Latisha Case Study
Latisha, who is 13 years old, lives in a housing project in an inner-city neighborhood in Chicago. An adult asks her to describe her life and family, her hopes and fears, and her plans for the future.
She responds as follows: My mother works at the hospital, serving food. She’s worked there for 11 years, but she’s been moved to different departments. I don’t know what my dad does because he don’t live with me. My mother’s boyfriend lives with us. He’s like my step father.
In my spare time I just like be at home, look at TV, or clean up, or do my homework, or play basketball, or talk on the phone. My three wishes would be to have a younger brother and sister, a car of my own, and not get killed before I’m 20 years old.
I be afraid of guns and rats. My mother she has a gun, her boyfriend has one for protection. I have shot one before and it’s like a scary feeling. My uncle taught me. He took us in the country and he had targets we had to like shoot at. He showed us how to load and cock it and pull the trigger. When I pulled the trigger at first I feel happy because I learned how to shoot a gun, but afterward I didn’t like it too much because I don’t want to accidentally shoot nobody. I wouldn’t want to shoot nobody. But it’s good that I know how to shoot one just in case something happened and I have to use it.
Where I live it’s a quiet neighborhood. If the gangs don’t bother me or threaten me, or do anything to my family, I’m OK. If somebody say hi to me, I’ll say hi to them as long as they don’t threaten me. . . . I got two cousins who are in gangs. One is in jail because he killed somebody. My other cousin, he stayed cool. He ain’t around. He don’t be over there with the gang bangers. He mostly over on the west side with his grandfather, so I don’t hardly see him. . . . I got friends in gangs. Some of them seven, eight years old that’s too young to be in a gang. . . . They be gang banging because they have no one to turn to . . . . If a girl join a gang it’s worser than if a boy join a gang because to be a girl you should have more sense.
A boy they want to be hanging on to their friends. Their friends say gangs are cool, so they join. The school I go to now is more funner than the school I just came from. We switch classes and we have 40 minutes for lunch. The Board of Education say that we can’t wear gym shoes no more. They say it distracts other people from learning, it’s because of the shoe strings and gang colors.
My teachers are good except two. My music and art teacher she’s old and it seems like she shouldn’t be there teaching. It seem like she should be retired and be at home, or traveling or something like that.
And my history teacher, yuk! He’s a stubborn old goat. He’s stubborn with everybody. When I finish school I want to be a doctor. At first I wanted to be a lawyer, but after I went to the hospital I said now I want to help people, and cure people, so I decided to be a doctor. (J. Williams & Williamson, 1992, pp. 11–12) a Discussion responses should be on topic, original, and contribute to the quality of the discussion by making frequent informed references to course materials and seminars.
1. In what ways do you see the contexts of family, school, neighborhood, and culture affecting Latisha’s development?
2. Based on your own experiences growing up, which aspects of Latisha’s development would you guess are probably universal?
3. Which aspects reflect diversity?
4. What clues do we have that Latisha’s teachers can almost certainly have a positive impact on her long-term development and success?
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