VS. Black America
From a young age I have been immersed in black America, meaning African America.
I went to my first ‘inner city school’ in 6th grade, and I got my ass kicked on the regular for being one of the only white boys in the crowd.
I don’t hold it against the inner city.
For every ass whippings’ I got, I was empowered in other ways, by a demography that has weathered so many storms they are like Teflon.
No child should have to undergo abuse to gain strength, and there are always alternative ways to make a man or woman empowered into adulthood.
Yet my time in the inner city added to me, instead of weakening me.
I remember getting into two specific fights on my bus home on the other side of the tracks, with a kid that everyone knew was the nephew of Jimmy Hendrix.
That agile kid, lighter than me, dug his thumbs into my neck, or twisted my fingers, showing me a man no matter what his size is only as strong as his weaknesses.
Over the years, I spent time in South Central LA and even some moments in ghettos in the East such as Richmond Virginia, where the blacks outnumber the whites.
In Richmond, I was walking where I shouldn’t have been, one evening, deep into the wrong side of the tracks, and a big man came across the street to talk to me.
He could have bashed me easy, unless I was like Bruce Lee with my speed.
He said “Yo’, man, you got a few dollars?”
At the time, I didn’t have any cash on me, and I was in a state of shock because honestly, a ghetto on the West Coast is a different thing from a ghetto in the East.
The main difference is age.
“I don’t have anything,” I said, looking into this man’s eyes, this man who could have demolished me, especially with backup, if he had wanted to. “I got no cash, man.”
He looked at me, deep into my eyes, then he smiled, wryly.
“Alright man,” he said, then he turned and kept walking on, the opposite direction I was aimed in — to the nearest corporation like McDonalds where I could feel safe from things.
There are fewer memories in my life when I have felt such respect.
You respect people, and they respect you.
It doesn’t matter were your are or where you come from.
What’s that called?