Public Health Leader From San Diego On Overcoming Poverty And Low Expectations
This is KPBS midday edition, this is Maureen Cavanaugh If you cannot see it you have a hard time achieving it. That is what plagues some children growing up in minority neighborhoods. If you don't see lawyers are doctors how do you keep your eyes on the prize ? One man is writing about his journey. I am talking to Dr. Lamar Hasbrouck. Can you describe your neighborhood ? There were a lot of kids from a lot of different backgrounds. Most of the families were young. I had a lot of folks my same age group to grow up with. All of my siblings have someone in the same exact age group to grow up with. It was good. Most of the families were on some form of assistance, welfare it did not bother us as much. We all went to the public schools. It was racially diverse. Most of the families were female headed. But we also had to. Families as well. It was a great place to grow up as a kid. For someone as accomplished as you are today we may have excelled that that we may have expected to excelled in school was that the case ? That was not the case. I think the challenge with me and a number of the post electoral up with, we did not have parents or adults in our immediate setting that went on to higher education. Or they were professional in terms of white-collar. We did not have that as a roadmap for us. The public schools to the best that they could. They were probably a little overcrowded. And not as much attention to teacher and student ratios. We did not have a high bar set for ourselves. I saw most of us try to survive school as opposed to trying to achieve and excel in school. Will Bob was a big part of your early life. How important was football to you quite Football was like a dear friend to me. It was a sport that was introduced in directed -- indirectly by my bottle logical data. That's what my biological dad. He gave me a practiced uniform. I'd like to thank around and I thought I was invulnerable. For one, and secondly it was a rite of passage in my community and that a lot of the young boys and teenagers with test their manhood in pickup games. A lot of them were fortunate to play Pop Warner football. Unfortunately, I cannot do that, my mother did not have health insurance. And she cannot afford for me to physically get hurt. She would tell me that she could not find my birth certificate for many years. And later I found out that she could not afford for me to get hurt. In "G Street Lion" you brought that like you write a love about your coaches. You're talking about my undergraduate college at UC Berkeley. I was selected as a player on the team. I learned that their focus was more about self-preservation. They were more interested in the wins and losses so that they could plate -- state employed as coaches in a big-time school. I have had a position coach huddled us together and say you spending too much time in your books. You need to study your playbook so we can get more wins. You write about some of the races and you faced in that school in starting out as a dock her. Can you give us an example ? Sure. Interestingly, being an African-American male, most of the listers -- listeners may think that most of my raises some -- racism was from Caucasian people. But my first day in medical school, I had an African American professor called me out in front of 150 students and singled me out for the way that I wore my here. And try to embarrass me and did so in front of my classmates saying, you do not look like a medical student what are you wearing your here that way ? Where it should sure what the caller ? I have to tolerate that for 20 or 30 minutes until I chased him down in the hallway. I confronted him and said, you need to respect me as a student. I made it here because of my grades and my intellectual abilities. You need to respect me as a person. I am a medical student second but I am a man first. You have to recognize and respect me as such. That is an example of day one on the medical campus. And I have had that throughout my career. You have progressed your career has taken off. Why are you sharing the stories now ? I'm sharing these stories because, at the time, I did not know for the method to the madness in terms of why all of these different obstacles in racism and prejudice, why are the put on me ? Why do I have to deal with these above and beyond just the coursework ? Or the job ? I recognize that these are still very tenacious challenges for a lot of students. I thought, if I can challenge, inspire and encourage folks, that my life story could be helpful. And as I began to do and it became a powerful testimony in helping young people change the narrative of their own mind about their own potential and own ability to succeed. I saw a lot of power in sharing my story. After 14 years of writing off and on, I put this together as my contribution to youth who were coming behind me and scholar-athletes. And minority students in general students who want to aspire to something larger. It may not have been from a privileged background and they are looking for the formula to help them move along in their life's course. I have been speaking with Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, author of "G Street Lion". Thank you so much. You are welcome, thank you. A note of correction, Julie small misspoke. They said suicides actually declined in 2012 not 2013. They then increase through 2015. We invite you to join us again tomorrow. I am Maureen Cavanaugh, thank you for listening.
Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck grew up on Chollas View's G Street in the 1970s raised by a single mother. He moved past failing middle school grades to become a leading public health expert. He's now the executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials in Washington, D.C., and previously ran Illinois' public health agency and led the Centers for Disease Control's efforts in Guyana.
Hasbrouck said he hopes he can be a role model for students seeking to overcome low expectations.
"Because people in my community did not visualize or hope for that kind of a miracle in me, they did not encourage me to pursue lofty goals," Hasbrouck wrote in his new memoir, "G Street Lion." "Teachers, counselors, neighbors, even my family had no idea of the true worth of that nappy-headed, fatherless little boy."
Hasbrouck joins KPBS Midday Edition on Monday to discuss the institutional racism he faced and how San Diego football helped him go to college.