I entered The Evergreen State College as seedling, not knowing anything about the causes of poverty or homelessness. I didn’t know I grew up in poverty until I enrolled in a poverty class and read Thomas M. Shapiro’s “How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide and Threatens Our Future”- reading this book allowed me to understand systematic constructs, such as how minimum wage keeps poor people working for corporations.
Not having access to affordable housing since the- great recession and wanting to understand my nation’s history I took a year-long program, Housing and Community Development where I learned why it’s important to develop a foundation in history. In this context I learned about the effects and significance of Context Minimization Error and Redlining. As defined by psychology, Context Minimization Error is one’s tendency to ignore the impact of enduring neighborhoods and communities on human behavior. Redlining was a policy construct that allowed racial discrimination towards minorities, preventing them from purchasing homes. Discovering and dissecting Redlining allowed me to recognize the underlying message, that minorities unable to purchase homes will not have a foundation to pass down to the next generations. Redlined families miss out on the benefits of home ownership, which establishes access to financial credit, without such access it is hard to pay for our children’s college education or plan for retirement. Finally, I learned that the concept of Redlining expands the idea of Context Minimization Error by emphasizing the systemic nature of discrimination.
I grew up around drugs, prostitution and violence. In 2016, my baby brother was murdered. Growing up in such harsh environments, I now comprehend the world I live and grew up in on multiple levels. Evergreen taught me about resilience which is defined by one’s’ ability to survive the conditions of their environment. I now know that I have resilience. My mind was awakened to the power of bureaucratic language and policies that hinder our nation’s collective growth. My passion for justice is why I enrolled in Foundations of the Washington State Governance, where I became knowledgeable about how Washington State administers justice. I also learned the inner workings of enforcement. For instance, if Child Protective Services oversteps its boundaries, it’s possible to file a complaint with the Ombudsman, a separate government funded entity in charge of investigating and regulating C.P.S. in cases where laws and civil rights have been violated.
Then, In Race, Crime and The Mass crisis of Incarceration, we watched a Documentary called 13th, which covers the devastating effects of Bill Clinton’s “Three strikes laws.” Such laws continue to govern mandatory minimum sentencing. When I was 10 years old, my mother was locked up in Purdy prison for three and a half years, of which she served 9 months in work release, all for less than 0.05 grams of Crack Cocaine. For the first time, I understood how politics governed my life. Three strikes law were a tough-on crime initiative started by Richard Nixon in 1971, endorsed by Ronald Reagan in 1982 and enacted into law by Bill Clinton in 1994. I do not think anyone who voted for Bill Clinton anticipated that the fear of drugs would have such a negative impact on how punishment is being distributed upon black men and black women throughout our judicial system.
In my statistics course, I learned about equity versus equality where equal access to services does not mean that the services are being provided equitably. Alexander Hamilton quotes that “The first duty of society is justice”, but I believe society’s first duty should be having an equitable judicial system that provides equitable services. At Evergreen, I grew from a seedling into a Douglas-fir tree and I am ready to spread my roots of wisdom into the world. I feel confident that what I have learned at Evergreen will help me create durable change within my communities. I find my purpose and meaning in life within James Baldwin’s quote, “The paradox of education is precisely this that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” As I take root in our judgmental world, I realized that this is the final chapter towards the completion of my B.A. in Business Management and Human Services, and my right of passage into my graduates program, where I will create durable change and start my non-profit organization.