Rep. Ocasio-Cortez spoke to the crowd about the importance of fighting for a proper education system and to hold all school institutions to a higher level, and not to expect good schooling just from expensive universities. She made her point by discussing how hard her father worked at getting an education in a city that was extremely difficult for him to get to.
“My dad was born in the South Bronx while the Bronx was burning,” she said. “He was raised five people in a one-bedroom apartment. And he did what he had to do, and my dad got into Brooklyn Tech.”
“He told me about what his life was like, where as a teenager he got up and left his apartment at five o’clock in the morning every day to get on to the 6 train or to get onto the 4 train, and ride a very dangerous subway during the ’70s at 15 years old to go to Brooklyn Tech, because it was seen as his only opportunity to have a dignified life. And he loved his experience at Brooklyn Tech because he went to a good school.”
She added, “My question is, why are there only five—or a handful—of schools in New York City that are seen to give us this life?”
That is when a man began to heckle her, and while some people told him to stop, it was Rep. Ocasio-Cortez who didn’t shoot him down in a negative way but instead showed the importance of uniting us all for the right cause.
She told him “My concern is that this right here, where we’re fighting each other, is exactly what happens under a scarcity mindset,” she said. “Because this should not be the fight.” People then began to applaud and cheer when Rep. Ocasio-Cortez displayed that the fight should not be with each other but rather fighting together against the rich. “This should be the fight.”
Here’s a portion of that exchange.
— David Freedlander (@freedlander) March 16, 2019
On the topic of scarcity mindset, Shankar Vedantam, a science reporter for NPR said in 2017 that “Researchers had a hypothesis that when you really want something, you start to focus on it obsessively. It produces a kind of tunnel vision and creates problems for thinking in the long-term.” Adding that “When you have scarcity, and it creates a scarcity mindset, it leads you to take certain behaviors which, in the short term, help you manage scarcity but in the long term, only make matters worse.”
Brad Lander, a New York City Council member, was also at the town hall meeting and said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez genuinely handled herself.
“It was pretty amazing,” Lander said on Twitter. “The way @AOC conveyed genuine compassion for the critics, narrated her own experience, and connected it to broader structural dynamics was truly remarkable.”
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez later tweeted: “I LOVE how fired up our NY-14 town halls get. This is New York City! Getting fired up means you care. I’d never discount the passion and courage it takes to stand up at a town hall. So this was a great moment and an awesome opportunity to have this honest conversation.”