No Matter How Much You Love The Hood – The Hood Don’t Love YOU

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.

We’ll always be cool…

…but we can only help you, if you’re ready to help yourself.

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

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.


  1. lincolnanthonyblades

    08/27/2012 at 5:32 AM

    Ladies & Gentlemen, Do You Think It's Necessary For Middle-And-Upper Class Folk To Fully Involve Their Lives With Those In The Hood In Order To TRULY Help Them, Or Is The Onus More On The Folks In The Ghetto To Help Themselves?

  2. dsexton72

    08/27/2012 at 7:57 AM

    Great article…and surprised no one has commented.

  3. mena

    08/27/2012 at 8:05 AM

    I'm not from the hood but I am from the country and grew up on free lunch in school. I will always help the younger generation bc even though I feel like I don't owe them anything, I do want to be a positive influence in a kid's life. The adults on the other hand, I just can't help bc you actually have the ability to pull yourself out of your mess but choose not to. I don't think that I would ever immerse myself in an adult's life that wasn't about anything so that I can truly help them. Adults need to help themselves. Some people just like living shitty lives so that they have something to complain about. I don't need that in mine. It becomes a cancer.

    And that whole "black people don't give back to other blacks", why am I responsible for the outcome of my entire race?

  4. Smilez_920

    08/27/2012 at 8:32 AM

    Great article. My family is one generation out of the projects on both sides so I get where your coming from. I'm sorry but if I work my butt off to not get caught up in the hood drama that happens on the corner, while I was living in the hood, why would I wait until I have achieved something only to go back and possible lose it all, trying to be down.

    This is the mentality that gets a lot of kids from the burbs who might have friends or cousins in the hood in trouble. The kids from the burbs are so worried about being down that they end up being a follower and getting in trouble with the group, instead of being a leder and showing his/ her friends from the other side of town that there are other options to strive for.

    Yes I think that people should give back to heir old neighborhoods, but the adults in that neighborhood must understand that me helping you is only going to work if you want to help yourself first.

  5. lincolnanthonyblades

    08/27/2012 at 11:46 AM

    That Last Sentence Is Slightly Troubling. I Think As A Group We Constantly Identify Helping Our Community Advance As A Burden, Where Other Groups Just Look At It As A Simple Part Of Progressing In Life (Jews, Chinese, etc.) – Which I Will Never Understand.

  6. Paul B.

    08/27/2012 at 12:04 PM

    Should they fully involve their lives into helping somebody get out the hood? No, not to that degree, but do what they can to help within reason. I don't advocate a person who has the means to leave the 'hood to stay around simply to prove they're really down. I don't know about giving back when you weren't given ti in the first place. How much has the 'hood actually given to these people? How much as has the hood actually invested in these people for their benefit? Not much, probably. The hood cares only about itself, point blank. Help who you can, but realize that you can't help everybody especially when it's to your detriment. The truth is that if you end up back in the hood from trying to help (really more of a handout) people from the hood, these same people will go about their lives as if you never did a thing.

  7. J. A. Johnson

    08/27/2012 at 12:15 PM

    This is funny. I saw a video on WSHH last night of some Chicago youth going around their city and starting problems with random people….and went off talking about this last night on Twitter. It's so very sad. But I do agree with you completely. A lot of people in the hood, are happy with where they are and don't care to leave. I'll only go back to help the people that want to be helped and actually putting out the effort!

    Nevertheless, I don't feel a single obligation whatsoever to automatically go to hoods and help people. I do so out of kindness and paying things forward. I'll be damned you see me go to Chicago and try to talk to the guys in the video about college. Do they need to hear it? Yes. Am I risking what I have to give them a message they might not listen to? Hell Naw!

  8. J. A. Johnson

    08/27/2012 at 12:22 PM

    A woman in Georgia was just killed by the dogs that she personally rescued herself and had in her own home. Even though this is a rare case…it's just a lesson for us to remember. No matter how much we try to help someone, we shouldn't allow ourselves to fall because of them!

  9. Z.Bee

    08/27/2012 at 2:31 PM

    Not everyone living in the hood is looking for a hand out. There are some that genuinely need the boost. Times are hard for everyone but our poorest folks (hood folk) are the ones getting it the worst. I understand you can't help those who won't help themselves, but don't write everyone off. It is our youngsters in the hood that are perpetuating the "hood" stereotypes because there aren't that many examples other than what the see on t.v. and hear on the radio. They a few of us to say there is an alternative. Not saying make that your cause in life to life everyone out of the hood, but those of us who were able to make it out have a duty to show another the path to a better life…. I'm Just Sayin

  10. @WheresRonald

    08/27/2012 at 2:38 PM

    Freeway looks terrible.

  11. MistaHarsh

    08/27/2012 at 2:41 PM

    This reminds me of Good Wil Hunting when Matt(the gifted one) told Ben that he wanted to stay with them in the hood doing construction forever and Ben was like if I see you in 5 years and you're still with us I'm going to kick your ass for wasting all that talent.

    People who say you need to show your face more in the hood need to revisit what happened to Joshua Yasay.

    The other funny thing about going back to the hood is that the people who you grew up with are no longer there because they were swept up under some Project (insert foolish name here) police raid/investigation, dead or moved on with there lives too. And the youngsters don't know you and look at you like an outsider encroaching on their territory.

    My question though is this: is it necessary to live in the burbs to escape that life? There's many well to do places within the city and sometimes you'll find out that your neighbor in Stouffville just got his house raided because he was the weed supplier for 1/3 of Etobicoke.

  12. Paul B.

    08/27/2012 at 4:08 PM

    And they will laugh at you for leaving and ending up right back there with them.

  13. Aboriginal

    08/29/2012 at 9:42 PM

    Before I touch up on this topic I have something to say about the comment of why Freeway couldn't at least put on a suit….. as children, the majority of society has been taught not to judge a book by its cover. Well, what does society do 100% of the time? Judge a book by its cover. A suit doesn't make you a better person, if Jay-Z was really cool with Freeway he would've made sure Free got in the picture or neither of them would be in it, I'll never leave one of my people's out of a picture, I don't care who is there. That's blatantly disrespectful and a slap in the face to the person you invited.

    I had a lot more to say actually about that picture but my rant must go on about the topic. I was born and raised in the hood and I still live here, albeit in a decent part of the city, but it's because of two reasons: 1) I know many of the people in my area and seen firsthand what some went through in our childhoods, that's not something I'm gonna ignore for the sake of "growing up", and 2) I lived in a suburb for a year when I was 18 or 19 and the experience was disappointing, well put it like this, I've never been arrested, committed any crimes, never joined a gang, actually went to one of the top high schools in the US, I don't smoke nor do I hang out on the streets, yet during most of my time in that town I was seen as a troublemaker, harassed by police too many times to count, called the n-word by black people in my age range in a way that would appall the whitest man/woman, I think you get my point.

    Moving to a "better" neighborhood doesn't automatically make your life safer and is a much harder transition, especially if you decide to spend your free time in that new town with new people who don't think the same way you do, and I'm not changing who I am for nobody to try to feel accepted. I prefer to live in my hometown with all my friends and homies I grew up with, be it college grads, hustlers or gangbangers, I feel much more comfortable and even safer in this town then I ever will trying to survive living in the 'burbs. Now I'm not saying I live their lifestyle as I never have and I'm not attempting to prove anything to anybody by staying, but understanding what many of these people have gone through and experienced first-hand what went on in some of their homes when we were kids, people like to say ignorant things like "if I was able to get good grades in school and not get into trouble afterwards, they can do it too", I'm telling you, I don't care who gets upset, you are a fucking idiot and worthless piece of trash, a no good human being disguised as one. The things I've witnessed what they had to deal with, please, I'm happy they are still alive and able to function in society with an average level of decency.

    I see how I rambled on but I have to say one more thing, giving back to the hood isn't always about money, I'm always talking to grade schoolers, high schoolers and those in college to reassure them there's more to life than money, fast cars and hoes (I said college students because many guys go for the parties and end up worse off then before). Plus, I don't have a lot of money to begin with, I'm barely making it as it is so I'm in no position to look down on anyone. A lot of this may come off confusing but please give it a read.

  14. Jamaal

    08/30/2012 at 12:28 AM

    Great article and true. My thing is we should all try to do better than our parents… And as parents, set your kids up to do better than you.

  15. singlewhitefemaledating

    08/30/2012 at 6:59 PM

    Hey guys, I know about living in a low-socio economic evironment and the struggle to "make a better life" for yourself and family. I believe education is the key and "ATTITUDE" you have to be hungry for it. It's like a survival gene!!! Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do anything… of if they do – PROVE THEM WRONG!!!!

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