class and life chances
To help my students understand the impact of race and class upon life chances, I show excerpts from the People Like Us documentary. Of the clips that I usually show, the one that has grabbed my students’ attention the most is the story of Tammy Crabtree and her two sons living in Ohio. Viewers of the documentary may remember that Tammy walked several miles to reach her workplace, a minimum wage job at Burger King, and that her teenage son Matt voiced both shame about his family’s trailer-home poverty and his high hopes about his future.
Today, when answering an email inquiry by a school teacher about how to teach difficult issues to his students, I stumbled upon a recent update to Tammy and her family’s story. Tammy is still working at Burger King, although she has a shorter commute than before – a 20 minute walk from her house. Matt did not finish high school or attend college, contrary to what he had envisioned for himself, so that he could work to support his own child. Now, he exhibits greater compassion about his mother’s circumstances, showing a degree of introspection that most may not realize until very late in life. Both he and his brother emphasize family as a priority, as does Tammy.
Have a look at the family back in the late 1990s and now: