Bronx Tales III: Pride, Purpose and Supportive Peers

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Why you should care

Because everyone needs a little positive reinforcement.

In episode three of Bronx Tales, OZY Editor-in-Chief Carlos Watson hits the streets of New York’s most maligned borough to talk about success and failure, race and gentrification and of course, love and hip-hop.

If you asked 16-year-old Julio Gomez what he needed to do to be successful, the confident, well-spoken teen would quickly and clearly answer: play Division I basketball in college. That was the path that was promoted by pop culture, music, and friends and family.

If you ask 26-year-old Julio Gomez the same question, the answer is more thoughtful and nuanced. Now a teacher in his hometown of the Bronx and the proud leader of Gents, a program to mentor and encourage Black and Latino young men at his school, Julio acknowledges that success comes in many forms.

While his blue-collar friends admire his professional career and well-appointed apartment and consider that proof that he’s “made it,” Julio highlights his cousin, who’s delivered Chinese food, collected steel, worked at a car dealership and had other odd jobs that some may consider menial, as “one to watch.” He says that kind of strong work ethic and industriousness is exactly what leads to future success.

Ever the mentor and motivator, Julio argues that sometimes, the only difference between a white-collar professional and a blue-collar worker is the amount of positive reinforcement they got along the way.

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