I was at a BBQ recently with a large group of some of my closest friends in the world, discussing life and cracking jokes like we usually do. The one thing me and all my real close friends have in common is that we all currently live in the suburbs after moving out of a lower-income neighbourhood. For some of my friends the move was more recent, and for others [including myself] the move was done a LONG time ago, but the one point we ALL agreed on is although we resisted the move initially, looking back on it as ADULTS makes us realize how lucky we all were to get out. Unfortunately, at a different BQ a week-later, we realized that not everyone in our position see things that way.
So here’s the story: This second BBQ we went to was located in a very similar suburb the town over, and as we sat down and talked with these next set of dudes [not friends, just former basketball associates], the subject of old neighbourhoods came up and we proceeded to listen to some of the most IGNORANT bullish*t we ever heard.
The general consensus from these dudes was that people [such as us] who have been blessed with the opportunities in life to advance and make it, need to go BACK to the hood and extend a helping hand to those folks still trapped in the struggle. Now that is a point that I can definitely agree with on many levels – but then they took it a step further. They then began to state that one of the biggest problems with “Suburban-ass niggas” is that we act like we are too good to chill on the block with the “man dem” making ourselves seem superior to project folks, which disenfranchises them EVEN more. That’s where I had to call BULLSH*T on these dudes whole point.
The reality of the situation is that most suburban Black folks don’t stay away from the projects out of a perceived sense of superiority – it’s because we KNOW there’s a BIG difference between lending a helping hand and weaving the hood BACK into our current lives at our own risk. Lending a helping hand is what many of us SHOULD do more often, but absolutely NOTHING good is going to be gained by regressing our lives back into hood sh*t.
This ideology that the hood is comprised 100% of innocent, pure-hearted, victims of the struggle is a fallacy that you can only sell to people who haven’t LIVED there and experienced the badmind, crabs-in-a-barrel BS first hand. Also, the idea that many of us who made it out are special is only a HALF-truth, because we were not built with any intrinsic characteristics that made us and our families any more apt to being able to leave the hood than anyone else – but we DID work our damn ASSES off because we identified our living conditions as substandard and unacceptable. That is not a choice that requires a SPECIAL person to make, but the hard work to get out is NOT something everyone in the projects is committed to striving for. Let’s be real for a second, not everyone is COMMITTED to leaving, but they will damn sure be committed to making sure you STAY.
No matter how much love we show the hood, the hood is incapable of loving us back the same way. If you don’t understand that while LIVING there, then your mentality will forever be broken, even when you leave. And that brings me to my most important point: As much as new-suburbanites have a responsibility to lend a helping hand to inner-city communities, there is also a LARGE onus on the residents of these communities to WANT to help themselves. That’s true of my family, my friends families and, if you’re reading this living in the ‘burbs in a family that moved out the projects, it’s true of YOUR family too. We ALL had to commit ourselves to the struggle of LEAVING, and NO ONE in the hood DESERVES a helping hand just by proxy of residing in a ghetto – y’all gotta WANT to leave, just as bad as the rest of us did.
This Is Your Conscience