“I’m a native of this area. I’m a native of an urban-suburban area. I grew up in a city plagued by gun violence and gang violence and drug violence.” – Judge Brett Kavanaugh, on the second day of his Senate hearings for his nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States"
I know what you’re thinking: Brett Kavanaugh’s not even from D.C. He was born in Washington, but he was raised in Bethesda. And yeah, Bethesda — a suburb where the median household income is close to $200,000 — might not seem like such a dangerous place to you.
Let me tell you something: I know what Kavanaugh’s talking about. I, too, grew up in the crime-ridden streets of Bethesda.
By day, I was surrounded by drug dealers, pushing their Ritalin from their lockers and marijuana in the student parking lots. Every night, when I came home from lacrosse practice, I walked through streets flooded with white-collar criminals. On the weekends, juvenile delinquents filled the mall: Loitering, shoplifting, carousing — always unsupervised. There was no escape. You could try to call the police, but their idea of handcuffs was a slap on the wrist. The teens answered to no one.
When I got home, where I should have felt safest, I’d find my father lying on his SEC filings. My mom and I were just supposed to look the other way. He’d buy my silence with extravagant gifts. I knew something wasn’t right. But when crime is all you know, how can you ever learn right from wrong? And who was I going to tell? All the dads on my block were in on it. They were the first gang I knew, but they wouldn’t be the last.
No matter what I did, I felt like I was destined to follow in his footsteps, first by attending Georgetown Prep and then — it seemed pointless to imagine an alternative — Yale. You think it’s hard to escape a cycle of poverty? You should try escaping a cycle of illegally-acquired wealth.
As I got older, I saw things I could never unsee. The Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal. The Smoothie King stickup. The underage drinking at Dewey Beach. My God, the drinking. These children were animals. Sure, it was Beach Week. But what is this, the Purge? The adults are as bad as the kids. Go ahead and ask them. Even the Maryland Attorney General will tell you he has “no moral authority over other people’s children at beach week.”
It was obvious to me that Beach Week wasn’t anybody’s first time consuming alcohol. These are repeat offenders we’re dealing with. Hardened criminals. I didn’t understand why recidivism rates were so high in the United States until I started running with these committed felons. There was no stopping them.
Crime is in the culture there. They have you read The Outsiders and The Great Gatsby at such an impressionable age. And if that doesn’t tell you enough about our school system, let me put it this way: Kavanaugh came out of an education system so subpar, he doesn’t even know how birth control works.
I’d say the only thing more dangerous than being a young boy in Bethesda is being a young girl literally anywhere in America after Kavanaugh gets confirmed.
Read more from Jessica M. Goldstein about writing this piece.