I write from a point in my life where sense has jumped out of the window. Nothing makes sense and rationale is an anomaly. As I ponder, through my thoughts, I wrestle with the thought of racism. Is it possible to live a life without some sort of personal racist tendencies? If I get upset as a black person at a white at times cracker may exhume from my lips. If a white dude gets mad at a black man nigger may come from his lips. Either way both have racist thoughts and actions that come forth in times of stress. That does mean it is right but it happens.
I just find it awkward to say the least to fit into to certain circles. I grew up in a black community. I went to a predominately white high school and then matriculated to a HBCU. (Historical Black College and University) I then played professional baseball with any and every culture you could imagine. I lived with these guys for 6 months out of a year. I then went in to the military where I meet Americans from around the nation. All that being said,
“Culture is a beast of a thing to try to change, so mostly you adapt.”
From a bias standpoint, I have a profound love for black people that is unequivocal to any other race. Is that racist, I do not know but it is true. I think we have been oppressed and played to levels of no proportions in America. We have been abused and then scoffed at when we have the audacity to defend ourselves. We have not formed counter terrorist militia to counteract the atrocities that have been done to us and are being done covertly. This is by no means a crutch but my observation of what has transpired in my life. The Civil Rights Movement was a powerful vehicle for change but the wheels seemed to have fallen off as off lately. Now we have the rights (kind of) but we have been some misinformed that we have started to believe the hype. So now the racism has been turn inward and now blacks fear other blacks as if they were the KKK.
AZ raps in Life’s a Bitch on Nas’ Illmatic, “A person’s status depends on salary…” and this has in a way becomes the moniker for most caught in the struggle. The struggle being that of trying to get out of a poverty stricken state that has handcuffed you to disenfranchisement. I have drawn weary of the intentional categorizing of blacks within the context of mediocrity, especially black males. Though many may not have a bank account that is reminiscent of easy street there is a work ethic that is laced in the very fabric of our being. Now, there are some exception to the rule but for the most part, more people are concerned about being honest, hard working and productive additions to society. But the fact of the matter is that many are underpaid but overworked. They have jobs that do not provide adequate health care which in the long run affects their job once again. Poverty become this vicious cycle that keeps perpetuating and hampering those got in the struggle.
So this angst grows and the racist tension widens due to the need for viable income. Everyone gets blamed for the others demise when in actuality it is the rich against the poor. The poor become lump into one group and the rich into another. Poor whites and black get lumped together as just poor people. When all is said and done, poverty is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes all. Go to any local job service and you will see that poverty has no color…..Just ruminating.
Any time you meet a payment. – Good Times.
Any time you need a friend. – Good Times.
Any time you’re out from under.
Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin’ your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.
Temporary lay offs. – Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs. – Good Times.
Scratchin’ and surviving. – Good Times.
Hangin in a chow line – Good Times.
Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em – Good Times. -(Theme song of Good Times)
I am convinced that the government, the folks with the most and those in charge have lost touch with the real world. As I peruse through the catalog of Good Times, I am reminded of the immense level of poverty that the nation faces in its totality. To be called the greatest nation in the world with a mass proportion of the children without adequate healthcare is a “mockery at best.” High schools are more in line with gateways to prison instead of bedrocks of knowledge. The people are losing hope with the leadership due to uncompromising positions with the mythical elite.
I raise this struggle from the perspective that the show Good Times sends a rally cry from the beginning of its syndication. This show proved to America that a black family could manage and maintain, though positioned in the ghetto. It displayed the power of a father who himself was uneducated (from an academic setting) but yet yielding the best guidance for his three children. A mother with a firm, maternal love and positioned with a pragmatic faith, that was always visible to others. The motif set from the story is a principle of survival with a supreme outlook of love.
The problem comes when the cynical world invites Darwinistic perceptions to overshadow the plight of the marginalized. (The people with medical benefits, start to tell the people without benefits that there is no money for medical benefits for them.) The schools at best are minimally equipped to serve the children which then leads to systemic poverty. So it is no wonder that the ghetto or the “projects” continue to have patrons. Understand the projects were never intended for those who lived in them to actually leave. In the words of Cee –Lo Green, “were the gates meant to keep us out or keep our ass in.”
The peril times of today have made life an adventurous journey of successful failure. What I mean by that is many have lived their lives based upon certain past successes only to see that success begin to crumple. It crumples in the effect of failed businesses, material items purchased that are now unaffordable and many other things that come into play during an economic downfall.
It is these very times when many begin to embrace one of two ethics: God or the gun. It would be my hope that many more if not all would embrace God but I am not naive to the fact that crime has it rewards. Though I may never indulge in such acts, crime for some is a viable way of living. I had a chance to watch this movie/documentary called, Snow on the Bluff, which highlighted the life of a young drug dealer in Atlanta. He steals a camera from a group of kids and proceeds to film himself during many other crimes through the Bluff(Better Leave u F—— Fool). But during one scene you get the opportunity to see this young brother engaged in his own personal justification for selling drugs. He recants that selling drugs has not been as bad as some have made it out to be. For him he sees how drugs put food on his table many nights in order for him to eat when his parents could not find work. He shares how selling drugs has provided food for his children as well.
It is during such times that you have to take heed not to condemn folks without proper researching of their situation. Hard times will voluntarily force you to make decision that you would not otherwise make. Unless you have endured such hard times it is unfair and unjust to assume that you have the answer for their predicament. Yes, the committing of a crime is wrong but not all people who commit crime are doing it just for the sake of establishing a name for themselves. Environment produces characteristics in people that are conducive for survival in that context. The key is that many have not mastered the art of translating those survival skills into entrepreneurial endeavors that are legal and healthy.
What the young people display in Snow on the Bluff is a real world look at poverty in America. Not the glitz and glam of drug dealing but the sure fire work involved with drug trafficking. The descriptive display of stagnation from a perceived practice that garnishes a life of luxury is foretold by one of its participants, Curtis Snow. He tells the story of how is uncle would chop up cocaine in front of him the very same way he was chopping up cocaine in front of his two year old. He then shares that nothing has changed in his life but “the seat that he is in now.” That serves as powerful commentary of a young brother, that works hard at doing the wrong thing to no avail. He has seen the end of his rope but it saw lives cut short and his own freedom jeopardized.
My friend Allen so wisely critiques that this happens right in the vicinity of the Georgia Dome but no one appears to care. Proximity of crime and poverty appears so far away until it knocks on your doorstep. He laments, “Sadly, it is highly likely that none of these guys have ever been inside the Dome to even see a game even though they live so close.”