Who is Tiffany Brown?
Hello. I’m Tiffany Brown. As a way for you to get to know who I am I want to present to you the place where I come from. I believe it will help you understand what drives me and what makes me passionate about journalism. The multimedia package below was originally presented as my final for the Advance Multimedia Journalism class at the University of Oklahoma.
According to the Census Bureau, 43.6 million people lived in poverty in 2009. In 2008, 39.8 million people lived in poverty. The poverty rate increased from 8.6 to 9.4 for non-Hispanic Whites; from 24.7 percent to 25.8 for Blacks; and from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent for Hispanics between 2008-2009.
My Story, My Song
13. Around the age of 13, I began to understand what it meant to live in poverty. I was attending Rogers Middle School where witnessing violent fights, locker thefts, suspensions, students without ambition were a way of life. Before the Columbine ever happened seeing officers present on campus and passing through metal detectors to make sure no student entered school without a weapon everyday was apart of what it meant to attend a predominately black middle school. This was the social norms of attending underfunded schools in the Oklahoma City School District.
Being a teenager in middle school, I understand the difference between “the haves” and “the have nots,” yet I did not comprehend what it meant to be a single mother struggling to raise three girls on a low wage salary. For this lesson would come later in life.
The neighborhood, in which I lived, was no better. The idea of joining gangs was more popular than aspiring to attend college. If the American Dream was the object to be caught; the idea of earning quick money, having new clothes, fancy cars was definitely the bait. And gang membership was the vehicle to obtain it all. The gamble either going to jail or dying meant nothing at all. After all, for so many at risk youth the payout was greater. Working towards serving time in prison or being dead at an early age has taken the place of working to have a successful career.
For the parents who care, the only choices they have are not choices a parent should have to make. Many parents would rather see their sons and daughters in jail and speak to them behind Plexiglas, rather than speaking to their tombstone and distance memory of what their child used to be.
If many single parents could be superheros, the notion of having at risk youth would be an idea and not reality. As they would have more time to work full-time, spend time with their children to make sure they stay out of trouble, and they most certainly would not have to live in impoverished neighborhoods, which is a major stumbling block for at risk youth.
Sometimes death is the only way out for the cycle of poverty. Especially, for those who choose to take the easy because they believe they don’t have other opportunities to succeed.
Most certainly if superheros existed in impoverished neighborhoods, the community wouldn’t speak about what the neighborhood used to be and what it has become. For within the decaying neighborhoods are broken spirits of its people.
For me, some would say I’m one of the lucky ones. I had the opportunity to leave Oklahoma City Public Schools after middle school when I was transferred to the Mid-Del School district where I attended Monroney Middle School in the 9th and finished at Midwest City High School.
Changing school districts helped keep me out of trouble. Being a teenager, its easy to get in trouble behind peer pressure which was the reason why I did get in trouble several times at Rogers Middle School.
The one thing that changed me the most was working at jobs that many would consider dead-end jobs did. After graduating high school in 2002, I worked for two years and figured there has got to be something more for me than working an unsatisfying job.
After my sister graduated from Midwest City High School in 2005 we both began community college at Rose State. Today, I have become the change I have wanted to see for so long.
And life…life has taught me this lesson: While poverty has become a generational curse for my family, it does not define me nor restrict me to a certain class. It does not keep me from pursuing my dreams.