I have never been a “thug” or a “gangsta” in any way shape or form. I never found the appeal of living 24/7 looking over your shoulder fighting dudes over corners and blocks none of the residents own. I never wanted to stand in front of the corner store for hours on end “hustlin’” for minimum wage to obtain things I could get through legal means with much less headache and without the loom of death and jail. I don’t condone any of it, but I do understand to some degree the circumstances and situations people get forced into. I understand the constrained choices young Black and Brown folks find themselves contending with on a daily basis. We live in a society where conspicuous consumption is customary and we place dollars before dignity.
If you are a young Black male and the newest sneakers, electronic devices or whatever is marketed as the latest and greatest hits the streets and you cannot afford them, what do you do? Your mom is hardworking and law-abiding and you may or may not have a father in your life and the items you want cost a mere $200. You can either apply for jobs in hopes that you will actually obtain one and then wait the two weeks to get your paycheck or you can go outside and get the $200 you need in a few hours or days? What seems easier/ more obtainable? If you’re a young Black woman and you are faced with the same scenario as the aforementioned young Black man, what would you do? You have an aesthetically pleasing shape and you constantly get catcalled and every man seems to admire and lust after you. You can go work at Duane Reade or you can get some ass shots and strip or sell yourself to bring to fruition your material pursuits.
Thankfully I never had to make these decisions even when times were hard I had community or my own standard that wouldn’t allow me to go that far, but I definitely thought about how much easier life would be if I could make that quick buck. I for one was fortunate enough to get everything I wanted legally and if I couldn’t get it at the moment I either worked to obtain it or I just played the cut until my mother or father was able to get it. I am by no means judging those who chose to go the seemingly “easy route.” I just don’t understand why easy street is still on the hood’s GPS? Why is the easy route still a plausibly viable option for Black and Brown youth? Why is there a fresh stream of newly incarcerated or sexually exploited Black and Brown youth if there are a plethora of programs allegedly designed to keep our youth from either entering the system or to keep them off the corner and pole? If we are supposedly in the “information age,” either the information we are giving in conjunction with anti-street corner programs is false or our youth just itching to end up on someone’s Rest In Peace T shirt?
Stick around for part 2 coming soon!