I was raised in a low income area, primarily white and latino. My experience with African Americans was very limited until I moved to Sacramento, a relatively large city compared to where I’d come from. It was the first time I’d experienced “Urban Youth.”
I’ve lived here for 14 years, and without realizing it, had developed some prejudices regarding African Americans.
Then I got a job at the Urban League. My colleagues are black. My students are black. I’m one of only two white people in the entire building. I love my students, and through open dialogue on a variety of topics, I’ve learned to understand much of what were formerly prejudices. For example, I have always assumed that “hustling” meant engaging in illegal activity to make a living. Then one day I was talking about having taken on a third job so I could pay to get my air conditioning fixed. They all nodded with respect and said, “way to hustle, ms. Jenna.” It made me proud.