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“I gotta work my mind.”

Street Lifefavicon Juan, a ninth grader from San Francisco, is reading Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D., a memoir by Dr. Victor Rios (and a generous gift from Dave in Oakland).

Today Juan came up to me and said, “Mark, I have a quote.” Juan likes collecting and sharing memorable excerpts from the books he reads.

And then he began reading from the scene in which Victor realizes that dropping out of school and working as a gardener will not help him get out of poverty:

At the time, I didn’t realize that the people who owned the nice houses, and drove Mercedes, and owned little dogs with curly white hair, weren’t gardeners. They were doctors, lawyers, engineers, and business people. They were people who worked with their minds. They were people who had gone to college and gotten an education. While my mother had taught me a hard work ethic, I did not realize that there were two types of hard work. Here I was thinking that to make it out of poverty I had to work my body when in reality I had to work my mind.

“What do you think?” Juan asked.

I said, “No, what do you think?”

Juan said, “This dude is me. Except he dropped out and I haven’t yet. I gotta work my mind.” favicon

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