We are very excited to hold an event with trailblazing author and speaker C. Nicole Mason on Wednesday, April 5 from 5:30-8 pm at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport. Executive Director of the Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest (CR2PI) at the New York Women’s Foundation, Dr. Mason’s tireless advocacy for social, economic, and racial justice powerfully resonates with All Our Kin’s mission and values.
For over two decades, Dr. Mason has worked to highlight and break down systemic barriers that stand in the way of equitable outcomes for low-income women and children of color. As the Executive Director of the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Dr. Mason brought the Network to the forefront of the national dialogue around policies impacting women of color, low-income families, and communities of color. And in her new memoir, Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America, Dr. Mason sheds light on how our society fails so many children, especially children of color and children in low-income communities.
Born Bright chronicles Dr. Mason’s childhood in Los Angeles, California, where she was born and raised by a single mother and experienced poverty and its ramifications firsthand. Describing her formative years, Dr. Mason not only illustrates how growing up in a low-income household impacted her socially and emotionally but also how it shaped her understanding of the world and her place in it:
The expectations for my life were carved out before I could have ever begun to imagine what I might want for myself. I suppose this is true for all children, including those born into privilege. Our environment – our homes, schools, and communities, along with our primary caregivers and daily interactions with the outside world – signals to us what we can expect to become or how far we can go. For those of us born at the bottom of the economic and social ladder, messages of success, opportunity, and fairness in the larger society are often in conflict with the harsh and uneven realities of our daily lives. From the beginning, we internalize the idea that we are less than others are and that to strive for more is to chase an out-of-reach dream, like the one-in-a-million chance of becoming a world-class basketball player or famous politician. And we believe there is very little we can do about it.
Even in the face of conflicting messages and systemic barriers that prevent equitable access to opportunity and support, Dr. Mason, a precocious and driven child, excelled in school and became the first in her family to go to college. At the same time, however, Dr. Mason watched as many of her bright childhood peers struggled to break from the cycle of poverty, working toward but never fully reaching economic security.
While Dr. Mason credits part of her pathway out of poverty to hard work and determination, she describes these qualities as “only part of the equation.” What ultimately shapes our ability to succeed, Dr. Mason demonstrates, are “the conditions under which individuals are able to pursue success and opportunity, the social capital gained through personal connections, and the mastery of institutional and structural rules of engagement.”
These important conditions and opportunities are not accessible or available to many members of our society, and will not be without drastic shifts in our communities. In the words of Dr. Mason,
In order to build a more equitable society, begin to alleviate poverty, and chip away at the damage done by historical and cumulative disadvantage, we will need to create more connected communities throughout the country. Connected communities are those that provide the necessary preconditions for individuals and families to achieve full economic opportunity from early childhood on.
As All Our Kin works toward the realization of a society that supports all children in reaching their full potential, Dr. Mason’s lifelong commitment to creating the conditions children and families need to successfully grow, learn, and thrive resounds deeply with our efforts. These conditions must begin in early childhood, when the brain is literally being built, and family child care providers, who step up to build these conditions in communities across the country, are among the leaders in transforming opportunities for children and families.
We hope you can join All Our Kin and Dr. Mason for this special event! For more details and to reserve tickets, please visit www.aokbridgeport2017.brownpapertickets.com or contact Nicole Allman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-772-2294.