Among my earliest memories, are of when I was a very small child, perhaps about five years old, maybe younger. I was outside, in the front of my townhouse, riding my scooter, while my mother watched close-by. My mother lived with my aunt and four children, inside a small community in West Kendall, Miami, called "Banyan Tree". I was the second youngest. I, also, never really knew my father too well, though because my mother wasn't alone, at least from the perspective of a child, our position was stable. However, the truth was our circumstances were a lot more precarious than I realized at that time.
When I was in the third grade, my family lived in Philadelphia. We moved there more long term from Kendall because my aunt got engaged. However, we initially visited Philadelphia to see my father and family I haven't seen in a long time. My father was absent since I was at a young age, younger than I could remember. At first, we planned to return to Florida, but our family was offering to help, and circumstances were making living in Florida at the timeless feasible without help. So, this culminated with my single mother, and my three siblings, moving to Philadelphia for much longer than anticipated. My aunt was planning to move to New Jersey soon, as well, but needed to prepare first. So, it would be just my mother with me and my siblings, for now. My mother struggled to care for us, so understandably, she applied for section 8 for subsidized housing.
We moved to Perrine during my formative years, and there, poverty was impossible to hide. In a nation that treats the poor and the unfortunate as deviants. I started to feel ashamed of my poverty, almost as if I was to blame for my situation, or if it's somehow due to something lacking with me. Later, I developed a different perspective and instead learned how this society optimizes itself in the accumulation of wealth, even at the expense of others.
After a year, my mother received what she thought was section 8 in Miami. So my family moved back. When we arrived, the reality was, while we received public housing, it was not the Housing Choice Voucher program, generally referred to as "Section 8". This was a predetermined subsidized housing program. So where we lived, for the majority of my life, was in West Perrine, in Miami. This neighborhood was historically segregated and red-lined. The former town of Perrine was roughly separated by US1 into East, which was predominantly white, and West Perrine, which was predominantly black. However, when the first black mayor won the election in 1948, the white city council and the mayor along with his son, the only lawyer in Perrine, went to the state legislature and asked for the dissolution of the city charter. This led to the formation of West Perrine as we know it now.
As I neared the end of my primary schooling and was moving into secondary, I left traditional schooling. My grades were not the best, and my tolerance for school was quickly deteriorating. To have to experience four more years of schooling built on false information, conformist behavior, and harsh no tolerance punishment, would finally break my patience. Rather than continue what I hated, I was already older for my grade, so instead I took my GED around the age of 16. At that same time, we saved up just enough to move to New Jersey, where our aunt and more family lived at the time. This is where I would go to college and work during my adult life.
While in New Jersey, my mother and my aunt lived together again. This allowed us to remain in average income neighborhoods. However, to remain in those neighborhoods, the struggle was very similar to what we experienced in Miami, as any assistance we received before was no longer applicable. This is because, our society treats welfare as a ceiling, to "save costs", rather than a net, or a floor to help lift those who need help. My mother was able to receive food assistance before, but even though we were struggling, and proportionately, not much has changed, now our income was just slightly too high, and all of the assistance was removed. Invariably, at the age of 17, this led to a necessity to work. I worked many low wage and high labor jobs as to be expected. Our amenities were low, and our situation was precarious, but still, we got by.
Also, at the same time, I was enrolling in the community college, since I completed and passed my GED earlier instead of attending high school. Initially I was interested in being a lawyer because of how they're portrayed in media. So I first majored in law, but as time went on, as my interest in electronics grew, I started to build many computers, I repaired small electronic devices when necessary, and had an interest in coding. About after a year or so, I changed my major from law to computer science. However, I quickly learned that higher learning doesn't necessarily change the method of learning, fundamentally. The system that made me want to leave schooling was kept mostly the same, but your learning is now completely made into a commodity. From essential supplies to the classes, everything is a cost. And I could see the extreme disparity insignificance of your "education" depending on your university. My interest was quickly beginning to fade when I realized that universities are essentially a system of societal class that benefits the privileged. Also, for coding, there were many resources I could utilize to further my learning. So, school was less necessary.
Eventually, we were able to get back on our feet, and we wanted to go back to Miami, this time it will be different. When we arrived, we temporarily stayed with a family friend as we find a place to rent. I didn't attend school any longer at this point, I had to work two retail jobs to ensure we did not go backward financially. While the two jobs I had at the time may have been low wage and high labor work, I have met some of the most interesting people working for both companies. I created friendships that I did not have the opportunity to develop before, with my unstable past. After a year, since moving back to Miami, I was able to reduce the number of companies I worked for from two, to one. Though, I was unable to make a living wage at the time, even with both jobs. Unemployment may be low, but the quality of the wages for employment is also very low.
Though, last year, I had the opportunity to work for Wix.com, and that has been a profound impact on my life. I have been more stable now, than I have ever been previously. Now, looking back, seeing all the struggle, uncertainty, and stress. The lesson I have learned is that we live in a society that makes it so hard for people to improve, especially if you need help. With low wage jobs, high cost of education, highly conditional government assistance. If you are struggling, you are seen as lazy, undeserving, lacking character, or some combination. Also, people of color have to deal with historical and systemic disadvantages, that still affect those communities to this day, as well as everything else.
When in reality, I am currently in a much better situation because of a certain amount of luck and help. I want everyone to have the opportunity to receive help when they need it, just as I had when I needed it the most. I want a society designed to provide those necessities as efficiently as possible, so nobody has to struggle. We live in the world's richest and most powerful nation on earth, in a time where a single person can produce for hundreds, maybe thousands, of people because of modern machinery. and we let people struggle and suffer. If we don't change our society for the better soon, we won't have the opportunity to do it later.