Faces of Poverty

A couple of days ago while conducting research for a school paper while at the same time making sure to myself that I one day will visit again. This academic institution happens to be in the local region of the San Francisco bay area. I will tell you one fact about the school, it’s on California’s list of “worst schools in the state”; so that should give you an idea on what i observed for about 3 hours, in one of those hours of intuitive observation, I decided to have lunch, coincidently the local high school of subject was also on their lunch hour. So I made my approach and ask my respondents which were 6 black male students. I conducted a number of interviews and to which was a surprise as it was not only my first but also not my intended target group, but couldn’t let this opportunity slip so I seized it… and when I completed this interview i was confident that the rest of the interviews were going to be just as successful as my first. My goal was not to focus on gathering qualitative data but the opportunity arose and presented itself and I was not going to let in slip away. I ordered my burritos and soda. From the same taco truck that has been there for nearly 26 years standing around the corner from this institution, which is the same time that I have resided in this same community, a city we moved to from Delano, CA.

The group which I surrounded myself with for lunch consisted of 6 [black] high school boys what looked to me as they were eating as I approached but in reality were really just sharing their lunch, going over their day while having a “smoke”. I went ahead and approached them and ask if it was ok to do an interview, made them know that it would take no more than 10 minutes and they all agreed.The whole time they were all smiles, to which I noticed that their “attitude” was that similar of a mere kid, kids like mine soft, shy, loud, curious and social; not the “tough guys” I thought I would encounter either. During the questions that I had prepared for them which consisted of their student/teacher relations, classroom achievement, campus-climate, etc.
One question that really caught them by surprise but immediately responded as it was an answer they were confident on, which was my inquiry of the “Latino” teacher population on campus and after a quick thought they all agreed that it had grown somewhat in comparison to last years total. Although I was pleased that they answered in which they did but I already had the data in possession but my intention was to test their campus knowledge and its educators there. I was pleased to hear them mentioning something about a new Math teacher, which was music to my ears. These young men were all laughs up until the real questions started slipping from my mouth and when they were asked the faces turn to sadness, some to anxiety but all were [hopeful] as we ate lunch and continued to share. Questions I asked started with something similar to, “where do you live?” which I left for one of the last questions, but I already had a general idea, when which they stated was one of the city’s most struggling neighborhoods, the “Crest Side”. After I shared my neighborhood origins, which is about a mile away from theirs, I saw they felt more at ease and we were now on ‘big brother” terms as I demonstrated compassion and recognition to their daily lives. With that said, I went ahead and asked away in more depth but this time I asked, “if they lived with their parents or a single parent household” that’s when the faces changed completely as if i had asked the wrong question to which I related to immediately upon the observation. It felt like if I had mentioned death. They tended to look away when I probed for answers with different and strategic methods, some acted like they didn’t hear me, others acted like they was on their phones. Like they were wanting for me to not ask, after a couple of breaths of their “cigarettes” each one slowly answered one by one that they lived one parent in a single family household. Another said he was abandoned by both parents, another said he was with his grandmother… after their confessions they all carried different new faces unlike the ones they had when I presented myself to them. I asked them about college and they had great optimism and hope. They said that it had been mentioned a couple of times but then I asked if they know about “Fafsa” grants for low-income students and they didn’t know what I was actually informing them about so we let it go as it was no concern at the present moment, that told me a lot even without them telling me another word. The interview stopped and after exchanging a few more words the interview was complete. We shook hands laughs as they walked on foot to their respected destinations, looking back towards my car for some reason or another. All i could do was think about my childhood and those same faces i used to make.

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