Overheard Hanging out in the ‘hood


This blight was done deliberately, by a developer, to get Tax Incentives to "redevelop" what had been a thriving block.

This blight was done deliberately, by a developer, to get Tax Incentives to “redevelop” what had been a thriving block.

I went into the city today and, as I always do, I stopped by the garden I helped put in a few years back.  It’s on its’ own now, but I can stop and weed some, chat with the neighbors I know, still feel useful sometimes.  Today was not one of those times.  Following is a conversation among young men sitting at the picnic table with me when I took a break.  They were sitting there when I came and were cool with me sitting down near them.  Yes, I always ask.

“What the fuck are all the funeral home cars driving by for?  Ain’t nobody dead here yet.”

“Or at least today! (followed by general laughter)

“Yeah, he be like sizing us up or somethin’.  I ain’t goin’ no where yet.”

(more laughter)

“Creeps on me though, don’t it you?”

(General Agreement)

“Did you hear Andre got smoked last night?”

“Yeah, bad move on that one.  His brother goin’ to be comin’ for who did it, make no mistake.”

“Shit yeah, all he has to do is listen a while and he’ll find out who he need to smoke.”

“You don’t know who did it do ya?”

(No all around)

“I do, it was DX.  Andre burned him bad and that was all it took.”

“Damn, Andre burned his best friend?  I mean, shit, they been friends since they were babies.  Damn!”

“And they got that guy who walked funny.  You ‘member him?  Kind a waved his arms and such?  I think he was just in the way though, he was never no harm to none.”

“Damn! People shouldn’t smoke those kinda folks.”

“Straight up dude!”

“Yeah, straight up!”

“You workin’?”  “Nah, you?”  “Nah.” “Nah.” “Nah, getting too old.”  (laughing)  “Nah, I done quit lookin’.  No hope of a job for folks from here.”

(This was greeted by general assent and followed by plans to attend Andre’s funeral feast.)


This, to me, illustrates just what it is that is killing young males in our cities, not just black, but brown and some whites.  It’s the indifference bred by constantly being pounded with the message of “we don’t want/need/expect you to do anything good.”  But these young men have, they’ve finished high school, tried to get some kind of job, but there are no real jobs in the area and no real transportation either.  What on earth are they supposed to do but hangout and shoot the shit with one another?  I expect them to try and they have, for the garden and the neighborhood.  And they are still trying, as best they can.  But when you face funeral after funeral, week in and week out, I can see how you can come to think that a “good funeral and feast” is what you can expect from your life.  What else can you expect in a neighborhood where they sell 10$ per month funeral insurance policies?  Someone has to inspire a bit more faith in some sort of future for these guys, other than the pine box and nice meal.



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