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Skin in the Game

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Dusan Simien was born and raised in San Francisco, but he had begun to feel like a stranger in his hometown. In the Nineties, when Simien was growing up, the Ingleside neighborhood where he lived was diverse—nearly half of its households were, like Simien’s, middle-class and African-American. But in recent years, friends and neighbors had left for more affordable towns and suburbs—so many that Simien had lost track. Over the course of his lifetime, the African-American population in San Francisco had been cut in half. “You can’t throw a rock and hit someone who actually grew up around here,” Simien liked to say.

As a teenager, Simien knew he wanted to work in the tech industry. While other kids in his neighborhood were playing outside, he was shooting aliens on his Xbox; when anyone in his family needed help with a broken printer or new cell phone, they called Simien. In 2017, at age twenty-five, he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, and he was soon making $30 to $40 an hour as an AV installer—as much as $75,000 a year if he could get steady work. Over the long term, though, the pay wasn’t going to cut it in the Bay Area. “Low six figures was beginning to feel like low-income,” he told me.

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Illustrations by Paul Blow

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Click the link below for the article:

https://harpers.org/archive/2020/12/skin-in-the-game-wall-street-student-debt-crisis/

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