Let me tell you about my morning. Akamo always has an interesting day because people on the street are just so engaging, and I find it so difficult to pass some folks by. So there’s this kid “Davey”….
After my workout this morning, I walked over to the gas station near my gym and was approached by a young man. He was 16 years old and tall, stood about 5′ 9”, and about 130 lbs soaking wet. Good looking, small twisty dreds, and obviously someone’s baby-boy-turned-thug-but-not really: and he was begging. Sir, can you spare 75 cents, he says. No, I cannot. As a practice I tend not to give panhandlers money when they look young and clean enough to work. He obviously gets his hair done somewhere, and that costs money. He is not malnourished, so someone around him can afford to feed him. His clothes are updated and clean, and that takes money. You don’t look desperate or in extreme poverty, so hell no. It took two tries before he realized that I was not going to give him any money. While getting my coffee, the young man approached several more. As he made his rounds, conversation in the store was starting to piss me off. The Fedex guy commented on how he always had some method of gaining income as a high schooler. Indian customer talks about how American kids are lazy and feel entitled–nothing like the hard working and resourceful youth of his poverty-stricken country. A few Mexican brothers laughed and shook their heads, and a white sister corrected the Indian man: It’s the Blacks. They wallow in their tormentous past and blame everyone for what is not much more than pure laziness in their present. Everyone agrees. Who doesn’t get discriminated these days? Even white men who are gay get discriminated… blah blah blah. Boy am I pissed.
And also glad to be mixed up enough to slither in and out of these candid conversations, incognegro.
I begin to be ashamed for my people; there was no malice in this conversation, they were speaking some basic truths that any observer would find, albeit a very wide net they are casting. In comes young man.
Naturally, the conversation is over, and as I wait in line, out the corner of my eye I see the young man stick a candy bar in his pants pocket! That’s the last damned thing our people need after such a conversation–for one of our own to confirm to these people that their latent racist feelings about our people might be true. Knowing how much my coffee is, I jump ahead and throw down $1.25 for my coffee, I grab the second candy bar from the young man and put it back, and stick my hand in the boy’s pocket and take out the other candy bar and throw it back, then snatched the young man by the back of his shirt (thus spilling hot coffee on my wrist) and drag him outside. I tell him to walk with me and I give him a “Daddy” scolding like you would ever hear. First thing I ask him is does he know who he is? Do you know what our people have gone through, so that your Black ass could dress nice, walk into the FRONT of a store and shop, walk down the street knowing that no white men will beat you up and hand you by your neck??
Yes, he was shocked. I had to inform him that yes, I am Black too. First, you beg for money from people who are already looking down their nose at you and everyone who is your color. Then you steal from them? Are you hungry? No, he answers. Of course not. That’s why I was asking you for 75 cents. So no one gave it to you and you decided to steal? Little brother let me tell you something. As a young Black man, you are the SENIOR minority in America. You have been here longer than any Asian or Hispanic. You built this country. You have laws made to protect you and your rights. Your people produced the first minority Senators, the first minority judges, the first minority PRESIDENT, and your sorry ass can’t find a way to legally come up with one fucking dollar???? For a candy bar? Do you realize there were people in that gas station who don’t speak this language as good as you, don’t have as much education than you, don’t have parents who can put a roof over their head and THEY don’t have to fucking steal a $1 candy bar!!!
Don’t you know that the drug addict has a valid reason for begging? But guess what–they rarely do because even the DRUG addict has a hustle to buy himself a fucking candy bar! You mean to tell me a drug addict has more potential to feed himself than you? A YOUNG man! Brother if you knew yourself and what your people went through, you wouldn’t be the lowest rung on the social ladder. You are the lowest rung, and the brand new immigrant, the uneducated Vietnamese, the fresh-across-the-border Mexican, even the trash-can-digging meth addict is higher up the ladder than you. You are smart, you’re good-looking you have a little status–but you can’t find a way to buy yourself a damned candy bar! Do you realize that the man who works behind that counter in that gas station keeps a WEAPON because of all the crap he’s had to deal with? Do you want to be the next Trayvon Martin?
We walked to my karate school, but I had two Caucasian students inside working out and I didn’t want to embarass my people any more than this young brother had already done. But I had to finish with him. Oh, and he had a friend who was waiting on the side walk who ran when I called him over (he called him too). These dudes needed something real because someone had been talking to them about some bullshit. Some real bullshit.
Now, cover your ears.
We had to get the conversation in a way that he would hear me.
Davey, do you like pussy?
Of course, everybody like pussy.
How are you going to get pussy when you can’t even figure out a way to buy her a candy bar without begging like a a fucking slave? What kind of sister would want to get with a nigga who begs like a fucking crack head? Little brother I’m going to be real with you–if you don’t figure out how to step up your game, you will be a loser in ten years who don’t have shit, still living with your momma, don’t have no nice car, don’t have no money in your pocket, paying for $10 blow jobs because your silly ass ain’t enough of a man to get his program going like a real man. Right now, you are the worst kind of loser; you are a loser with potential to have everything you ever wanted. You can acquire anything you want…. a nice car, money, nice clothes, fine ass women. But instead you lower yourself to the lowest rung on the ladder, underneath the immigrants, underneath the drug addicts. Where do you see yourself in two years from now?
He thinks he will be driving a nice car with rims (boy we are a lost ass people when we consider some tacky ass RIMS to equate to “success”). I told him that he will have his own place, halfway done with college, and money in the bank. And a fine ass girlfriend.
How am I going to do that? He says.
My name is Mustafa, I own this gym. Make sure you bring that coward, loser ass homeboy who left you in the dust to get your ass beat down and visit me. I’ll show you how.
We’ll see if he has an ounce of curiosity to find out how he will improve his life, or if I catch his punk ass back at the gas station tomorrow, begging for quarters. Black men, we always talk about making a difference in our community. We always hear Church pastors and fraternities talk shit about reaching out and uplifting our brothers. Well THIS is a blue print on how to make that difference. Each one, teach one.
Thanks for visiting my blog.