My co-worker & new friend, Talisha, came into work the day after finding out I lived in Brownsville. She’d told her husband, who works in Brownsville, that she was working with someone from the neighborhood.
He had a stern warning:
“Stay away from her. If you make her mad, she’ll cut cha.”
“Natasha is not like that. She’s nice and sweet.”
Honestly I’m somewhere in the middle between “nice and sweet” and “she’ll cut cha” but all I could do was smile.
I had a realization: My Brownsville stigma is more prevalent in NYC where people actually know about Brownsville. All throughout my time at SPS I was afraid to tell people where I was from and they probably had no idea what type of neighborhood it actually is.
The other day I asked Talisha if her husband wondered why she was still talking to me.
She responded, “He’s not like that.”
But I know people ignore the stigma for me because I’m well-educated and well-mannered.
I wonder how the stigma will impact the young kids I see everyday in the neighborhood.
Will people rush to judgment or will their character speak for itself?