. There were rich people across the color spectrum kind of equally divided, and she got into the black section of affiliates, but sometime there and realized that it’s not true. And our other guest is Nancy Roath, I’ve known Nancy, probably longer than Vanessa even been alive. For a few years I worked in the corporate world. Um, Nancy was with, worked with me at IBM. She, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t work already become successful. Nancy did work hard and she came, became, very successful as a senior executive for the, one of the most prestigious corporations in the world really. And, when she retired, she was like, well, what am I going to do? You know, I can’t drink all day. So she decided to, become involved in actually create, help, create a nonprofit called future five serves, underprivileged, students in Connecticut. And, um, it’s not specifically devoted to black students, but, um, you know, when you say, you know, section eight or, inner city or underserved, you’re pretty much talking about people with Brown skin. And, and she went into it kind of like Vanessa, with empathy, but what she also came out of that experience, really, uh, having your eyes open to, to, you know, the, the, just the numerous and daily challenges. So, they’re gonna talk about those challenges in an effort to help people understand that, that, um, that these roadblocks are alive and well and exists, and that if we could work towards removing them that, America as a whole would ended up being a better place. So that was a short introduction, huh?
No, Wayne. Um, thank you for that. I keep learning things about both of you when I, when lane gives introductions and, I think I want him to introduce me so my mom could understand what I do. So maybe I’ll have you do that. Okay. Hey Vanessa, let’s go with you. Thanks for being on the show. We’re excited to have you here. And, I had to look up on a map South Philly because, um, I think of Philly and of course Rocky movies. Right. And, that’s people think that’s everything. So it is quite different South Philly from what we all know. But thank you for coming on. Do you want to just a couple of words before we, we’ll let Nancy say something and then we’ll get right into the show.
Sure. Yeah. I, I lived in Philadelphia, the Nineties and had a lot of experiences as I was going to art school, working with kids in various neighborhoods, mostly in Northeast Philly, but also in West Philly and some other outreach programs.
Well welcome. Thank you. Hey, Nancy, it sounds like you’re having a lot of fun now. It doesn’t sound like retirement though, right?
No, but I need to be busy. So, I have, um, an interesting way that I started in 2006. I decided that I wanted to sign up to be a big sister for the big brother, big sister over. Yeah. And, thinking that, you know, I’ll bring some fun and some ice cream and this kind of stuff to that, to the table. Little did I know my nine-year-old girl Rochet, who’s now 22. The life that she had, but I was nowhere near and aware on, I mean, I didn’t know that when we go into CVS shopping that she’s being trailed as a nine-year-old because she’s probably going to pick up something, maybe some custom jewlery. I didn’t, you know, when I was upset with her, bullying in school, her mom will become very close to was like, well, you don’t understand what she sees in the projects. She sees some pretty bad stuff. So this is minor. That’s to, I’ll say that by the time I retired in 2009, um, and this opportunity to be part of future 5, and work with low-income under-resourced kids in Stanford, Connecticut, I kind of had a bit of a feel for it, but as Wayne and I have talked in the past, I didn’t realize how just the simplest little things can make a huge difference.
Yeah. You know, I think you’re right today, we’re talking about planting seeds, right. Seeds of, information, you know, seeds of inspiration, you know, seeds of things that may, I mean, we’re on aware of. Right. So one of the things we’re talking about is we, and Wayne and I have had this discussion going on about systemic and institutional racism is alive and growing. And I, you know, I, again, I learned so much about this, but the great effect it’s having, on inner cities, but throughout America, you know, in our black community and people of color. So Wayne, I thought we’d start there and let you kind of lead that discussion with both, Vanessa and Nancy, because I think there’s a lot of things happening that, you know, that people aren’t aware of and we can come up with things and we can, educate kind of our listeners in that how’s that sound Wayne would have you say, Greg, this is actually your podcast. You’re the host, you’re the civil conversations guru my friend did I become the host? You’re the host. Okay. Vanessa, what do you guys think? And Wayne, how do you, you know, where do we take it from there about this, the systemic problem of institutional racism and what we’re seeing in these communities?
Yeah. I can, I can talk a little bit about what I saw. Basically, you know, I grew up with parents who were hippies turned, you know, Exxon engineer and lawyer, then lawyer and, single mom who struggled, but I was always told, you know, you work hard and you will succeed in this country. And, you know, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. That was my dream. And no one told me, no, I couldn’t do that. And that seemed achievable to me. And then when I started working with these kids in the afterschool program, it was in a really rough area and it was very unsafe. These kids can not just work harder and focus on school. I had fourth to sixth graders, and these are kids who they are working hard. They’re working hard to survive because they are dealing. I mean, it’s basically a war zone. And if you saw that in another country, we probably be sending like eight over there or something, but this is happening in the us. And these kids are dealing with an extreme amount of stress, adult responsibilities, there’s often no parental guidance around. And as we mentioned, when I came into this, I was like, well, there’s poor people, there’s rich people. And then I started learning more about how things were set up and how real estate taxes work and red lining, which is where back in the thirties, the us government supported, not financing mortgages in certain neighborhoods and particularly to black people in urban neighborhoods and all of this culminates in affecting people. So yes, you still need to work hard, but people have other challenges based on where they’re born and the color of their skin. And that’s something that we really need to understand. And it’s something that my experiences working with these kids started to get me to look at. And if anyone’s interested in maps of their particular neighborhood, there is a website, university of Richmond has, I’m a map maker by profession. So love maps, but called mapping inequity redlining in new deal America. And you can look up in your community. You know, what areas were redlined and mortgages were not provided in certain geographic areas. So it just opened my eyes to a lot of things. And these kids I worked with were great human beings, but they had never been to center city, which is downtown Philadelphia. They didn’t know what a carrot was like. You can’t tell them, like, go work hard. They’re dealing with watching siblings fighting off rats and roaches at night. Like they have no heat. Like you can’t, they they’re struggling for food. You can’t say like, just show up at school and work hard. They’re talking about dropping out of school. So we, as a society really need to like look out for all the kids in all the communities in this country. Yeah.
Those really good points. And you know, how sad it is that, you know, how privileged most of us are to, you know, be able to move around, drive across town, go into grocery stores, go to library, have internet, all these things, you know? So I appreciate you telling your story and again, how hard it is for, these kids and in these communities. You know, Nancy, you have a lot of great stories and, you know what, you know, again, here, we’re trying to plant the seeds and understanding, you know, and I know your organization and different things like that, but also being a big sister. Um, but you know, what are you seeing out there in these communities? And, you know, we’re just trying to again, bring that awareness to it.
Yeah. What, what I see very similar to what Vanessa did and things that I didn’t realize were really going on until I met up with my little sister and saw I’d been in day out, even learned about hair and how, what a problem that is for a black woman. Um, but I did learn a lot. And then when we started the future 5 in 2009, we said, you know what? This is all about. These kids are working hard and they’re smart. And just, haven’t got the connections that they might need, whether it’s resources, people, to get their full potential out of them. So that’s kind of what we started with future 5. And, frankly, we went to the high schools in Stanford, Connecticut, which is a high population black community, and said, we wanted to start this program and, you know, for basically free lunch kids. Right. So low-income, and the guidance counselors were like, Oh, what do you mean we do that? We do that. And we said, well, yeah, you do it. You got 200 kids each, you know, that you’re working with and you got their moms that are calling in and making sure that you’re doing all the right things. And particularly when it gets to the college process, and you know, your graduation rate is really not that great. So why don’t you give us a little chance to kind of work with the kids? And so we started that and, um, turned out after like the first year they were coming to us, we never recruited, it really was kids coming up the stairs to future five and telling their friends and their family. We have at least 10 families where all three of the kids in their family have made it through future 5 and graduated from college and are already now giving out. So it, you know, obviously even in the schools and Stanford, they didn’t realize that a little bit of help could make a huge difference to someone’s life, to their career. And, you know, as Greg said, I’ve got millions of stories of people that we’ve helped. But the one thing that is really kind of sad is that one of our students probably five years ago lost her father and mother in her senior year. And it was really, really bright and worked with one of our coaches to get a, the torch award at Northeastern university, which is a work study kind of school. So you could do whatever five years, she was so good in her field that she did communication. She was on the today’s show, supporting them as an intern for six months on Jimmy Fallon, graduated with all the honors you can get. And, you know, last year it took her six months to get a job. And it was because of the color of her skin.
Yeah. That’s something else, neither really sad stories. Hey, Wayne, you know, you have a lot of, insight and how these black communities are being marginalized and the challenges that they face, you know, and, we’ve been, you know, we’ve had discussions around, you know, which started with like, there’s no mortgages, there’s no, service to the, you know, it, isn’t about them working hard to get out of these communities, which is the one thing you’ve talked about a lot. Is that just not putting your head down, have these kids go to the library and, you know, um, you’re, again, I’m sure there’s success, stories like that, but you know, like we talked about race, racism is alive and growing and they’re constantly up against roadblocks. Maybe they get over one. And there’s another one. So, you know, when, what do you mean when you talk about this, for our listeners, how these black communities are they’re marginalized and such?
Greg, um, yeah, I mean, like kinda what the heck is it is the definition of a marginalized community,
I guess when you, when we hear this I think this is really what Vanessa and Nancy are talking about, but there’s a lot of things going on here and I’m just trying to see if you can help unpack this.
Um, so Greg, to be honest, I really think that Nancy and Vanessa who have had direct experience working in these communities, you, because of that and because they came to these communities with, with a higher degree of innocence maybe, than I would walk into these communities with. And, and so what we’re really trying to do here, Greg is help. People who, who are like Nancy and Vanessa, you know, who start out, you know as good people general empathy for the black community. But also a belief that, your kids just, I mean, because of your situation, you just need to work a little harder maybe than your white counterparts. And since it’s a little things and honestly the little things that I’m not aware of a memory are the big things, right and anybody can talk about a marginalized community without really really knowing what they’re, what they mean by saying that. But, but Vanessa and Nancy can talk really specifically about, about I mean, like I noticed that Vanessa said they didn’t know what a carrot is and probably went over the head of a lot of people, I’d like her to kind of talk about, about that, if something as simple as what’s a carrot and you know, kind of similar for Nancy. I know that Nancy has had these kids over to her house and her husband, Jerry did teach him something that we just take for granted how to cook, you know? I’d like to kind of keep it kind of at that level, Greg, you know, just these, these little things that when people pretty arrogantly. So a lot of times when people say to me, well, um, now the playing field is level, how can the black community is further ahead? And some people are sincere about that question and others are just being sarcastic, you know? And so if I answer well, you know, red lining from, you know, that started years ago, it was still exist today. Or if I just say racial discrimination, it doesn’t dig very deep, but to say they don’t know what a carrot is. That’s like, that’s to me anyway, that’s stunning and sad. So I’d like to turn it really back, you know, maybe starting with, you know, going back to Vanessa to kind of explain about the carrot and other, you know, little things like what did these kids know about getting to school, you know, from the home to the boss and from the bus to the school, whatever it was. I mean, so if we can go there and starting with Vanessa, would that be, would that be good?
That’s great. I mean, again, walking in that, so Vanessa and Wayne’s right about, you know, like the carrot, I mean, it, it, it didn’t really go over my head, but it’s like, I mean, it’s hard for me to imagine that these kids don’t know what that is. Right. So maybe like maybe bring it a little bit forward for us and what you saw, or these kids are seeing, or they just don’t have maybe that other communities or other kids in communities take for, we might take for granted or just don’t know. Yeah, sure. When I started doing this art program, it was, uh, three days a week and I took the public Philadelphia bus up there from South Philly. And it was really sketchy. Like I was pretty terrified going up there and I had to walk seven blocks to the church and the way they got the fourth, fifth, sixth graders, Siemens show up for this is, they said there was going to be snack there.
So this area, there weren’t any grocery stores, you know, forget about fresh produce. There was a kind of seven, 11 type of place, a bodega that sold prepackaged stuff. So, you know, these, these kids weren’t getting good nutrition. And so they had snacks that were pre-packaged and they were like the little peanut butter crackers and stuff, and the kids would take a whole bunch of them and I was supposed to ration them, but I was like, take as many as you want. Like, I’ll just buy more, you know? And I was vegetarian, I’m vegetarian though. And I had brought some carrots in a Ziploc bag one day and I was just eating them as I was walking up to the church and the kids were hanging out, outside, probably cut school, you know, they were there early and they were like, what are those thatand I was like carrots, you know? And they were just like, what, why are you eating that? And I’m trying to explain to them a vegetable that grows in the ground in the dirt. And they were just horrified. I mean, you know, it’s before Google and stuff back then, right? So like, they didn’t have exposure to this stuff even at school, on computers or whatever, if their school even would have computers now, I don’t know. But yeah, they literally, most of the kids had no idea what I was eating. It was this weird orange thing, right. They grew in the ground and oil and dirt, and they were like mesmerized by this. And they were, you know, there were understandably pretty standoffish. A lot of the kids after they got to know me, they would, as it would get dark earlier, they walked me to the bus stop and they would wait with me because, it was a very gang heavy area. And they said, you’re going to get killed. You don’t know the gangs in the neighborhood. And I was like, you’re forced to sixth graders. Like you shouldn’t be protecting me, while I’m waiting for the bus. So I think all of that was kind of a wake up call for me of how different my growing up experience was to theirs and that they had never, literally none of the kids in my group had been outside a 10 block radius. So they live in the city where like the Liberty bell is and things like that. They had never seen like the skyscrapers up close or anything. They just, they’d only been in that neighborhood. And it just really struck a chord with me. And I still think about them a lot. You know, I’m a mom now. And sometimes when I’m, you know, fighting for like my kid’s education, I think about these kids and like, what’s, what does it matter if you know, my, my school has a gifted and talented program. Like these kids are, have no safety. Like they, they just want for everything in life. And I just can’t imagine not ever feeling, you know, faith and that’s just the environment they were born into. But I have to imagine that, you know, giraffe, and it’s been a lot of faith about how strap changes the brain, wiring in kids and trauma. And I have to imagine that impact all these kids, but a lot of the kids were talking about, you know, dropping out of school and joining a gang as like a, a spotter or whatever. And a couple of them talked to me about it. I mean, I don’t know what advice I can give these kids, but that is their reality. And I think a lot of us in America, like, don’t realize that, you know, we, we see poor neighborhoods and things, but we don’t understand the daily experience, you know, that’s it.
Yeah. And there’s probably that, I don’t know if PSTD.I can imagine, you know, these young kids trying to take care of adults, like you, you know, they sense that you know, that they have to take care of, people and they sense that you just don’t know. I can imagine, what that must be like, you know? So, you know, Nancy, this takes, this kind of moves in the direction of things that you’re seeing kids at high school. I mean, not graduating, not going to college, not having the same opportunities as you know, maybe right. Like Wayne’s talking about. My dad would tell me, put your head down and get good grades. You know, you’ll get a chance to go to college, get a degree. It can be whatever you want, be an astronaut like Vanessa, you know, kinda, you know, go through these whole plans and I don’t have the same roadblocks. Right. I don’t, I knew what a carrot was. I mean, I, you know, we, we, I didn’t have a safety issue. I didn’t have to take care of a older lady when I was young to tell her, like, I have to walk you home cause it’s not safe. But now you saw kids that are high school. I mean, what roadblocks were you seeing from them that they just, you know, I mean, I imagine there’s just these stories of kids that you’re inviting them into your house. It’s incredible.
Speaker 4: (25:45)
Well, um, lots and lots of stories, but, um, some of it is Wayne I’ve talked in the past. Some of the very little things can make such a difference. So for example, um, most of our kids, um, have parents that, might speak English, not all of them do they work around the clock. They typically have siblings that they’re taking care of the high school kids, and they are working their butts off at school as are their parents because their parents are working as hard because they want them to have a good future. That’s all they care about. And the kids don’t want to let down the parents, but there were so many, I don’t know if I even call them roadblocks, but things that they don’t have, it’s just basic connections. And one example that just frosts me is, one of our first years we had a student who’s a DACA immigrant, undocumented, her family, three kids and her mom and dad, um, we’re all undocumented, but so hardworking and, and really hard. And so the first year that, that the state of Connecticut said that non documented citizens of Connecticut or the state can now pay in resident costs to go to Yukon as opposed to out-of-state costs, which is twice. And, we were on the phone just trying to clarify that myself and her. And they said, yeah, well we know this is Yukon. We know they pass that, but our systems aren’t caught up yet. So we really can’t do that. And I was like, well, wait a minute. You know, this person is going to pay double because your I.T. System can’t process the new law. Now let’s figure out how that’s going to work. And we worked through it and by golly sheet ended up getting exactly what she wanted and they figured out a way with us, but who would’ve known that you could do that, right. How would they have known that maybe picking up the phone could make a difference to their whole future, let alone, you know, twice the price. So we’ve got lots of those situations. And, and the wonderful thing is like, like I say, they are so hard working and would we get them to work with, you know, our connections, our resources, and it’s not connections like to, you know, companies, it’s really just other people. That same young lady who now has a great job in New York, was an intern at GE in Stanford, Connecticut. And at the one or two of the early summer intern meetings where they’re supposed to mingle with the executives. She was the only one that was over there talking to them, the executives and some of the kids that were later, how come you’re so comfortable talking with these people, you know, they’re older than us executives. And she said, Oh, I don’t know. I guess that’s what I’ve been doing the last two years. So through all the connections, a Future Five, we have over 90 coaches, every walk of life and they get one-on-one coaches for college and some for, for job prep and all these things. So she just kind of by osmosis kind of picked this up that none of the inner kids, you know, that were 10 Future Five, we’re going to be that comfortable. Cause they just learned a lot just from being connected with other people.
Yeah. So let me, let me elaborate or ask you to elaborate upon that a little bit. Cause one of the obstacles that you read about for, uh, younger black people to get employment, you know, good employment is connections, right? It’s not at all uncommon for a white person to have, through their parents or just through their own might say, Hey, you know, I can help you out. I know somebody here or I know somebody there, you know, call this person. And, so you were just talking about jobs and so yeah. Could you talk about a couple of things? Nancy one is, like a really, really rudimentary level of choosing a college and applying for college, you know, is there, did you find differences in the black community versus the white community and then when they got through college or maybe it was just high school, I’m not really sure. Did they face challenges having contacts been useful to them? Did they, or didn’t they, so can you kind of address those? I speak to those two things, Nancy
Part of what we do at Future 5, help the kids connect to their career, their college that they want, to the community. So we are very involved with Stanford and Stanford businesses. And mainly because they also want to have their teams volunteer and work with us. So we have a program that we do every year, it’s called job prep. And, we work with the local, you know, businesses. They do a lot of soft skills, how to, you know, just walk into a room and introduce yourself. Our kids have the best handshakes in all of Stanford. But they also, we also link with them on shadowing them over like the, April vacations. So that’s happened over the years. And I, I would say that maybe, I don’t know, 20% of the kids that graduate from college through Future 5 get jobs in some of those companies. And my favorite one is one of our students graduated from Yukon and indeed the place is in Stanford and she works in there and she’s been getting jobs for other future 5 kids that have graduated because she kind of knows how to work with Indeed. So there’s just, you know, those simple connections. The example of the college process, the college process is a full it’s often for us with two years for our kids, but a full year of every week doing the different States, whether it’s the common app or the essay or the federal money that you can get, because most of our kids will get the maximum Pell grant, but they don’t know how to do those things. Right. So we, and by the way, I didn’t do there when I started. But we’ve got over now 10 years of coaches who really know what are the good schools for diversity. You know, we don’t want our kid just because they’re smart going off to an all white school, right? So we’ve learned so much and, and the little problems that you can run into and how to solve them, every year we’ve got more and more kids getting into 10, 20 schools, um, with scholarships because we have someone that is full-time, identifying scholarships that our kids can apply for. Two years ago, we had one of our young ladies who was a nursing student, Fairfield, U, and she had so many experiential scholarships. In addition to the merit pay merit scholarship, that Fairfield university was giving her, we went and met with the financial aid office before her freshman year to say, what are they going to do with all this extra money, $30,000? They said, well, once your bills are paid, we’re going to send you a check. Right. So, I mean, they have been able to figure out where to do all those scholarships and you know, so that this level playing field doesn’t really exist, I guess, is what I’m saying. And I’ll tell you see these kids work so hard, be so appreciative and then come and give it back to other kids. One of our boys just graduated from RIT, Rochester Institute of Technology, has a great job as a structural architect in American tower. And the first six months he was on the job, he looked into the opportunities there and foundations and applying for money. And he basically wrote up a grant request for future 5. And we got $10,000 from that company because of his talking about how important it was to him, where he is now as a result, that kind of stuff. I mean, we’re not just doing things with these kids, we’re teaching them and they’re now doing them.
That’s some really good stuff. Nancy, I appreciate very much for bringing that out. You mentioned the phrase level playing field and I think that’s really what we’re talking about. You know, again, I, I think I said I’ve had, I’ve had way more than one person say, well, now the playing field is level how come you all aren’t doing better? A very wealthy middle-aged white guy used as proof of how level the playing field is black athletes, you know, and I kind of turned that around and use that as proof of exactly the opposite. When kids have been interviewed, well, first how many black coaches are there? How many black owners, how many black managers, how many black sports reporters are there? Tell me how level the sports playing field is. Again, please. But I was wondering, Vanessa, if you could talk to us a bit about exactly that, that level playing field, like what, what other things that, that aren’t, I mean, you know, big things make the news, right. But what other subtle things that you know, gave a lie to the myth of a level playing field? Did you see and deal with, in your time there?
Yeah, I think it’s just, again, like, I really went Into it thinking everyone starts here, right. And I would just appeal to everybody. People start here and people start here and some of the reasons they’re here and here does have to do with the color of their skin. And in Philadelphia, there’s a lot of history in the city. And some of the other things that I saw were just, I mean, I think the most striking to me was how foreign their existence was compared to my childhood or you know, my kids now, their childhood, and just the things that we stress about and worry about. And these kids are literally like, where am I going to get my next meal? I’m really cold at night cause we don’t have heat. You know, like just basic stuff that I really didn’t understand the depth of in this country and how things that happened decades ago are affecting the kids today and continue to, and by us not opening our eyes that and acknowledging that there are differences depending on what you’re born into. I’m not trying to put down, anybody’s hard work, you know, that’s not the point of this or make anyone feel guilty because that’s not helping anything. But I do think it’s important for us not to all just be in our little bubble and again, going back to the carrot, like how, how many people, how many kids do you know who are enforced to sixth grade that don’t know what a carrot is.
I don’t know any.
I think one thing that I think made it very visible to me now is the whole COVID thing. And you know, we, my husband and I have our little house that we worked hard. Got lots of land is beautiful. And my friends, my little sister, her family, they’re all quarantined in a house with three bedrooms, um, in downtown Stanford with, you know, one TV, um, I asked her in March if she was okay, internet wide so that her kids could do learning from home. And she said, I’m so ashamed, Nancy, I can’t afford it. So, you know, we, we did that, but I mean, it’s just imagine, you know, being quarantined for seven months in a house with, you know, there was a two year old, a four year old, sixth grader and then Rochet who’s 22, and mom and another sister, and they’re all, you know, and they work their butts off, both the both daughters and the mom, the mom works 24 hours a day practically. Um, and because she just does, but it’s just such a different experience. We just can’t, You know, it just, COVID just compounds what it must really be like living in, in the, in the black world.
Nancy or Vanessa, something that I have not been able to figure out. And that’s a succinct way of when somebody says something like those people and now the playing field is level those people just need to work harder and take personal responsibility for their situation, their actions. And you may not have an answer, but if you do, I’m going to write it down cause it would help me. Do you have a succinct way of responding to those people or is it like me? Is it like a seven hour long conversation?
Well, there was that something going around on social media where someone explained about like, it would be like the game of monopoly where you don’t get your $200 for 10 rounds and then you’re like, well, why aren’t you buying properties? Why aren’t you doing as well? How, how can you be expected to when it’s just so, so uneven. And so many things have been stacked against folks for so long, and it’s just, it’s not logical to not acknowledge those 10 rounds of not getting your $200 when you pass go, you know, and that kind of analogy, I think, helped some of my friends that I was talking to though, I don’t know who said it, but I thought floating around social media, which I know Wayne thought regularly.
It’s different board game, Vanessa, right? I mean, they’re playing, we’re not even playing the same board game, but I think that’s the part that we’re having this discussion is that how do we get people to acknowledge that there’s differences if we simply acknowledge right Wayne and Nancy, that there’s a difference. I mean, that’s, I think we’ve been talking about here that people don’t really acknowledge or understand that there’s a difference. Right. And I think that’s what’s happening, you know? So when you know those people, I guess Nancy will let you answer, you know, how do we respond to that? I mean, I don’t have an answer. I mean, I think I’ve learned a lot meeting wayne and I hope I don’t think I’ve ever had that discussion or Wayne’s heard those come out of my mouth, but I have had, I’ve had have colleagues or people I know talk about, you know, things like that. Right. And i’ve heard it more like, yeah, we really want to help those people. Right. And to me I’m like who are we talking about? You know what I mean? It’s like, I don’t, I don’t know how to answer that either. And I think if Wayne was trying to talk, you wouldn’t be a seven hour discussion.
We say, yeah, we meet them where they are. All right. Whether it’s a freshmen in high school or someone now at college, we don’t meet them Where we think they should be. We meet them where they are, and then like kind of water falling on us on a stone. You know, it just builds and builds and builds. And what they need is some confidence, some support, some encouragement. What I found is our kids. I call them our kids, but, um, they have grit because as Vanessa said, they live in a war zone. Some of them, not all of them obviously, but what they struggle with in terms of financial support, taking care of the siblings. One of our, just one story, one of our boys last year from Ecuador got accepted into a great school, full ride, and he chose to, um, stay home and go to, uh, Yukon in the Stanford because his parents are really can’t speak English and there’s some immigration issues and he needs to be there to translate for them. So I mean, those, we don’t have those choices, right. There are some very, very difficult things that our kids work through and the grit and persistence and our support of them every little step of the way, right. Constant little steps makes a real difference. And it’s kind of exciting because we’re seeing come out the other end, our first, you know, first four years of kids who started with us, went to college and now they’re out in the working world. And it’s phenomenal with that little bit of support and resource and connect to this person or that makes such a difference in to their confidence.
I mean it all seems when, when Nancy, the way you talked about it, it seemed easy right. In the sense that we talk about this and it’s not at all right, these systemic problems we’re having, um, you know, with racism and in the different programs. And, you know, like if I came in and Wayne and I were young kids and we’re coming into a program, I feel like we’re getting, we be given different board games that were packaged up the same, but then we’d go down to different hallways and then how I would pop out the other end, you know, and then Wayne would not even get a chance to get through the maze. Right. If we were young kids, you know? Um, and I don’t know if it matters if I live in Denver or if I live in South Philly, I mean, probably of course, different parts of the country, you know, but there’s so many differences here.
And again, I don’t know. I mean, Wayne, I mean how, I guess, when do you have a short answer to those people or do you have a answer to, if I was to say, like, tell me what the differences are, like, how do I, how do I, or what would you want Nancy, Vanessa ?nd I would say, I guess I’m just curious in your mind to like, you know, that there are differences.
I don’t have a short answer and it’s so frustrating to me personally, to hear that question asked, you know, or hear that. And, um, You know, I was kind of hoping, I mean, I kind of liked the board game analogy.
That’s what you’re, but to what we’re bringing up here, that I, I’m just, I’m just saying, like, I don’t even Vanessa you brought it up is like, there’s a different board game and we don’t even know that the person’s not getting go around 10 times. Right. I think that was a great analogy of that. I mean, now we don’t, we should know we’re talking about it because we know, but other people don’t know those differences, Wayne. And I think that’s the struggle right. That we’re trying to get across.
I mean, one thing that people can kind of pick up on is think about when you’re driving around and how neighborhoods are structured, right? I mean, some neighborhoods are integrated with people of all different skin colors and ethnicities and, you know, pretty mixed neighborhoods. But a lot of times there’s some separation when you’re driving around. And again, that goes back to the history of how mortgages used to be distributed in this country. And that goes back to who decided that schools were going to be funded based on real estate taxes. Like why is that even a thing? I don’t know. There’s just, there’s a lot of different intricacies in different systems across America and in different across our society where we really do stack the deck against different groups, particularly people of color.
Well, and let’s look at what’s happening right now, trying to change the census so that immigrants don’t get counted and therefore the money goes to, doesn’t go to the school, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Oh, I mean, it’s still happening for sure.
Hey Wayne, what was the city? We talked about this maybe on a few episodes ago that they back in, I dunno, I might have the dates wrong. 60 seventies, fifties. They built the highway around the black community and kind of cut them off.
So we weren’t talking about a city. We were talking about every city that is,
I thought there was one, sorry, there was one city that brought up in these discussions that that’s a perfect example that I learned early on. Right. That, um, that was cut. So what, tell me about that. I mean, I think that’s a great point. Just this light bulb went off with Nancy and Vanessa talking. So you’re, you’re right about a lot of cities have done this.
Well it’s been suspected for decades, that the federal government intentionally built freeways, uh, through black communities. and the architect of America’s freeways died fairly recently. I mean, fairly recently being, you know, I mean I’m old, so maybe fairly recently being maybe maybe 15 years ago. And, and, um, but before he passed away, he just kind of said, yeah, we did that. And the current director of the federal highway administration has apologized several times for doing that. So that being, in fact, uh, the federal highway administration had had a term for building highways to black neighborhoods. They called it getting rid of nigger town.Um, so it wasn’t, it wasn’t just one city, God willing, that would have been awesome. And, so you can, you can go and see that right now. Right. You can go into a black community, that’s near an interstate. You can drive up to the end of the street and just boom. It ends, you know, cause there’s a freeway or there’s is a concrete barrier on the other side is the white community. And, um, uh, so the federal highway administration dismantled something like a million, black residences. And, uh, you know, they didn’t say, you know, we’re gonna take this down, but we built someplace else for you. They just said, you know, like, like literally the bulldozers are going to be here in 30 days. You have to be out goodbye. And, I don’t know. I mean, what did he say about that? Um,
There’s a difference, that’s the part I’m talking about. There’s so many stories that I’ve had, um, through this show, uh, Nancy and Vanessa, and that’s just one that you both have lived in or live next to or experienced, uh, families and, youth that are living in these communities. And Wayne, I adjusted the light bulb went off. I want you to know, I do listen to you. I know, but that’s a good example of it, of that. Can we have knowledge that there are differences in why they are, and this has been going a lot along, I mean, been going around for a long, long time, which created this, issue. I mean, what’d you say? I mean, I’m just trying to bring it, I’m bringing back things on our past conversation. So thank you for clarifying my memory. So, these are the kind of key points as we get through. We’re kind of winding up our time. Um, we will have you both back on the show again, these are, I mean, I know I can keep asking and it was an se a great more stories and same with Nancy. Um, we are two amazingly caring people that can, really shine a light on your experience. Um, is there one or two things you want to leave our listeners with? I kinda like to, you know, uh, put things top of mind, people as they’ve listened to this, to kind of come back to something.
Yeah. I think I would just appeal to everybody, but especially parents to kind of, as you’re thinking about everything going on with school and COVID, and everybody’s been making choices recently about virtual in-person hybrid and things like that to really think about if you were dealing with this situation in, in somebody else’s shoes. Right. So, um, if those kids that I worked with, you know, in the nineties, in those neighborhoods, I know, um, one of the forced teams in Philadelphia did buy tablets for all the school kids in Philadelphia and the public schools, but then they had some issues with getting internet. I think the internet company there helped out, but just as, as humans and as parents, if we could think a little bit more about like, take a moment to think about how lucky we are, and then also, what can we do to help this be the norm for everybody in this country? Right. Like I think sometimes we operate from this mindset of like, I have to have the best for my kids and there’s this scarcity model. And it’s, you know, there’s, there’s plenty in this country, let’s help each other out and let’s figure out how we can break down some of these obstacles that people face, but first we have to acknowledge them.
Yeah, that’s really good point. Thank you for that. Nancy?
Well, I obviously agree with everything Vanessa said. Oh, the one thing that I think is, um, important is, is really the power of connection. And I don’t mean connecting to someone at IBM, so you can get a job it’s connecting to resources. It could be a friend, it could be someone else, but they connect and they’re connecting to adults, not just necessarily the gangs, right? I mean, so there, every one of those connections is valid and make such a difference. And what we’ve seen over the 11 years is, well, how hard our kids and their parents work and with a little bit of support and a little bit of direction this way or that, um, they’re, they are so happy and grateful for the support and to the point where the wonderful part is they are now giving it back, which is really, really wonderful.
I like that a lot. And we’ve talked about your seeds. We have connects, which after three scenes where we’re in this show and, um, it is about, um, community collaboration and connections about really telling stories. I try to get people to get involved in their community, wherever they are. Hey, Wayne, um, any closing remarks that you want to pull this all together? I know we can, um, we can go down many paths with this discussion, so I appreciate you helping the three of us stay focused today. So thank you for that, that, you know, we’ve talked a lot about these, we’ve talked a lot, a few things, we planted tiny little seeds. ut I wanted to see if you had any closing remarks.
Well, Greg, as, as, as I’ve said to you, maybe even, maybe even during this podcast, that, that it’s such a, um, it’s such a complex issue. Um, and it pushes so many buttons for so many people. It’s just hard to talk about in a way that gets people’s attention. Um, you know, my goals are pretty low. I think that one of the most destructive or most difficult hurdles to racial justice is just getting America to accept that racial justice so far doesn’t exist and, and the other hurdle, and I don’t know, this is something that I, that I kind of just, you know, feel in my bones, but I haven’t found a good way to express it is that racism is, is just as damaged is just really damaging to the country overall. So if you live in this country, regardless of what color you are, you’re negatively affected by it. you know, I can talk about the trillion and a half dollars that people that are, you know, as smart as Vanessa Nancy, have figured out that if we could eradicate racism would add to the economy, you know, I mean a trillion and a half dollars. There aren’t any problems we couldn’t solve if we had an opportunity and a half dollars kicking around every year. Um, but that doesn’t seem to grab that people, um, you know, but, um, I might just say, you know, most of us, every day we get up and we read a newspaper to my question would be, how does that make you feel, you know, does that make you feel good and start taking note of how many, those things that you read? Um, maybe either on the surface or maybe under the covers a little bit, uh, have to do with race. It would just, you know, it would just be a good thing, you know, for you and, and, uh, and everybody, if we kind of just, um, you know tamp it down quite a bit and move and move forward,
Those are great points. Wayne,
Nancy, and Vanessa for being here today and sharing some pretty personal stuff. I appreciate that.
Yeah. I want to thank both of you, um, wonderful for your involvement and caring and sharing stories. And again, these are the seeds. We’ll keep planning. Um, Wayne, you’re doing a great job. Um, thank you for all you’re doing too. Um, with that, I’m going to close off the show and I wish you all well.