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Inner City School System vs. White-Centered School Debate with Global Journalist Gabrielle Alexandra Smith

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In this second episode, DMVDaily and Global Journalist Gabrielle Alexandra Smith explains more solely on how young people and teenagers might view mental health. She also reminisces about the awareness in the school systems as a young person. There is a comparison and debate with how mental health is presented in wealthy schools vs. inner city school systems.

 

DMVDaily: Welcome back to our mental health series. In our last episode you touched on ADHD, but less on the eyes of mental health through the eyes of a young person. 

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Smith:  You are right. It is important to get to the root cause of how and why mental health is not distributed correctly in this country. It starts with the age group that receives the information, 

 

DMVDaily: Would this depend on the attention span of a young person?

 

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Smith: Yes and no because there are ways to engage in an age group of people with lack of attention span. I am not talking about you, but society uses this as an excuse to not get the word out young people. Young people might have short attention spans. However, they understand symbols and pictures. This could be a way to allow them to learn about mental health. 

 

DMVDaily: Interesting point. Children are more observant than adults. 

 

Smith: Yes, this is because you become more observant before you get to talking and forming sentences. 

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DMVDaily: Right. Do you remember hearing mental health during school in elementary or middle school?

 

Smith: No, I do not remember hearing the term much. I only heard it in a negative, joking way between my peers. I never heard the term. Young children would get together to joke about having bipolar and other mental health issues.

 

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DMVDaily: Were you a part of this joke?

 

Smith: Yes. I was because as a child you do not know a lot of things. A lot of things that I thought were funny as a young person, I do not think they are funny now. For example, in high school, I had a best friend, who is an ex friend now, she mentioned to me that her father had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. When she told me, I only thought about him throwing stuff with crazy tendencies and intentions. Looking back and now actually having PTSD, I see how my thoughts were ignorant. I was ignorant to not look it up. However, mental health was not prevalent in pop culture at the moment. It was also seen as a taboo topic or a touchy subject. This is probably why I did not Google it. 

 

DMVDaily: A lot of the time we do not look up things that have nothing to do with us. 

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Smith: You are right. It is kind of the thing, “Why am I looking up PTSD at the age of 16?” People would wonder things. I never knew this term would be attached to my name. Looking back, I can now empathize with how he might have felt. As a young person, you see the world through a dependency lens. A lot of this is because of parents. This is not wrong. Through my career as a journalist, I was able to see life through different lenses. This is when I realized the lack of serious awareness of mental health in America compared to other countries. Aslo while young, we do not know how life will plan out for the most part. A young kid does not know at 17 that one day he will lose a child or that he will become a millionaire or that he will develop manic depression. 

 

DMVDaily: How can we know?

 

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Smith: Right. Think about young people not knowing, however they are already equipped with the mental health materials. 

 

DMVDaily: This would be better. Some things you must experience first to understand.

 

Smith: I can speak about bipolar, but I do not have bipolar. I grew up in a household with bipolar. So, I can empathize to a certain level. This is another issue with our society. There are people who are talking about different mental health disorders that they never experienced. I mean never experienced with anyone. I know there are research tools and classes, but do not sit here and educate me about PTSD and you do not have it or do not know anyone with it. 

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DMVDaily: It does not help you.

 

Smith: Right: So, I do remember in elementary and middle school professional visitors would come to do wellness activities. This could have been a part of mental health. 

 

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DMVDaily: Where did you go to school? We know you went to Duke Ellington School of the Arts for high school.

 

Smith: For elementary, I attended Watkins Elementary School for elementary. I attended Stuart Hobson Middle School for middle school.

 

DMVDaily: On Capitol Hill, not far from the White House?

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Smith: Yes. 

 

DMVDaily: I am asking because these programs were not in inner city schools. This lack of representation in inner city schools can be a part of why a child grows up being ignorant about mental health.

 

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Smith: It is something you say this. I was recently talking to someone about the juxtaposition between inner city and wealthy schools. I was not aware that schooling is different. 

 

DMVDaily: Yes it is. 

 

Smith: Actually years ago, I had started a big debate on Facebook about this. A lot of the comments and participants were people from inner city schools. They were telling me about how it was. I was shocked. Other people have told me that it is extremely hard to get into the schools I got into. 

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DMVDaily: Honestly, you went to great schools throughout your life and joined entertainment kind of right after high school. Three years later. It takes years and decades to get into entertainment. 

 

Smith: Hard work. A person can attend the best of schools to grow up with nothing. It is what a student does with the information and influences. I would agree with you. 

 

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DMVDaily: Right. In your case, you can not blame the school systems for lack of mental health representation. 

 

Smith: Right. In high school it was frequent about wellness and mental health. We are going to do a separate episode on mental health in high schools.

 

DMVDaily: Okay. Let’s save high school and mental health.

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Smith: My viewpoints are not just my own. I have talked to people about this subject. I could not imagine attending a school that lacked diversity and information.

 

DMVDaily: Welcome to Southeast and schools not on Capitol Hill.

 

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Smith: This is baffling. So, the 1954, Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education did nothing. Segregation still exists.

 

DMVDaily: Where are you getting at?

 

Smith: To keep educational growth materials out of inner city schools is similar to a form of segregation. Not through races, through intellectualization. Education is how you grow. It causes dichotomous energy through the school systems. It becomes inner city vs. white-centered schools. 

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DMVDaily: It is. 

 

Smith: We are still “Separate But Not Equal” in school systems.

 

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DMVDaily: Yes we are. This is an interesting debate and distinction. A student from an inner city may not be aware of what is taught a white-centered schools. That could make them think they are already receiving a good education.

 

Smith: See how this miscommunication creates problems. People start to not like each other based on misinformed information. I know of ignorant people, not teachers, but people who try to educate me. I just sit there and think, “Your information is wrong and you do not make sense.” 

 

DMVDaily: I understand. Look at the inner city neighborhoods. As a white or professional visitor would you come to a school with a high statistics of violence?

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Smith: No.

 

DMVDaily: You went to schools in neighborhoods that had a lack of violence. In black neighborhoods there happens to be a lot of violences. Some kids cannot make it to school in the morning without getting robbed or killed or sexually assaulted. This is some kids’ reality everyday going to school in inner city neighborhoods. 

 

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Smith: I could never imagine this as a regular thing in the morning.

 

DMVDaily: How did you get to school?

 

Smith: I rode with a parent .

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DMVDaily: See, most parents in poor black neighborhoods do not have cars. They work from their house to school. These parents mostly live on Section 8 and cannot afford money for the bus. Also, barely food. Lunchtime is sometimes the only meal. Why do you think the kids steal the money? Mostly likely to give to their parents. 

 

Smith: This was surely not my reality. 

 

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DMVDaily: You right, we are “Separate But Not Equal.” The fact that you did not know this is surprising. It does not have to do with ignorance. You just did not grow up in this reality. You just are not aware. 

 

Smith: Then with this behavior, we wonder why youth are in and out of jail. It is a repetitive language to them because this is the only environment that they know. A person acts on what they know and see. This happens subconsciously regardless of whether you want to or not. 

 

DMVDaily: Exactly.

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Smith: Why do most white people not understand? Because this is not their issue or race going through it. I am not concerned with a squirrel’s daily routine. It is not that I lack empathy, but how a squirrel bathes themselves has nothing to do with me. This is systemic racism. You have people in the government who are ruling on Education in the country, but lack the awareness of what we are talking about. This goes back to mental health and someone telling me about PTSD who has never lived nor no anyone with it. Ignorance. How are government officials signing education bills if they have never channeled an inner city student.

 

DMVDaily: Exactly and this is the problem with society. People get into positions and make decisions on realities and lifestyles they know nothing about. 

 

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Smith: Lord have mercy on the school system. 

 

DMVDaily: Yes.

 

Smith: It is a brainwashing environment and adding the lack of mental health to it makes this worse. Misleading children to grow up learning the wrong information, especially about mental health

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Abu is a Journalist & Business Owner from Prince George's County, MD. He is the CEO of The DMV Daily and Marketing Manager of The Wig Café, LLC. In May 2018, Abu obtained his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and is now attending Bowie State University for his M.A. in Organizational Communications.

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