Posted by Jack Stephens on March 2, 2007
I wonder about Nathaniel, not simply because he’s a human, but because I wonder what kind of world produces a manchild like him. I remember reading Fox Butterfield’s account of Willie Bosket and thinking that he told part of the story. Though I may not be able to retrace Nathaniel’s life, I’m sure there are more than enough elements that would trouble us. While the national cameras usually fixate on Detroit as a city in decline or post decline, seldom do people think of Pontiac. Pontiac, which sits not far from Detroit, is just as ripe with social ills and dangers: high amounts of crime, drugs, unemployment, and single headed households. While we all love the stories of “beating the odds” and want to highlight the exceptions to the rules of poverty, these stories are in many ways disingenuous. I think Nathaniel represents the rule, the rule that we need to grapple with, simply put: Your chances for success (however you define it) are severely limited (if not eliminated) if you grow up poor, Black, and male in America.