Being born poor does not insure a poverished destiny, it simply creates an environment that makes breaking the “cycle” a challenging task.

As a laborer and  bearing a sixth grade education, the search for a new home was no easy task for my grandfather.

At the time, the only thing separating East Palo Alto and Palo Alto was a signal light and a slightly lower property tax.

Attracted by the lower property tax, my grandfather was quickly interested in an East Palo Alto home.

The home was located right in the middle of the Gardens of East Palo Alto.

Although segregation was illegal, it was the only neighborhood in East Palo Alto to be 100 percent white.

My grandfather and his family were the first African Americans to reside in the Gardens of East Palo Alto.

When the move-in day came around, the residents of the neighborhood thought that my grandfather and his family were the hired help of the new owners.

Little did they know that my grandfather had actually bought the house himself and was planning on joining the community.

Living in a impoverished situation especially as a minority in a wealthy community like Palo Alto makes it hard to achieve great success.

Outraged and disgusted that a black family had moved into their neighborhood, one hundred twenty-five people packed their normally quiet lives and left to express disinterest in the situation.

The neighboring white property owners raised $3,750 to convince my grandfather to move, and when he refused, many of the remaining neighbors immediately put their home up for sale and left.

Although my grandfather and my father grew up in a lower income family, they were not poor, but their situation did not mean my father’s destiny and many generations to come were in the same situation.

My father and grandfather’s experience is an example to show that although they started in a lower economic status they’re impoverished living wasn’t forever.

My grandparents had also purchased other property and continued to build their wealth.

My father and grandfather’s experience shows that although they started in a lower economic status, their impoverished living was not forever.

No matter the race, being born poor is a reach to escape from.

Living in a impoverished situation especially as a minority in a wealthy community like Palo Alto makes it hard to achieve great success.

In 1968, my father started attending Palo Alto High School as a junior which was a great change in lifestyle coming over from high school in East Palo Alto where the students were predominantly black.

“The majority students that came over were the higher achieving students,” my father said. At Ravenswood [High School] I was a great student, at Paly, I was average.”

Even when students from financially struggling districts transfer into  a community with great opportunity, students still tend to do worse due to the difference in educators, peers and environment.

Today, students in the Ravenswood School District can apply to the Tinsley Transfer program which allows students to transfer out of the district and into the public schools ranging from Palo Alto to Belmont.

Only minority students are allowed to transfer and chosen through a lottery system.

The majority of the students transferring come from a lower financial status and are entering an environment where the majority of the students are wealthy which constructs a large gap.

This “gap” leaves students with feelings of low self worth.

Ultimately, the students perception of themselves is the most destructive factor to their education. If students believe that “wealthier means smarter” than their own performance will subsequently suffer.

To ensure that low-income students are able to achieve success within the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), steps need to be taken to reform students’ self image.

To ease the transition, Paly should implement a program that allows EPA students to discuss their educational differences.

This program will let students know that they are not alone and that others share the same struggles.

The problems with the feeling of low self-worth contributes to low academic performance and makes it harder to break out of this cycle that leaves students in the same situation they were brought up in.

When students feel inferior in their environment, it makes it hard for the student to take risks. Risks are important when it comes to academic performance because if the average disadvantaged student wants to suceed they  need to put in an extra amount of effor if they are willing to suceed.

My father experienced some difficulties coming to Paly including racism and discrimination.

Although he was an average student, he was able to overcome them.

My father suceeded throughout high school and in other domains including sports.With his great determination he was able to thrive and other students should take that into account and should not be discouraged just because of socioeconomic status.

About The Author

Maya Ravel-Bailey
Woj's Assistant

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