Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The District is No More

Going back to a place that was once familiar can cause disappointment. Change, of course, can be good - but change that causes unfamiliarity can bring pleasantry to some and bewilderment to others. I am among the many former District of Columbia transplants who are bewildered by the new high rise condo buildings, independently owned coffee shops, and swank looking restaurants.

To my surprise white people actually walk the streets that were once considered 'seriously off limits'. Even I, a big bald black brotha, would not walk in the Trinidad community or on any DC streets where the preconceived possibility of getting harassed or robbed is high. However, our Caucasian counterparts are riding platinum scooters and walking costly full bred dogs (poodles) up and down the street without a care in the world.

Life is safe and good for the residents on S, T, and U Streets. The police officers on mountain bikes make sure of that. The stick-up kid has a suburban locale now. He no longer robs the white tourist near the famous hotel where President Reagan was shot. No. He has finally and completely relocated his self-survival thieving operation to PG County. As a result, the elderly who moved out the city to get some peace have to contend with violent home invasions. ‘Blatant disrespect of the elderly ONLY occurs in the United States.’

Nothing I have typed is new to the DC area or any urban center. The initial seeds of the inevitable, gentrification, were planted in disgraced Marion Barry's city when I was planning to leave America's capital. The new youthful mayor has fully embraced the ‘developments’. Why would he not? It is the responsibility of mayors to ‘clean-up’ the mess. Giuliani did it!

Off to Atlanta I went, and the departure of what once characterized the District of Columbia dwindled away: high crime rates, pervasively visual homelessness, and the abandonment of countless row houses.

To read my words one would think that DC is void of Benning Road carjacking, Pennsylvania Avenue sleeping in the park, and North Capitol property squatting. Not the case. The District still has its long standing issues. Nonetheless, one cannot help but notice the 'improvements’ that gentrification brings. Even here in Atlanta, where the city leaders boast with pride the ethnic and social economic cleansing: only major city in the union without a Housing Authority (projects), are loving the fruits of urban renewal.

After discussing this new and final chapter with a friend while I spent my weekend in my second home I concluded that what's synonymous with improvement or getting better is WHITE. Think about that for a moment...

"If a metropolitan city becomes an improved and safer place to live the way you can tell is if there are more white people becoming residents." –Anonymous DC City Councilman

That is an extremely depressing commentary. It basically says that black folk are incapable of 'making a city better'. I do not necessarily agree with this line of thought - but there must be something truthful/factual about what I am conveying. DC and Atlanta were polluted with murder, litter, and urban squander prior to the whites entering. We cannot dispute this. It is true! With this truth, when will we, black people, begin to take back our communities?

Here is a model:

Miami Gardens, Florida – The state’s largest city with the most African Americans listed as residents. Blacks can do it…if they want it!


Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by Go-Go. It has NEVER left DC.


32 comments:

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

I was born and raised in DC. My family purchased our first home at 7th & Webster, NW when I was 5 years old. There was only one other black family on the block. The white people started moving to the suburbs immediately. The entire community became all black. There were all socio-economic levels living together: college educated, high school graduates and dropouts, as well as persons with no formal education at all. The same was true of the church I attende d. Everyone was supportive of one another. There were plenty of positive male role models, including my father, a high school drop out. There was very little crime in the community and no out of control school behavior, all the children were mannerly and respectful.

During the sixties, middle class black families began moving, eventually in droves, to PG County. The lower income families were left with no role models and encouraging voices to help them strive for higher goals. This was the beginning of the large teenage pregnancy rates and rising crime. Crime comes out of poor neighborhoods in both PG and DC where parenting skills and positive role models are continuously in decline.

The way things are currently going, it looks like DC will eventually consist of a highly middle class to wealthy population. There are black people moving back into the city, but they also fit the middle class, highly educated population. Everyone is shoving the poor folks to the side and eventually PG will take the brunt of the problem.

The poor families must be exposed to those who can show them a different way of life. I am the oldest of four. No one in my family had every been to college. All four of us are college graduates with graduate degrees. We were encouraged to go to college by seeing and communicating with college g raduates in our church and neighborhood. If we hadn't been in their presence I don't think we would have made it.

-DBW

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata Responds to DBW:

The historical perspective always brings a different 'view'. It also can lead to more disappointment considering where we as a people once were: TOGETHER.

My aunt lives in DC. By the Shrimp Boat. She loves it. I just asked her would she consider moving. She said NO. She is 72 now, and still enjoying the hustle and bustle.

I recall when I use to visit DC as a child. I thought I was in a different world. To see the black progression was a treat for me. Here in Atlanta, there was once a pride for the city. Auburn Avenue was full of black homes and black businesses. Unfortunately, that is changing.

I find it extremely disappointing that we (black people) have moved away from the base. Our family was what made us work. Even if Daddy was away. We took pride in teaching each other. Loving on each other. I can remember those days like it was yesterday. It was only 20-30 years ago.

I long for the past. I guess I need to stop longing because the way things are shaping-up I may just die searching for what 'use to be'.

We must GO BACK TO THE HOME.

My love for my people pushes me to continue the fight - but I can say with sadness, Dr. Williams, at 39 years old: 'I am tired. Tired of fighting for so many who do not care to desire/want BETTER. Tired of seeing the destruction that we cause. Just tired.' Sometimes I wish I did not care. Yes, some things have changed. A lot! However, we should not continue to be20in this place of stagnation.

Just the other day I heard a rap song entitled, Beat/Whip it like a Slave. While I understand that the song is talking about mixing drugs, I still find it terribly ironic that this rapper has labeled a song that brings back horrible memories. I have never heard of a Jewish man/woman entitle a song, 'Put us in the oven/gas chambers'.

We are literally sick. Mentally ill.

I try my best to focus on the good-but my mind drifts to the reality of us: We are in TROUBLE.

-Muata

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

Mr. Payne, to answer your question...there are already many areas, which Black
people have taken back their communities. As your example showed. I think that
in most major metro cities, just due to the size of them, there still lives many
pockets of communities that are black and these areas are very....very nice. I
used to live in the DC area, I was actually in Gaithersburg, MD, but while there
I saw these areas myself and lived in one. I have friends still in MD and VA
and their homes/communities are wonderful and thriving. So it's not all bad.
Murder, litter, and urban life, will always live in this country. Just the
economic factor alone, speaks to that. One last comment, some of the urban
renewal that has gone on in this country, including, here in the Atlanta
area....black folks have been able to become of part of that and purchase
properties in these areas as well, don't you view that as "taking back"?. And,
NO....none of us are riding down the streets on scooters!!...who wants to do
that anyway?

It's not all bad. And I understand, that was YOUR observation. Just sharing
MINE.

-NJ

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to NJ:

Yes, we do have areas that are 'flourishing'. I acknowledge that. My assessment is to point out that most urban areas are no longer URBAN in the context of race. They are white.

"Taken back their communities"

Crimes rates are higher in black neighborhoods. Black kids have a higher high school dropout rate. Trash is thrown all over our living areas.

I will also acknowledge that we have moved out of the city for the suburbs, and yes those areas out there are mostly clean. However, where the black people live that we (folk who live in the suburbs) NEVER go are STILL dealing with the issues I noted above.

It appears to me that we (some of us) are forgetting about the issues that STILL plague MOST black people nationwide. It appears to me that we (some of us) have this false thinking that 'all is good' now. We do have a black president...

We STILL have a long way to go. I was a witness to the 'black progression' that needs to be had this past weekend. Now, if I would have selected to stay with a friend out in Laurel, MD I would have missed the realities I saw. But, no, I was in the think of Northeast, DC and then drifted over Southeast (the Shrimp Boat area). Go to these places and then come chat with a brotha about "taken back their communities".

In the end, WE are ULTIMATELY responsible for digging out of this mess that we played a part in creating. I would be leaving out something if I did not place some of the reasoning behind this on Mr. Whitey (some). He is in the mix.

-Muata

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Responds to Muata:

But, my friend, u can come to my area of NE and leave ur door unlocked all up and through. So, you can't make blanket statements about Black hoods. Some are thriving and beautiful with low crime and excellent students. You need to go to Bmore to a low income white neighborhood and then tell me what you think. Over population in any low income area of the world will produce drama. Have you need seen "slumdog millionare" or "city of god?"

-MP

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to MP:

Come on now. Be frank about where you live in NE.

By no means do I intend to paint a BAD picture of all NE...but SE should be the safest place in DC considering the Capitol Building is there. However, you know as welll as I do that there are locales in SE where you would not walk alone.

I am aware of white poverty. I have seen it first hand in WV. Guess what? The crime rate there is lower there.

Also, you know me well enough to know I don't give a damn about a 'other' neighborhoods in B-more. My focus in this thread is to highlight that our work is not done and to encourage a re-focus in mentalities. Not that us reading need it - but it is surprising to me that we have began to stress the poverty of other areas as 'proof' that poverty is every where. It is.

Question:

Worldwide who does poverty and the issues that stem from it affect the MOST.

A. Dark People
B. White People
C. Blue People

-Muata

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

MP responds to Muata:

Blue people, but of course. I get it B. But to be honest, having grown up around the projects, the only time I have ever been uncomfortable walking a street was in a little area of bmore striken by gross poverty with nothing but "others" living there. I guess, I'm okay where I'm at and willing to roll up my sleeves and make a bit of difference in the same hood I grew up in. But for real, on my little street, I can leave the door unlocked. Either way, I'm glad you got us thinking.

-MP

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Responds to NJ:

nj, i would love to visit some of these urban areas that are thriving and dominated by black folks. i'm excited by the prospect. i live in a suburb of atlanta that is predominantly black, safe, people work, and all of the other things typically associated with living well. please let me know of the urban neighborhoods you know of, in whatever state. for me, an urban area is generally a walking city with sidewalks, and a variety of businesses at your disposal--coffee shop, cleaners, bakery, restaurants, boutiques, movie theater, etc. it's a place where a car is really not necessary and often times public transportation might be a bit more convenient. i'd love o see that in action!

-A Peaceful Journey

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader DB responds to Muata:

I agree with you, but I am more hopeful that things are going to change for the better. I read years ago in one of my spirituality books (can't remember which one) that sometimes we have to plummet to rock bottom before we finally come to ourselves, learn our lessons and finally begin to move in a positive direction. One good sign is that negative rap music is on the decline. The decline supposedly is based on the fact that young people are starting to tire of the emphasis on "gangsta attitudes, explicit lyrics and tales of street life and conspicuous consumption." I have been seeing young people in larger numbers at the various shows and concerts I attend. All of my nieces and nephews are college graduates and have wonderful friends. They are not fans of songs with negative lyrics or ignorant acting performers such as flava flav.

I am aware of other positive things happening such as more African-Americans attending college. I am seeing more and more truly brilliant young children, filled with wisdom. I have never seen this before. I also notice children, teenagers, and twenty year olds are routinely interacting with young people of all races. Unlike my generation, it's just a natural part of their every day activities. The positive statistics and images of our people are rarely presented in the media, mainly the negative makes the headlines,

I am not so naive as to believe things are going to change over night. But if I live long enough, and I plan to, I believe in the words of Marvin Gay, "a change is goinna come". It's just taking so long for us to figure out how to bring it about. I believe the generation coming into the world today will be instrumental in turning things around.

Continue your writing, you never know whose life you are impacting.

-DB

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader MP responds to A Peaceful Journey:

If you've lived in DC during its less flattering moments and lived through its growth, its not all that exciting. But, when you've gone and come back and find Gallery Place looking like Times Square, it can seem a bit off. I think most people are offended by the U Street and Mt Pleasant racial demographic changes. Those are areas that had been occupied by blacks for years and now with an abundance of new housing and infrastructure, the demographic has broadened. But DC's gentrification is not about race, its about cash and ideology. The city's changes are not for those whites or blacks that still luv land and cars. Its for those newbies with a little cash who want to walk to everything. And that's okay. Those middleclass black neighborhoods that existed in the past still exist today. Changing the face of a downtown that didn't exist is no biggie...when they cross the boundary line and make their way to "the hood," that's when they may be taking over. DC is by no means an example of "the evidence of things unseen.". ATL folks might like to check that out.

-MP

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader NJ responds to A Peaceful Journey:

I too live in surburban ATL, however, in a more cultural diverse area, my choice. I'd suggest to you to take a look at Hyde Park, in Chicago......Ladera Heights, CA, Windsor Hill, CA and View Park, CA.....Even in the DC area, those areas are alive. Also in ATL, the Cascade area would be one to take a look at. While the sidewalk aspect is not there, none the less, the growth of that area, predominately black.....I've watched over the years, become an area, that black folks, built. Now, that's a beautiful thing!!

-Nj

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

Have we really progressed if there is such a hugh discrepancy between the "hood" and the "non-hood". Can we really say that as African people wherever we are living that we have seen some progression because we personally live in a neighborhood that is not crime ridden, or there is not much poverty? Progression should be measured by the state of the entire African Nation not based on individual economic gains!! If we are specifically speaking about the United States of AmeriKa, why is it ok to have a tale of two cities in most states?

If you drive from NE to NW you will find two cities inside the district. One where there are high levels of unemployment, HIV/AIDS, poverty and a poor education system. The other where people live in mansions, there is little crime and poverty, and the education system is equip with a wealth of resources.



This issues is not just an issue in ATL or DC developing, this is an issue of some having access to resources and others not having the same access to resources.



What would you do if you did't have a high school diploma or better yet a college degree and couldn’t get a job? How would you eat? Would you steal, sell drugs or rob to feed your seed? The problem of crime and poverty is a problem of resources or the lack of resources for some?

-MF

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader NY Responds to Muata:

Even though we have "neighborhoods" that are "flourishing," we still live amongst each other as strangers. My HOA swim/tennis/clubhouse community with the big box Wieland homes is a great example of this. Almost every day that I am out doing yard work or tending my garden, my Black neighbors will pull into their long, winding driveways, climb out of their Lexus, Benz, etc., and not so much as look in my direction.

In stark contrast, I know the names of their children because they come to play with my children, yet have never met the parents. And don't think I haven't tried reaching out to them, because I have. This is a suburb in ATL, by the way, so let's define what we mean by flourishing, including by whose definition we're flourishing. I dare say it wouldn't be according to a Black one based on extended family.

Just something to think about, since it was inspired by B's post.

-NY

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader NY responds to MF:

Exactly. Which makes the argument of better neighborhoods vs. others a moot point. If one of us is not free, none of us is free. But, alas, most of us do not wish to think that way because of the discomfort it causes and the responsibility it places on us.

-NY

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader MP responds to MF:

Tell it. We really must get into the collective responsibility mode for real.

-MP

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds:

With most conversations/debates that we have we always come back to the collective and personal responsibility piece. What are we trying to tell each other? It is simple: We, in many cases, are the stumbling blocks. We are the ones throwing McDonald's bags out the car window as we drive down Benning Rd/Bankhead HWY. We are the ones shooting each other in the backs. Robbing each other. Us reading are aware of this. I have concluded in my 39 years that some of us want better and others don't. Some are lazy. Some are just stupid. Prefacing no job and all the other realities that help cause crime is critical to understand the totality. However, it mind f*cks me that others e.g. other folk of color do not allow the 'curve balls' of life to get in the way. They move. They progress. Okay - we are mentally jacked up because of the affects of slavery. Question: If you are black and reading, did you not have a choice too? A choice to do something REALLY stupid or productive for your life? Blacks are killing me.

I guess these fools who killed Vernon Forrest needed money for food...PLEASE.

-Muata

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader NY responds to Muata:

No, what they needed was better rearing. What they also needed prior to adulthood was a real support system that extended into and out of their homes. Now, there are no guarantees they would have turned out differently, but there is a chance they would have. My husband grew up in Bowen Homes and stands as an example of making a different choice. But it was also because despite his poor conditions in the monetary sense, he had strong parenting and a network of uncles making sure he pulled out of his condition. But, again, we cannot afford to ignore the power we could wield as a collective. We also cannot ignore our own responsibilities, because I encounter, on a regular basis, young Black males from upper- and middle-class neighborhoods, who through mainstream media influences and having too much without having to earn it (sound like euro privilege in black skin?), think, dress and act like they're gangsters with reps.

-NY

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader MF responds to Muata:

People begin to rob and steal becasue they are in a situation where they do not believe they have other options. I am sure that the majority of individuals on this email list, have college degrees (some Graduate Degrees) and are considered the "intellegentsia" in the African community. So why would you choose to steal or rob? Even if you choose to do so you would always know that you had options? Lets not gloss over the fact that crime happens because people are living in poverty sticken environments. I mean do folks grow up thinking "I want to be a drug dealer when I grow up" My sister certainly didn't she grew up in the same house as I did and unfortunately she got conquerred by the streets and somehow I slipped through the cracks. Luckily, now she is out of that life and is gainfully employed. But if you ask her why she sold drugs so would say so she could eat! Plain and simple!! She was out in the streets and had to make the decision to participate in illegal activities and eat or starve!!

Now am I saying it is ok to participate in illegal activity "NO". We have to take collective responsibility for the state of our community and yes begin to make different decisions both individually and collectively. Why do we need to live in hugh houses to feel like we have made it? Why are we moving out of the community at an alarming rate? We are falling victim to achieving the American Dream as our marker and this often comes at the risk of isolating ourselves from our people. This is true also for Africans at home(Africa), there is a hugh amount of brain drain. We are so interested in our own individual economic situation that we forget that we have a responsibility to fight for the livelyhood of our people and communities.

-MF

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader NY responds to MF:

Once again, you bring the proper perspective. Crime is always the physical manifestation of a particular environment. Crime exists in the ghastly sense that we see and hear about it today, because the foundation has been laid for it to happen and the bought-and-sold media pushes it into the subconscious and conscious minds of its viewers so that when we think crime we automatically think black.

Since most blacks, and other groups of people, for that matter, are ill-equipped to view media (i.e., tv, billboards, radio, magazines) properly, the symbolism further distorts our view of what's really happening and our responsibility toward it. It's all symbolism and when we don't know or realize it for what it is, we continuously focus our energies in the wrong direction.

There is a true "Amerikka Dream" outside the one pushed to us. It is the one that allows for continued domination of us all, while allowing us the illusion that we are free or better off than the person who kills, steals and lies. We see this in the Black intelligensia. We see it in all groups who believe themselves superior. We will see it until we learn to properly digest and act upon the symbolism we've been presented and realize, as we should have long ago, that the "dream" was never conceived to benefit us and that we must finally work together, as a people, if we ever expect to make real and lasting strides. A house divided cannot stand. Right now, our house is broken into a million little pieces.

-NY

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader MP responds to NY:

Here here. I've made a point to stay in the neighborhood I grew up in because its the only way I believe I can be an example. However, despite growing up in SE and NE, I have lived on the edge of things. I was first exposed to less then middle class life at a local camp. It was an eye opener. I worked there for 20 years. Its kept me grounded, mentoring, and improving the lives of young people around me. Rearing is certainly the root of some ills, but we certainly can all do our parts. And sometimes by just being, you can do wonders.

-MP

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Responds:

I have to ask. What is wrong with the American Dream? Why are we victims of it? Why such a negative view of it? When the concept began it was not for about wealth and prosperity, it was about life, liberty and and the pursuit of happiness. Clearly they didn't mean for everyone but that's beside the point because the truth about the American dream is that ambition. The problem with our culture as Americans is that most people want to get rich fast and it's all about the money. The family that I admire the most in this world are actually Canadian. The mother is half colored and Indian and the father is Indian. They were both teachers when they moved to Canada and they remained til they retired. They raised 3 kids, two daughters who are teachers and one son who is still finding his way but certainly headed the right way. They live in a 4 bedroom house and both parents drive Toyota corollas. They have a simple life where they live low stress and take nice vacations all over the world from time to time. I admire them because I think they embody what people should strive for. For many of us it's not enough. They grew up poor in SA and moved to another country. When they made a living they didn't live lavishly. THey just lived well. This is what the AMerican dream is about. Not about wealth of fame but about the opportunity to live free and better yourself. Most people confuse self improvement with money and material things when really happiness is a true measure for success. Hence the pursuit of happiness. Man even though those guys didn't give a damn about blacks they really had a vision(warped as it may have been).

Additionally, I think society has changed in a way that its tough to have a community type atmosphere. We have too many gadgets and things to keep us away from social interaction. Kids theses days don't run around and play. THey sit in front of grown ups and play their hand held games or play with their phones. Conversation is a lost art. Hell I can't even make it through dinner without checking an email and I fancy myself as a socially intelligent person. My point is that community is less prevalent these days because people don't interact with people the same anymore. Its common not to know your neighbors beyond their names or not to bring them a gift to welcome them. That's old school which is dumb because these thing should just be standard.

As for DC. I think Fenty had a vision. Become mAYOR and then become senator. Plus you can't fix DC in 2 years. So he decided let's make is prosperous and fill it with revenue. THe issue is he forgot that he needed to take care of the people. But it didn't matter because he can let them move out and the folk who bring your property value up move in. Genius plan for a politician. Bad for those who thought he would be a good mayor. DC is an odd place. Full of diversity but most natives from different ethnic groups still don't know other people from other groups beyond work. The transplants make it appear diverse but it's not as much as it seems. Albeit Atl has a long way to go.
DC has changed and fallen to the corporate typoons but you can't blame it on the Fenty only. Barry and Williams are as much to blame as he is. It's funny how nice NYC is now. Gulianni cleaned it up. But what he really did was put hundreds of cops on the streets and if you got out of hand they took your ass to jail. Now many say he wanted to get blacks out of Manhattan. I been there a million times, we are still there. We must never confuse this type of thing with some war on color. Often times its a high correlation but in truth its about class. THey aren't kicking any black people out of Northwest that live in the nice, well kept neighborhoods. Dc is just not that chocolate anymore. That's just a fact.

-LS

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader MF responds:

Let me ask, are we free if we have no choice but to get up every morning and go to work, to pay the mortage, light bill, car note and buy food? If your entire existense is determined by the all mighty dollar my friend you are not free. When we begin to look at the decisions that we make on a daily basis we realize that many of them are driven by the ultimate goal of money. This is primarily because we are guided by capitalist ideology which promotes rampid individualism, the "free market" which is anything but free and survival of the fittest.

Racism is a symptom of class. It is like a house is filled with smoke and you cannot see the exit, the only way to stop the smoke from killing you is to put out the fire. But since the smoke is hiding the fire you cannot see that the primary contradiction is the fire and not the smoke.

-MF

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader MF responds again:

The problem with the American Dream is that besides the fact that all individuals living in America do not have access to the American Dream, it is generally driven by material items. When you mentioned the couple you admire you spoke about the house they owned the cars they drove and the fact that they take nice vacations all over the world. why are our lives driven by money, we go to work to make money, we go to college to get a degree to make money, we buy a house because someone said that eventually we would make money off the house. This is the problem with America.

-MF

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to MF:

I noticed that you prefaced a 'reason' why people begin "to rob and steal" first. Then you in the second paragraph prefaced "responsibility". I note this because, frankly, I am sick and tired of us going to the 'reason' first. I am guilty of it.

You then detail a 'success story' in your sister. There are COUNTLESS stories like the one you presented. My point: When it is all said and done we have a choice. That moment to make the RIGHT decision. If we, even the brothas on the streets, would make the RIGHT decision perhaps we would not have so many of these conversations about the 'reason' black folk go bad. Parenting? Some do not have that right - but they still do RIGHT.

Many of us have defeated all the odds and barriers placed in front of us by MAKING A DIFFERENT DECISION. One that did not put us in jeopardy of going to jail.

It ain't peachy king in the US (Me nah lik dis place). I fully believe that - but I one day stopped acting a fool as a teenager because I did not want to go to jail/prison. I made that decision. I also could have went out and stole while we (family) were waiting on sorry azz daddy to come home with food - but I sat there. This way I did not make that WRONG decision.

Let's stop with the 'reason' stuff. It is somewhat irrelevant when so many black men and women have BEATEN TREMENDOUS ODDS without parental guidance.

Again, Mr. Whitey plays and played a role in this plight.

-Muata

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader MF Responds to Muata:

We certainly have to take personal responsibility and make some different decisions. That does not negate the fact that people are driven to particiapte in these activities because they are pushed up against a wall. Yes we all have a choice to make the wrong decision and the right decision and sometimes we make the wrong decision. We have to realize that making personal decisions is not always going to solve the problem. If the system is broken it does'nt matter how many good personal decisions I make I still may end up a product of the streets.

the sad truth is that the situation will get worse as capitalism falls, there will be more crime, more murder and more poverty. the question that remains is what side of the truth will we be on? will we be on the side of the very people who oppressed us or will we be on the side of the masses. and more importantly, what impact will we have on your family and community throughout our life. in other words what are we all doing to better our family and community? and are we challenging other folks in our lives to do the same thing!! if we are content to just go to work, eat, and sleep we not living up to our responsibility.

-MF

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader NY responds:

To a great extent it is about a choice. I can only guess that it is due to the constitution of a person, which choice they will make. But it does help if that person had been given equal play in the first place. I've seen people go wrong no matter what "class" they belonged to. The only difference is the degree of variance in what their wrong became (e.g., robbery, murder, embezzlement, assault, rape). Like I've said before, the groundwork has already been laid psychologically by the "founding fathers" of this country to make it more logical to commit crime than to choose differently. Now, their descendants can just sit back and collect on the ROI.

-NY

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

Ok ok, but I've been trying since I read your piece to think of a place that has succeeded in "progressing" without necessarily turning white. Silver Spring, eh? It's always had some whites, and they've stayed, but there are still African American communities, and now African ones too, and Hispanic, and Asian, etc. It's become a great place to live in the DC area, and it has nothing to do with being white. It used to be a backwoods, dull area, but the influx of people from everywhere has given it its allure.

Few and far between, perhaps, but at least a little reassuring that it's not all always a color thing.

-SE

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to SE:

It is not always about color. However, it is interesting that those most affected negatively by gentrification are people of color...

-Muata

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader response:

So I shared this with my not-so-much boyfriend, and he got a little fired up, saying this is more about social-economical classes than about race, which unfortantely overlap more than it should.

He also was talking about the fact that we haven't had any hurricanes the past 2 years. Apparently he was told that hurricanes were the wrath of the souls lost and commited to slavery, and apparently the slave ships follow very similar paths to that of hurricanes. That being said, there have been no slave ships since Obama has been elected president, apparently "passifying" the souls. Interesting....

-SN

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to SN:

It is about social economics. However, who does gentrification negatively affect: PEOPLE OF COLOR. When it is all said and done, people of color ALWAYS get the short end of the stick. Just do an international and domestic historical assessment.

-Muata

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader SN responds:

Le Sigh. Yes, I know. I thought that I was agreeing with you about that point? I guess I think that unless we address the SES gap, it makes addressing the racial gap difficult when discussing gentrification.

My boyfriend is going to be disappointed that you didn't have any commentary about the hurricanes too....:)

-SN

Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to MF:

Thousands people come to the United States day in and day out for the American Dream. It is a concept. Something people desire. The views of it are different. Larikus made a great point in reference to it. Yes, we know for some it is not in arms reach. Just like Mr. Sanchez. He came here years ago chasing the AD. He got it! Attained it. He was persistent. He was dedicated to getting his piece of the pie. So, why is it so damn hard for people born on American soil to at least go after it...whatever it may look like. We need to stop with the 'excuses'. We have men and women coming over here on life rafts, and they find a way. I say to Pookie, 'FIND A DAMN WAY. I did it! Now you do it before you bring up a "reason".' This is what I tell all the young men I interface with. It is about motivation to achieve. I can name hundreds of black men and women who found a way when their backs were against the wall. My mother is one. She did not go pimp herself to provide. My grandmother did not hold-up a store. My uncles did not rob another black man. And, get this: we are up against the wall but we go and rob another black person. Dumb Azz Negroes! Dang. Black people in America know that they started behind a eight ball. Each and every time we begin with the reasons we dishonor our ancestors who fought so hard for us. Again, Mr. Whitey is part of the problem. Now, lets get to it!

-Muata