March 3, 2016 11 Comments
On days like this, when the sky is so heavy with clouds that we never glimpse the sun, and the wind is cold and damp, and it seems like winter will never end . . . I think of Eminem.
I guess I don’t mean the rapper himself so much as the character he played in 8 Mile [plot synopsis], which I saw when it came out in 2002 mostly because I was so impressed with the rap “Lose Yourself” [lyrics]. It very strikingly captures a young man’s desperation to escape the life he’s always known by seizing a fleeting chance to express himself in a way that will be heard and magnified to bring his family a better future. The film amazed me with its very consistent, insistent pull, bringing me right into Rabbit’s story that he was not only telling me but making me see and feel. I left the theater and had to walk around in the cold drizzle for a long time letting him speak to me some more.
And I thought, I work for that guy. I work for 1,517 guys, a lot of whom are a lot like that.
Disclaimer: This article is not in any way an official statement by the Pittsburgh Youth Study or any of its funding entities. This is a statement of my personal opinions and feelings. For information about the Pittsburgh Youth Study, see our many publications.
Now, most people would say that I “work for” the principal investigators of the study, or that I “work for” a psychiatric hospital that is part of a corporate health-care system, or that I “work for” a research study that is funded by federal grants. Yes, those are the ways my work is organized and paid. But who have I been working for in my 17 years of data management and analysis of a longitudinal study of Pittsburgh’s at-risk boys? I’m working for them. I’m doing what I can to help us as a society understand why some boys break laws and hurt people and often wind up dead at a young age, while others somehow find their way to a stable and responsible adult life. Read more of this post