I've never been one to shy away from stating where I grew up. That wasn't always the case. When I was in High School, if I was faced with someone dropping me off, there was that inner struggle of whether or not to lie. To give them some obscure direction away from the housing projects where I lived. Because I was never that smooth, I always ended up being dropped off in front and then having to witness their shocked reaction.
I thought about this the other day when I was visiting a school in the South Bronx. Each person entering that school has to go through a metal detector. There were so many security guards. My first instinct was that these students will not want to hear from some girl who says she's from the Bronx but lives in Los Angeles. Who does she think she is? Of course, I was wrong. The students were so welcoming and asked such serious questions. That shouldn't be a surprise to me. Not at all. And yet, here I was falling into those traps of misconception even when I spend so much of my time trying desperately to push against them.
I spent last week at the NPR West offices recording a segment for the Weekend Edition. Ever since I moved to Los Angeles, roughly 15 years ago, I've been a steady NPR listener. Entering that recording booth, I've never been so nervous. There is no way of preparing yourself. I just tried to be truthful.
I never feel as if I belong but i always act like i do anyway. Take up space and hold firm. That's what I told those High School students. That's what I try to do.