Saturday, November 28, 2009

Destination:Ghetto

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing. ~John Berger








I was going to write a post about my desires to kill my Korean boss over money but i feel that the story would lack depth and understanding unless my children understood where I was raised and how I was socialize. So, I decided to prologue that post with this post explaining what kind of man is produced in an inner-city ghetto of a declining city in the late 80's and early 90's.This video was filmed on my street




I saw my first body at the age of 11. My friend's father was called Brownie and Brownie was a good dude to us kids coming up. He would build tire swings in the backyard and forts and milk crate basketball hoops. He was a small man but thickly built until about 1988. That's when crack hit St.Clair real hard and Brownie got caught up in the mix. So it was the fall of 1988 and he took an ounce of cocaine to cook up and sell from some young cats that were hustling. He takes the cocaine and binges out so now he doesn't have the crack or the money. The young boys take it as disrespect because the streets are watching and if they let that slide they might as well pack up because they will be in danger every time they set up on the corner. They put the word on the street that they are going to kill him when they see him.

I usually go out of the front door of my families duplex but on that day for whatever reason I went out of the back door. That decision might have saved my families' life. I'm in the backyard shooting hoops when I hear gunfire. By this time in my life I was pretty use to gunshots so I could tell that they were a ways down the street. But as the gunshots kept ringing the sound was getting closer so I ran and hid behind the garage. What was happening was Brownie was being chased down the street by two teenagers shooting at him. They were closing rapidly and in a last ditch effort to save his life he ran up on my porch and tried to enter through the front door. Failing to open the door he jumped off the porch and ran around my mothers car turned to see where the boys trying to kill him were and got a 50-cent piece size hole in his head. I remember to this day the hole in that guys head and the kids crying while telling me the story of what they saw. For the next 4 or 5 years my nights consisted of me sleepwalking up and downstairs checking door locks.

I respect the Koreans because their children get to be kids for a long time. I teach 16 year olds who are more child-like an innocent than I was at 7 or 8 years old. Ghetto years are like dog years and your personal safety and security become a primary concern very early in life. Being a child is no protection against the wolves. When I was 12 years old I was walking home from St. Aloysius elementary school and I decided to stop in the corner store to play Ring Out. I ask the Arab clerk for 4 quarters and I handed him a 5.00$ bill. My mother had given me that money to buy a treat at the school carnival. He gives me 4 quarters. So I ask him for my change and he tells me that all I asked for was 4 quarters so that is what he gave me. I walk out of the store crying and I get about 3/4 of the way home when I decide I'm getting my money no matter what. I turn around;wipe the snot from my nose, and march back to the store. I'm a small boy so I needed something to even the odds I grab an empty 40oz bottle before i go back in the store. I ask him for my money again and he says no and then he tells me to get the fuck out of his store. Now at this point I would have let it go because I was scared to death of him but when he cursed at me all my fear went away. I say o.k. let me have some Now-n-laters I give him the quarter he opens the register and I thew the bottle in his face as hard as I could I then reached up and took all the one dollar bills out of the register and ran out of the store. I was nervous for weeks because I literally walked past that store everyday on my way home. One of my friends who lived in that neighborhood told me he thought he might have lost his eye
but I don't think that it was true.

When I was about 9 or 10 I was sitting on the porch with my friend Dinky when his uncle pulls up in a gleaming late model BMW. Earl;a pimp and drug dealer, jumps out of the car in his Brooks Brothers suit and Gucci loafers and calls Dink over to the car. Earl's girlfriend Paula gives Dink a kiss on the lips and Earl pulls out a wad of cash about 6 inches thick and hands Dinky 3 new 100$ bills for shopping. I'm standing there staring so he calls me over . I'm looking at his money and he slaps me in the head. He tells " me never look at another man's money boy, that shit'll get you killt out here" after the admonishing. He peels off a hundred and gives it to me. I took that money and flew home to put it in my Tootsie Roll bank. I get home and my mother and father are sitting in the bedroom watching t.v. so I tell them about Mr. Earl's largess. My father without missing a beat says give it back you don't want nothing for free in this world. He gave you 100 now you owe that man. You don't want to owe and if you want or need something I'll provide it. I was embarassed to give the money back but I think old Earl respected my father for making me do it.

So these are some of the lessons I learned in the hood. Your word is everything and having a bad reputation might cost you your life. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Now these values are diametrically oppose to the values of the Korean bosses I have had. Keep this in mind when I post Freedom Papers my attempt to buy my freedom in Korea.







7 comments:

  1. I would agree with what you say about Korean kids getting to be kids for longer, but their childhood consists mainly of studying from 6am to midnight. Back in the States, in the ghetto, or in suburban middle class like me, at least when school was over, it was over. I have had 16 year old kids in my classes that are so pampered they still have their moms pick their clothes for them every morning. Kids here may get to be kids for longer, but they're all mentally stunted by the pampering and constant study.

    I've had many kids who have developed facial ticks around the early teenage years because of stress and pressure from parents.

    I think there is a certain value in learning how to actually take care of yourself. Even if it's from something as mundane as having to keep yourself busy from 3:00pm until your parents get home from work at 6:00pm.

    Sounds like you had a crazy life growing up though.

    In rural northeast, where I'm from, the drug dealers were all just white-trash hicks, or hippies taking a break from touring with Phish.

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  2. T,

    I grew up in the fucking slum of France; where we dream about running away and settle in a paradise place called the Bronx. And even in that French shit, we've got the same standards. Nothing is free, or there's an eel under the fucking rock. And my father's proverb: "The Man's worth is word or the Man's worth shit."

    My old man was born in the French Slum from immigrants parents and grew up digging graves in order to pay his studies. This is rough, but I'm proud he didn't fall in the easy scheme of dealing dope for a living.

    Thanks for sharing that story. I think I'll never share the stories about where I come from. This is too personal and not especially something you need to be proud of.

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  3. Believe me it isn't anything I'm proud of. I think I suffered PTSD for years behind some of the violence i witnessed as a youth. But the anger and frustration I felt as a boy at being cheated is important to understanding the anger and frustration I felt as a man when my Korean bosses tried to cheat me.

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  4. That shit is deep son! But your writing is potent, reminds me of Sista Soulja. you know her? anyway, you got me locked down now!

    ReplyDelete
  5. That shit is deep son! But your writing is potent, reminds me of Sista Soulja. you know her? anyway, you got me locked down now!
    Locohama

    ReplyDelete