Sunday, March 02, 2008

An inspirational story

So I'm rereading a good book - Freakonomics. The more observant of you will also notice that I added the author's blog along with a couple other links over on the right, all of which I consider to be entertaining for one reason or another.

One person mentioned in the above book is a rather interesting story. He's a leading economist that entered Harvard as a professor at the lofty age of 25 named Roland G. Fryer Jr. While this is remarkable enough, if you take his past into account it seems almost freakish. I found an article on him, and it's simply amazing - basically abandoned by his mom and raised by a drunk woman abusing father and crack dealing cousins, he makes a near miss on following the footsteps, then turns it all around by getting into college on a sports scholarship, graduating with a degree in 2.5 years while working and even taking extra credits at a local junior college, leading to what we have today. One excerpt:
At 13, he forged his birth certificate to get a job at McDonald's. When he could, he told me, he stole from the cash register. He sold counterfeit Dooney & Burke purses out of the trunk of his car -- a tricked-out 1984 Monte Carlo that he wasn't nearly old enough to drive legally. With a friend, he recounted, he would go into Dallas, buy a pound of marijuana for $700 and sell it back in Lewisville for $1,400. He carried a .357 Magnum and one night, in a fight outside a Citgo station, almost used it on a white man. ''I didn't care if I lived or died,'' he said now as we idled in the parking lot of that same Citgo station. ''I always think I'm supposed to be dead, not alive, much less at Harvard.''
Probably because of his past, he is totally driven to find out what causes the gap between whites and blacks in the US, and leaves no stone unturned no matter how controversial it seems. I guess I can see how some people would rather point to discrimination and blame that for the gap, but I'm glad that someone is willing and able to look at what internal problems might exist in the black community that are self-destructive. It'll be a lot more constructive for people to have things to point out that they themselves can control as opposed to just blaming things on the Man and resigning to a bleak life with no prospects. Then again, the people at the bottom of the pile are always the last to feel the effects of any improvements, which in some case need to be pretty substantial. Here's wishing him luck.

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