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    Rosa: A life story of an African-American Matriarch

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    Interview an adult or elderly African American or read a narrative by an elderly African American about childhood and family life.

    o Describe the conditions of your interviewee's childhood and young adulthood, such as his or her family life, schooling, first job, and so forth. What is the role of the family for this person?

    o What childhood experiences unique to African Americans may you identify from the interviewee?

    o What health care concerns unique to African Americans does your interviewee describe? How did he or she deal with these issues?

    o Analyze the differences and similarities between past experiences and conditions for African American families today. Have conditions changed?

    o Compare the experiences of your interviewee with your experiences. Describe how they differ and how they are similar.

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    Solution Preview

    Dear Student,
    The solution below should get you started. It was based on the case of Rosa Lee as written by Leon Dash for the Washington Post. Since this is supposed to be an interview, the solution below has been contrived with facts based on the case. It should get you started. Good luck with your studies.

    OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

    About Rosa

    Rosa, a 74 year old African-American from South-east Washington managed to acquire her apartment as part of a government-funded low-income housing project. She grew up illiterate, her grandparents were cotton pickers from North Carolina, moving to Washington in the 30's to look for a better life. Only they ended up in the low-end of the scale and, being without any education, the jobs they managed to get were few and far between leading their many children to live a life of poverty and the least life chances. Rosa's parents lived life under the circumstances of poverty - no permanent home, no permanent jobs, transients in a life all about survival and the next meal. Surviving on the fringes however they have become masters of finding a bed to sleep in creating a network using opportunities they know and people in the community like them or better (having managed to find better opportunities to enable them to own homes and give their children education and opportunities) as instruments of survival to which they can cling to. Rosa had been a runaway teen. While she did not move far from home and always just around the neighborhood where she grew up, she knew that she could not depend on her parents or her brothers and sisters to give her clothes, board and food. As early as 15 she was already, she confessed, a prostitute. She waitressed, worked as a dishwasher and many odd jobs made available. By the time she was 25, she had 4 of her 9 children, was a regular user of cocaine and heroine and her life was a spiral of relationships with men who were in the same spiral as her. Unlike her parents though, even if her children did not have a regular father, she was always there and worked hard to give them a place to feel 'safe in'. The only problem is that this place allows for the flow of drugs, alcoholism and criminality. In their neighborhood, gang membership is standard practice and Rosa's children were regularly picked up for dealing and position, theft and her girls - prostitution. The idea that Rosa understands criminality and her own actions is already a given. She knows that prostitution is wrong, she knows that dealing is wrong. But Rosa can hardly read or comprehend her bills. What she knows in her elder age is this - her life is one of survival, of giving to her children, of dealing with the misery of poverty. Two of her children, A. and E. have done their best to get out of the cycle of poverty. A. studied hard, put himself through high school and even community college. He now lives outside of the community and works as a ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution presents the life story of Rosa, an African-American woman whose life had been lived in a most tragic and challenging way in the influence of crime,drugs,illiteracy and prostitution.It shows how Rosa's own life influenced that of her children,some to survival and betterment and others to tragic ends.This solution was written to help the student tackle the original task (see above).References are listed. A word version is attached for easy download and printing.