Inner City Kids: Do We Have To Assume Failure?

Student: Dang Ms. Bolden, you be spittin knowledge … you should be a rapper.

Ms. Bolden: A rapper? That’s who you think has knowledge? Why shouldn’t I be a teacher, or a philosopher, a preacher…anything besides a rapper?

Student: I mean you could be, but then ain’t nobody in the hood gonna hear you. You from Southfield so you don’t really know about the hood.

Ms. Bolden: Southfield? I’m from Detroit!

Student: No you not!

Shirley at 12 years old, three weeks after going into foster care.

That’s not the first time I’ve been stereotyped as a suburbanite by someone living in the city.

Oddly, telling someone that they come off as too educated to have grown-up in an urban city is the one of the most offensive and ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

While “Detroit” is being typed in the City of Residence box on our birth certificates the rest of our lives are being determined.

The assumption is we probably won’t graduate from high school, we’ll have children before we have a chance to grow-up, we’re pre-signed up for food stamps and will visit our sons in jails and cemeteries.

Remove the “Detroit” from the City of Residence box and type “Royal Oak.”

That kid will graduate from college, have proper access and an understanding of the importance to birth control, eat Sushi at Ronin and send their kids off to college in a Ford Escape.


Shirley: Michigan State Univ grad AND an urban city kid

No one’s life should be predetermined by the city they grew up in. The next time someone assumes I didn’t grow up in the hood, the Seven Mile will come out of me and I’ll slap them with my Michigan State University diploma.

Inner city kids are not bound to be failures.

True enough some of us will be underexposed to some of the finer things in life. And some of us may never get a chance to meet our fathers. And some of us may never meet a millionaire. And some of us will never see our parents reach financial stability.

But all of us are resilient.


About Shirley

Perspectives are found in the oddest of places, Shirley found hers through taking small pieces from nine childhood homes, each with something new for her to discover. Truth is, Shirley Bolden is quite biased saying she's just learned to craft her words in ways to make everyone agree with her.

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