Patricia Erickson / by Michael Falco

Who is Patricia Erickson?

Patricia Erickson has lived in Virginia her whole life. Her mother is from Uruguay. She was born and raised in Alexandria and moved to Richmond to attend VCU. She lived in Memphis for a time where she met her husband. The two moved backed to Richmond and began a family. They have two grown sons in college. Patricia considers herself a Democrat.

Excerpt from interview with Patricia Erickson by Whitney Dow, 2018

Q: Do you feel like in 2018, you and I, as like white Americans, that because of the history of our country, that we owe black people something, that we’re responsible for that?

Erickson: [12:48:41] No. Not anymore.

Q: Can you talk to me a little bit about that?

Erickson: [12:48:44] Yes. I’m very passionate about this actually. So in my line of work, I’m in the black community a lot. And I say to my friends all the time, “I love the black culture better than the white culture because they are so embracing. They take care of each other. They’re so, well, for example, when I lived over here in Jackson Ward, it was all black when we lived here. In fact, the cops were like, “We can’t believe you girls live here.” We were all college students. But he said, “I’m glad you all have this big dog.” And we’re like, “Why? We feel great here.” Because the community just opened their arms to us, and they gave us food. They talked to us. It wasn’t just, “Hi,” like the white communities are. It was genuinely, “How are you doing, girl? How’s school?”

And so, in my line of work I see that a lot, just this beautiful black community. And you know, they’re just—like they’ll say to me, “Girl, you’re looking good.” Or, “Girl, you’re losing weight,” from last time I saw them. Because a lot of them are repeat patients. So, you get to know them. But what was the question originally?

Q: The question was, do we owe black people something?

Erickson: [12:49:40] Oh. No. I don’t think we do. I think that we have done too much. And I think it’s time that we just kind of, “Okay, guys. Mea culpa. We’re sorry this happened. It was a horrible, horrible part of history, but come on. Let’s get up and start moving.”

Q: And when you say you’re really passionate about it, what do you mean by that?

Erickson: [12:49:59] Because I’m in the projects. I’m in very, very, very, very poor communities. And I just don’t understand why there’s so much men at home. And the women are out working. And the men are just doing, really, a lot of times, nothing. They’re sometimes doing criminal activity. They’re—and I know this firsthand. And it just really upsets me. It’s like we just need to move on from this.

Q: And so, you think that some of the problems in the black community are self-created because of that. Is that what you’re saying?

Erickson: [12:50:38] Yes. Yes. When you see generations, after generations, after generations living in the projects, when their rent is thirty-two dollars a month and they can’t move on from there, yeah. That’s a problem.

Q: And what do you think creates that?

Erickson: [12:50:53] What creates that?

Q: Yeah. Why is the black community like that?

Erickson: [12:50:59] I don’t know. That’s a good question. I think a lot of it is there’s no nuclear family at times. There’s a woman with several different children. And I mean, I know these women. They tell me, “My boy wants me to get pregnant this month. And I told him no. I have three kids.” I mean, that’s a very cultural norm for them. And I’m like, “Girl, get on the pill. What are you doing?” [laughs] You know? “You’ve got three kids.” But I just think that’s part of their culture. That’s their norm. And I don’t think that’s a good norm, you know, when you can’t move on, and make more than you need to pay this rent. They don’t have leadership. They don’t have a lot of—well, they have a lot of spiritual guidance, but I don’t think there’s a lot of one-on- one teaching, you know, where—like, for example, kids don’t know how to act in classroom. Sometimes when they go to other schools, they’re like, “Oh. This is how you’re supposed to act.” Or, “This is how to shake somebody’s hand.” Or, “This is how I look somebody in the eye.” Whatever. They’re not taught that. So, it’s a cultural parenting, or adulating. Anybody. You know? It’s a problem. So, it’s just generation after generation.

Interview Transcript