We must acknowledge the impact of white-supremacist logic here, argues LaRon E. Nelson, even though it’s a difficult conversation to have

I am from Savannah, Ga., one of those places where there were very particular expectations for what black boys did after high school, and the military was one of them. My commanding officer suggested I should go to college. I had to take a special test in order for the navy to pay for my tuition. The test listed particular occupations that I would be good at, and nursing and law were first on the list. Because you had to go to graduate school to get a law degree, the military wouldn’t pay for that. So my only option was nursing. I had no interest in it, but here was my opportunity.

When I was an undergraduate, I didn’t have a lot of money, so I lived in a very rough, low-income neighbourhood. It was very different from the type of neighbourhood I grew up in and I found it fascinating. I would look out my window at night and see things that I had never seen before. People behaved in ways that were bizarre to me. I don’t think I’d ever met somebody who was high on drugs before.

I really wanted to be out in the street working with people, because when people were sick or struggling with their addiction they almost never went to the hospital, they always went to community clinics. I wanted to be there…

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