Neurodivergent: I wasn’t into the same things a lot of the time as other kids. I had aversions to stimuli that would typically be inoffensive to other kids. Because of that, I would often find myself isolating. Even if kids invited me to play, whatever, I would likely choose to isolate and do my own thing. Academically I was always exceeding expectations set by my teachers and that would lead classmates to think, ‘oh, you know everything’, giving an added sense of pressure on me to perform. I had a lot of issues with teachers because I was the type of kid that, if you said something wrong or if you said something strange, I’m gonna call it out. Among other reasons, I was labeled a bit of a problem child in school. I was often captivated by niche interests, like animation, history, or psychology. I wanted to understand and dissect them. I found difficulty in understanding the world around me with neurotypical explanations and their biases, so reading was my most utilized outlet for understanding and contextualizing the world around me. Because some of my childhood hobbies required undivided attention, I would isolate myself. And then. . .
Being Black: A bigger factor was Latino people trying to tell me I’m not Black or I don’t act or sound Black because I didn’t fit their stereotypical perception of blackness. Being outnumbered, I always found difficulty defending myself and explaining that Black Culture is deeper and richer than their understanding. Often times my Latino peers conflated Black Culture with being in impoverished conditions. To this day I experience Latino people believing struggling is Black Culture and completely missing the mark on loads of other bad things that come with being VISUALLY African. And that’s not even mentioning the systemic aspect of it – having a black name on job applications, no generational financial literacy, discrimination from resources, etc. And then. . .
Poverty: Every time I moved into a new place I would go without something. I’ve moved into a place and not had a bed or any personal items or any lights. But I’d have water. Or if I had lights I didn’t have water. And then soon after we’d settle in more, we’d figure out how to tackle the bills to live comfortably. There were times where my mom would, like, approach us and be like ‘hey, so [conflict] is happening. Are you guys okay with going without internet so I can pay the water?’, and of course I’m gonna say yes, but then I’m also barred from doing schoolwork. So yeah, there were often situations in which I’d be going without some sort of utility. I feel like that influenced how I’m easily comfortable in places where I have all utilities even if I don’t have anything else. I don’t need luxuries. I understood that poverty catalyzes desperation. I watched people in my life go down uncertain and perilous roads to make something shake. So I tried to keep out of the street shit my friends were getting into. It was easy to tell that it wasn’t a sustainable response to my turmoils. And then. . .
Community Outreach Coordinator: I wanted to take my strengths and apply them to something that was meaningful and work in environments where I can read off a script of some sort, something to jump off of. That’s how I practice my people skills. I noticed early on that people were ashamed about being from Reading. I was also an individual that wasn’t too fond of Reading until I started getting involved with the community. I had a prejudiced view that people here are close-minded and conservative; people here just don’t think like me. Then I met a lot of creatives here and I’m like ‘oh, there are PLENTY of people here that are like me’. In the interest of further challenging my prejudice, I began involving myself more and more in different activities and I started to feel a sense of community. I want people to have more pride in the community and the city and not be afraid to contribute their own unique thoughts and feelings to it. Although I’m going to school to pursue my passion in neuropsychology, this is a fulfilling and stimulating use of my time right now. And then. . .
About our logo: designed by José Joel Delgado-Rivera, Public Relations and Marketing Consultant.
This project is funded by a FARO grant provided by a partnership between the Wyomissing Foundation and Barrio Alegría. Produced in conjunction with BCTV.
If you have a story to share, contact: [email protected] or 484-333-4015