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Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey from Nothing to Something in America

av C. Nicole Mason

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
542478,676 (4.36)8
"'Standing on the stage, I felt exposed and like an intruder. In these professional settings, my personal experiences with hunger, poverty, and episodic homelessness, often go undetected. I had worked hard to learn the rules and disguise my beginning in life ... ' So begins C. Nicole Mason's powerful memoir, a story of reconciliation, constrained choices and life on the other side of the tracks. Born in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, Mason was raised by a beautiful, but volatile16-year-old single mother. Early on, she learned to navigate between an unpredictable home life and school where she excelled. By high school, Mason was seamlessly straddling two worlds. The first, a cocoon of familiarity where street smarts, toughness and the ability to survive won the day. The other, foreign and unfamiliar with its own set of rules, not designed for her success. In her Advanced Placement classes and outside of her neighborhood, she felt unwelcomed and judged because of the way she talked, dressed and wore her hair. After moving to Las Vegas to live with her paternal grandmother, she worked nights at a food court in one of the Mega Casinos while finishing school. Having figured out the college application process by eavesdropping on the few white kids in her predominantly Black and Latino school along with the help of a long ago high school counselor, Mason eventually boarded a plane for Howard University, alone and with $200 in her pocket. While showing us her own path out of poverty, Mason examines the conditions that make it nearly impossible to escape and exposes the presumption harbored by many--that the poor don't help themselves enough"--… (mer)
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This autobiography of an African American "overachiever" may be as typical a story of growing up poor in America as "Catcher in the Rye" is of growing up white and privileged. Chataquoa, a/k/a Pumpkin, growing up in Southern California, is the child of teenaged parents. Although her family occasionally runs out of food, she doesn't consider them to be poor because her mother feeds neighborhood children with no food. Her mother is a case study in contradiction: she has great empathy for everyone in the neighborhood except for her own daughter. Pumpkin has a love of learning and a strong need for approval that can only be found in a school setting. As she says, "The bells all ring at the same time. However, the schools are far from equal. A large part of the difference is the expectation of what students in predominantly Black and Latino schools will become when they leave the school system."

In addition to telling her own powerful story, Dr. Mason suggests remedies for age old problems of poverty and inequality, including a three tiered level of support for families to replace the frequently useless TANF system, which allows states to mismanage and withhold funds meant for the poorest citizens.

Here is one of her truths: "While programs may have prevented individuals and families from falling deeper into poverty, they have not been successful at moving families out of poverty in significant numbers. This is the hard truth."

This should be required reading in every high school in America. ( )
  froxgirl | Sep 1, 2016 |
C. Nicole Mason had a purpose in mind when she wrote Born Bright. By way of her own memoir from childhood through college, she wanted to reveal what true poverty in the United States is. It is not as simple as people not having enough money, but rather much more complex. Living in various cities in the Los Angeles and San Bernardino area, she was unaware that her family was extremely poor. Everyone she knew was in the same situation. She did not know that there a world out there where people did not have to contend with huge financial, safety and starvation or semi starvation. Being smart and determined, she pushed herself out with a lot of grit and pain along the way.

There are many misconceptions about the poor. It is not that the poor do not try enough to change their situation. When I read about the obstacles that she faced to get a good education, I am amazed that she was able to do. The education for the poor that she describes so well is very different from what the middle class have. The materials are scant, the books are worn and well out of date. She and other children are not expected to go to college so they are not even exposed to a curriculum that would equip them. I know what she wrote because of my own personal experiences.

If you are poor and come home from school, you cannot count on there being food to feed you, clothes to clothe you. You cannot depend on being safe from gunshots in your own home, your brother or sister might be tricked into starting drugs. You will be moving a lot, you will not have a stable place to call your home. You are not likely to get proper healthcare. Your family will be effected by all of the above. Most likely with all these problems there will be constant emotional turmoil. You are never safe, you probably will not feel loved, you may feel neglected or threatened instead. To get out of this situation you have to be extremely smart and determined . Even then, when you get out, you will feel like an outsider.

After the author tells what happened in her own life, in the last chapter, she discusses what we can do to fight the terrors of poverty. I have been about some of the so called solutions that did not work. She offers intelligent concrete things that our government can do. I wish that this book was required reading for all legislatures.
I highly recommend this book if you want to know the true impact of poverty. The first step is to learn not to imagine. Real experiences can make indelible impressions in your life but if you do not have those experiences, you must educate yourself.

I received this Advance Reading Copy of Born Bright from the publisher by a win from FirstReads. My thoughts and feelings in this review are totally my own. ( )
1 rösta Carolee888 | Jun 16, 2016 |
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"'Standing on the stage, I felt exposed and like an intruder. In these professional settings, my personal experiences with hunger, poverty, and episodic homelessness, often go undetected. I had worked hard to learn the rules and disguise my beginning in life ... ' So begins C. Nicole Mason's powerful memoir, a story of reconciliation, constrained choices and life on the other side of the tracks. Born in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, Mason was raised by a beautiful, but volatile16-year-old single mother. Early on, she learned to navigate between an unpredictable home life and school where she excelled. By high school, Mason was seamlessly straddling two worlds. The first, a cocoon of familiarity where street smarts, toughness and the ability to survive won the day. The other, foreign and unfamiliar with its own set of rules, not designed for her success. In her Advanced Placement classes and outside of her neighborhood, she felt unwelcomed and judged because of the way she talked, dressed and wore her hair. After moving to Las Vegas to live with her paternal grandmother, she worked nights at a food court in one of the Mega Casinos while finishing school. Having figured out the college application process by eavesdropping on the few white kids in her predominantly Black and Latino school along with the help of a long ago high school counselor, Mason eventually boarded a plane for Howard University, alone and with $200 in her pocket. While showing us her own path out of poverty, Mason examines the conditions that make it nearly impossible to escape and exposes the presumption harbored by many--that the poor don't help themselves enough"--

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