Discover the Rosen family’s improvised journey across the divide of race, class, and economic opportunity in this unflinching and compelling first-hand account of how the family—himself, an investor and real estate developer, his doctor wife and their two kids, living in a luxury penthouse—evolved to include five black and Latino boys from the neighborhood.
Adults agonize about crossing boundaries of ethnicity and class. Seven-year-olds do not, especially when there’s a baseball game to join. When Ripton Rosen, Michael and his wife Leslie's adopted son, joined a pick-up game in 1998 with kids from the nearby projects, and then invited the kids home to play Nintendo and have snacks, he wasn’t interested in a compelling social experiment or family drama. He was just doing what kids do – playing with other kids. But as a group of the boys from the projects grew close to the Rosen family, an extraordinary chronicle of improvisation and experimentation began for all concerned. Eventually five of them began to refer to Michael and Leslie Rosen as Mom and Dad, and the couple took on much of the emotional and many of the practical responsibilities of parenting teenage boys through school, into work and, hilariously, out of their local world and into the history and culture of America.
In this story of his “random family,” Rosen provides an incredibly rich narrative bound to spark lively discussions about class, race, family, education and what it takes to open opportunities for our peers and neighbors. He’s a central participant but also a wonderful listener to the conversations of his newly compiled family. He’s honest, unsparing, and passionate – a flawed but utterly engaged parent. He and Leslie do not theorize about the rights and wrongs of what they have by accident taken on; they – like any devoted parents – keep moving forward. They encounter all the bumps and switchbacks on the road of inner-city adolescence, with kids whose needs are at first unguessable and whose histories all contain a measure of tragedy.
Join Michael Rosen to discuss his personal story and to address larger issues such as realities of the class divide in urban America, the ethics of family (conventional or not), and mentoring as a lifelong commitment. Michael Rosen, a community organizer, is a former real estate developer and investor, former CEO of a Wall Street firm, former CEO of a publicly traded company destroyed on September 11, 2001, and a former assistant professor at New York University. He lives in NYC with his wife and the “the Rosen family extended.”