by Dawgelene “Dr. Dawj” Sangster
I am an advocate for supporting women and girls’ empowerment, so it was no surprise that I announced a trip to Miami, to launch a mentoring program for high school girls through my non-profit organization, Think Royally Inc (www.thinkroyally.org). I stayed up most of the night planning last minute details, including scheduling a cab to take me to the airport.
I was concerned about my cab pick-up, since I live in Roseland and many people that are not a part of that community avoid coming anywhere near there.
I have learned over the years that people automatically assume that I live in some fancy residential area in Chicago or the Suburbs, when I actually live in what most people consider the “hood.” People often ask me why I choose to live in a community that is labeled “bad”. My usual response is that I dispel the myth that “You are a product of your environment”. I live in the place people call the “hood,” but I choose to make the right choices on living a purposeful life for me and my family.
I also choose to help make a positive impact on those around me.
My pick-up was scheduled for 4:30am and I was ready by 2:00am. However, I was concerned that the cab would not show up. I received a call from the cab company around 4:15am, saying the cab was in front of my house. I immediately knew where this was going, since I was looking out of my window and did not see a cab. We went back and forth and finally I saw a cab up the street. Once settled in the cab, a part of our conversation went similar to the below:
Driver: Where are you headed Miss?
Me: To Florida to launch a mentoring program for my non-profit.
Driver: Do you live in Florida?
Me: No, but my non-profit just expanded our services to help women and girls in that area. I have an amazing team of women that want to serve the community through Think Royally Inc, which is the name of my organization.
Driver: What do you do?
Me: I think. I live. I Inspire. I educate.
Driver: (laughing) Sounds like you are a very busy woman.
Me: I serve the community, but I am also a media personality, author, professor and entrepreneur.
Driver: (shocked) And you live in ROSELAND?
Me: What do you mean?
Driver: I didn’t expect someone as educated as you to live in that community.
Me: EXCUSE me! Are you implying that only uneducated folk live in that community?
Driver: Well, I mean all you hear about are the bad things and bad people; I am not used to talking to someone that is positive from that area.
Me: WOW. You are African American and feel this way about your own people?
Driver: Honestly, yes. If I saw a young Black man and a Caucasian man walking down the street, I would cross over where the Caucasian male is walking rather than where the Black male is walking.
Me: WHAT? Being a mature man, I would think that you would want to encourage our youth, instead of running from them or turning your back on them. You are also stereotyping young Black men. Do you have children?
Driver: I try to avoid trouble and don’t want to be associated with it. I have a son and a daughter.
Me: I choose to change my mind set about what I can achieve and what I can contribute back to the community where I came from. I choose to live there and inspire youth and others to think beyond their current circumstances and try to live more purposeful lives. I know I cannot save everybody, but I try by touching one life at a time.
Driver: I choose to mind my own business because youth don’t respect elders anymore.
Me: You have a point, but you should be doing more to change the negative outcome into a positive one.
The above is only a recap of some parts of the conversation, but it was an eye opener that more needs to be done to encourage our Black Youth, especially by our mature generation. What are your thoughts on living in certain areas and the stereotypes associated with people from those areas?
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